Throughout the corona “pandemic” the Holy Grail of public health officials has been vaccination: only by vaccinating enough people—first the elderly and infirm, then all adults, and now even children—can the nefarious virus be beaten. As vaccination has proven less than wholly successful in preventing the spread of coronavirus, with studies showing rapidly declining protection from the vaccines, governments have doubled down, introducing not only “booster” shots for the vaccinated but also suggesting that the unvaccinated must be pressured and, if necessary, compelled to accept the vaccine.

Rising skepticism of the efficacy of these policies, let alone their morality, is understandable. However, it is not surprising that the medical establishment of modern states is wedded to the idea of vaccination as a panacea for disease prevention. This is, in fact, something close to the founding myth of public health: mandatory vaccination is what saved the world from the great scourges of the past, and it was introduced by heroic doctors in the face of much opposition from the egoistic, the stupid, and the establishment of silly theologians who thought that diseases were the will of God and that suffering humanity simply had to accept it. The core of this myth is the case of smallpox.

The Official History of Smallpox

The legend of smallpox and its eradication as told by most textbooks and virtually the whole medical establishment goes something like this: from about the sixteenth century, Europe was ravaged by periodic epidemics of smallpox (variola major), a disease that caused pustules to erupt all over the skin and very often, in approximately a fifth of all cases, led to death. Those who survived were often scarred for life (pockmarked). Early attempts to combat it through “variolation,” i.e., inoculation of healthy adults with puss from infected individuals, proved ineffective—while those who survived this treatment were immune, the practice also...

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