The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new smallpox vaccine in a bid to speed up the time it takes to make large numbers of injections.
The vaccine, ACAM2000, will inoculate people who are at a high risk of exposure to the highly-contagious disease, which is virtually extinct.
The FDA said the vaccine can also be used to protect people in the event of a biological terrorist attack.
Dr William Vanderwagen, a rear admiral and assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, said: “Smallpox could be a particularly dangerous biological threat to us that would kill or debilitate a high percentage of the population.”
And Dr Jesse Goodman, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, added: “The licensure of ACAM2000 supplements our current supply of smallpox vaccine, meaning we are more prepared to protect the population should the virus ever be used as a weapon.
“This vaccine is manufactured using modern cell culture technology allowing rapid and large scale production of a vaccine with consistent product quality.”
ACAM2000 is made by Acambis, which has offices in Cambridge, England, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already stockpiled 192.5 million doses of the vaccine.
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