Credit: CC0 Public Domain

As scientists scramble for a COVID-19 cure and vaccine, the world marks on Friday a pertinent anniversary: humanity’s only true triumph over an infectious disease with its eradication of smallpox four decades ago.

On May 8, 1980, representatives of all World Health Organization (WHO) member states gathered in Geneva and officially declared that the smallpox-causing variola virus had been relegated to the history books, two centuries after the discovery of a vaccine.

Smallpox is a highly that was transmitted via droplets during close contact with other people or contaminated objects, sparking and