Orphan Voyage

Deploying new vaccines has always been a messy business of logistical hurdles, ethical questions, and amazing feats.
 
Take the first-ever vaccine campaign, Spain’s 19th century effort to stamp out smallpox in its far flung colonies.
 
The vaccine involved deliberately infecting people with a milder disease, cowpox, via pus from skin sores--a strategy famously pioneered by Edward Jenner in 1796. To keep supplies potent, orphaned boys were infected en route to the Spanish colonies.
 
Likely having no say in the matter, the boys were compensated for the harrowing ordeal with a new life abroad.  
 
The journey snowballed into a global vaccine voyage, using this low-tech method to administer hundreds of thousands of vaccines worldwide in less than a decade.
 

The Atlantic

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