I doubt that it was the only sample in the world to escape eradication.
Smallpox on the other hand is much more likely to just get your home country nuked into oblivion if they find who deployed it. It's effectiveness as a weapon is going to be limited in first world countries with ring vaccination programs and epidemiologists. On the other hand it would be devastating to the countries that would have a ideological reason to deploy them.
Modern terrorism is a game of chicken. You want to be successful enough to degrade the enemy without triggering a backlash. Smallpox and nuclear weapons are great deterrents, however deploying them would mean the end of the countries and organizations using them.
Dr. Strangelove: "Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, EH?"
I think it's just that nobody has both the ability and desire to destroy the world at the same time.
Do we even know if smallpox would kill a modern human?
The last person to die of smallpox died in my lifetime. I hope I'm not so old that I'm no longer considered a "modern human".
Plus, effective heard immunity requires something north of 85% of the population. Smallpox vaccination rates are not even 50%.
Others in comments also made a good point...what if the virus survives decades in cemeteries and is released when they dig or move the cemetery. Within a week hours it would probably be spread all over the world, given globalization.
After all, the goal is usually to get the enemy to surrender / capture available resources / not turn the rest of the world against you. Millions can certainly die, but it could be very possible say for a World War III between US and China where no one winds up using nuclear weapons.
It’s just such a “the future is now” thing. I mean, it was 1980, but still.
The extinctness of the dodo is present tense. Therefore, it is an extinct bird.
The dodo was a ground nesting bird that inhabited the island of Mauritius. But it's still extinct.
Aside - Good video series by Yale for anyone interested in the history of diseases in western society:
May the day when it drops to zero come soon.
And considering how much suffering this parasite has caused, it is a nice thought to think that humanity might get some benefit out of it beyond simply stopping the cycle of pain.
Unfortunately the modern vaccine is also much more expensive (which is a problem in poor countries) and much less effective (which is a problem in countries with endemic polio).
If you prefer another word is "inactivated".
But if we ever get down to actually thinking "These are the last 5 cases..." it's entirely possible to use the killed virus formulation used in the U.S. and Europe.
Where those cases are is a bigger pain.
We may have hit peak future, and are now heading down the other side...
The term to use is "immune compromised host"
My understanding is that it was regulations prohibiting travel between countries by unvaccinated persons that helped eradicate Smallpox, and my paperwork is now a quaint story about a bygone era.
Or it would be, if I didn’t remember the whole thing afresh every time anti-vaxxers demand the “right” to send their unvaccinated children into public schools.
Some of them were a damn good thing to get rid of!
Rockets don't do that.....
They received special dispensation to declare it effective if it treated monkeypox in monkeys and rabbitpox in rabbits.
I think this is essentially unprecedented and I doubt any pharmacies would be allowed to stock it let alone dispense it without calling the FDA/manufacturer directly and getting case by case approval to apply it under clinical supervision. The approval does clear the bureaucratic hurdles to transporting across state lines and getting it into the hands of a doctor quickly in the emergency event that smallpox returns.
Edit: Their Phase 3 trial  appears to be the equivalent to a regular Phase 1 trial where the dosage of the drug is increased under clinical supervision until side effects become intolerable for 50% of the patients to find a safe maximum dose. This means that they tested safety in vivo on humans already and instead of showing efficacy (whether it actually does what it is supposed to do vs a placebo) on humans, they were allowed to do it with animals. They used 449 18 to 80 year old patients which is quite a bit more than usual for a safety phase so they can be reasonably certain it won't make the situation worse in the event of smallpox.
They do get paid and there really is no ethical alternative. By definition, zero drugs would have a "plausible health benefit" at this stage because you're trying to figure the negative effects and a maximum safe dose without having confounding effects from the disease you are trying to treat.
Which is using viruses to kill bacteria.
Also I imagine that gene editing might also become a tool in combating infections in the near future.
I assumed that the problem with multi-resistant pathogens was that the patient may not live long enough to try all antibiotics.
But over time it's going to get worse and worse.
Governments refrain from biological warfare because it's not effective in achieving their aims, not because it's banned.
The Crusades, and then the Napoleonic invasion of Russia, were both notable departures, and both saw militaries surprised when their adversaries used tactics that had long been banned in Europe. The French were not expecting the Russians to put the torch to their own lands so as to deny the French forage. It made the difference that led to the famous infographic.
It's not unreasonable to think that nation-states refrain from biological warfare for moral reasons. As effective as they might be, the government using them wouldn't survive either due to politics or the hammer of the world coming down on them.
But by the time WW2 was over, society was conditioned to think of the technological aspects of the wars rather than the social. But chivalry used to be an actual thing.
