Eradication Of Smallpox, Polio, And COVID-19
A worldwide campaign led by WHO that began in 1959 and subsequently escalated in 1967 successfully eliminated smallpox. It involved 10,000 healthcare professionals from all across the world who gave an estimated 500 million immunizations. The increased effort, coordinated by WHO, was estimated to have cost 300 million USD in cash from international donors and national contributions. These investments proved to be wise because they have saved the world more than $1 billion USD annually since 1980. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, said at a virtual event held at WHO headquarters to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, “As the world faces 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.
Smallpox was mostly avoided through various methods, such as variolation before Jenner created the vaccine in 1796. As a result, the illness quickly decreased in most of the Western world. The vaccine, however, was not equally distributed over the world. It was not until a global campaign to eradicate smallpox started in 1967 that all nations had access to the drug, leading to the disease’s elimination by 1980. Eradication needed cooperation and assistance, but these things took a long time to develop. For instance, in 1959, WHO announced a goal to eradicate smallpox. Lack of resources, vaccination accessibility, and international cooperation hindered those efforts. In 1967, a brand-new initiative called the Intensified Eradication Program was initiated under the auspices of WHO. Although the disease had been wiped out in North America and Europe by this time, outbreaks continued to affect some regions of South America, Africa, and Asia. A turning point occurred during the Cold War when, despite significant geopolitical, and political tensions, the Soviet Union and the USA cooperated on strategy, logistics, and vaccine donations to help eradicate the disease.
Eradication Of Smallpox, Polio, And COVID-19
Some of the most notable epidemics include the bubonic plague in the 14th century, smallpox in the 18th century, influenza in the 20th century, and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in the 21st century. It is estimated that the bubonic plague caused 25 million deaths in Europe in the 14th century alone, and up to 200 million total deaths across centuries (Glatter & Finkelman, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic spread at an unprecedented pace due to globalization and the mobility of society, killing millions worldwide. These are dramatic examples of the kinds of acute outbreaks that make epidemiology such an important field of study.
At the beginning of the 21st century, many epidemiologists and healthcare professionals were concerned about the next potential pandemic or epidemic—and then it arrived in early 2020. Globalization means that when these infectious outbreaks occur, they can spread quickly, but we also have more knowledge and better tools (e.g., vaccine technology) to fight them. For this Discussion, you will compare lessons learned from two successful eradication efforts, that of smallpox and polio, and consider how they may be applied to COVID-19.
- Review the Learning Resources, focusing on the smallpox and polio epidemics and how health organizations applied principles of epidemiology to eradicate (or in the case of polio, nearly eradicate) these diseases.
- In light of these examples, consider the benefits of addressing smallpox and polio at the population level. What were the population health strategies that were used in the efforts to eradicate smallpox and polio?
- Consider similarities and differences from an epidemiologic perspective among the smallpox and polio epidemics and that of COVID-19.
- Think about how principles of epidemiology are being applied—or could be applied—to address COVID-19.
- What lessons from the use of infectious disease epidemiology in the past might be applicable to controlling COVID 19?
- What are the benefits of addressing this issue at the population level as opposed to the individual level?
By Day 3 of Week 9
Post a cohesive response that addresses the following:
- Briefly summarize the epidemiologic differences among the three diseases and how principles of epidemiology are being applied—or could be applied—to address COVID-19.
- Are there any lessons learned from the use of epidemiology in the eradication of smallpox and polio that could be applied to COVID-19?
- Evaluate the benefits of addressing this health problem at the population level versus the individual level. Support your Discussion with information from this week’s Learning Resources and articles you have located in the Walden Library.