This article appeared in the March 23-30, 2015 edition of The Nation.
Measles, like polio and smallpox, is a horrible disease - it's still a major killer of young children in the developing world. The creation of a vaccine was widely welcomed. Measles is so contagious that it is used as the indicator disease to show deficits in immunization coverage of all vaccine-preventable diseases-which means the problem goes well beyond measles. We are now seeing outbreaks of whooping cough in the US, mumps in Britain and tuberculosis more widely.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
American and Russian officials always insist that their smallpox repositories, under WHO oversight, are well guarded. But experience tells us that scientists working in laboratories with the highest biosafety standards are still caught off guard by technical breakdowns, that their staffs make mistakes and break rules, and that a predictable institutional reflex is to cover up blunders.
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