For the letter “V”, I chose one of the most critical inventions in history, Vaccination. Without it we would have been doomed a long time ago.
Actually, vaccination history dates back to a long time ago. In a way, we owe this to smallpox because this disease is somehow considered the spark that initiated the search for a way to protect from it. Around 900 CE, Rhazes, a Persian physician, was the first to publish a written account attempting to distinguish the measles from smallpox.
Evidence exists that the Chinese employed smallpox inoculation (or variolation, as such use of smallpox material was called) as early as 1000 CE. It was practiced in Africa and Turkey as well, before it spread to Europe and the Americas. The son of a Chinese statesman was said to have been inoculated against smallpox, probably by having powder from pulverized smallpox scabs blown into his nostril. Inoculation may also have been practiced by scratching matter from a smallpox sore into the skin.
In 1625, French Jesuits who encountered Native Americans in Canada were confused by the hostility they received from the Indians, who, they said, “observed with some sort of reason that since our arrival in these lands those who had been the nearest to us had happened to be the most ruined by [smallpox], and that whole villages of those who had received us now appeared utterly exterminated” (Ian Glynn and Jenifer Glynn, The Life and Death of Smallpox).
1633, A smallpox epidemic hit Massachusetts, affecting settlers and Native Americans; among the casualties were 20 settlers from the Mayflower, including their only physician.
In 1648, In response to epidemics of yellow fever in Barbados, Cuba, and the Yucatan, a strict quarantine was established in Boston, Massachusetts, for all ships arriving from the West Indies because of “ye plague or like in[fectious] disease.”
These are just some examples of the effects of diseases such as smallpox and Measles on the old world. Smallpox was probably the first disease people tried to prevent by inoculating themselves and was the first disease for which a vaccine was produced. The smallpox vaccine was designed in 1796 by the British physician Edward Jenner, although at least six people had used the same principles years earlier.
Edward Jenner’s innovations, begun with his successful 1796 use of cowpox material to create immunity to smallpox, quickly made the practice widespread. His method underwent medical and technological changes over the next 200 years, and eventually resulted in the eradication of smallpox.
Louis Pasteur’s 1885 rabies vaccine was the next to make an impact on human disease. And then, at the dawn of bacteriology, developments rapidly followed. Antitoxins and vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were developed through the 1930s.
The middle of the 20th century was an active time for vaccine research and development. Methods for growing viruses in the laboratory led to rapid discoveries and innovations, including the creation of vaccines for polio. Researchers targeted other common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella, and vaccines for these diseases reduced the disease burden greatly.
This was a very brief history of vaccination. But if you want to know more about its history and the social impacts behind smallpox in European and American societies, you can refer to this awesome timeline with fruitful information.
Vaccination is so important in our life as stated by all the statistics. A recent one indicates that vaccination Has Saved 732,000 Children’s Lives Since 1994.