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Edward Jenner: Person Behind Smallpox Vaccine

For many decades, smallpox has devastated the humans. But for the past few years, we do not have to worry about this dreadful disease. We need to thank Edward Jenner for inventing an effective vaccine for combating smallpox virus.


Edward Jenner was born on May 17, 1749 in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Right from his early days, Edward developed a special interest for science. Jenner met a dairymaid and heard her say that "I shall never have an ugly pockmarked face". Jenner then realized that somehow dairymaids were protected from this dreadful smallpox disease. He started researching about smallpox.

Invention of the smallpox vaccine

Edward Jenner started his research on how the dairymaids were protected from smallpox. To his surprise, he found that the dairymaids were naturally protected from smallpox after having suffered from cowpox. Jenner understood that there is definitely some connection between the two diseases. He researched further.

Following his research in May 1796, Jenner found a young dairymaid who had fresh cowpox lesions on her hand. Jenner inoculated the matter from the dairymaid's hands to a young boy. The boy subsequently developed mild fever and discomfort. Nine days after the procedure he felt cold and had also lost his appetite. But the next day, he was much better. In July 1796, Jenner inoculated the boy again with fresh smallpox lesion. But this time, the boy did not contract any disease. This experiment confirmed that protection was complete. The vaccine developed by Jenner contained live vaccinia virus that helps in developing immunity against the smallpox virus.

In 1797, Jenner sent a short communication to the Royal society regarding his findings. However it was rejected. In 1798, Jenner added few more cases to his experiment and printed a small booklet called as "An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae".

Jenner then left for London and looked for volunteers for the vaccination drive. The vaccine became famous in London after Jenner gave the inoculation to a surgeon Henry Cline. Jenner then conducted a nationwide survey in search of people who had been infected with cowpox. The results of the survey confirmed his theory and soon the vaccine became popular.

Today, thanks to Edward Jenner, we all have managed to eradicate small pox completely.

Tags :     smallpox disease     smallpox vaccine     cowpox    


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