The U.S. health secretary says the last-known stockpiles of the smallpox virus won't be destroyed anytime soon in part out of fear that one of the world's deadliest diseases could be used as a bioweapon.
U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius told reporters Tuesday that the sole U.S. and Russian stockpiles would remain in place for at least another five years when the World Health Organization could review the situation.
She said on the sidelines of a WHO assembly debating the matter that the U.S. is "committed to the eventual destruction" of the stockpiles but fears that smallpox could still re-emerge and be released unintentionally or deliberately used as a bioweapon. Scientists would need the virus to create a vaccine.
Smallpox in the environment was eradicated three decades ago.