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Statement on Smallpox

STATEMENT by the Norwegian delegation to the 72nd World Health Assembly on agenda item 12.6, the destruction of variola virus stocks.

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Chair;

Norway note the report from the Director General on destruction of variola virus stocks.

We acknowledge the view of the Advisory Committee that live variola virus is still needed for the further development of antiviral agents against smallpox.

Countries now need to consider the health preparedness consequences of re-emergence of smallpox due to synthetic biology technology.

The Norwegian government has recently proposed to the parliament a purchase of modern smallpox vaccine as a preparedness measure.

There are several similar challenges that we may have to consider in the years to come. There are no easy answers on these questions.

We would therefor encourage the WHO secretariat to report on the global state of preparedness in the event of re-emergence of smallpox due to synthetic biology technology.

Thank you