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Will there be another case of smallpox by the end of 2029?
The last two cases of smallpox in the world happened in 1978, following the accidental exposure of Janet Parker to smallpox grown in a research laboratory below her workplace. After this, smallpox was declared eradicated, and there have been no cases since.
However, the smallpox virus still exists; the US and Russia maintain stocks of smallpox virus for research purposes in the World Health Organization approved facilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, United States, as well as the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, Russia.
These samples may not be needed, either; in 2017, Noyce et al. showed that it was possible to contruct an infectious horsepox virus from chemically synthesised DNA fragments in a small lab at a cost of about $100,000, and it may be possible to do the same for smallpox.
By the end of 2029, will there have been a confirmed case of infection of a human by smallpox?
Metaculus help: Predicting
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The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.
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Metaculus help: Community Stats
Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.
When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.
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