• Question: can there ever be a time where there is absolutely no diseases in the world?

    Asked by !! to Richard on 16 Mar 2016.
    • Photo: Richard Friend

      Richard Friend answered on 16 Mar 2016:

      Theoretically, yes! It’s a weird one and pretty hard to achieve. If you consider that in the whole history of mankind we’ve only ever managed to eradicate two infectious diseases (smallpox and rinderpest), considering everyone’s been trying to do this since Edward Jenner discovered the smallpox vaccine in the 1700s, you can see that it’s a pretty tough job. We’re coming pretty close with some others like polio.

      There is another way of doing it – years ago, there was a colony of people living on one of the islands in the Hebrides in Scotland, and they lived pretty much in isolation from the rest of the world, except for boats which used to come and deliver things every couple of months or so. The people living there noticed that they only got ill after one of the boats had been, and the rest of the time they were fine. So if you’re willing to isolate yourself from the rest of humanity, you’re unlikely to get ill, but it’s a big price to pay!