An American epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox says the COVID-19 pandemic is not “the big one,” nor the last one, that humanity needs to worry about.
“If we had … a respiratory transmitted disease, and if it had the death rate of smallpox and the speed of transmission of measles, that, I think, would be … my greatest fear,” Dr Larry Brilliant told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
“The race between the [COVID-19] virus and the vaccines, I think, is a tie, which is pretty good given the head start we gave the virus. I think ‘the big one’ is the one that would win that race.”
Brilliant was part of a World Health Organization team that helped put an end to smallpox in India in the 1970s. Through widespread vaccination programs, education about the disease, and surveillance of cases, WHO eventually eradicated smallpox globally in 1980.
Today, Brilliant is the founder and CEO of Pandefense Advisory, which helps governments, businesses and non-profits respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics. As vaccines start to roll out around the world and humanity looks to the post-pandemic future, Brilliant warns that we must learn from the COVID-19 crisis. (CBC)