On May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization announced that smallpox has been eradicated worldwide.
That achievement was certified, based on intense verification activities in countries, by a commission of eminent scientists on December 9, 1979, and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly on May 8, 1980. The first two sentences of the resolution read:
“Having considered the development and results of the global program on smallpox eradication initiated by WHO in 1958 and intensified since 1967…[d]eclares solemnly that the world and its peoples have won freedom from smallpox, which was a most devastating disease sweeping in epidemic form through many countries since earliest time, leaving death, blindness and disfigurement in its wake and which only a decade ago was rampant in Africa, Asia and South America.”
Caption: From an earlier period in the history of smallpox, Vaccinating the poor is the title of this 1873 color print from a wood engraving by Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1833-1905). It originally appeared in Harper’s Weekly magazine, March 16, 1872. In this crowded room, men, women and children, black and white, observe a physician as he vaccinates the tattooed left arm of a burly young man.