Culture

I’ve Been Thinking About Smallpox

By Bernie Bell

That might seem like a strange thing to say, and a strange thing to think about, but…here’s my line of thought……

Not very long ago, Smallpox was prevalent in Britain, and the world.  Victorian England isn’t all that far away in time.  In Bleak House by Charles Dickens, the main female character – Esther – has had Smallpox, which has left her facially disfigured.

That’s how it was in Britain at the time. Rich or poor were equally likely to become victims of the disease. A rich person could be walking down a street, even a posh street, a crossing-sweeper passes by – the disease could be transmitted – either way.

When a person caught it they either died, or could be left with lasting effects, or very rarely recover completely.

If this all sounds familiar – it’s meant to.

Then a vaccine was developed, and Smallpox was not only eradicated in Britain, but all over the world. It only exists now in a small sample which is, allegedly, being kept for research, if research is ever necessary.  I don’t quite understand this as, if Smallpox broke out again there would be samples to work on – they wouldn’t need the one kept in the lab.  Maybe research on that particular organism  could help when working to understand a similar organism?

Another reason to keep a sample could be the question of – is it wise, or ethical in a strange way, to completely wipe out a particular kind of organism on purpose because it happens to have a very bad effect on humans?

Whatever the rights and wrongs are – a sample is being kept for just in case – allegedly.

What I was thinking about, and the point I’m hoping to make is this – not very long ago, Smallpox was a widespread killer and maimer.

It was eradicated – completely, so completely that they need to keep a sample, specially.

Covid – equally transmittable – but there is a better understanding of that kind of transmitability these days.  Not only a vaccine, but a number of vaccines, have been developed.

concerted effort, nationally and internationally, and we could see the back of Covid, the same as we saw the back of Smallpox.

This all came about because I read in the ‘Orcadian’ of how the Indian Garden restaurant in Kirkwall provided lunch for the staff of the Balfour hospital, as a ‘Thank  You’ for doing what they do and being so great! 

This got me thinking about and remembering some scrumptious meals we’ve had at the Indian Garden https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/05/14/just-a-good-pace-to-eat/ , and wondering, yet again, when we might feel comfortable about going out for a meal again. Thinking it will all have to have an end, sometime, and to be patient.

It can happen, and it will happen.  Covid will go the way of Smallpox. No real reason why not – if a CONCERTED EFFORT is made!

2 replies »

  1. An interesting, and desirous theory…
    However, in the days when Smallpox was eradicated, there were far fewer anti-vaxxers, worldwide travel was less easy and available…and governments in general were a deal more trustworthy…
    I fear we’ll have an uphill struggle.

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