Why It Matters: 5 Revolutionary Vaccines

Smallpox, Anthrax, Polio, Hepatitis B, COVID-19. At different times in history, each of these diseases wreaked havoc on civilizations. They caused epidemics that resulted in suffering and many lost lives. 

But, there are 5 revolutionary vaccines for each of these diseases. Vaccines have helped humans evolve to combat diseases that were once fatal. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), a vaccine “stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After vaccination, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.”


Smallpox is an infectious disease that is believed to have disturbed human civilizations for over 3000 years. The smallpox vaccine was developed in 1796 in the UK by Edward Jenner and was the first vaccine to ever be developed. At the time, people had happened upon a semi-preventative measure to contain smallpox called variolation. Variolation involved exposing non-infected individuals with material from infected individuals’ smallpox sores. Non-infected individuals would either inhale the material or scratch it into their arm. While these people would develop some symptoms of the disease, variolation resulted in less deaths than smallpox. Along with variolation, Dr. Jenner noticed that milkmaids who had experienced cowpox seemed to be protected from small pox. He conducted an experiment to test his theory. He introduced material from milkmaid Sarah Nelmes’ cowpox sore into the arm of a 9 year old boy names James Phipps. Afterwards, James was exposed to the disease many times but never developed smallpox. Thus, with more experiments and research, the smallpox vaccine was created. It became widely distributed in the late 1900s and is one of the only diseases in the world to be completely eradicated through vaccination efforts. 


Anthrax is another infectious disease believed to have existed even in ancient times. Anthrax infected animals and was then spread to humans. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, multiple researchers studied the bacteria that causes anthrax and developed a vaccine for animals that underwent multiple rounds of testing. The first anthrax vaccine for humans was developed in the 1950s and was tested in a group of goat hair mill workers. Research volunteers received either the vaccine or the placebo and were observed for 2 years. The vaccine was over 92% effective in preventing anthrax. The vaccine was later updated and a newer version was adopted in 1970.


Polio affected people for thousands of years and would leave many disabled or paralyzed. The first inactivated polio vaccine was created by Jonas Salk by using monkey kidney cells. In 1954, a placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted with 1.6 million children. In 1955, that vaccine was administered throughout the U.S. and polio cases significantly decreased. Polio was eradicated in the U.S. by 1979.

Hepatitis B

According to the Hepatitis B Foundation, “hepatitis B vaccine is the first anti-cancer vaccine because it can help prevent liver cancer.” The current hepatitis B vaccine gained FDA approval in 1986 and involved blood samples from infected donors. 


In the last year, COVID-19 spread like wildfire from one edge of the planet to another. Every single human has been affected in some way. According to the CDC, over 34 million people contracted COVID-19 in the U.S. and over 600,000 lives were lost. In a relatively short amount of time, researchers have developed multiple vaccines that are effective against COVID-19. These vaccines have saved lives and have finally made it safe for humans to interact again.

Sanguine collaborated with Pfizer to help develop the COVID-19 vaccine (read that study here). Because of biospecimen donations from research participants, scientists were able to quickly study and understand COVID-19, and create a safe and effective mRNA vaccine.

Clinical research made the development of these 5 revolutionary vaccines possible. Clinical research includes all research involved in the development of new medications and treatments from the discovery phase to clinical trial. It allows scientists to understand diseases and develop treatments and vaccines that are safe and effective for humans. Your participation and support of clinical research leads to advancements in medicine that may be life-changing for you and for generations to come. Learn more about Sanguine studies and how to get involved here








By Neelem Sheikh

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