US controls bird flu vaccines over bioweapon fears
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of USA Today/Associated Press
Posted: December 28th, 2009
Deep inside an 86-page supplement to United States export regulations is a single sentence that bars U.S. exports of vaccines for avian bird flu and dozens of other viruses to five countries designated "state sponsors of terrorism." The reason: Fear that they will be used for biological warfare. Under this little-known policy, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Sudan may not get the vaccines unless they apply for special export licenses, which would be given or refused according to the discretion and timing of the U.S. Three of those nations -- Iran, Cuba and Sudan -- also are subject to a ban on all human pandemic influenza vaccines as part of a general U.S. embargo. The regulations, which cover vaccines for everything from Dengue fever to the Ebola virus, have raised concern within the medical and scientific communities. Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were not even aware of the policies until contacted by The Associated Press ... and privately expressed alarm. They make "no scientific sense," said Peter Palese, chairman of the microbiology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Some experts say the idea of using vaccines for bioweapons is far-fetched.