Smallpox to Covid-19: the history of diseases with Dr. Michael Oldstone

Smallpox to Covid-19: the history of diseases with Dr. Michael Oldstone

Today, Dr. Michael Oldstone joins us to discuss the history of diseases. We talk about diseases, viruses and their role in our history.

Left: A yellow-fever epidemic when building the Panama Canal

Right: Children would be regularly paralyzed before the polio vaccine


00:00: Introductions

02:36: What is a virus?

03:45: DNA viruses vs RNA Viruses

07:30 Understanding virulence and persistance in viruses

08:45 How do viruses evolve?

10:00 Smallpox

“In the 20th century, smallpox has killed more people than all the wars of the 20th century combined”

10:30 Ancient inoculations against the smallpox

12:00 Attenuated viruses: The Slow Road to the Vaccine

14:14 Why haven’t other viruses been eliminated like the smallpox?

16:00 Smallpox in the new world

18:00 The slave trade and yellow fever in the new world

20:00 Yellow fever during the Haitian Revolution

21:00 Yellow fever during the continental congress

22:00 How businesses refused to lockdown during yellow fever in Memphis

25:00 Doctors who self-experimented to find the inoculation against the yellow fever

Viruses cause more casualties than guns during war

31:00 SARS

35:00 Covid-19 vs SARS: How Covid-19 spread fast?

39:00 How would a functioning public health system deal with Covid-19?

42:00 How to develop a vaccine?

48:00 Accurate information about viruses

About Dr. Michael Oldstone

Viruses lie at the heart of some of humanity’s most pernicious and devastating diseases, such as AIDS, hepatitis, and influenza. Michael Oldstone, a professor of immunology and microbiology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, has devoted his career to a molecular understanding of how viruses infect cells, evade and manipulate the immune system, and cause disease.

Learn more about his book: Viruses Plagues and History

You are listening to Historic.ly: a show where we decolonize history and debunk myths taught in school and on corporate media.