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Former smallpox warrior wonders if lessons were learned from past epidemics

During her career in public health, Dr. Cornelia (Connie) Davis tramped the byways of India and Africa for the likes of the World Health Organization and US-AID, sometimes blazing trails in leadership both for women and people of color.


Now, in her comfortable Lakeside home, although David sometimes chafes at the inactivity mandated by the Covid-19 lockdown, the crisis has caused her surprise and sadness. “Who knew that Covid-19 – not as infectious as SARS – would go on to cause a pandemic! It certainly threw a spanner into the celebration of 40 years of smallpox eradication,” which was set for the first week of June in Atlanta, then cancelled.

Davis is sad that the lessons from the victory over the smallpox virus, which she was part of, may have been lost.

“Of course, we were bringing a vaccine, so that was very different from Covid-19. But even though the smallpox campaign was during the tension of the Cold War, there was still cooperation from everyone, including Russia.”

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