After two long days of debate, officials at the World Health Assembly reached an agreement on the destruction of smallpox samples held in stockpile in the United States’ Center for Disease Control labs in Atlanta, Georgia and a Russian-government sponsored lab in Siberia.
Health officials from countries who wished to continue developing medical countermeasures against the deadly smallpox, despite its announced eradication more than three decades ago in 1980, supported the delaying of the destruction of smallpox tried to push for a 5-year delay but were forced to compromise at the amount of 3 years.
Governments backing health officials who support the further use of these samples for beneficial purposes say that the preservement is “just in case” of isolated outbreaks of smallpox anywhere in the world that “could” come at any time.
Since the 90′s, officials from the World Health Organization strongly recommended destroying remaining samples of the smallpox virus but were deterred by influences of several governments advocating the use of samples for developing antivirals and better vaccines.
The gathered samples will not be exactly destroyed in 2014, but the World Health Assembly will again come to a debate to decide on a more defined date of destruction for the virus samples.
Those who have been pushing for the destruction of the samples are – for now – satisfied with the delay, noting that the destruction is “inevitable” in the near future.