Friday, March 8, 2013

Can Polio Be Eradicated?

Here's a nice little article from the New York Times a couple of years ago that talks about whether polio really can be eradicated and, in particular, about how one expert, Donald Henderson, who worked on the eradication of smallpox has changed his mind. What caused this change of opinion was a conversation with another of the smallpox team Dr. Ciro de Quadros

While nothing has changed about the virus or the vaccine, several things Dr. de Quadros told him were persuasive, he said.

“I was unaware of how committed Gates is,” he said. “He’s saying polio is his No. 1 priority.”

I like the anecdote about Dr de Quadros's work in the field during the smallpox campaign:

“I watched him perform in Ethiopia,” said Dr. Henderson, who recruited Dr. de Quadros into the smallpox campaign. “The obstacles were unbelievable — the emperor assassinated, two revolutionary groups fighting, nine of his own teams kidnapped, even a helicopter captured and held for ransom. He kept the teams in the field — and that helicopter pilot went out and vaccinated all the rebels.”

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