My opinion is that all known stocks of the smallpox virus should be destroyed as soon as possible. I disagree with the premise of the late Bernard Fields's argument (quoted in K.Y. Kreeger, The Scientist, Nov. 14, 1994, page 1) that "destroying it ends the whole issue of possibly understanding it in the future." The only moral, humane reason for a scientist to study a virulent microbe is to obtain the minimum amount of information needed for its eradication_that is, how to create an effective vaccine or treatment. Since the virus has been eliminated from humans, why let it "live" and risk its release by accident or intent?

Those who think it desirable to pursue further knowledge of smallpox replication for what it might shed on understanding other known or emerging viruses are trading a certainty (getting closer to total destruction of smallpox) for a possibility and risking...

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