Brian Behnke, Illustration Works

The US Congress refused to authorize $250 million (US) intended to fund development of a second-generation anthrax vaccine this year because of a misunderstanding over the meaning of a single word, "procurement," according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). But the administration did not reduce the agency's responsibilities for developing that vaccine or for boosting bioterrorism research, Fauci says.

That decision leaves NIAID scrambling for $250 million from somewhere else in its $3.7 billion budget to pay for the vaccine. "We may have to eat it," says Fauci. The Department of Health and Human Services may extract the quarter-billion from other HHS agencies, but that is unlikely, Fauci says.

The new vaccine is needed because the only federally licensed anthrax vaccine may be unsafe for very young children, elderly people, and those who are immunocompromised, according to NIAID....

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