The coronavirus pandemic has renewed the interest of historians and critics in the Black Death, The Decameron, and King Lear. Although Shaw neither wrote about pandemics nor used the word “epidemic” in his plays, he wrote of epidemics in his prefaces, essays, and letters to editors and individuals. Having contracted smallpox, it concerned him personally and as a vestryman of St. Pancras with the smallpox epidemic of 1901–2, which he tried to prevent. Rejecting vaccinations and revaccinations, he allied himself with Florence Nightingale's methods of cleanliness and sanitation, both of which medical experts now urge to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, whose transmission, incubation period, and prevention have similarities to those of smallpox.

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