A Phil-for-an-ill Blog
Variolae Vaccinae – the birth of the fraudIn May 1796, Edward Jenner, acting upon ‘a superstition among the dairymaids of Gloucestershire that a person who had suffered from cowpox would never have smallpox,’ 1 inoculated one James Phillips with lymph from a cowpox vesicle on the hand of a dairymaid: in June he inoculated the boy with smallpox.
‘…it was on the strength of this solitary experiment that Jenner had launched his discovery upon the world, claiming that cowpox was a prophylactic against smallpox, while to give some sort of scientific colour to the claim he labelled cowpox with the name “Variolae Vaccinae” (smallpox of the cow)…the picture of the whole of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons swallowing the theory of an unqualified country apothecary, based on one totally unreliable experiment, seems scarcely credible.’2
However, there was a very good reason for the medics’ rush to embrace…
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