More than 30 years ago, the deadly infectious disease known as smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
But in actuality, the virus isn’t gone just yet.
The last few strains of the variola virus, the pathogen that causes smallpox, are currently being held in high security labs in the United States and Russia. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, experts at WHO now must make a crucial decision later this month: Destroy the virus completely – or keep these remaining vials in stock.
Although killing the variola vials would prevent the virus from being used as a terror-related weapon, three leading virologists argue that the stock should be kept for research purposes – in case the virus re-emerges in the future.