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…
“You hear with coronavirus about contact tracing and how difficult that is. That’s what we were doing with smallpox,” Foege said, noting back then the work was done without computers or cellphones.
…In May of 1974, in a single state in India, 1,500 smallpox cases were being identified every day. “And every one of those cases involved a new investigation. So 1,500 investigations a day,” Foege said. “I’m surprised now, with all of our communications and things, that people think tracing Covid-19 is too difficult.”
Within a year of using this containment approach, transmission in the state, Bihar, stopped, Foege said.
Foege, who is a legend in global health circles, called the idea of defunding the WHO “illogical.” He warned the United States risks isolation on the global health stage if it pursues this approach.