Children will be paralyzed. Mass immunization can’t happen in a time of social distancing. While vaccination campaigns are tragically deferred, the skills and resources for other polio activities help fight the new pandemic.
Surveillance workers detect cases of both COVID-19 and polio, trace contacts, and transport specimens for analysis. Polio-funded vehicles and phones are at their disposal. Laboratories, data systems, and emergency operations centers set up against one virus are being used against another.
Trusted community members convey basic health messages in urban slums and remote villages. Handwashing instructions save lives in communities where former vaccination teams distributed soap from door to door. Pakistan’s polio hotline doubles as a COVID hotline. Trained communicators respond to rumors and misinformation.
Coronavirus is hard on most of the world. It would be even harder on parts of Africa and Asia if the global movement to eradicate polio hadn’t gotten there first.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.