A recent TED-Ed lesson by Walter A. Orenstein and Julie Garon focuses on learning the lesson from smallpox about how to eradicate other diseases. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 after decades of international cooperation to distribute the vaccine against the disease. The lesson explains the challenges in eradicating other diseases, and why smallpox was the perfect candidate for eradication.
For most of human history, we have sought to treat and cure diseases. But only in recent decades did it become possible to ensure that a particular disease never threatens humanity again. Julie Garon and Walter A. Orenstein detail how the story of smallpox – the first and only disease to be permanently eliminated – shows how disease eradication can happen, and why it is so difficult to achieve.