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The Past and Future of Vaccine Development

Vaccine development may be one of the most profound advances in human history. As shown by the coronavirus pandemic, science has become exceedingly skilled at developing vaccines at a pace that was unimaginable just a generation ago.

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    The Past and Future of Vaccine Development

    The Past and Future of Vaccine Development

    Vaccine development may be one of the most profound advances in human history. If the vaccine miracle is so underappreciated, it is mostly because few alive today can even begin to imagine the death and suffering viruses inflicted on humans since the beginning of time.

    Consider that cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox and influenza have been responsible for the deaths of 300-500 million people since we began our existence some 12,000 years ago. The worst known outbreak was The Black Death, a bubonic plague that killed an estimated 75-200 million people, primarily in Europe.1

    A Chronicle of Success

    While the history of immunization usually begins with Edward Jenner’s work on using cowpox to create smallpox immunity in 1796, immunization extends all the way back to the year 1000 in China.

    Nevertheless, it was Jenner’s work that set the stage for a new science of immunology, leading to vaccines for rabies, typhoid, cholera and the plague in the 19th century, as well as a long list of vaccines in the 20th century, including tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis.

    It’s actually a bit breathtaking that humans were subject to so much danger from diseases they did not fully understand.

    The methods by which these vaccines have been developed have evolved over time. The early vaccines were developed by attenuation, a process by which the effect of something could be reduced; so, for example, the introduction of cowpox into a human would reduce the impact of the human version—smallpox.

    This was not the easiest or most efficient way to develop vaccines. Scientists soon discovered that cells could be cultured in vitro, with early successes in this approach for polio and measles. Through time a number of different ways have been discovered to develop vaccines, reaching its pinnacle with the revolution of genetic engineering.

    What Next?

    As the coronavirus pandemic has shown, science has become exceedingly skilled at developing vaccines at a pace that was unimaginable just a generation ago.

    In addition to speeding up vaccine development, vaccine patches and edible vaccines are already in development that will make vaccines cheaper and more accessible than ever, owing to their easy storage and that they can be administered without any training.

    Another exciting development is the use of iris scanning to help contain outbreaks and develop immunization records for a mobile population.

    While the scourge of viruses and bacteria may not be entirely a thing of the past, we do seem to be moving in that direction.

    Source:

    1. https://www.mphonline.org/worst-pandemics-in-history/

    See referenced disclosure (2) at http://blog.americanportfolios.com/disclosures/    

    About The Author

    Carol Erdmann

     

    Marketing Communications Specialist 
    631.439.4600, ext. 121 

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