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August 03, 2008

Anthrax Mailer Hoped to Profit from His Own Patent on Anthrax Vaccine?

The sort of motive I always laugh at when it's in movies for the ten thousandth time.

The suicidal scientist revealed as the likely culprit behind the 2001 anthrax mailings was part of a megamillion-dollar deal to have his own vaccine mass produced in the wake of those biological attacks and the national panic they created.

Before the attacks, the vaccine developed by Ivins - who killed himself last week as a seven-year federal investigation closed in on indicting him for five murders - garnered little attention. But the deadly post-9/11 mailings brought $50 billion in government funding to the field of bioterror prevention.

An $877.5 million contract was inked with biotech firm VaxGen to provide Ivins' vaccine in a deal in which he stood to profit, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. One estimate put the potential windfall in the tens of thousands of dollars. [???]

A VaxGen executive said his company did not have a profit-sharing agreement with Ivins personally, and he had no knowledge of what arrangement Ivins had with his employers.

A former senior official at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases - the high-security lab in Maryland where Ivins worked for 36 years - believed the mad researcher mailed the anthrax-laced letters to move government resources to his field.

"It had to have been a motive," the official told the LA Times. "I don't think he ever intended to kill anybody. He just wanted to prove 'Look, this is possible.' He probably had no clue that it would aerosolize through those envelopes and kill those postal workers."

Tens of thousands of dollars? That doesn't seem nearl enough motive for what must be a comfortably upper-middle class scientist to justify the risk (nevermind the immorality) of sending out deadly anthrax.

The more likely motives are "warning" and "drooling insanity."



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posted by Ace at 05:42 PM

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