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Destruction of Variola Stocks a Mistake?

Megan megan at ucla.edu
Mon May 19 14:36:28 EST 1997

At 02:25 PM 5/17/97 -0700, you wrote:
>I'm disturbed by WHO's decision to destroy
>the remaining stocks of variola in light of recent work with human
>adenoviruses that suggest to me that some other human pathogens may in
>the future also become sources of important treatments for human

I too have a bit of a problem with the decision to destroy all stocks of
this virus, when we do not know what potential benefits we may find it
possesses.  I think it is a bit like my aversion to humans destoying any
natural population of any species - even though this is a disease causing
pathogen and has killed many people, there is something inherently wrong
with destruction of this species, IMHO.  There is a possibility that we will
be able to recreate the virus from DNA, and molecular biology techniques,
but will this be exactly the same?  Will the same benefits to humans be
possible with recombinant variola?

<snip, snip>

>I'm just a lawyer and, as far as I know, the implications of the
>adenovirus work for dangers of destroying the variola stocks have
>already been thoroughly discussed in the cancer and public health
>circles, but maybe not.  I'd like to make sure.

WHO also plans to destroy all poliovirus stocks, I believe, in 2005 or 2007,
I dont remember which.  The stupidity of this move is highlighted by the
fact that polioirus is still found in third world countries, and so people
from first world, industrialized countries as well as third world countries
are at risk for spread of this virus, particularly so since we have
apparently stopped innoculating children against polio (this I am not
positive about - a rumor?).  Destroying the stocks are not going to make
natural populations go away, they will only impair our ability to deal with
them when they arise.

Megan Igo

> Vincent DiCarlo
>90% of all mistakes in judgment result from wishful thinking.

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