When There Is No Vaccine

Passive immunization is the answer.

Jack Woodall
Jan 1, 2007

In 1942, long before the vaccine was available, I contracted measles, went into a coma, but recovered. My younger brother and sister received transfusions of immune serum from our mother, who had had measles as a child, and were protected. My siblings were not the only ones to benefit from serum treatment: In 1970, two people working on Lassa fever at a university research lab caught the illness, and one died. The other was diagnosed in time, received immune serum from a Lassa survivor, and recovered.

Vaccines have saved countless lives. But there are still diseases that cause large numbers of cases and deaths, such as dengue and malaria, for which vaccines have been sought for decades but always seem to be five years in the future. Other important diseases like Ebola and Lassa fevers are crying out for vaccines, which are under development but still predicted to take years...

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