General, Research, Technology

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a medical product, afterthe introduction of which a person becomes immune to pathogens of certain diseases. It is believed that vaccination is the easiest, safest and most effective way to protect your body from deadly infectious diseases. If you look at history, thanks to vaccination, humanity has stopped the spread of smallpox, polio, measles, tetanus and many other infections. It would seem that everything is clear: in general, people know perfectly well how vaccines work and what they are for. But what if you dig deeper? If you ask any person you meet to explain the principle of the vaccines, he is unlikely to be able to tell something intelligible. And even more so, few people will be able to retell the history of their invention. Therefore, right now I propose to fill these gaps in knowledge by learning everything you need to know about vaccines.

It would seem that everyone is perfectly clear what a vaccine is. But is it really so?


  • 1 How do vaccines work?
  • 2 Coronavirus vaccines
  • 3 The very first vaccine in the world
  • 4 When were vaccines invented?

How do vaccines work?

The main task of the vaccine is to help the humanthe body will acquire immunity against a certain virus, bacteria and other pathogen of the disease. He seems to take the immune system by the hand, points to a dangerous object and says: "This is our enemy, if you see him in the future, attack immediately." Any vaccine usually contains an agent that strongly resembles the causative agent of the disease, but does not trigger the development of the disease. Typically, a weakened or dead form of a microbe or a specific part of a bacterium or virus is used as an agent. It is he who is used as an example for immune cells. The vaccine teaches: see something similar? Attack.

Vaccines are needed for the body to develop antibodies against disease

Coronavirus vaccines

Now people are most interested in how they workvaccines against coronavirus. At the moment, the most famous of them are the American Pfizer and the Russian Sputnik V. In general, the principle of their action is the same - they enter the human body and help it develop immunity against COVID-19. But these vaccines have different agents that help the immune system recognize the virus. Pfizer is a nucleic acid (RNA) -based drug considered the next generation vaccine. It contains only part of the genetic code of the coronavirus, which enters the body and causes it to produce antigens. RNA vaccines are believed to be made much faster and easier to improve. The only downside is that the developed immunity may be short-lived.

Pfizer vaccine developed in collaboration with Biontech

The Russian vaccine Sputnik V, in turn,works on the basis of an adenovirus vector. A vector is a virus that lacks a gene for reproduction. At the moment, voluntary vaccination with this particular drug is being carried out in Russia. Many people are very wary of this vaccine because it is believed that it has not passed all the necessary tests. It was developed and released very quickly. We often write about all the important data about the Russian vaccine, and each time researchers assure us about its effectiveness and safety. If interested, you can read the article at this link - there is a lot of interesting information.

Recently, my colleague Ivan Kuznetsov was vaccinated with Sputnik V. Here are the results of vaccination.

The very first vaccine in the world

Until the 19th century, people were powerless against manyinfectious diseases. The most common of these was smallpox, which infected millions of people around the world every year. About 30% of those infected died, and most of the survivors were disabled. Already in those days, it was noticed that people who had had smallpox no longer became infected with the disease. Over time, doctors tried to get people to contract a mild form of the disease. Some attempts were successful, but sometimes people still became severely infected and died.

This is what vaccination looked like hundreds of years ago.

The creator of the first vaccine in history is consideredEnglish physician Edward Jenner. In 1796, he created a smallpox vaccine based on cowpox. The first vaccinated person in the world can be considered a boy named James Phipps. The very term "vaccine" was formed only after 100 years from the moment of the first vaccination. French microbiologist Louis Pasteur described the main principle of vaccination - the use of weakened pathogens to form immunity.

See also: How did the most famous disease epidemics end?

When were vaccines invented?

After the invention of the smallpox vaccine, vaccines for other diseases began to appear:

  • 1885 - rabies vaccine;
  • 1921 - vaccine against tuberculosis;
  • 1936 - flu vaccine;
  • 1939 - tick-borne encephalitis vaccine;
  • 1992 - vaccine for the prevention of Hepatitis A;
  • 2000 - a vaccine for the prevention of pneumonia.

Also, during the course of history, manymethods of administration of vaccines. Typically, most drugs are injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously. But there are vaccines that are administered orally, into the nasal cavity and even through a scratch on the body. Some people are afraid of vaccines, believing that they are the cause of autism and other dangerous diseases. The authorities of the countries are actively fighting such communities, because the refusal to vaccinate can lead to new outbreaks of diseases. Yes, vaccines have side effects, but most of the time they go away. The main thing is that the drugs are tested and information on the results is publicly available.

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About whether people need to be vaccinated, one daymy colleague Lyubov Sokovikova reasoned. She told how humanity managed to defeat viruses and why it turned out that many people are afraid of vaccination. In general, the article is interesting - read this link.