Article: Russia, USA To Keep Smallpox Alive For Now; Iran Strongly Opposes
Posted on April 12, 2013
In follow up to last week’s news about how at the annual World Health Organization (WHO) meet this year a decision would be made surrounding the existing supplies of smallpox that still exist in two laboratories, one in Atlanta and a Russian government laboratory near Novosibirsk, the decision has been postponed for another three years. Iran was at the forefront of countries arguing for the stocks held in Russia and the United States to be destroyed now because of the risk of stockpiles falling into the wrong hands.
Pierre Formenty of the WHO simply stated:
“There has been a lot of discussion around the smallpox issue. Three years from now, we will resume the discussion.”
The United States has argued more research is needed into vaccines against the disease eradicated more than 30 years ago. Already the debate over when to destroy the stocks has rumbled on for 25 years and resurfaced late last week.
The U.S. believes the live virus is needed to finish developing a vaccine without the serious side effects that older-generation vaccines can have in people with immune deficiency disorders, along with two other antiviral medications. The research would be shared with other countries, not just kept for U.S. defense purposes according to Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. representative on the WHO’s executive board.
In February, Siga Technologies Inc was awarded a U.S. government contract for a smallpox antiviral development and the United States and others in its camp also want guarantees all other stocks have been destroyed or transferred to their two official repositories.
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