Or if you're willing to plan ahead a little more... Develop the plague and the vaccine a decade or more before use, and spend the intervening decade adding it to childhood vaccines and seasonal flu shots. When it comes time for use, have the remainder of your population vaccinated.
I may be a pessimist, but I'd guess that "biological warfare is ineffective in achieving the aims of nation-states" won't be a thing forever.
More likely, warfare biological or not is going to become even more rare and even less accepted.
If we keep up the forces that brought us peace, UN, EU, NATO, international trade, amongst many other forces, we're more likely to a world without war.
Viewed over the past 70 years, currents trends are merely a tiny bump. And indeed we don't see it catching on in the rest of the EU.
Note. We can't just hope for things to continue, but if we put in some work - odds are pretty firmly in our favor.
At that point, I suspect aggressive deterrence will be the only viable option.
This still doesn't say good things about the survivability of the 3rd world, though. Even though modern server, desktop and handheld devices (let's call these "people with high-tier healthcare") are rather well hardened, older systems (people without that healthcare) and IoT devices (pets/farm animals/crops/nature) are notoriously vulnerable.
It's a weapon so dangerous to use that only the insane would even develop it in the first place.
There is no real way someone could set off a biological bomb and promise it won't make its way back to their own people. If it is infectious enough to wipe out the enemy completely, it is enough to spread to your home country. I think some of this is because a biological bomb would almost need to be something that can be carried through the air. There are probably some that could dust an area requiring direct contact, but if the folks have good hygeine, it'll be less of a threat. Contaminating drinking water is harder still - and again, you have to get through hygiene and all available filtration and sanitation systems that the enemy could be using.
You could infect animals, but animals being what they are they are likely to infect folks that aren't the enemy, including your own ground troops if you have any. Things that need direct contact with bodily fluids are even harder to use directly, and you are just as likely to kill slews of medical personell as you are the folks actually warring. Any accidents kill your own people first.
In any case, the outcome and international response will likely be similar to using nuclear warheads on a people. It might work, but you are going to kill lots of innocent people as well with something that keeps on killing long after the initial sickness due to the infectious nature of the thing.
Additionally, I highly doubt they'd mistake a biological for a traditional bomb: Any smart country with a scientific section would be looking at the components of bomb residue. If a biological agent is included, I think there is a chance of finding it and developing a cure before the kiling happened if it doesn't happen in a short timeframe.
Now, this is just for diseases. Poisons (biological or synthetic) and other sorts of chemical weapons are probably easier to control these things, and international response seems to be unfortunately slow on this depending on where in the world it is happening.
bioweapons and computer viruses are made to spread in a viral way, without the explicit intervention of humans. So once it's out there, it can't be stopped. In the future, nanobots could potentially be a third one too.
So yes, while biowarfare is banned, the consequences of doing it is far different.
They all spread memetically rather then biologically. In a way that is a bigger problem because it means effective eradication is virtually impossible, because even if the practice is eliminated, it has “spores” in human cultural record which are both difficult to eliminate and difficult (arguably impossible) to avoid adverse side effects when eliminating.
The same can't be said by bioweapons and AI.
I mean if two nations were at war, my nation / I didn't care, but fucking small pox showed up spreading around I'd be all for some serious interventionist stuff.... I imagine most nations would be all for it.
Granted, chemical warfare could still be a thing :(
The zealots are usually foot soldiers for states or quasi-states, or groups aspiring to control/creation of states, and most of those groups are similarly rational to states. A random Hamas footsoldier, especially with assurances that his family will then be cared for, may commit a suicide attack, just as a soldier of a name might engage in kamikaze attacks, of in military missions that involve a practical certainty of personal death. But neither the leadership not the groups as units are prone to deliberate self-destruction to maximize damage to enemies.
Which doesn't mean that terrorists actually have the good judgment to recognize potential consequences, but e.g. your typical Islamic extremist would consider wiping out the Middle East to be undesirable.
Belligerent states don’t care about what is “banned.” Chemical weapons are also banned but there have been several public and not-so-public uses of those during the past 20 years.
Nukes, synthetic bio and chemical weapons are high-profile. If you acquire, produce or use them, you end up on the international radar. Everybody's watching you.
But coordinate some useful idiots into convincing enough of their own population that vaccines are bad for them, and you'll pave the way for wiping them out by reintroducing the simple pathogens those vaccines protected against.
The future of biological weapons will be organic, all-natural and non-attributable. We are setting ourselves up for something very bad.
The end impact wouldn't be good start with - less freedom of movement overall with increased tracking and quarantines, less global trade, more restrictions, and bodily autonomy would be a thing of the past as going untested at borders let alone unvaccinated would be an unacceptable threat. Your body /is/ their business as anything related to the immune system becomes a matter of national security. Said heavyhandenss would breed its own backlash as well to perpetuate conflicts as conspiracies that they are making the disease would spread regardless of truth - which is a bit of a problem now even from the people who insist AIDS was a secret project or Ebola workers being attacked by people who don't have causation and correlation straight. Think 'fake news' is bad now along with fact-immune belief? Imagine how tempting censorship would be in the face of those destabilizers combined with the Streisand effect. Then there is without the sociopathic easy solution 'shoot the sick just in case' which would certainly lead to more travesties.
