During the last considerable epidemic at the turn of the century, I was a member of the Health Committee of London Borough Council, and I learned how the credit of vaccination is kept up statistically by diagnosing all the revaccinated cases (of smallpox) as pustular eczema, varioloid or what not---except smallpox.
George Bernard Shaw
Already published reports, as well as our own observations indicate that smallpox vaccination sometimes produces manifestations of leukemia. In children and adults observed in the clinics of Cracow, smallpox vaccination has been followed by violent local and general reactions and by leukemia.
The last few centuries have seen the world freed from several scourges-slavery, for example; death by torture for heretics; and, most recently, smallpox. I am optimistic enough to believe that the next scourge to disappear will be large-scale warfare-killed by the existence and nonuse of nuclear weapons.
Luis Walter Alvarez
In the early 1800s, both Spain and Portugal disseminated the smallpox vaccine throughout the Americas via the 'arm to arm of the blacks,' that is, enslaved Africans and African-Americans, often children, who were being moved along slave routes as cargo from one city to another to be sold.
When you look at it objectively, that's what most colonists do-they land then find a way of wiping out their competition. In America is was blankets covered with smallpox and in Australia it was permits to hunt aborigines. If you wipe a whole people from the face of the earth, then there's no one to point fingers at you. It's just their spirits that haunt you and spirits can't do shit.
While the vaccine discovery was progressive, the joy I felt at the prospect before me of being the instrument destined to take away from the world one of its greatest calamities [smallpox], blended with the fond hope of enjoying independence and domestic peace and happiness, was often so excessive that, in pursuing my favourite subject among the meadows, I have sometimes found myself in a kind of reverie.
Harriet Washington, in 'Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present,' documents the smallpox experiments Thomas Jefferson performed on his Monticello slaves. In fact, much of what we now think of as public health emerged from the slave system.
While eliminating smallpox and curtailing cholera added decades of life to vast populations, cures for the chronic diseases of old age cannot have the same effect on life expectancy. A cure for cancer would be miraculous and welcome, but it would lead to only a three-year increase in life expectancy at birth.
S. Jay Olshansky
If a man loves a woman for her beauty, does he love her? No; for the smallpox, which destroys her beauty without killing her, causes his love to cease. And if any one loves me for my judgment or my memory, does he really love me? No; for I can lose these qualities without ceasing to be.
Science, pure science, is leading us in a sense astray. Leading us astray with the idea that everybody has got to have everything that they want even if it means polluting the entire environment. It is a case of lets just keep one or two canisters of the smallpox virus because we'll never know when we might need it. Science is becoming very much a Dark Power, in many ways.
If you were to go, and hopefully someday you will, you would see a lot of paintings of dead people. You'd see Jesus on the cross, and you'd see a dude get stabbed in the neck, and you'd see people dying at sea and in battle and a parade of martyrs. But Not. One. Single. Cancer. Kid. Nobody biting it from the plague or smallpox or yellow fever or whatever, because there is no glory in illness. There is no meaning to it. There is no honor in dying of.
Throughout the early Christian period, every great calamity - famine, earthquake, and plague - led to mass conversions, another indirect influence by which epidemic diseases contributed to the destruction of classical civilization. Christianity owes a formidable debt to bubonic plague and to smallpox, no less than to earthquake and volcanic eruptions.
If you were to go, and hopefully someday you will, you would see a lot of paintings of dead people. You'd see Jesus on the cross, and you'd see a dude getting stabbed in the neck, and you'd see people dying at sea and in battle and a parade of martyrs. But Not. One. Single. Cancer. Kid. Nobody biting it from the plague or smallpox or yellow fever or whatever, because there is no glory in illness. There is no meaning to it. There is no honor in dying of.
A child who had been introduced to misery in Saudi Arabia, a teenager who went to wage jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, a deeply devout Muslim who had graduated with honors in medicine, a man who had fed a stranger to wild dogs in Damascus, a zealot who had dosed three foreigners with smallpox and watched them die in agony, gave thanks to Allah for the blessings that had been bestowed upon him.
In 1980 we declared the globe free of smallpox. It was the largest campaign in United Nations history until the Iraq war. A hundred and fifty thousand people from all over the world, doctors of every race, religion, culture and nation, who fought side by side, brothers and sisters, with each other, not against each other, in a common cause to make the world better.
