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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu – the forgotten immunisation pioneer

By Tom Solomon, Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, and Professor of Neurology, University of Liverpool, University of Liverpool
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The remarkable progress with immunisation against COVID-19 has focused the world’s attention on the brilliance of vaccines. Many people know the story of Edward Jenner’s discovery of vaccination against smallpox in Gloucestershire nearly 250 years ago. But far fewer have heard of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. She was the socialite whose pioneering inoculation experiments laid the groundwork for Jenner’s discovery, but whose contribution is all but forgotten. This year, the 300th anniversary of her extraordinary human experiments, provides a timely occasion to review her amazing contribution to public…


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