As I understand it, the variola virus's genome is known and it is possible to recreate it in a lab.
But yes, the more accessible this technology becomes, the greater the danger.
I have a microscope from my uncle, also a doctor, which came with a ton of slides he prepared. If you don't know someone who had to build that collection of their own specimens in med school, you can get all kinds of prepared slides commercially:
> Human Cell Mucus Membrane Smear 72 Dense Connective Tissue Section 73 Ciliated Epithelium Section 74 Oesophagus T.S.
75 Stomach Section 76 Small Intestine Section 77 Lung sec 78 Liver Section 79 Kidney Section 80 Spleen Section
81 Pancreas Section 82 Urinary Bladder Section 83 Ureter C.S. 84 Ovary Section 85 Testis Section 86 Oviduct T.S. 87 Uterus Sec.
88 Tongue L.S. 89 Trachea C.S. 90 Epididymis sec. 91 Large vein sec. 92 Thymus Sec. 93 Human Blood Smear
94 Motor Nerve W.M. 95 Spinal Cord C.S. 96 Human Hair W.M. 97 Artery and Vein C.S. 98 Arteriole C.S.
99 Human Skin Sweat Gland Section 100 Skin of Human(show hair follicle) Sec.
Also, one cadaver can generate an awful lot of slides. Each slide requires on the order of a microliter (1/1000 of a milliliter) of material, and a good microtome can cut samples with a thickness of a few micrometers (1/1000 millimeters). Essentially all medical students go through an anatomy class involving the dissection of a cadaver, and Google says there are 3.8 million doctors in China, so even with a generous assumption of 20 students per cadaver and a static field (it's not) with 50-year careers, that's still several thousand cadavers per year.
This strongly suggests that “organ donation” in China is as-needed and on-demand from political prisoners and ethnic/cultural undesirables.
> Although variolation eventually declined or was banned in some countries, it was still practiced in others. "Buying the smallpox" was still practiced in Sudan until the late nineteenth century. However, variolation survived longer elsewhere. During the World Health Organization's Smallpox Eradication Campaign, vaccination teams came across variolators in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and their samples were confiscated. In the early stages of the campaign, live virus was detected in some, but as the campaign progressed variolators could not replenish their stocks, and although virus particles were detected in some samples, very few contained live virus. Our knowledge about the survival of smallpox virus suggests that passage of time makes it extremely unlikely that any infectious samples have survived.
Not sure, but I'd hazard that someone driven enough to break into one of the few remaining facilities holding live stock of smallpox would also probably be willing to infect themselves with it so as not to worry about preserving it.
During the cold war, this was a polite way of saying "we know you have this capability, and guess what, so do we."
This announcement of a drug to treat smallpox is probably more about the reheating of the US/USSR cold-war again, than it is about a mission-impossible style caper with someone stealing a virus everyone already knows everything about.
They claim to have kept that stockpile going but they also said the same of the PPE stockpile...
 - https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2001/11/acambis-...
 - https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/bioterrorism-response-planning/...
This is why even though I've _reduced_ my use of bottled water, I keep an active supply of bottles on hand at a level sufficient for an emergency and consume through the stock to keep it fresh.
Which would be my main concern, because god knows what happened to Russia’s stockpile of weaponized smallpox after the fall of the USSR. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of that is still floating around somewhere in a freezer…
> Because smallpox is eradicated, the effectiveness of Tembexa was studied in animals infected with viruses that are closely related to the variola virus. Effectiveness was determined by measuring animals’ survival at the end of the studies. More animals treated with Tembexa survived compared to the animals treated with placebo. FDA approved Tembexa under the agency’s Animal Rule, which allows findings from adequate and well-controlled animal efficacy studies to serve as the basis of an approval when it is not feasible or ethical to conduct efficacy trials in humans.
That's a little disconcerting that there are viruses that are similar, that they're severe enough to kill the host, and that they're willing to use it in tests. Perhaps these viruses they're using aren't nearly as contagious? Or they're not transmissible to humans?
Some poxes are awful for the primary host. Camelpox apparently kills about a quarter of camels that contract it. Just like smallpox (humanpox?) kills about 25% of humans, actually. But camelpox rarely even infects humans, and is self-limiting when it does.
Monkeypox is bad in humans. Almost as bad as smallpox, but not as contagious.