This year, 1996, has been designated the 'Year of the Vaccine,' commemorating the 200th anniversary of Edward Jenner's vaccination of James Phipps with cowpox virus and subsequent challenge with smallpox virus. Insight into the nature of viruses, and how viruses interact with mammalian cells, has evolved since the turn of the century.
Peter C. Doherty
My general theory since 1971 has been that the word is literally a virus, and that it has not been recognized as such because it has achieved a state of relatively stable symbiosis with its human host; that is to say, the word virus (the other Half) has established itself so firmly as an accepted part of the human organism that it can now sneer at gangster viruses like smallpox and turn them in to the Pasteur Institute.
William S. Burroughs
In this article we begin to address the subject of vaccinosis, the general name for chronic dis-ease caused by vaccines. For some readers the very idea that vaccines are anything but wonderful and life-saving may come as a surprise, and it's not a very pleasant one. After all, the general population pictures vaccines as one of modern medicine's best and brightest moments, saving literally millions from the scourge of diseases like poliomyelitis and smallpox.
Only yesterday mankind lived in fear of the scourges of smallpox, cholera and plague that once swept nations before them. Now our major concern is no longer with the disease organisms that once were omnipresent; sanitation, better living conditions, and new drugs have given us a high degree of control over infectious disease. Today we are concerned with a different kind of hazard that lurks in our environment-a hazard we ourselves have introduced into our world as our modern way of life has evolved.
Occasionally they came to villages, and at each village they encountered a roadblock of fallen trees. Having had centuries of experience with the smallpox virus, the village elders had instituted their own methods for controlling the virus, according to their received wisdom, which was to cut their villages off from the world, to protect their people from a raging plague. It was reverse quarantine, an ancient practice in Africa, where a village bars itself from strangers during a time of disease, and drives away outsiders who appear. (94)
Welcome baby it's your turn to live they're laying for you chicken pox whooping cough smallpox malaria TB heart disease cancer and so on unemployment hunger and so on train wrecks bus accidents plane crashes on-the-job injuries earthquakes floods droughts and so on heartbreak alcoholism and so on nightsticks prisons doors and so on they're laying for you the atom bomb and so on welcome baby it's your turn to live they're laying for you socialism communism and so on.
A man who says that no patriot should attack the [war] until it is over is not worth answering intelligently; he is saying that no good son should warn his mother off a cliff until she has fallen over it. But there is an anti-patriot who honestly angers honest men... he is the uncandid candid friend; the man who says, "I am sorry to say we are ruined, " and is not sorry at all... Granted that he states only facts, it is still essential to know what are his emotions, what is his motive. It may be that twelve hundred men in Tottenham are down with smallpox; but we want to know whether this is stated by some great philosopher who wants to curse the gods, or only by some common clergyman who wants to help the men.
Certainly there was the Affordable Care Act part, then unaccompanied children [there has been a surge of children entering the country illegally and without parents, particularly in Texas], and things like, we find smallpox in an NIH lab, after 50 years? Why didn't you find it, like, five weeks ago or three years ago? There was thing after thing. But the big ones were [dealing with] the Ebola [outbreak], the unaccompanied children. [It was] perhaps a bigger challenge than I had calculated on my yellow pad as I was thinking about this role.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Here's the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark. But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, "They'll remember me now, " but (a) they don't remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion... We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can't stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it's silly and useless-epically useless in my current state-but I am an animal like any other. Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We're as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we're not likely to do either. People will say it's sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it's not sad, Van Houten. It's triumphant. It's heroic. Isn't that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm. The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn't actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn't get smallpox... But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar... What else? She is so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
What Friedan gave to the world was, "the problem that has no name." She not only named it but dissected it. The advances of science, the development of labor-saving appliances, the development of the suburbs: all had come together to offer women in the 1950s a life their mothers had scarcely dreamed of, free from rampant disease, onerous drudgery, noxious city streets. But the green lawns and big corner lots were isolating, the housework seemed to expand to fill the time available, and polio and smallpox were replaced by depression and alcoholism. All that was covered up in a kitchen conspiracy of denial... [i]nstead the problem was with the mystique of waxed floors and perfectly applied lipstick.
