The US authorities passed a new smallpox virus treatment in the event the virus is being used in a terrorist attack as a biological weapon. Highly infectious, smallpox was wiped out of the world in 1980 in a massive worldwide immunization campaign.
However, those born afterward were not vaccinated, and small samples of the virus remained stored for scientific research purposes, which raises the risk that the virus might be turned into a biological weapon.
SIGA Technologies in New York has already supplied two million doses of treatment to the US Government agencies for storage, which has funded a part of the drug development. The new smallpox virus treatment is known as TROXX.
To try the drug’s efficacy, apes and rabbits were contaminated with the virus, were given the medication and 90% of them survived, the company stated. Its safety was also verified in a few hundred healthy individuals who had not been exposed to smallpox virus.
New smallpox virus treatment developed in case the virus is used as a biological weapon
Smallpox caused the death of an estimated 300 million people worldwide in the 20th century just before being eradicated. The symptoms may include fever, tiredness and itching sores. Previously, doctors were only able to give palliative care such as IV drugs and fever relief medications, as well as to isolate sick patients.
On the other hand, immunization can be given to avoid infection but must be administered within five days of first exposure to the disease, well before symptoms onset.
“This new treatment allows an additional option if smallpox is ever used as a biological weapon,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the director of the US Food and Drug Administration.
The United States and the former Soviet Union, currently Russia, kept samples of the smallpox virus. In 1990 they decided to destroy them by the end of 1993. However, no official reports were made to assert the samples destruction.