Aaron Huey, Getty Images

Mission: Rettung der Umwelt

CHEVY CHASE, MARYLAND – Stellen Sie sich Folgendes vor: es ist 1966. Sie stehen in einem Regierungsbüro in Washington und sehen, wie ein uniformierter Beamter einem Mann im Businessanzug sagt: „Ihre Mission ist es, einen Feind zu vernichten, der mehr Menschen getötet hat als beide Weltkriege zusammen. Sie werden ein armseliges Budget und ein kleines Team bekommen, und wenn Sie scheitern, wird der Minister leugnen, etwas davon gewusst zu haben.”

Es hört sich an wie eine Szene aus einem Hollywood-Film. Und tatsächlich ist es den Anfangsszenen der Fernsehserie Mission: Impossible nachempfunden, die in jenem Jahr zum ersten Mal gesendet wurde. Aber es ist wirklich geschehen, wenn auch nicht in genau den Worten. Der Beamte war Assistenzchirurg General James Watt, der Mann mit der Mission war Donald Henderson, Wissenschaftler am CDC (Communicable Desease Center), und der Feind waren die Pocken.

Die Mission schien tatsächlich unmöglich. Zu der Zeit töteten die Pocken jedes Jahr zwei Millionen Menschen, weitere 15 Millionen wurden jährlich infiziert. Und dennoch hat Henderson mit seinem Team bei der Weltgesundheitsorganisation das Unmögliche möglich gemacht. In nur etwas mehr als einem Jahrzehnt wurden die Pocken zur ersten - und bisher einzigen - menschlichen Krankheit, die jemals vollkommen ausgerottet wurde.

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