How to Repeat a Success and Control a Bad Influence
Manipulation of adaptive immunity is probably the most successful preventive and therapeutic strategy of modern medicine. Its roots go back to Edward Jenner, who in 1796 induced immunity to smallpox by inoculation with the related cowpox virus1. Although the mechanism of action remained completely unknown for more than a century, the concept of vaccination spread rapidly around the world and had an immediate impact on population health. In Sweden, for instance, approximately 20,000 people died from smallpox in 1800, just before the introduction of vaccination. Within 20 years, the death rate had fallen to 200! The insightful bishop, Esaias Tegnér, reported to the government that the population in his bishopric was increasing rapidly thanks to "peace, vaccine, and potatoes." In 1980, the World Health Organization certified that smallpox had been eradicated in the entire world. From Pasteur and onwards, the vaccination principle has been used to control many other diseases, in addition to smallpox. Together with sanitation of water and foodstuff, it represents the most successful means of disease prevention ever accomplished.
- Received December 27, 2014.
- Accepted December 29, 2014.