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WHO Executive Board Supports Saving Smallpox Virus Stocks

As the WHO executive board continues meeting in Geneva this week, members “on Thursday backed efforts by the U.S. and Russia to keep the last known stocks of the smallpox virus for research to combat terrorism, in an initial debate over the fate over what is left of one of the world’s most lethal pathogens,” the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the article, the 34-member board supported the notion “that those stocks are needed to finish developing drugs and vaccines to counter a potential bioterror attack or accidental release of smallpox from unsanctioned stocks, officials familiar with the talks said.”

The newspaper reports that “[t]he debate will now move to the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which meets in May” (McKay, 1/21).