The ironic kicker is that this dystopian state would have some upsides in making it in even the most vile dictator's interests to overfund public health and ensure adequate food supply as starving people have weakened immune systems and may catch something to spread around. World hunger may be ironically ended by selfishness. Instead of Military Industrial Complex the term may well be Medical-Military Industrial Complex with fringe benefits. Overall it would be horrifying and I personally consider the most horrifying part is that there would be some large actual benefits to that twisted status quo.
You just have to utterly lack a conscience, and that’s an ingredient already present in many cases.
The interesting thing is that many of those targets are also conventionally attackable yet don't seem to be even considered. Firebombing farms isn't the norm although it is technically an option to weaken them.
For instance terrorists could cause a lot of disruption and casualties just by sabotaging train tracks or shooting substations yet they they target people directly instead. It seems almost memetic that they avoid the 'boring' options even when they lack other motivations. Al-Qaeda doesn't plan on annexing the US in even their wildest dreams so they would have no reason to care about damage to an asset - it is even cheap and uses highly available tools locally. Yet they never even attempted it. The closest thing was considering bringing a plane into a nuclear powerplant until they did the math and realized that it wouldn't cause a meltdown, radiation leakage, or even loss of power - it would cause cosmetic damage.
You could bring down a power grid in a European nation by a well timed series of strikes on major substations and the parts to replace them just aren't held in stock (not in large numbers) and the lead time is long.
The economic damage from blacking out entire regions would be catastrophic.
Otherwise our track record isn't stellar. The efforts with other diseases that could be eradicated have struggled. Polio is closest with just a few remaining countries. Future eradication attempts may be much harder due to the rise of anti-vaxxers.
Actually Guinea worm disease is closest to eradication: closer than polio. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eradication_of_dracunculiasis
The standard vaccination schedule is comprised of vaccinations with benefits which outweigh the medical risk and cost. If you travel to less developed areas you may receive a wider array of vaccinations.
For an eradicated disease there is no benefit and therefore no reason to assume the risk, or cost.
Weaponized smallpox almost certainly exists. It escaped a Soviet lab in the 70s and other countries including the US worked on it.
Smallpox is uniquely deadly... it wiped out something like 75% of the indigenous population of the americas.
The indigenous people were exposed to many diseases, not just smallpox:
>...Numerous diseases were brought to North America, including bubonic plague, chickenpox, cholera, the common cold, diphtheria, influenza, malaria, measles, scarlet fever, sexually transmitted diseases, typhoid, typhus, tuberculosis, and pertussis (whooping cough). Each of these brought destruction through sweeping epidemics, involving disability, illness, and extensive deaths
>...it wiped out something like 75% of the indigenous population of the americas.
It's hard to give a precise estimate of how many deaths occurred. Some say it was much higher than 75%. For example:
>...Between 1492 and 1650 the Native American population may have declined by as much as 90% as the result of virgin-soil epidemics (outbreaks among populations that have not previously encountered the disease), compound epidemics, crop failures and food shortages.
Yep, when they shipped us off to the Middle East in '03 they gave us the smallpox vaccination even if you had it as a kid because, well, WMDs.
Don't think I had it as a kid since I was born in '71 and that's around the time they were phasing it out -- or at least didn't have the vaccination scar before '03.
1) In some (fairly small) fraction of recipients it lead to severe side-effects, including death.
2) It was a live-virus vaccine, which meant a vaccine recipient could actually infect those around them (with the vaccine, effectively). This was a serious problem if anyone near the recipient was immune-compromised; the risk of deleterious side-effects in immune-compromised individuals, who would not be vaccinated normally) was much higher.
There is a modern (a few years old!) smallpox vaccine that is a dead-virus vaccine and would have a very different cost-benefit tradeoff in medical terms. I don't know what the economic tradeoff looks like (i.e. how expensive it is).
> Based on past experience, it is estimated that 1 or 2 people in 1 million (0.000198 percent) who receive the vaccine may die as a result, most often the result of postvaccinial encephalitis or severe necrosis in the area of vaccination (called progressive vaccinia). Given these risks, as smallpox became effectively eradicated and the number of naturally occurring cases fell below the number of vaccine-induced illnesses and deaths, routine childhood vaccination was discontinued in the United States in 1972, and was abandoned in most European countries in the early 1970s.
No military involvement necessary, only emotional restraint and emphasis on rationality.