September 12, 2003
Alibek said, "Our outcomes are very encouraging. Additional studies that may lead us to more definitive conclusions already are under way" (Reuters, 9/11). Wayne Koff, senior vice president for research and development at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said that he was concerned about "drawing too many conclusions" from the small study, according to the AP/Daily Press. He added, "It's preliminary. It's intriguing. But it reminds me of a lot of the data sets we get that are preliminary and intriguing" but do not necessarily turn out to be successful. Koff also said that he was "skeptic[al]" of the connection between the decline in smallpox vaccinations and the spread of HIV in Africa, according to the AP/Daily Press. Alibek said that although the research has yet to prove if the smallpox vaccine offers an HIV-specific antibody response, that could be "irrelevant," adding, "For a person who would be protected, it would not matter if it is specific to HIV" as long as the vaccine offers protection, the AP/Daily Press reports (AP/Newport News Daily Press, 9/11).The researchers are currently participating in discussions with Acambis, which manufactures vaccines for smallpox and other diseases, to conduct further testing, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/11).
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