Most countries including Iran oppose to the US and Russia's plan to postpone the destruction of their last remaining stocks of deadly smallpox virus.
This young girl in Bangladesh was infected with smallpox in 1973. Freedom from smallpox was declared in Bangladesh in December, 1977 when a WHO International Commission officially certified that smallpox had been eradicated from that country.
Photo: CDC/James Hicks
During a meeting held by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, Iran and many other states expressed their concern and opposed plans by the two countries to postpone fixing a date to destroy the world's last known stocks of live smallpox virus that remain in their labs.
Washington and Moscow claim that they want to keep their virus stocks for five more years just to develop new vaccines for possible resurge in future.
The debates at the WHO over the destruction of the stocks of smallpox virus which remain in US and Russia has been recurring since 1986.
In addition, many of the 193 WHO members and global organizations are concerned that some countries may have secretly kept the virus to be used as a biological weapon.
Many countries including North African nations, Iran, Thailand, Zimbabwe and Malaysia believe that the immediate destruction of the remaining samples must be carried out.
On the other hand, The European Union, Canada, Israel, Monaco, Colombia and China were among countries that supported the delay.
Amid the discord, WHO decided to create a working group to work towards a compromise draft.
The debate will continue on Tuesday, a WHO spokeswoman said, ahead of an eventual vote on the resolution.
Update from World Health Organization (WHO) - Following is part of the resolutions after conclusion of the sixty-fourth World Health Assembly:
The Health Assembly strongly reaffirmed the decision of previous Assemblies that the remaining stock of smallpox (variola) virus should be destroyed when crucial research based on the virus has been completed. The state of variola virus research will be reviewed at the 67th World Health Assembly in 2014 and in light of that, determining a date for destruction of the remaining virus stocks will be discussed.
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