Letter: Eradication of smallpox has lessons for Covid-19

Publié le 5 août 2020 à 11:51


From Sam Rainsy, Former finance minister of Cambodia, Exiled in Paris, France


As rich country governments rush to sign contracts worth billions of dollars with drug companies to secure supplies of a Covid-19 vaccine (Report, July 30) it is worth remembering the work of William Foege in combating smallpox in west Africa in the 1970s.


The American physician and epidemiologist showed there was a better alternative.


The initial plan had been to vaccinate the whole population of countries in the region. But Professor Foege discovered it was much more important to identify and vaccinate those immediately at risk of infection.


Once this was done, then there was no need to vaccinate everyone: only 750,000 people out of a population of over 12 million were inoculated.


Smallpox in west Africa was eradicated ahead of schedule and below budget in 1977.


Sam Rainsy

Former finance minister of Cambodia Exiled in Paris, France

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