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Smallpox is an acute infectious disease caused by the variola virus that has been responsible for more human deaths than almost any other agent in history. The disease was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1980 after the annual number of deaths dropped from around 50 million people in the 1950s to two million annually in the late 1960s to zero between 1977 and 1980 thanks to a program of vaccinations. The virus is kept in four secure laboratories around the world in case there is a need to restart production of vaccines, although stocks of vaccine sufficient to treat some 200 million people are maintained. This fact has given rise to some concern over the possible use of the virus ...

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