From Lankaster to Lorenz, scientists have gotten it wrong. Parasites are complex, highly adapted creatures that are at the heart of the story of life. If there hadn't been such high walls dividing scientists who study life - the zoologists, the immunologists, the mathematical biologists, the ecologists - parasites might have been recognized sooner as not disgusting, or at least not merely disgusting. If parasites were so feeble, so lazy, how was it that they could manage to live inside every free-living species and infect billions of people? How could they change with time so that medicines that could once treat them became useless? How could parasites defy vaccines, which could corral brutal killers like smallpox and polio?
Van Houten, I'm a good person but a shitty writer. You're a shitty person but a good writer. We'd make a good team. I don't want to ask you any favors, but if you have time - and from what I saw, you have plenty - I was wondering if you could write a eulogy for Hazel. I've got notes and everything, but if you could just make it into a coherent whole or whatever? Or even just tell me what I should say differently. Here's the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark. But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, 'They'll remember me now, ' but (a) they don't remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion. (Okay, maybe I'm not such a shitty writer. But I can't pull my ideas together, Van Houten. My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations.) We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can't stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it's silly and useless - epically useless in my current state - but I am an animal like any other. Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We're as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we're not likely to do either. People will say it's sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it's not sad, Van Houten. It's triumphant. It's heroic. Isn't that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm. The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn't actually invented anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn't get smallpox. After my PET scan lit up, I snuck into the ICU and saw her while she was unconscious. I just walked in behind a nurse with a badge and I got to sit next to her for like ten minutes before I got caught. I really thought she was going to die, too. It was brutal: the incessant mechanized haranguing of intensive care. She had this dark cancer water dripping out of her chest. Eyes closed. Intubated. But her hand was still her hand, still warm and the nails painted this almost black dark blue and I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar. A nurse guy came in and told me I had to leave, that visitors weren't allowed, and I asked if she was doing okay, and the guy said, 'She's still taking on water.' A desert blessing, an ocean curse. What else? She is so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
They're all gone, my tribe is gone. Those blankets they gave us, infected with smallpox, have killed us. I'm the last, the very last, and I'm sick, too. So very sick. Hot. My fever burning so hot. I have to take off my clothes, feel the cold air, splash water across my bare skin. And dance. I'll dance a Ghost Dance. I'll bring them back. Can you hear the drums? I can hear them, and it's my grandfather and grandmother singing. Can you hear them? I dance one step and my sister rises from the ash. I dance another and a buffalo crashes down from the sky onto a log cabin in Nebraska. With every step, an Indian rises. With every other step, a buffalo falls. I'm growing, too. My blisters heal, my muscles stretch, expand. My tribe dances behind me. At first they are no bigger than children. Then they begin to grow, larger than me, larger than the trees around us. The buffalo come to join us and their hooves shake the earth, knock all the white people from their beds, send their plates crashing to the floor. We dance in circles growing larger and larger until we are standing on the shore, watching all the ships returning to Europe. All the white hands are waving good-bye and we continue to dance, dance until the ships fall off the horizon, dance until we are so tall and strong that the sun is nearly jealous. We dance that way.
The Mercy The ship that took my mother to Ellis Island eighty-three years ago was named "The Mercy." She remembers trying to eat a banana without first peeling it and seeing her first orange in the hands of a young Scot, a seaman who gave her a bite and wiped her mouth for her with a red bandana and taught her the word, "orange, " saying it patiently over and over. A long autumn voyage, the days darkening with the black waters calming as night came on, then nothing as far as her eyes could see and space without limit rushing off to the corners of creation. She prayed in Russian and Yiddish to find her family in New York, prayers unheard or misunderstood or perhaps ignored by all the powers that swept the waves of darkness before she woke, that kept "The Mercy" afloat while smallpox raged among the passengers and crew until the dead were buried at sea with strange prayers in a tongue she could not fathom. "The Mercy, " I read on the yellowing pages of a book I located in a windowless room of the library on 42nd Street, sat thirty-one days offshore in quarantine before the passengers disembarked. There a story ends. Other ships arrived, "Tancred" out of Glasgow, "The Neptune" registered as Danish, "Umberto IV, " the list goes on for pages, November gives way to winter, the sea pounds this alien shore. Italian miners from Piemonte dig under towns in western Pennsylvania only to rediscover the same nightmare they left at home. A nine-year-old girl travels all night by train with one suitcase and an orange. She learns that mercy is something you can eat again and again while the juice spills over your chin, you can wipe it away with the back of your hands and you can never get enough.