Covid 19 – What about Smallpox. Dr Dawn Gould

The World is suffering from the deadly virus Coved 19.  Many thousands have succumbed to the virus be they the elderly, the young, the wealthy or the poor.  Some citizens have survived and the scientists are working as hard as is possible to try and create a tablet or a liquid medicine to aid or control further infections. 

While we try as best as is possible to live with the virus, historians will go back in time when another illness called smallpox arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. It has been suggested that the arrival was due to a ship arriving in Table Bay with sick passengers and members of the crew.  This was just sixty years 1612/1613 after Jan van Riebeeck arrived here.  Unfortunately for the Khoi and San people they simply had no resistance to the illness and suffered heavily. This also applied to the small group of Europeans who had arrived in 1652.

Smallpox continued over the years but after the 1881 epidemic the Cape Parliament made vaccine compulsory. There were objections by certain groups but after Union of South Africa came into being attention was given to the illness and in 1919 vaccination was made compulsory to the whole of the country.  In 1928 after continuing objections to vaccination, an amendment to the act no 15 0f 1928 allowed  for genuine objectors. As time passed there were outbreaks of smallpox – in 1945 causing  deaths. Then again 1949 and in Port Elizabeth in 1964 among those living in the Walmer area.

Today there might still be people who can show their vaccination arm scares.

 To each and everyone suffering today from Coved 19, we hope for recoveries and health.