Smallpox, once the scourge of mankind has been fully eradicated from the world and no one has been infected since 1977. Samples of the virus have been kept safe in Russia and the US. There has been a talk of destroying the remaining samples of the disease though researchers argue that such a measure will halt important research on the virus which is going on in labs.
A trio of researchers from the US, and Brazil have appealed not to destroy the remaining samples of the Small Pox virus. The decision making panel of the WHO is going to deliberate shortly on the fate of the small pox research later this year. At present stockpiles of living Variola are kept in high security labs in Russia and US.
The trio- Inger Damon of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clarissa Damaso of Universidade Federale do Rio de Janeiro, and Grant McFadden of the University Of Florida College Of Medicine, in an opinion article had argued that in spite of medical advances, the research agenda pertaining to live variola virus is not complete and there are a number of gaps which needs to be filled.
The trio felt that there is a limited supply of vaccines against small pox and they were also developed long back in the 60’s and the 70’s, a period characterized by high number of patients afflicted with the disease. Further the diagnostic tests which identified the small pox from other related disease s are still not complete. Neither are the drugs to treat any future outbreak of the disease. Researchers have also argued that they a better understanding of how the virus works, since it only infects people.