Post Mortem

In search of COVID vaccine

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/11/2020 1:34:41 PM IST

 Smallpox is believed to be the first infected disease in the earliest agrarianhabitats on our earth. The devastating disease affected all races and regions of the worldkilling 3 out of every 10 people who infected.Description of smallpox was reflected in ancient Sanskrit literature (300 BC)and believed to have originated from India or Egypt during 3000 BC. The first vaccine (Smallpox) was discovered in 1798 by English doctor Edward Jenner. However, Louis Pasteur is remembered for his remarkable breakthrough (first laboratory vaccine, 1879) for discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization.

We all have marks on arm as it’s a result of smallpox vaccination i.e. BCG. The substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases. It is prepared from the causative agent of a disease, and treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease. Children are vulnerable to infectious diseases thereby inoculation is given for new born baby to produce immunity against an infection yet new disease outbreaks oftenand goes pandemic.It faded by wiping out parts of the population but finally ended as we learned from the timeline of history’s worst pandemics. It is possible through medical care and public health initiatives that halted the further spread of other diseases. The modern human civilization has largely been affected by overseas trading and travel and they are facing such infectious disease as human civilization flourished. The deadliest bacterium caught fatal infection in our recorded history.

Those who survive have immunity during the Plague of Justinian in 541 CE. People have no understanding to fight against pandemic. But they tried to avoid sick people. 800 years later (1347), Black Death claimed 200 million lives in Europe but they overcome by forced isolation to 40 days. The practice of quarantine had actually begun then. The sick people were forcibly shut into their homes during the Great Plague of 1665 to prevent the spread of the disease. The people of Europe, Asia and Arabia were infected by Smallpox virus during 15th century. In 18th century, the pandemic is ended by a vaccine first ever. 

Vaccination in India was injected in 1802 for Smallpox in Bombay. Vaccines were imported from Great Britain until 1850. The first vaccine developed in India by DrHaffkine for plague in 1897. But mass vaccination efforts by British began only after the outbreak of Cholera and plague (1896-1907) and First World War (1914-1918) where Influenza pandemic killed 17 million Indian. The 1919 act brought the health service delivery being a state subject. Smallpox, cholera, plague and typhoid were available in India in early 20th century.At the time of Independence, India reported maximum number of smallpox cases and there were cholera, plague and Tuberculosis too. In 1949, the BCG vaccination was extended to schools in almost all states of India in close cooperation with UNICEF and WHO.

 India is self-sufficient in the production of BCG vaccine at the time of independence. Later it produced DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus), DT, TT, Measles and OPV (oral polio vaccine). Soon India declared smallpox free in 1977, it launched national immunization programme for BCG, OPV, DPT.In 2012, WHO had removed India from polio endemic countries.Vaccination is a proven to be the most cost effective survival interventions. WHO helps countries to have immunization programme for women, infants and children. 

(To be concluded)

Kamal Baruah


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