The World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in 1979. In the 40 years since that achievement, a smallpox-related debate has remained within the scientific community.
Experts across the globe are still unsure whether live virus samples should be stored or destroyed.
Smallpox, caused by the variola virus, has been stored in frozen test tubes in two laboratories to preserve the surviving strains of the virus. While most were collected during the time of eradication, there are some samples dated to the early 1930s. After the complete eradication the WHO decided that the frozen samples should be destroyed. What the organization did not decide is a date for that destruction.