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As of March 2021, Covid-19 has killed more than 2.5 million people. It’s brought on a dramatic economic downfall, a mental health crisis, and has generally just put the world on pause. But we don’t have to look far back in history to see how much worse it could have been.
Smallpox was twice as contagious as Covid-19, and over 60 times as deadly. It plagued humanity for centuries, left many survivors blinded and covered in scars, and killed hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century alone. But today, smallpox has been eradicated. Through a massive global effort, we were able to wipe the disease completely out of existence.
So can we do the same thing with Covid-19? And if we can’t, what are our other options?
Read the article this video is based on, by Kelsey Piper: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21493812/smallpox-eradication-vaccines-infectious-disease-covid-19
On Smallpox: https://www.amazon.com/House-Fire-Eradicate-Smallpox-California/dp/0520274474 https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/history/history.html
Edward Jenner’s story and more on the first vaccine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1200696/ https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/smallpox-vaccines https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/special-edition-on-infectious-disease/2014/the-fight-over-inoculation-during-the-1721-boston-smallpox-epidemic/
On the Balmis Expedition, which brought the smallpox vaccine around the world: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/01/orphans-smallpox-vaccine-distribution/617646/
The fascinating story of the last smallpox outbreak in the United States: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/18/nyregion/nyc-smallpox-vaccine.html
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.
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