Once again, the World Health Assembly failed to set a deadline for the destruction of smallpox samples, delaying discussion for another three years. Though it still affirms the need for live sample destruction, the two-day “contentious debate” (repeated for the last 25 years) ended on May 24 in a victory for bioweapons development in the U.S. and Russia.
“The retention of the existing stocks of smallpox virus are not required” to maintain and bolster current vaccine supplies, argues Dr. D. A. Henderson in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science. Through current technology, smallpox vaccines can be developed from the known genome. Live viruses are simply no longer needed.