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Sunday, 28 February, 1999, 08:17 GMT
No anthrax jab for Gulf troops
Soldiers will have to wait until next year for inoculation
Soldiers will have to wait until next year for inoculation
Up to 3,000 troops have been sent to the Gulf without the protection of vaccines for anthrax, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.

Problems with the "production and licensing" of the protective drugs meant that none would be available until early next year, an MoD spokesman said.

But he said the vaccination, licensed by the Department of Health's Centre for Applied Microbiological Research, was not an essential feature in the protective measures programme.

The spokesman explained that Gulf troops were given vaccinations on a voluntary basis when they were available.

Soldiers will have to wait for inoculation
Soldiers will have to wait for inoculation
Troops were offered several other protections against the deadly bacteria, and the drug shortage was not affecting Britain's ability to deploy armed forces, he added.

Anthrax is a major concern for defence chiefs operating in the Gulf, because it is believed that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have large stocks of it in liquid form.

It is believed that he tested anthrax weapons on Iranian prisoners during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The results were said to be devastating.

A fleet of remote-controlled "crop-spraying" planes were discovered by allied spy cameras last year. It was claimed that the Iraqi leader was planning to spread the bug over enemy forces.

Side effect fears

Defence Secretary George Robertson was inoculated against anthrax on television last year in an effort to calm fears about the jab's side effects.

Anti-biological and chemical warfare vaccines given to troops during the 1991 Gulf War have been blamed for causing outbreaks of mystery illness among veterans.

The anthrax vaccine, offered separately to soldiers and sailors this time around, formed part of that cocktail.

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See also:

24 Jan 99 | Anaheim 99
Genome defence strategy
09 Nov 98 | Middle East
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
24 Mar 98 | World
Anthrax: a deadly bacterium
24 Mar 98 | UK
Anthrax alert at UK ports
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