Author(s): Plotkin SA
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Abstract The reputation of vaccination rests on a 200-year-old history of success against major infectious diseases. That success has led to the doctrine of 'for each disease, a vaccine'. Although some diseases have proved frustrating, this doctrine carries considerable truth. However, when one reviews the vaccines now available it is apparent that most successes have been obtained when the microbe has a bacteremic or viremic phase during which it is susceptible to the action of neutralizing antibodies, and before replication in the particular organ to which it is tropic. Poliomyelitis and infections by capsulated bacteria are examples where vaccination has worked efficiently. However, some success has also been achieved against agents replicating on respiratory or gastrointestinal mucosae. Influenza, pertussis and rotavirus vaccines are examples of such agents, against which it has been possible to induce immune responses acting locally as well as systemically. In addition, when bacteria produce disease through exotoxins, purification and chemical or genetic inactivation of those toxins has yielded highly efficacious vaccines. Control of intracellular pathogens has not been achieved, except partly with the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis, and modern efforts are directed towards pathogens against which cellular immune responses are critical. In general, two achievements have been crucial to the success of vaccines: the induction of long-lasting immunological memory in individuals and the stimulation of a herd immunity that enhances control of infectious diseases in populations.
This article was published in C R Acad Sci III
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense