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Reblogged:Maurice Hilleman, Unsung Hero of Vaccines

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Curious about vaccines for obvious reasons, I ran into a name I had never heard of, and which I'm willing to bet most people will also find unfamiliar: Maurice Hilleman.

This is supremely ironic because it is quite possible that he has saved your life and a near certainty that he has made it better, directly or not.

Who was he? A short biography by the Vaccine Makers Project starts off as follows:

Dr. Maurice Hilleman is considered by many to be the father of modern vaccines. Over the course of his career, he developed many of the vaccines that are routinely recommended for children today. By the end of his career, Dr. Hilleman had prevented pandemic flu, combined the measles-mumps-rubella vaccines (MMR), developed the first vaccine against a type of human cancer, and much more. It is likely that Dr. Hilleman's work has saved more lives worldwide than any other scientist in history.
Image by Walter Reed Army Medical Center, via Wikimedia, public domain.
Being a summary, this necessarily leaves out some details -- such as the fact that "preventing" a pandemic flu included being the first in history to predict a pandemic and quickly developing the vaccine that stopped it in the U.S, saving close to a million lives. The rest of the biography is likewise awe-inspiring.

I have heard of many people reacting to the pandemic by reading novels like Stephen King's The Stand. I have had no appetite for this, and I suspect that between the difficulties we are experiencing and the constant negativity of our popular media, lots of other people will have lost theirs. We need spiritual fuel, as Ayn Rand has said of romantic art, and we can find it in the story of this great, but unassuming man.

Scientists estimate that Hillman's work saves eight million lives per year. And, to the degree that we have hope of a vaccine against the new, capricious, and often deadly disease we now face, we will owe much of it to him.

Thank you, Dr. Hilleman.

-- CAV

P.S. There are links to a film and a book about Dr. Hilleman at the end of the short biography.

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