Past and present of vaccination

To find a vaccine, one has to turn the pages of history hundreds of years ago. Rumor has it that Buddhist monks did not bite snakes, because they used to drink snake venom. In this way, they would develop resistance to snake bites.

Despite its controversy, a method called inoculation was in vogue in China about six or seven hundred years ago, which can be said to be the earliest form of the modern vaccine. During the Ming Dynasty, smallpox was a fairly regular occurrence. This process is used to avoid this. From smallpox patients, the disease material was injected into the body of a healthy person, and later it was seen that most of them survived the smallpox epidemic.

Inoculation in ancient China

The diseased skin was first dried and then powdered. This powder had to be inhaled through the nose. Left nose for girls and right nose for boys.

This method reached the Ottoman court from China. Europe then fainted in the smallpox. News of inoculation spread to England from the Ottoman court, and despite opposition, it gradually became popular and was used by the royal family. But the use of direct pathogens is risky, and applied to large populations is not easy. As a result, the search for new methods was going on.

Europe was getting clearer in smallpox

Renowned physician Edward Jenner came forward. On May 14, 1796, an eight-year-old boy named James Phipps was infected with the smallpox virus, which was a weaker disease than smallpox. Many in England at the time knew that those who had cowpox or cowpox did not get smallpox.

However, Jenner was the first to bring the whole thing into a scientific way. Phipps felt a little sick for the first week, but soon recovered. Later, the smallpox virus was applied to him and it was found that the disease was killing people in Qatar and nothing was happening to Phipps. Jenner published a book about the results of his research “An inquiry into the causes and effects of the variolae vaccinae: a disease discovered in some of the western counties of England, particularly Gloucestershire, and known by the name of the cow pox”.

He named his method Vaccination from the Latin name of the cow, Vacca, since he used the germs of the cow. The name of this medicine is vaccine. Back then it was only known for smallpox. This led to the recognition of the father of vaccination after Jenner.

Edward Jenner

The then Royal Society did not show interest in this new method due to the scarcity of Jenner’s data. However, on a personal level, many physicians continue to benefit from using generic vaccines. By 1801, about 100,000 people had been vaccinated. Vaccination became the main defense against smallpox by gradually removing inoculation from the scene.

However, the limitations of the generic process also became apparent to scientists very quickly. While researching how to make it resistant to any other disease in the same way, I found that like smallpox in cows, it does not occur in all diseases. Moreover, many animal-borne diseases can be fatal to humans. So they are focused on neutralizing the pathogens. Then maybe it will be possible for them to enter the human body safely. This will kill two birds with one stone, reduce the risk of disease, and at the same time create immunity.

So the scientists did a lot of research. They realized that there were two ways open to them – 1) to kill the germ and get it into a healthy body, and 2) to keep the germ alive, but to weaken it in various ways so that its ability to cause disease in the human body is reduced. In both cases there was a complete digestive tract.

For about one and a half years after the discovery of Jenner, various scientists from different countries were conducting research on this subject. The French microbiologist Louis Pasteur achieved a remarkable feat. He found that anthrax and rabies, or the rabies bacterium, had been reduced to lethality by oxygen and heat. He used this weak germ to make anthrax vaccine in 181 and rabies vaccine in 185. The Pasteur Institute, which he founded in 18, continued to work on the vaccine even after Pasteur’s death. In the present world, this institute of France is one of the non-profit organizations working on vaccines.

Louis Pasteur in the laboratory

Another revolution in the field of vaccines took place in the early twentieth century. Albert Calmette, a French physician, and Camille Guérin, a veterinarian, developed the tuberculosis vaccine, one of the most deadly diseases of the time, in the manner shown by Jenner and Pasteur. For this reason, they repeatedly propagated the tuberculosis-causing bacteria in cows in artificial environments. After 230 generations, a species was found that, although a bacterial species that causes tuberculosis, has a relatively low disease-causing capacity. With this they developed their vaccine, named after them which is still known as BCG (Bacillus calmet Guerin).

