Containing smallpox in Victorian London
|The return of smallpox?|
Fears of terrorism
Smallpox is currently in the news once more. This is because of fears that the Variola major virus could be used in a biological weapon.
Quantities of the virus are still stored in several laboratories around the world. Any terrorist group that could obtain the virus might try to create a smallpox epidemic. Although this would be difficult, the possibility cannot be ignored.
An unprepared world
For most people, protection would depend on vaccination. Those vaccinated several decades ago will have little immunity left.
The production and rapid distribution of enough vaccine to protect large numbers of people would require an enormous effort. In poorer countries, where most people in the world live, few would get any protection.
Responding to a future crisis
This would require the immediate removal of the sick to isolation centres and the widest possible use of vaccination.
The speed, efficiency and dedication of the Metropolitan Asylums Board saved thousands of lives. Many millions of lives could depend on a similar rapid response to any future crisis.
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