About the pros and cons of destroying the world's last remaining stocks of smallpox virus [K.Y. Kreeger, The Scientist, Nov. 14, 1994, page 1]: It is amusing that the advocates of preserving the virus imply that only virologists can appreciate the value of saving it. I submit that the issue of the likelihood that terrorists or criminals could obtain the virus is one that falls into the province of historians, not virologists.

The deliberate release of the smallpox virus is likely to be devastating. How secure is the virus, really? Could armed terrorists break into a facility and steal the virus? Could whoever looks after it be threatened, blackmailed, or bribed into releasing it into criminal hands? Could a new government come to power and choose to use the virus as an agent of biological warfare?

Of course, these scenarios are extremely unlikely, but they don't have to be probable;...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?