Editorials

Vaccines, malaria, and a host of resistance

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7049.67 (Published 13 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:67
  1. Mary Dobson
  1. Senior research officer Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford OX2 6PE

    200 years after Jenner, the first malaria vaccine is now on trial

    On 14 May 1996 medical historians and scientists celebrated the bicentenary of Edward Jenner's first remarkable vaccination of a young boy, James Phipps, against smallpox.1 Smallpox, for centuries the scourge of millions, was finally eradicated from the world by 1980.2 The triumph of vaccination in the global eradication of this major infectious disease, as yet, stands alone. As we approach the 21st century, however, scientists and doctors are anticipating that mass vaccination programmes will eventually lead to the global eradication of poliomyelitis and other infectious diseases.

    The role of vaccination in eradicating malaria, which annually kills some two million of the world's children and causes 200-400 million clinical cases every year, presents a very different history. This parasitic disease, transmitted by anopheline mosquitoes and once endemic in the English marshes and fens,3 has either disappeared or been eradicated from Europe, the United States, and other areas of the world without the benefit of a vaccine. In many areas the successful eradication or disappearance of malaria resulted from a combination of factors, including environmental control measures, chemotherapy, and a …

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