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The Smallpox Threat: A Time to Reconsider Global Policy
Biosecur Bioterror 2014;12(3):117-121
Mary Ann Leibert, Inc.
April 08, 2014
In May of this year, the 67th World Health Assembly will again debate the question of when the remaining specimens of smallpox virus should be destroyed. . . . Inordinate amounts of time, effort, and resources have been spent in endeavoring to reach consensus on this one component of a smallpox threat strategy: whether to destroy or not destroy smallpox virus strains now being retained in the 2 World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Laboratories (in the United States and Russia). In both, the virus is being held under secure conditions. This year, a WHO-appointed group of international scientists concurred that there is no justification for retaining live smallpox virus. In any case, as others have pointed out, advances in genomic biology would now permit strains of virus to be replicated should someone wish to do so. Logic dictates an early date for destruction of the last laboratory strains.