Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Unsettling Possibilities: Despite Smallpox Eradication, Why Do Experts Remain Concerned?

In this edition of “3 BRILLIANT MINUTES,” we delve into the persisting apprehensions of scientists over the potential return of smallpox, a disease declared eradicated four decades ago. Despite the successful global vaccination campaign that led to its eradication, recent health crises have reignited concerns about its resurgence.

Winston Churchill famously warned, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This cautionary principle guides today’s discussion, as we explore why experts remain vigilant about a virus eradicated in 1980. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the last smallpox case was reported shortly before the World Health Organization marked the virus as eradicated worldwide.

However, the echoes of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2022 multinational Mpox outbreak have given scientists new reasons to worry. These events have exposed vulnerabilities in global health defenses, raising questions about our preparedness for similar threats.

But what could prompt the resurgence of smallpox, absent from the world stage for over four decades? A recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine highlights concerns over potential laboratory accidents or deliberate misuse of existing viral samples. Join Brad Spakowitz as we take “3 BRILLIANT MINUTES” to understand these complex dynamics, reminding us that the shield of vaccination, though strong, may not be impervious to the tests of time and human error.

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