On October 26, 1978, the World Health Organization announced the eradication of the smallpox virus in nature

During their existence on the planet, people had been through many epidemic outbreaks. And to defeat the diseases, many means were invented. One of them is vaccination. Another effective weapon is knowledge.

Now that all the scientists of the planet have united in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, it’s time to remember that we have a successful experience in defeating a dangerous virus: on October 26, 1978, the World Health Organization announced the eradication of the smallpox virus in nature.

smallpox virus

smallpox virus

Smallpox is a viral disease spread by airborne transmission, or through objects that an infected person touched. The disease has a relatively long incubation period – during 7-17 days there may be no symptoms at all. Later, the patient’s body temperature rises, fatigue and nausea appear. Further, the mechanism of the disease development is characterized by a decrease in fever and the appearance of a nodular-bubbly rash with fluid inside on the skin and mucous membranes. The disease leaves scars on the body.

The mortality rate of the disease is 30%. For 3,000 years, science has been in search of an effective means to combat smallpox. It turned out to be a global vaccination carried out by WHO since the second half of the 1960s. Since then, smallpox has been under control: the last natural outbreak was recorded in 1977 in Somalia. Now two laboratories have the right to store the virus and conduct research: the Russian Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in the Novosibirsk Oblast, Russia, and the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia, the USA.

In 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, at a briefing in Geneva, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the eradication of smallpox “the greatest public health triumph in history,” the victory over which is "a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat.”

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