Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know
CDC is expecting a surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming days to weeks. Learn more about Omicron variant surveillance and potential rapid spread.
Science evolves as new facts are uncovered and our understanding of COVID-19 grows. Read a changing selection of developing stories about COVID-related issues and learn about past pandemics. Putting the current moment in historic context can help us make choices that have the power to improve our nation's future.
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The history of infectious disease and our response to it has shaped American history. From the colonial period through the coronavirus pandemic, infectious disease has been a driver of social change. Knowing that history connects us with our past and helps us understand where we are today.
Reverend Cotton Mather learned about smallpox inoculation from an enslaved worker, Onesimus, and used this insight to help reduce a major smallpox outbreak in Boston in 1721. Yet some city leaders strongly opposed the practice as risky and against nature. Between the early 1940s and the early 2020s, new vaccines were developed for nearly 20 diseases, helping to reduce infant and childhood mortality worldwide. Concerns about vaccine risk and how to communicate their public health benefits remain an important part of public and political discourse.
Listen to a set of discussions that offer historical perspective on issues we face today, and explore the National Museum of American History's antibody collections.
Last update: May 11, 2022