BCG is still providing protection against tuberculosis

Pasteur’s method quickly became popular. Vaccines have been developed for measles and mumps. But the problem did not end here. Scientists have found that even the weakest virus bacteria can cause disease for a variety of reasons. Today we know that mutations often cause more serious diseases. That’s why many thought it was safer to use dead germs.

The vaccine was first developed around the same time by two researchers, Salmon R. Smith, and the Pasteur Institute. This method is first applied to the germs of typhoid, cholera and plague. The first typhoid vaccine was administered in England by two scientists named Wright and Sample. Huffkin was the first to use the plague vaccine on humans. Another scientist by the name of Cole developed the deadly cholera virus as a vaccine. Earlier, Huffkin had vaccinated cholera with live germs separately, but the cholera vaccine survived.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, vaccines against diseases such as cholera, tetanus, and influenza were carried out by dead bacteria. Thus a vaccine for plague was developed in the late nineteenth century. The first step was to use high heat to kill germs. However, in 1925, Alexander Glenny R. Hopkins, a well-known British immunologist, neutralized the tetanus toxin with formaldehyde. The process of killing germs with formaldehyde or a mixture of formalin later became popular. The diphtheria vaccine was developed using this method in 1926. The tetanus vaccine took another 22 years to reach the market.

Calmet and Guerin make the vaccine by breeding bacteria in an artificial environment. It took about 35 years to discover such an artificial environment for the virus (1950-85). Based on this, in 1955, the American virus expert Jonas Sack developed the polio vaccine, which contained the dead virus. He chose formaldehyde to kill the polio virus. The SAC vaccine had to be given by injection. The advantage of this is that there is no possibility of getting polio due to being dead.

At the age of seven, Albert Sabin, an American-Polish researcher, came up with the oral polio vaccine using a weakened polio virus. His polio vaccine was widely accepted because it could be administered orally without the need for special training. There was, however, a very small risk of getting polio, but it later turned out to be almost zero.

Jonas Sack (left) and Albert Sabin (right)

Since 1940, scientists have been experimenting with different parts of the body of germs. They had in mind how to make a vaccine with a small portion without using whole germs. The hepatitis B vaccine came along the way.

At the same time, scientists were working on how to make a vaccine by inactivating viruses as well as bacteria, because until then, vaccines made from dead bacteria were all against bacterial diseases. The first such vaccine was influenza, followed by the hepatitis V vaccine. Vaccines are currently being developed using microbial DNA, RNA, vector viruses, etc., which we can see in the case of coronaviruses.

Vaccine making and marketing is an expensive process. More money comes from multinational pharmaceutical companies than the government gives incentives. New vaccines are being discovered and applied through them. As of 2020, the following ten multinational pharmaceutical companies were at the forefront of vaccine research and development.


The famous drug company GlaxoSmithKline was born in 183 in Wellington, New Zealand, to a gentleman named Joseph Edward Nathan. The London-based company’s current list of successes includes rabies and many other vaccines, including chickenpox.


Founded in 1891 by George Mark, this American company is well known around the world. Among them are cervical cancer vaccine for women, hepatitis B vaccine, etc.


Sanofi, a French multinational company that came to light in 1983, has a successful vaccine like the polio vaccine.


Pfizer is a US company that has come up with a coronavirus vaccine. It was founded in 1849 by Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart. They are at the forefront of the meningitis vaccine, among other things.


It is also a US company founded in 1987. They work with biotechnology to make vaccines. They have developed vaccines for some respiratory diseases.

Emergent Biosolution

This US company based on biotechnology was born in 1998. Their anthrax vaccine is well known.


The Australian based CSL started its journey in 1916. They have vaccines for diseases like flu and pneumonia.


Headquartered in Plymouth, USA, the Invior head office is located in 1979. They are doing a lot of work with the HIV vaccine.

Bavarian Nordic

The Danish company has been operating since 1994. They have named for a few more vaccines, including the cervical cancer vaccine.

Mitsubishi will pull

The Japanese company has been working tirelessly since 1981. They also have the chickenpox vaccine.

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