In a few weeks, member states of the World Health Organization will consider the destruction of the last known samples of smallpox virus, currently held in secure labs by the United States and Russia. Some have sought to publicly frame this issue as a contentious disagreement between our two countries and the rest of the world over whether the virus should be destroyed. This is misleading.

We fully agree that these samples should — and eventually will — be destroyed. However, we also recognize that the timing of this destruction will determine whether we continue to live with the risk of the disease re-emerging through deliberate misuse of the virus by others.…  Seguir leyendo »

Have you ever seen a person with smallpox? We rejoice that probably you haven’t. In 1977 the disease was eradicated. Only two known research collections of smallpox virus remain, in laboratories in Russia and the United States.

This month, the World Health Organization is debating whether to set a date for destroying these remaining research samples. Elimination of the virus collections is a bad idea.

Smallpox, the most infamous infectious disease in history, killed 300 million to 500 million people in the 20th century alone — more than three times the number killed by wars. Its eradication was the culmination of an 11-year global campaign that stands as a milestone in cooperative international action.…  Seguir leyendo »