Fact Check: Did vaccines not eradicate smallpox?

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Quick Take

An online Substack essay suggests that the century-old smallpox pandemic response is similar to the Covid-19 anti-vaccination response. This essay has claimed that smallpox was not eradicated by vaccination but due to other health initiatives. We fact-checked and found the claim to be False.

The Claim

A Substack user named A Midwestern Doctor, published an essay titled, “The smallpox pandemic response was eerily similar to COVID”. Several social media users have shared short pieces of this essay that seems to fuel Covid-19 misinformation among readers.

Fact Check

Was smallpox not eradicated by vaccination?

No. The published studies hyperlinked later in this story suggests that vaccination played a crucial role in eradicating smallpox completely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites also show that vaccination was essential to eradicate smallpox.

The American Museum of Natural History website has shown that smallpox ‘killed more than 300 million people since 1900 alone’. The CDC website further highlights that WHO ‘started a plan to rid the world of smallpox’ in 1959 to declare the world free of smallpox in 1980.

It was Edward Jenner who invented the vaccination for smallpox and set the foundations of immunological studies.

The British government made vaccination mandatory for everyone under the United Kingdom Vaccination Act 1853. Soon after which, anti-vaccination leagues became apparent in the country. Later Leicester became the hub of all these anti-vaccination leagues. 

The Substack letter claims, “Leicester’s government was replaced, mandatory vaccination abolished, and public health measures rejected by the medical community were implemented. These measures were highly successful, and once adopted globally ended the smallpox epidemic, something most erroneously believed arose from vaccination.” Also, these measures led to the formation of the Leicester Method which is inclusive of prompt notification, quarantine measures and disinfection strategy.

However, available literature has shown that the Leicester Methods was formed by people who believed in the vaccination but recognised its limitations within a community.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website has shown that vaccination was essential to eradicate smallpox. Moreover, the Center for Global Development website has again confirmed the same. From the available literature, it seems that quarantine measures, well-established before vaccination, played their part but could not have achieved eradication alone.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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