We have forgotten the sheer misery and suffering that diseases that can be prevented through vaccination have inflicted upon the human race. A case in point is smallpox. The smallpox virus produced fever, skin rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe infections would lead to internal hemorrhaging, hypotension, multiorgan failure, and death. The disease had a mortality that approached 30%, and it has been estimated that smallpox killed hundreds of millions of people throughout the ages. Those who survived would be left scarred and sometimes blind for the rest of their lives.
The video below has a simple and pretty straightforward description of smallpox and the development of a vaccine against the disease.
In the second video, the campaign by the World Health Organization to eradicate smallpox is described.
The last death from smallpox occurred 42 years ago and the virus has been eliminated from the face of the Earth, with the notable exception of its presence in two research laboratories (one in the US and another in Russia). Today in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, let’s remember what we have achieved in the past, let's be hopeful about what we can achieve in the future, and let us never belittle the critical role vaccines have played and will continue to play in these achievements.