Home » today » Health » Ricardo Pascoe Pierce- They did not create the vaccine … but they brought it

Ricardo Pascoe Pierce- They did not create the vaccine … but they brought it

Doctor Balmis Street cuts in two the capital’s colony dedicated to the memory of the 19th century doctors who made some relevant contribution to the country. It runs from east to west, between Cuauhtémoc avenue and Eje Central.

Francisco Xavier de Balmis and Berenguer (1753-1819) is one of the few foreign doctors whose name was put on a street in the Colonia de los Doctores.

Born in Alicante, Spain, he studied medicine at the University of Valencia. In 1779 he moved to New Spain, where he became the first surgeon at the Hospital de San Juan de Dios, in Valladolid (today Morelia). There he conducted studies on sexually transmitted diseases.

One day an indigenous healer called Thomas of Viana, who said that he could cure syphilis with a maguey that grew in the Pátzcuaro region. Balmis experimented with the remedy and, back in Spain, published, in 1794, his Treatise on the virtues of agave and begonia.

In 1798, Edward Jenner, the so-called father of immunology, released his observations on smallpox, demonstrating the efficacy of the vaccine as a preventive method. Balmis he found out about them by reading the Historical and practical treatise on the vaccine, published in 1801 by the French physician and anatomist Jacques-Louis Moreau de la Sarthe, which he translated into Spanish.

Then, Balmis he was already a member of the Royal Medical Academy of Madrid and “honorary physicist of the Chamber” of the king Carlos IV. The monarch was sensitive to the scientific novelty, since smallpox had taken a daughter, barely three years old, and a brother from him. In addition, he was aware of the devastating effects of smallpox in the Spanish overseas territories, reported by the Italian sailor Alessandro Malaspina, who made a voyage of exploration through the Americas between 1789 and 1794.

In 1803, eight months after being informed of the advantages of vaccination, the king sent Balmis to travel the overseas territories at the head of the Royal Philanthropic Expedition. This one embarked in La Coruña, aboard the corvette María Pita, on November 30 of that year. The purpose was to bring the vaccine to the subjects of the kingdom. The biggest challenge was how to transport it. This was solved by taking a group of twenty-two children, who were inoculated with the virus in pairs.

In 1804, the expedition reached Venezuela, where it was divided. Balmis He left for the north, towards Puerto Rico, Cuba and New Spain. Although there is evidence that the English arrived with the vaccine before the Spanish, they had the merit of ensuring its conservation and taking it throughout the continent.

In New Spain, he first set foot in the port of Sisal, so it is likely that the first vaccinated here against smallpox was Yucatecan. From there, it passed through Campeche, Ciudad del Carmen, Veracruz, Puebla, Mexico City, San Juan del Río, Querétaro, Guanajuato, León, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Sombrerete and Durango. Everywhere, the chronicles of the time say, he was greeted with enthusiasm. In each city he trained doctors to take the discovery to different towns. Balmis he embarked from Acapulco to Manila, but returned at the dawn of the War of Independence to verify the effects of the vaccination.

In his morning lecture on Wednesday the 22nd, the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador He argued that the Conquest had not brought progress.

“What progress did we have? Yes the university, yes the printing press, yes other things, of course. But when the conquerors arrived, what is Mexico today had 16 million inhabitants and three centuries later Mexico barely had eight million, because smallpox was brought in, and in three centuries they were not even able to create a vaccine; what now took a year back then consumed three centuries. So where is the advance?

What history says, with which there is no need to quarrel, is that the smallpox vaccine was created only in 1796, and by 1804 it had already arrived in New Spain from the hand of Balmis, the Spanish doctor whose contribution has been recognized by Mexico. So much so that even street has.

– .

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.