Is a vaccination-based public health policy «history-proof»?
Any fact-based policy must consider long-term effects as well as possible alternatives. This is what we learn from the authorities’ handling of smallpox in Switzerland.
Vaccination against Covid-19 has been the most central instrument of public health policy since the very beginning of the Pandemic. Alain Berset, Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, which oversees the Federal Office of Public Health, declared in March 2020 that «we need a vaccine.»
Accordingly, the Federal Council preordered millions of vaccine doses, and criticism of a too vaccine-centered approach was soon dismissed as «antivax». However, a historical analysis of the public health policies implemented to control smallpox in the late 19th and the early 20th century suggests that a narrow focus on vaccination is not necessarily the best and only path to control a large-scale epidemic.
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