Smallpox Eradication Has Lessons For Coronavirus Fight, Say Experts, WHO DG

STAT: What the world learned in eradicating smallpox: Unity mattered
“Forty years ago, the world celebrated the vanquishing of a formidable foe, smallpox, which had maimed and killed millions for centuries. On May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization declared that smallpox had been eradicated. That milestone, reached while the Cold War still raged, is an example of what the public health world can achieve when it works together — and is particularly resonant in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign against smallpox took 21 years and required not just vaccinations but tracking and isolating new cases. ‘We learned a lot of lessons in smallpox, but one of them is the absolute necessity of coalitions,’ William ‘Bill’ Foege, one of the architects of the smallpox eradication program, told STAT…” (Branswell, 5/8).

U.N. News: Lessons from 40 year ‘victory over smallpox’ can be used to combat coronavirus today
“…The eradication [of smallpox] ‘stands as the greatest public health triumph in history,’ said World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a virtual event, adding that ‘there are many lessons to learn’ from the scientific achievement ‘that can help fight COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics’. Many of the basic public health tools that were used successfully to combat smallpox are the same ones that have been deployed to respond to Ebola and COVID-19, namely, disease surveillance, case finding, contact tracing, and mass communication campaigns to inform affected populations. ‘The smallpox eradication campaign had one crucial tool that we don’t have for COVID-19 yet’, said Mr. Ghebreyesus, ‘a vaccine’…” (5/8).

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