(This kind of thing is why the UK has national-level contract tracing capabilities. Occasionally something shows up that's not particularly easy to spread, but bad enough that it needs stopping sooner rather than later. I think we've had a few SARS and MERS cases too.)
> A droplet of ACAM2000 is administered by the percutaneous route (scarification) using 15 jabs of a bifurcated needle. ACAM2000 should not be injected by the intradermal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, or intravenous route.
At the time it was just a shading tattoo needle.
5 points, 3 jabs. It was nothing.
Also the vaccination leaves a small scar, so there's that too. Then again, if you don't get vaccinated, get smallpox, and survive? You may be full of lots of little scars.
There's also probably some societal/political/social problems (or some other better word to fit this) to starting up vaccinations: it would seem strange to do it if we didn't have specific knowledge of a threat. Look at COVID: we know it's a threat and people don't get vaccinated. So with smallpox vaccinations you'll get some people who panic thinking there must be a threat, others saying if there's no threat then it's pointless and won't do it.
Also as we see from COVID (and if you look at the history of the polio vaccine along with the massive industrial complex around annual flu vaccines) it's clear that such efforts are truly & enormously massive and expensive and difficult. We can't really go around doing that for every potential threat.
Notably, what was approved by the FDA does not appear to be a vaccine, and is instead an anti viral medication effective against smallpox. Also notably, we don't truly know it's safety profile: it would be tough (and unethical) to infect humans with smallpox to try out the drug, so it was tested on animals and approved on the basis of those results. I guess if you want to develop medications against potential-but-not-yet-realized threats, that's the best you can do.
Because vaccination isn’t 0% risk. Very few people are going to acquiesce to vaccination for a functionally extinct virus nor should they. Perhaps those who want to should be able to but that’s another discussion.
Well this would not treat the problem, because smallpox is not the problem here. The fact that we're squishy fragile hosts/food, and bioweapons are getting easier and easier to make, is the problem.
If there was a smallpox vaccination campaign, unless completely secret, the bad actors would simply move on to a different virus/variant/fungus/bacteria.
The only real protection against any of this is to make sure the world has a similar vaccination regime, to ensure mutual destruction.
If that describes you then you really need to be putting out some serious DPS, glass-cannon style. Otherwise you need bulk up on CON and figure out your dump stats so you can tank effectively for the damage dealers/buffers/de-buffers.
No matter how small x is, x is > 0, which is the current chance of being infected by smallpox.
But somehow, they kept all vaccines banned for another 6 months killing hundreds of thousands. Nothing.
But in the last week they approved an Alzheimer's drug that basically doesn't work (they have 9 years to prove it) and a smallpox drug with no human studies.
Why couldn't we have unbanned the vaccines long before we did? Those that said we can't possibly approve something without following an exact process this week we're just totally proven wrong.
I think the bar for "not banning" should be lower. The bar for "medicare must pay infinity dollars for it" should be higher.
How doesn’t this make sense?
If there were no efficacy studies we could easily have wasted precious manufacturing and logistical resources in an ineffective vaccine which would have cost even more lives.
Not to mention increasing the vaccine hesitancy which is already a massive problem.
It's generally taken by a LOT of people and to PREVENT something. It's a proactive medicine rather than reactive. FDA is a lot less strict with reactive medication, especially in cases where the disease is just fucking awful.
This is also the technical reason why male birth control hasn't hit the market yet. They don't consider pregnancy to be an issue for men, but do for women. Hence they tolerate the side effects of BC for women a lot more.
This is the same rating the COVID vaccines received. Either we are reacting to a real threat or preparing for perceived threat.
It is possible some variola virus variant is being produced in a lab. This would obviously pose a risk necessitating precautionary measures.
> This is the same rating the COVID vaccines received.
That's true, but dozens of not-quite-so-urgent drugs have received those ratings as well.
Priority review: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priority_review#Uses_of_the_pr...
Fast Track: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/nda-and-bla-approvals/fast-track-a...
(safety testing in uninfected people should yield some information of course)
> Bioterrorism had already started 14 centuries before Christ, when the Hittites sent infected rams to their enemies.
The non-modern world was indeed a vary barbarous world. It is amazing how far we have come in such a short time.
Continue to vote and push forward.
If you look back even further, many of our ancestors were cannibals. Much of history was a pretty horrific time. All over the world.
I think (hope) that the world is getting better.
I wonder what people will look back and think of us.