Edward Jenner, saved more lives than any other man, ever.

Sometimes I find that we don’t just celebrate the wrong people (singers who beat women, actors who are better at using drugs than acting, reality stars who really do nothing) sometimes I find we don’t even remember people that have done great things for us all.

I will be posting a little information on different people of note that I think should be remembered.

Edward Jenner was an English microbiologist. What he did, while it would probably be illegal and possibly immoral today, led to the adoption and mass production of the smallpox vaccine.

You see he noticed that when milkmaids got the disease cowpox they were left with a scar on their hand. He then noticed that they were far less likely to get smallpox than someone who had not been exposed to cowpox. It is very likely he may have read a paper by Benjamin Jesty who reproduced this vaccination some 20 years prior to Jenner. The difference is how far one man was willing to go. Edward Jenner gave a child of 8 years, James Phipps and this is potentially what could be immoral, the cowpox from a woman who got it from her interactions with cows. Later he exposed this same child to smallpox and then documented his findings. He did this on 23 other people and published his findings. Pushing, some would say pulling by tooth and nails, modern vaccination and through that the almost complete eradication of smallpox.

Let me put into context what smallpox was doing to us humans at the time. A conservative estimate puts smallpox at an infection rate of 60% and of those infected 20% mortality rate. So imagine for a minute ten people you know. Your parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, children, friends and coworkers. Think out of every ten, 6 would get sick. Two of those sick would die. Oh yeah and when the sickness would come it would infect thousands and thousands all over cities ravaging the population. Edward Jenner was instrumental in eradicating this disease and making its only form of survival in a petri dish. (we can discuss if that’s a good idea for our government to keep that disease alive in a different post.)

Today if we see the outbreak of smallpox we can assume terrorists have released it in an attack. Think of how often mother nature has fought us and how often she has decimated us. Then remember that because of Edward Jenner and the scientist and medical professionals that advocated for vaccines we conquered a disease. That is why some have said his work “saved more lives than the work of any other man”.

Edward Jenner was born May 17, 1749. Through his work he altered the course of humanity.

Edward Jenner Wikipedia

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