chicken pox? (re Jose on Stan and 911)

Andy Coates esquincle at
Sun Aug 3 09:11:49 MDT 2003

I quite agree with Jose about 911 and Stan Goff.  I am also grateful
for his educational, urgent yet conversational style.  So forgive me
for being a nerd, Jose - I know you meant to say smallpox.  Still the
larger point is right-on:

     "Instead we've gotten things like the Chicken Pox vaccination
     campaign, to me one of the most sinister things the Bush regime
     has done. Because only one country is known to have preserved
     chicken pox virus after its eradication in the wild quite a few
     years ago. That country is the     United States. If I were
     planning to use it as a weapon, vaccination on the home front
     is *precisely* what I would do."

(The chicken pox vaccine remains controversial in the U.S. pediatric
and family practice communities, so no campaign there, although it has
been adopted elsewhere widely (Japan).)

The smallpox vaccination campaign does appear to be one of the most
sinister things the Bush regime has done, replete with its official
suggestions (the familiar pattern of lies) that Russia has supplied
Iraq (or OBL or Iran or North Korea or fill in the blank) with
smallpox bioweapons.

The two places on earth, supposedly, where smallpox still exists are
"high security" freezers, in Atlanta, Georgia (at the Centers for
Disease Control) and Koltsovo, near Novosibirsk, Siberia (at the State
Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology).  Smallpox was
officially declared "eradicated from the face of the earth" in 1980,
after a successful World Health Organization effort.  Smallpox
vaccinations, already fallen out of use in developed countries, were
discontinued worldwide.  Finally, the destruction of the remaining
stocks of smallpox has been recommended by the WHO, which after all
would mean the real eradication of the virus.

(In line with Jose's point) the United States of America has had no
interest in, no intention of destroying its stock of smallpox.  And
has said so.  The timetable for destruction of smallpox had been
proposed several times during the 1990s.  American arguments employed
against the destruction of the virus stocks include scientific ones -
for instance that the unlocking the secrets of the contagiousness and
deadliness of the virus might elucidate something about the human
immune system - and more familiar political Cold War-type arguments -
the Russians will have it in secret, so the Americans must have it
too.  With recent revelations about the U.S. program to "weaponize"
anthrax - over previous aw shucks U.S. denials that it had bioweapons
at all - one must wonder about whether the U.S. has also tried to make
or in fact made smallpox weapons.

The last case of "wild" smallpox occurred in 1977, in Somalia.  The
following year a medical photographer at the Medical School of the
University of Birmingham, in Alabama, died of smallpox.  If I recall
the story I heard in medical school, she wasn't even working in the
lab where they were studying smallpox, but downstairs or upstairs from
it, a point used to demonstrate the virulence of the pathogen.  (The
researcher whose lab it was, the chair of microbiology, subsequently
committed suicide over the incident.)

The deadliness of smallpox remains.  Reiterating the figure "one-third
will die" on the NewsHour certainly holds the power to scare the piss
out of you.  In fact the mortality rate can be much higher in a
smallpox epidemic, for instance in 18th century Berlin 98% of children
under 5 who contracted smallpox died of the disease.  For spreading
panic, it seems a powerful rhetorical device, at least.

But what happened with the vaccination campaign?  The proposal was to
vaccinate all health workers, "stat."  But it turns out that there is
another potentially deadly infectious disease, vaccina, associated
with the vaccine.  Medical personnel can infect patients, particularly
those immunocompromised in any way, for some weeks after getting
vaccinated.  The wife of a surgeon who volunteered to be vaccinated
contracted vaccina and nearly died.  What's more, it is estimated that
4 of 1,000,000 vaccinated will die of vaccina themselves.  Finally, in
the context of an epidemic, the vaccine retains its efficacy if
administered within 48-72 hours of exposure.  As a result the American
medical community has balked wholesale at the proposed vaccination
campaign.  All of our local hospitals, for instance, have announced
they won't comply.

This pause has opened a space for us to talk about Jose's last point -
a discussion we might pursue - why have they proposed this if the
disease is eradicated?  What do they really know about smallpox
bioweapons?  If this smallpox scare is not just a propaganda weapon of
mass terror, what are they really planning?


For marxmail readers, I think smallpox might present a facinating
historical thread.  There's much to touch on not in this article, for
instance the ruin smallpox brought native Americans, but it is still
highly worthy

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