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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 11:19 GMT
Smallpox 2002: Your reaction
A powerful drama-documentary about the risks of bio-terrorism was shown on BBC 2 on Tuesday night.

Smallpox 2002: Silent Weapon interweaved fact with fiction to show how a single act leads to terrifying consequences.

Doctors and scientists worried about the threat of bioterrorism fear no disease more than smallpox.

Smallpox is disfiguring, highly contagious (transmissible from person to person), and often fatal, killing at least one in three victims.

If you saw the programme, what was your reaction? Do you feel you feel that we have enough information on the potential risks?


This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


We must ensure that we have a big enough stockpile of vaccines to treat the whole country

Steve, UK
I thought that it was a very well made program. If all TV was like this I wouldn't begrudge paying my licence fee! With regards to the issues raised I find it terrifying to think that such a horrible act is possible and we have very little chance of doing anything about it. The only lesson that we can really learn from this is that we have to have enough of a stockpile of vaccines to treat the whole country, either we do this or we pay the price for our ignorance later.
Steve, UK

After watching the programme last night I think there's absolutely no point in worrying about what may or may not happen. If it happens then, as the programme very clearly demonstrated, the damage would be done before anyone realised. The solution is to start getting people vaccinated now just in case. After all the vaccination lasts several years and to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Rich, UK


It was disturbingly realistic

Rob Clark, England, UK
I watched this program horrified but fascinated at the same time. It was disturbingly realistic. I pray that if or when such a thing does break out that there are appropriate countermeasures at the ready. Even more worrying though is the question: Are certain people not already learning how to mutate a virus.
Rob Clark, England, UK

The programme was well made. But still it has left my husband and I very scared. We have two very young daughters. Does the UK have enough vaccinations for everybody in the UK? If not, why not? If not, get some immediately. Please.
Joanna, England


It was far too lifelike for my taste

Nick, UK
I thought the programme was extremely well made - but I found the issues it was dealing with terrifying. The programme was far too lifelike for my taste and has got me thinking that I would be better off staying at home rather than going into town today! I think it dealt with other important issues as well - the government hiding the truth to prevent a panic and the implementation of martial law for citizens' own safety.
Nick, UK

That documentary scared the living hell out of me! I'm terrified now. I'm going to go and buy an NBC suit tomorrow! Only joking. It was very well done and I enjoyed it. The best horror I've ever seen, simply because it was so realistic and believable.
Al, England

Another great program from the BBC! Well acted, and above all informative. Well done to the BBC.
Mark Thomas, Portsmouth, UK


I was reduced to tears more than once

Vicki Ramsell, UK
That was the single most powerful and disturbing, worrying, scary thing I have seen on TV. Ever. It is the first time I have ever responded online to anything. I was reduced to tears more than once because it was so real, especially due to the familiar voice of the narrator. Congratulations on such a well presented and well researched piece. I truly hope our government and leaders worldwide will take note of the issues raised and will not make the mistakes you highlighted. Thank you again for this amazing piece of television.
Vicki Ramsell, UK

A superb programme - "Smallpox 2002" - highlighting a terrible possibility. But why is it just smallpox we are worried about? After World War One 25-40 million people died of a flu (influenza) pandemic - more than were killed by the war - before the days of mass air travel, air conditioning, high city populations etc, etc. There is no vaccine against flu! Is this something the government is taking into account?
John Jenkins, UK

Scary to think this might happen or be happening. Vaccinate now, in a calm, orderly fashion.
TC, UK, UK

As a student of health studies, I had grave concern for those who were unaware that this was a drama. It made me question the motives behind this documentary, although I felt that many facts were conveyed within this approach. I am concerned that now there will be an outcry from the nation for more information and increased pressure on the medical professionals (NHS).
Fi B, England


It's a scary thought and a real threat

Nathan Dawson, UK
I feel this programme shows the true way this evil disease can so easily travel so fast and how little we know and can do when all hell breaks lose. It's a scary thought and a real threat; It's got me thinking!
Nathan Dawson, UK

Shouldn't the BBC make it clear that the comments by the American expert at the end of the programme about plentiful stocks of vaccine being available applies to the USA and Canada and not the UK where the government decides not to purchase the vaccine to cover the entire population.
David Pilling, UK

Very thought provoking programme. What are the levels of vaccine in the UK? If there is not enough to vaccinate the entire population then weren't the programme makers giving ideas to potential terrorists?
Sean, England


I hope that this remains a world-class piece of drama

Alan Burke, UK
Just watched the programme. My initial thought was terror then admiration that someone had the vision to undertake and understand the scope of the issue. Remarkable. I hope that this remains a world-class piece of drama.
Alan Burke, UK

It's all too possible for this to be unleashed as at present nothing could prevent it. Far-reaching and absolutely frightening!!
Jeanne, US/ UK

If we have this threat in this country, why doesn't the Government give everybody a vaccine so that we may lead a more peaceful life? PLEASE PURSUE THIS - I want my children to grow up in a peaceful world.
Joanne Frisby, England


Stockpiles of the virus should be destroyed by both the US and Russia

Terry Johnson, UK
I think it is clear that there is a small threat of a very large number of causalities. On this basis, the small 'inconvenience' of reintroducing vaccination would be justified. Stockpiles of the virus should be destroyed by both the US and Russia as a confidence-building measure as soon as possible.
Terry Johnson, UK

Although some people may understandably feel this programme was insensitive to the ongoing terrorist threat and may be considered inappropriate for scare-mongering, I personally thought the programme makers handled a potentially real scenario very well indeed and with the necessary tact and forethought.
Henry, London, England

Perhaps it will encourage viewers to realise that Bush may have a point about the 'axis of evil'. Stop snivelling about those nasty horrid Americans and the Kyoto Treaty, there are more frightening things (and countries) to worry about.
KW, Australia

Isn't there enough lack of knowledge, hysteria and stuff around already, without mixing in fiction with reality just to scare viewers and boost ratings?!
James, England

Our governments will never provide full information, even when they have it. When the officials in NYC checked the subways for anthrax contamination, we didn't even know about it until after the fact. Had it been present, we would have already been exposed to it for days. There is a legitimate need to prevent mass panic, certainly. Still I wonder, how many lives is the government willing to sacrifice to preserve order? Even more disturbing, I suspect they are willing to sacrifice lives to protect the economy. Our dead postal workers attest to that. We are told the threats continue but the checks on bridges have lapsed to almost nothing.
Matthew, USA


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