The greatest ever coup in the history of preventative medicine






In a special issue of one of the world's leading medical journals, The Lancet, Gareth Williams, Professor of Medicine at the University, tells the story behind the greatest ever coup in the history of preventative medicine — the eradication of smallpox.

The article, which forms part of an issue devoted to vaccination and is published today [23 July] explores the story of doctor and polymath, Edward Jenner, who successfully defeated smallpox, a disease once so feared it was known as the ‘angel of death’. The disease killed millions of people throughout history until, thirty years ago, it became the first – and, so far, only – disease to be eradicated from the planet.

Professor Williams offers glimpses into Jenner’s life through his residence, The Chantry in Gloucestershire, now a museum dedicated to his pioneering work, where on 14 May 1796 he performed the first properly recorded vaccination, on his gardener’s eight-year-old son....



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