- In the early 1950s an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurred in the world each year. To eradicate smallpox, each outbreak had to be stopped from spreading, by isolation of cases and vaccination of everyone who lived close by. This process is known as "ring vaccination". The key to this strategy was the monitoring of cases in a community (known as surveillance) and containment. The initial problem the WHO team faced was inadequate reporting of smallpox cases, as many cases did not come to the attention of the authorities. The fact that humans are the only reservoir for smallpox infection, and that carriers did not exist, played a significant role in the eradication of smallpox. The WHO established a network of consultants who assisted countries in setting up surveillance and containment activities. Early on, donations of vaccine were provided primarily by the Soviet Union and the United States, but by 1973, more than 80 percent of all vaccine was produced in developing countries.
The greatest technological innovation of the 1900's is going to be mass vaccinations. Hands down the world wide coordinated effort to wage war on humanity's greatest mass murders will go down as one of our pinnacle achievements, even more so than the moon landings. 50 million yearly infects to ZERO in 25 years. That is what a functional government and NGO system can do, and they did it on the cheap all things considered.
- In 1967, the World Health Organization intensified the global smallpox eradication by contributing $2.4 million annually to the effort, and adopted the new disease surveillance method promoted by Czech epidemiologist Karel Raška.
I've seen estimates floating around that smallpox eradication cost a grand total of 5 billion US in current dollars. That is below the Fortune 500's combined budget for bribes, hookers, and blow. Think what we could do now if only...