smallpox extinction

DHWillis dhwillis at
Fri Jan 26 19:58:20 EST 1996

The major arguments have all been heard.  Bottom lines:
1.  Extinctions occur on a daily basis world-wide -- for better or ill.

2.  This is a simple organism which has been completely sequenced, thus
its critical component could be recreated at any time.

3.  This is a serious pathogen.  No one considered making it extant in the
wild a serious problem.  Why are the moral issues related to its
extinction any more powerful?

4.  Doing away with _all_ stocks would make its use as a biological weapon
unlikely.  Of course the big concern is that it is _easy_ to squirrel some
away.  Used on an unvaccinated population, the results would be devasting.
 Counter argument -- we learned to live with the nuclear threat, with the
US being the only nation to use those weapons in war.  I would be more
concerned over the possiblity of a lab accident (the only smallpox
infections to occur for a long time) or selling of stocks to terrorist
organizations.  Put simply, getting rid of the stocks can reduce or
eliminate many of these dangers.

My opinion -- get rid of them!

Dave Willis, PhD
DHWillis at
Senior Scientist, Meridian Diagnostics, Inc.

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