Celebrating Eradication of a Feared Killer Disease

Smallpox had been killing humans for at least three thousand years - 300 million people in the 20th century alone - World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told media by teleconference from Geneva on 8 March - the 40th anniversary of the end of the disease. "Its eradication stands as the greatest public health triumph in history," Tedros said. "As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity's victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat." But there is a caution: a vaccine is not a panacea. It took 184 years from development of the first smallpox vaccine - and two decades from the launch of a vigorous vaccination campaign - before the WHO declared smallpox eradicated. Success required sufficient funding, international commitment and a coordinated global effort. Will that be possible for COVID-19?  

UN Stamp - 40th Anniversary of Eradication of Smallpox


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