Smallpox Was Eradicated 40 Years Ago, So Why Are the U.S. and Russia Still Holding Stocks of the Virus?

On 9 December, 1979, health officials declared smallpox as the first and only human disease to be eradicated in what is considered the greatest achievement of modern medicine. Four decades on, the U.S. and Russia still maintain samples of the potentially deadly virus, and the debate on whether they should be kept or destroyed rages on....To this day, only two remaining stocks of the variola virus are known to exist. They are kept under high-security conditions at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta, and at Russia's State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology (Vector) in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. Everything known about their location is in the public domain— except for the exact rooms and freezers where the samples are kept, David Relman, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, told Newsweek.

 

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