Monday, December 08, 2014

NBC's "State of Affairs" touches on the possible threat of smallpox (maybe self-inflicted); History Channel has a documentary

I’ve discussed the CIA soap opera “State of Affairs” on the TV blog Nov. 17, but tonight’s episode, titled “Bang Bang”, after a text message early in the episode.
What’s important tonight is that the plot involved a sample of smallpox – variola virus – in a smaller village in Panama near the Colombian border (also a heavy drug-lord-controlled area), at one time placed there by the CIA.  A private "mercenary" company, supposedly associated with “lobbying” had taken it, with the help of a thief given “extreme rendition” in his own home in front of a young son by another CIA agent.  It’s all rather preposterous.
But it is true, it wouldn’t take too much for a state to design a variola to which we have no immunity.  And there’s a good question as to whether smallpox vaccinations should be resumed. 
The CDC has a page on smallpox.  It says there is a stockpile of vaccine if it is needed, but it is not made available.  The fact sheet seems a bit self-contradictory.  Here is the link
The History Channel has a documentary narrated by Arthur Kent, “Smallpox: Deadly Again?” , starting at the CDC in Atlanta, and describing the Soviet Union’s bioweapons’ programs, going all the way back to 1928.  Most people who survived to adulthood before 1800 had survived the virus and had pockmark scars as a result, which people "saw through", as if "beauty was in the eye of the beholder". 

Smallpox was used as a biological weapon back in the French and Indian Wars against native Americans.  It decimated the Aztecs in Mexico and some native populations for the Puritans, who thought God was making room for them!   Vaccinations stopped in 1972 (as the last case was thought to be closed), but even older people with vaccinations would not be fully protected, as the vaccination does not last a lifetime, were another epidemic to arise.  The havoc that a terrorist could cause if he got a hold of a sample say, from Russia's stockpiles (still widespread through the country, especially possibly in the NW) is unimaginable. 

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