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How the Soviet Union coped with the epidemic of smallpox in 19 days
Material posted: Publication date: 20-03-2020
A little over two weeks needed capital services to extinguish the outbreak of the deadly virus and not allow it to spread throughout the Soviet Union.

December 23, 1959, the plane arrived in Moscow from Delhi, fell, of which the capital of the USSR very soon found himself in great danger. Artist Alex Kokorekin could not even assume that they brought with them from India black pox.

Variola vera or natural smallpox, was one of the deadliest diseases of mankind. She easily destroyed the entire population of the villages, cities and even entire countries. In the 8th century from it killed 30% of the population of Japan in the 16th century - millions of native Americans who received the virus from the conquistadors.

Alex Kokorekin. (C) Gregory Wali/TASS

In the Soviet Union fought long and hard with the black pox. If in 1919 the number of cases estimated in the country at 186 thousand people, then in 1936 they left at all. After 23 years, a dangerous disease, which is all rather forget, it was back again.

Patient zero

On arrival Kokorekin felt only a small cold, that in the conditions of the December frost is not struck him as odd. But in the evening of the same day he had the fever, began coughing, it was so sharp pain.

The doctor at the clinic to which he went the next day, put the usual diagnosis of influenza. However, prescription drugs did not help. Throughout the body the patient developed a rash, which the doctors took for allergies. Only a young girl, a Intern, learning came from the artist, cautiously expressed the suspicion of smallpox, but was immediately ridiculed by the professors.

(C) Mikhail Grachev/MAMM/MDF

On December 29, after several days spent in General ward with sick flu patients, Alexey Kokorekin died. The doctors were never able to solve the mystery that could kill a strong body pyatidesyatipyatiletnego men. And soon the new year hassle completely replaced this tragic event.

The beginning of the epidemic

However, with the death Kokorekina it has not. In the second week of the new 1960 several patients of the hospital appeared the same symptoms: fever, cough, rash.

To risk it any longer. The research has involved experts of Scientific research Institute of vaccines and sera. Their conclusion was shocking: in Moscow, he came smallpox.


Getty Images

It turned out that Alexei Kokorekin during his visit to India was present at the burning ceremony of a deceased Brahman, and even touched his things. There patient zero have caught some deadly disease.

Unprecedented measures

January 15 information about the outbreak of smallpox reached the top, which immediately mobilized all the forces of the Moscow hospitals, clinics, police departments, and the KGB. The clock was searching for potential carriers of a dangerous virus.

In quarantine were those who met and spoke Kokorekin who had any contact with his relatives, who received his gifts from India. So, 150 students from the University, where he studied his daughter Valeria, were taken to the hospital directly during lectures.

From the primary contacts move on to secondary and so on, until it was traced the whole chain. People were removed from trains, unfolded in the air planes with potential patients.

The building of the City clinical hospital named after S. P. Botkin. (C) Victor Chernov/Sputnik

Quarantine came 9342 person. Were isolated from the Botkin hospital, where he spent his last days patient zero. Because of linen for thousands of trapped doctors and patients is not enough, a special decree was opened inviolable state reserve, destined for war.

Eliminate the threat

A decisive step in the fight against smallpox began universal vaccination of all inhabitants of Moscow and Moscow region - adults, children, and even dying. Just a week had been vaccinated more than 9 and a half million people - an unprecedented case in history.

Vitaly Sozinov/TASS

Procedures for mobilized physicians of all disciplines from medical assistants to medical students. "It was heroic," says the virologist, doctor of medical Sciences Svetlana Marennikova: "Epidemiologists worked from morning till evening."

Only dangerous disease in Moscow was detected in 45 people, three of whom died. To the third of February sick with the smallpox in the USSR left. Promptly began well-coordinated work of the Moscow law enforcement and medical services helped to stop a deadly virus in just 19 days.

Boris Egorov


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