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The Great InoculatorThe Untold Story of Daniel Sutton and his Medical Revolution$
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Gavin Weightman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300241440

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300241440.001.0001

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The Mystery of Immunity

The Mystery of Immunity

(p.162) 18 The Mystery of Immunity
The Great Inoculator

Gavin Weightman

Yale University Press

This chapter assesses the mystery of immunity. Today, Edward Jenner is often referred to as the 'father of immunology'. But really, Jenner had no more claim to that title than Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, or the Greek women inoculating in Constantinople, or Daniel Sutton. None of them knew anything of the micro-organisms that Louis Pasteur and his contemporaries called 'germs'. It took well over a century after the deaths of Sutton and Jenner for an accumulation of scientific investigation to gain some understanding of what had been going on medically when the inoculators and vaccinators sought to bring smallpox under control. And it was a long time after the identification of 'germs', and the detective work that isolated the elements in them that caused specific infections, that it was understood that inoculation and vaccination worked because they triggered an immune response in the patient.

Keywords:   immunity, Edward Jenner, immunology, Daniel Sutton, Louis Pasteur, germs, smallpox, inoculation, vaccination, immune response

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