Of all human infectious diseases, smallpox is believed to have resulted in more human deaths throughout history than from any other single pathogen. The causative agent of smallpox, Variola virus, was eradicated from natural existence in 1977, through a global vaccination effort administered by the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, the only official stores of Variola are in freezers of two research sites: one at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and one at the VECTOR research facility in Russia. Should these samples be kept for future scientific research? Or should they be destroyed as the samples are too dangerous to keep? Jerram’s sculpture was used on the front cover of a book debating these issues.
Editions of this work are on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; The Corning Museum, New York and the Wellcome Collection, London.