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WHO defers decision on smallpox stocks

Crossposted from Nature’s newsblog.

The World Health Organization’s top-decision making body, the World Health Assembly, said today it would defer until 2014 any decision on the destruction of the two last known remaining stocks of the virus that causes smallpox. A US-resolution calling for the stocks to be maintained for at least another five years ran into opposition led by Iran, resulting in deadlock last night after a day of negotiations.

A consensus to defer the decision was only reached after further negotiations this morning (today is the last day of the World Health Assembly). Shortly after the assembly decided to not decide, I spoke with Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and head of the US delegation to the Geneva meeting. He says that Iran opposed in particular a clause in the US resolution that would have demanded that all countries affirm to WHO that they do not currently hold undeclared stocks of the virus.

Continue reading on Nature’s newsblog.

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