Memorandum from the Ministry of Defence
concerning the production of new stock of anthrax vaccine (11
I wrote to you on 23 December 1999 to update
you on progress towards the production of new stocks of anthrax
vaccine. I told you that we did not expect to take delivery of
new stocks from our supplier, the Centre for Applied Microbiology
and Research (CAMR)a Special Health Authority sponsored
by the Department of Healthbefore the end of July this
The extensive refurbishment of the production
facility at CAMR was completed some months ago and another important
milestone was recently achieved with the successful inspection
of the new facilities by the Medicines Control Agency for the
first time. However, as I explained in my earlier letter, progressing
from this point to the successful manufacture and licensing of
new stocks of the vaccine is a lengthy process and I regret to
say it has recently become clear that re-commissioning the vaccine
production facilities is likely to take longer than expected.
As a result, CAMR will not produce new stocks of vaccine before
the end of September.
Alan Milburn and I are very disappointed by
the further delay, but recognise that anthrax vaccine production
is a difficult and complex process that must be carried out to
the most stringent regulatory standards. Our Departments are doing
all they can to ensure that new licensed supplies are available
as soon as possible and that, following this, they will continue
to be delivered reliably.
In the meantime, I would emphasise that our
deployment to the Gulf region will not be affected. Voluntary
immunisation is just one element in the full range of force protection
measures against biological weapons that are available to personnel.
That said, I attach a high priority to resuming the voluntary
immunisation programme against anthrax as soon as practicable.
Immunisation provides safe and effective additional protection
in the event of exposure to anthrax.
I have also written to Iain Duncan Smith MP
and Menzies Campbell MP to inform them of this.