– Biotechnology, Virology, Epidemiology
Smallpox, caused by two strands of Variola virus - Variola major and Variola minor. It was one of the most deadly virus with a mortality rate of 30 - 50% for Variola major, and 1% for Variola minor. (Cancer has a mortality rate of 12.49%.) Much effort has been put into fighting the virus as early as 15th century in Asia, where doctors will apply the tissue collected from the pus to healthy people in order to vaccinate them. The Chinese Emperor Chian-Lung even only consider those who have had survived smallpox as the candidate of the thorn. When the Spanish arrived in America, they brought smallpox with them, caused massive deaths among the Aztects. There is no way to treat smallpox except using vaccination as prevention. Thus, the only way to counteract to it is by vaccinating everyone around the discovered patient. Through many years of tracing disease and vaccinating individuals. It has been declared eradicated by WHO in 1979, where the very last case known was reported in Somalia. Although eradicated, the virus is still being preserved in many labs, mostly in United States. Right after the 911 incident in 2001, many feared the terrorists would use smallpox as an agent of bioterrorism. The U.S. government is now taking precautions for outbreak. The smallpox vaccines we use nowadays are consists of live Vaccinia virus, which belongs to the same family as Variola. The Vaccinia virus can induce antibodies that are cross-protective for smallpox, thus build up the resistant to smallpox virus. However, it leaves a small scar on the skin where the vaccination was applied. Under this context, the underground Synthetic Biology scientists developed a whole new smallpox vaccination technique. By modifying the Variola virus and manipulating the scar formation, the vaccine can not only induce antibodies to protect the subject from smallpox, but also create the patterns desired on subject’s skin.
Later on, the scientists even started a new cosmetic company named VaccineBeauty. All their products can function as smallpox vaccine as well as cosmetics for fashionable people.