The World Health Organization meets Wednesday to try to set a deadline to destroy the last known stocks of Smallpox. The disease killed hundreds of millions of people until a global campaign finally ended the virus in 1980. The success of the vaccine is a major medical feat. However, there are only two known repositories of the virus, which are held in U.S. and Russia; and these two countries are fighting international efforts to destroy the samples, claiming that they are necessary for research to combat bioterrorism.
The Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau chief, Betsy McKay, explains the debate over the issue of eradicating the remaining caches. Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Art Caplan, says that completely eradicating Smallpox is absolutely worthwhile. However, there are fears that an unknown stock may exist or that an outbreak could occur, necessitating the vaccine.