News of the WeekBIOTERRORISM

President Revokes Plan to Destroy Smallpox

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Science  30 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5415, pp. 718-719
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5415.718b

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Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has supported an international plan to eradicate every last trace of variola virus, the cause of smallpox. More than 70 nations had tentatively supported a plan to destroy all known stocks of the virus in June 1999. But the U.S. government changed its mind last week. Joining Russia, which has argued that live samples of the virus should be kept for research, President Clinton signed a memo calling for preservation of variola in high-security labs.