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Volume 8, Number 8—August 2002


Passive Antibody Administration (Immediate Immunity) as a Specific Defense Against Biological Weapons

Arturo CasadevallComments to Author 
Author affiliation: *Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA

Main Article


Therapeutic and prophylactic strategies to combat biological warfare agent.

Strategy Advantages Disadvantages
Antimicrobial chemotherapy Relatively cheap
Oral administration
Self-administration Potential for superinfection
Selection for bystander resistance
Continuous use needed for efficacy
Drug-dependent side effects
Organisms can be engineered for resistance
Long development time to licensure
Vaccines Long-lasting protection Low public acceptance to theoretical threat?
Immune response requires time
Uncertain efficacy in compromised hosts
Potential for deleterious immunologic sequelae
Long development time to licensure
Passive antibody Immediate protection, lasting weeks or months
Low toxicity for human antibodies
Shorter development time to licensure?
Potential for self-administration Will probably require cold chain
Need for systemic administration
Agents can be engineered for resistance
Potential for infusion related reactions

Main Article