|Do you think all stocks of polio virus should be
destroyed with the upcoming eradication of the
|Question Date: 2001-01-08|
I haven't heard that this is an issue for polio
yet but I know it is a very big issue for
smallpox. Russia and the United States have
samples of smallpox and it is believed that those
samples are all that remain of a very dangerous,
even deadly, disease. What are the issues
involved? Here's a few I can think of.
What if smallpox comes back somehow? Maybe it's
been hiding in a jungle somewhere waiting to
emerge again. Very few people, if any, are
vaccinated now and without those samples we would
be less prepared to meet the challenge.
worse, what if some terrorist also has samples and
releases smallpox in some unsuspecting city? On
the other hand, having those samples always comes
with the risk that they could be stolen and used
to create the above mentioned biological weapon.
There is also the incredibly remote possibility of
an accidental disaster.
2) We've never,
with forethought, caused the extinction of a
species before. On accident or because of
carelessness many, many times but never on purpose
as far as I know. It might be a bad precedent to
3) We may be able to learn something
now or in the future from those samples. If we
destroy them, that information would be lost. But
there is still a risk, of course.
What do I
think? I would hesitate to do anything permanent
but I'm probably pretty conservative on these
kinds of issues. I'm sure others will disagree.
Either way involves a risk. Which one would you
Well, that's a good question.I think that stocks
should not be destroyed, personally. There are
those who would disagree, but if you will allow
me, I will share with you why I think they should
not be destroyed.
For starters, we have a
very very effective vaccine, both oral and
injected, that are incredibly effective. Second,
there is no sense in destroying what we cannot
(easily) recreate. There is the possibility that
research into polio would lead to insights into
other diseases, e.g. muscular dystrophy. Since
most medical reserach takes place on small
mammals, how could we infect them with polio if we
don't have the stock? It is a brutal reality that
we need disease to eradicate disease. So, I
personally am not in favor of destroying the
Note for the record that
"eradication" means eradicating the natural
occurrence of the disease, and not the disease
itself. It is a bit foolish to believe that we
will kill every single last little virus floating
around out there.
By the way, there is a
great website for you to check out. Go to
and see what they have to say about this
What do you think?
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