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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 672813, 6 pages
Research Article

Smallpox Still Haunts Scientists: Results of a Questionnaire-Based Inquiry on the Views of Health Care and Life Science Experts and Students on Preserving the Remaining Variola Virus Stocks

1The Fujio-Eiji Academic Terrain (FEAT), Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM), PB 1262, Chennai 600034, India
2The Mary-Yoshio Translational Hexagon (Myth), Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM), PB 1262, Chennai 600034, India
3Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Ramachandra University, Sri Ramachandra Nagar, Porur, Chennai 600116, India
4Ruma Biotherapy Research Centre, 2nd No. 21.A1 Ground Floor, Block C, Shanthi Apartments, 1st Cross Street, TTK Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 600018, India
5Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science, Fujita Health University, 1-98 Dengakugakubo, Kutsukake-cho, Toyoake, Aichi 470-1192, Japan
6School of Medicine, Yamanashi University, 1110 Shimokato, Yamanashi, Chuo 409-3898, Japan
7Hope Foundation (Trust), B6, 13 Zakariah Colony III Street, Choolaimedu, Chennai 600094, India

Received 29 April 2013; Accepted 2 July 2013

Academic Editors: H. Nakagami and D. M. Prazeres

Copyright © 2013 Thangavelu Srinivasan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The World Health Organization (WHO) declared eradication of the dreadful disease “smallpox” in 1980. Though the disease has died down, the causative virus “variola” has not, as it has been well preserved in two high security laboratories—one in USA and another in Russia. The debate on whether the remaining stocks of the smallpox virus should be destroyed or not is ongoing, and the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2011 has decided to postpone the review on this debate to the 67th WHA in 2014. A short questionnaire-based inquiry was organized during a one-day stem cell meeting to explore the views of various health care and life science specialists especially students on this aspect. Among the 200 participants of the meeting, only 66 had answered the questionnaire. 60.6% of participants who responded to the questionnaire were for preserving the virus for future reference, while 36.4% of the participants were for destroying the virus considering the magnitude with which it killed millions. However, 3% of the respondents were not able to decide on any verdict. Therefore, this inquiry expresses the view that “what we cannot create, we do not have the right to destroy.”