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Later this year a World Health Organization committee is set to recommend whether or not remaining stocks of the smallpox virus should be destroyed. The disease was eradicated in 1979, and stocks of the virus are known to be held by the US and Russia.
Last week we debated whether to cover this in the BMJ, until a colleague pointed out that did so in 2007, with an editorial and head to head debate. I'm sure we'll cover the eventual WHO decision.
It's a tough call. In the wrong hands the virus could be let loose and kill people. But deliberately destroying an entire species of virus seems foolhardy. In the future it could help in the fight against other diseases.
I think we should err on the side of caution, despite the risks, and retain some stocks.