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International health officials are expected to decide this week whether to hold on to the last remaining stockpiles of smallpox, one of the deadliest diseases in history – or to proceed with their destruction.
The U.S. argues that scientists need access to the virus for just a while longer -- saying they need more time to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines in preparation for a potential terrorist attack that everyone hopes never comes. The Wall Street Journal explains the U.S. position, while also pointing out that other countries are convinced the risk of an accidental release isn’t worth taking.
At stake in the discussion – taking place at an annual meeting of the World Health Organization – are stockpiles at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and at a Russian government laboratory.