A vaccine developed by the Danish company Bavarian Nordic has received FDA approval to prevent infections by monkeypox, as well as protect against the threat of a smallpox bioterror attack.
This approval makes Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine the only approved vaccine in the world for preventing monkeypox, a rare viral infection that is similar to smallpox but less severe. In addition, the vaccine will be stockpiled by the US as a precaution against the return of smallpox. Since smallpox was eradicated in the wild in the 1970s, populations have stopped receiving vaccinations against the disease. However, samples of the smallpox virus remain contained in secure research labs, and the disease has even been weaponized in the past. This means that smallpox could be released in an act of bioterrorism if it falls into the wrong hands.