USAMRMC Team Celebrates Success of Adenovirus Vaccine
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command celebrated the licensure and fielding of the Adenovirus Type 4 and Type 7 Vaccine with a recognition ceremony held at Fort Detrick, Md., March 12. Key speakers included Maj. Gen. James K. Gilman, USAMRMC commanding general, Col. Russell E. Coleman, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, and the Honorable Jonathan Woodson, M.D., assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs.
The U.S. military began administering Adenovirus Type 4 and Type 7 Vaccine, Live, Oral (Adenovirus Vaccine) to recruits in basic training over a four-week period that began the week of Oct. 24, 2011. Since October, the manufacturer has shipped 100,800 doses of Adenovirus Vaccine to the nine basic training sites, and the Services have administered approximately 50,000 doses of vaccine.
In his opening remarks, Gilman praised the 210 scientists and administrators that were involved in the nearly decade-long effort to bring this vaccine to fruition, which involved partnerships between commercial manufacturing companies and the U.S. military.
"This accomplishment is a source of tremendous pride for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command," said Gilman. "However, ... we would not have Adenovirus Vaccine today without the contributions of [our] commercial partners, ... our Army partners, ... and our Navy colleagues."
"And none of this would have been possible without the funding and senior leadership provided at the level of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs."
The commanding general's comment provided the introduction for keynote speaker Woodson, who praised the efforts of the USAMRMC team in reaching this important milestone.
"The work here at Fort Detrick, in particular, and the people who have worked here have contributed enormously to the global legacy of military medicine, and that is a very honorable and deep history indeed," said Woodson. "You have produced a product that works -- that prevents disease, saves lives, and that is safe."
"Almost immediately upon deployment of this vaccine," continued Woodson, "our exceptional health surveillance systems were able to demonstrate to all what added protection this vaccine offered to our personnel -- respiratory disease dropped by 80%."
Adenovirus infection often resembles the common cold, with symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough and upper respiratory congestion that may last up to several days. Adenovirus Type 4 has been the major pathogen associated with febrile respiratory illness, which is highly contagious and quickly spread in the type of close-quarter living conditions experienced by basic trainees.
According to Dr. Clifford Snyder, Jr., product manager for Adenovirus Vaccine in the Pharmaceutical Systems Division of USAMMDA, the research team was confident that the administration of an effective Adenovirus Vaccine containing a Type 4 component would likely lead to a marked reduction in the rate of FRI. Based on data recently published by the Naval Health Research Center, this prediction has held true.
In fact, the number of specimens taken from FRI patients that are positive for disease-causing Adenovirus Type 4 has dropped essentially to zero. Snyder believes the dramatic reduction in the rate of FRI is almost certainly attributable to the administration of the Adenovirus Vaccine.
The road to this success was apparently long and tedious, and this was confirmed in the closing remarks offered by Coleman.
"For any of our medical products, the urgency is great, the need is compelling, but the obstacles are truly daunting," said the USAMMDA commander. "Through this commitment to the product, we get a success story every once in awhile."
Fortunately, for the men and women of the U.S. military and Coast Guard, this "success story" has provided much needed relief that at least one threat may be averted without struggle.
After the official ceremony, Coleman distributed awards to key members of the Adenovirus Vaccine team, although he again praised the efforts of the hundreds of dedicated people involved in its success.
The Superior Civilian Service Award was given to Dr. Kenneth Eckels, Dr. John Lucas, and Dr. Clifford Snyder. Receiving the Commander's Award for Civilian Service were Dr. Hank Gardiner, David Hofflinger, Dr. Tibor Tuzson, and Traci Vactor. The Achievement Medal for Civilian Service was given to Kandi Barnhart, Elizabeth Coffman, Sheryl Jamison, and Melissa Johnson. Rounding out the awardees were Lt. Col. Patrick Garman and Lt. Col. Karen Kopydlowski, who both received an Army Commendation Medal for their work.