In this season of Corona pandemic, as the entire world is the hunt for developing medicine and vaccination it is good to be acquainted with the Father of vaccination, Edward Jenner (1749-1826). Jenner was an English Physician who invented the vaccine for small pox which killed about 10% the British population. The vaccination approach was initiated and popularised by Jenner. The term variolae vaccinae was coined by Jenner to refer to the cow pox from which originated the usage of the new term ‘vaccination.’
In 1796 when the small pox was sweeping through England, he noticed that those workers who had worked with cows and had developed the mild disease of cow pox did not develop small pox. In 1796 he conducted an experiment on an eight year old boy, James Phipps, by making two cuts in his arm and working into them a small quantity of cowpox puss. Although it caused the regular reaction of fever, the boy was in good health after a few days. A few weeks later Jenner used smallpox matter in the boy, but the boy was not sick. Thus the vaccination treatment was born. Jenner’s discoveries laid the foundation of immunology. Given the importance of this discovery, he was voted for inclusion in BBC’s list of 100 Greatest Britons.
In his personal life he was devout Christian. He held Bible in high regard. His personal correspondences bear testimony to his spiritual convictions. One of his correspondence reads: “The highest powers in our nature are our sense of moral excellence, the principle of reason and reflection, benevolence to our creatures and our love of the Divine Being.” It is said that days before his death, he told a friend, “I am not surprised that men are not grateful to me; but I wonder that they are not grateful to God for the good which He has made me the instrument of conveying to my fellow creatures.”
The classic commentary on the Mishna Tiferet Yisrael by Rabbi Israel Lpischitz, Jenner’s contemporary, wrote that Jenner was a great righteous of the nations who deserved a lofty place in the World to come for saving the lives of millions of people.