, 13 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
(1/10) Today is the 270th birthday of #EdwardJenner, pioneer of vaccination who arguably saved more lives than anyone else in history. Here’s a THREAD 👇 in his honour. (Photo of two children - one vaccinated against smallpox, the other not - from @DrJennersHouse. Follow them!).
(2/10) Smallpox is one of the deadliest & most contagious diseases known to man. The virus killed over half a billion people in the twentieth century alone—three times the number of deaths from all of the century’s wars combined.
(3/10) On 8 May 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the eradication of smallpox. This was an unprecedented event in history, signaling the first and only annihilation of a human disease.
(4/10) It has since been hailed the single greatest humanitarian achievement of all time. The victory—which saved tens of millions of lives—fulfilled the lifelong dream Edward Jenner, who first tested his vaccine on 14 May 1796.
(5/10) Jenner noticed that dairymaids who contracted cowpox never developed smallpox. Working from this, he developed a vaccine from cowpox. Indeed, the word “vaccination,” coined by Jenner in 1796, is derived from the Latin root vaccinus, meaning "of or from the cow.”
(6/10) The prominent Scottish physician Sir Walter Farquhar advised Jenner that if he kept the nature of the vaccine a secret, it could yield him a nest egg of as much as £100,000. But Jenner nurtured no such ambitions.
(7/10) In 1798, he had a windowless hut built in his garden & christened it the TEMPLE OF VACCINIA. It not only became a beacon of hope for the poor who sought protection against smallpox, but it was also the site of the first public health service in Britain.
(8/10) Though he never left his own country, Jenner became celebrated as a savior the world over. In 1805, Napoleon made vaccination compulsory for his French armies and awarded a medal to Jenner in spite of the fact that his country was at war with Britain.
(9/10) Thomas Jefferson also sang Jenner's praises after he received a phial of the vaccine which allowed him to vaccinate eighteen members of his own family. In a letter to Jenner, the third president of the United States wrote: “mankind can never forget that you have lived.”
(10/10) The concept of vaccination dates back much further than most people realize. You can visit @DrJennersHouse and the Temple of Vaccinia today. Follow them for more #medhist, and consider donating to the museum on #EdwardJenner’s birthday: cafdonate.cafonline.org/7132#/Donation…
*Note: the above photos show the hut with windows. These were added at a later date, but the original structure was windowless. Apologies for the confusion in the description!
cc @joerogan - you might be interested in this photo from @DrJennersHouse, as per our discussion on JRE about smallpox and the first ever vaccination in the 18th century!
I have been getting a lot of comments from people pointing out that inoculation pre-dated Jenner. This is true, but inoculation is different from vaccination. Inoculation used the smallpox virus (which was very dangerous) to confer immunity, whereas vaccination used cowpox.
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