Smallpox Vaccines?

While glancing at the news today, I found a recent article on smallpox and it got me thinking again about this lingering threat.I guess what seemed odd to me from the above-linked article was: “A product taken from the blood of people who have been vaccinated for smallpox was approved on Friday to use to treat reactions from the shot, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.” It seems like the more significant part would have been actually approving the use of the vaccination of people in the first place, not treating the reactions to it (which really should be a concern even before allowing vaccinations, right?).

But, that aside, this led me to think about some other issues concerning smallpox, such as how do people feel about the fact that researchers are working on better vaccines, instead of eliminating the virus once and for all (which was theoretically erradicated in the late 1970s and has only been surviving in labs)? I’ve heard that a lot of people are cheering for the latter approach. I think it’s very important to undertake a lot ofresearch to find a better smallpox vaccine, since smallpox is one of the top possibilities for biological warfare, but there’s even a lot of controversy surrounding this. Anyway, just curious what people think about all this.

3 Responses to “Smallpox Vaccines?”

Well, it would be nice if we could eradicate it once and for all. But we wouldn’t be certain it would be eradicated. We could knock out the samples in the US and Russia and the rest of the cooperating world, but there’s always that chance that somebody has it and they’re not gonna tell the rest of the world.
And in that case, we have to be able to combat it, which means having vaccines, which means having virus.

Owen - February 22nd, 2005 at 10:19 pm

There could be a mineshaft gap!

Seriously, though, the situation is a perfect example of the Prisoner’s Dilemma from game theory. Assuming cooperation by everyone, we all benefit. But if one group lies, it gains even greater benefit, assuming everyone ELSE is honest. So basically, we’re all screwed.

Paradoxdruid - February 23rd, 2005 at 12:11 am

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