Like most things in our modern day life style, we tend to take vaccines for granted. Some, in ever growing numbers, are on the contrary pushing and inciting against vaccination for all the wrong reasons. It’s easy to forget, however, that since their introduction hundreds of millions of lives have been spared.
Set in an 18th century English doctor’s surgery, this stunning portrait features Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating James Phipps, the first person to receive the smallpox vaccine. Dr. Jenner’s pioneering work in the late 18th century led to the eradication of smallpox in 1980. Alexia created and photographed the entire tableaux. The aristocratic woman in the center represents how smallpox did not discriminate, affecting the rich and poor alike. The many flowers throughout the piece symbolize the global impact of smallpox, and the skulls on every bottle the ephemeral nature of life and death. Photo: Alexia Sinclair
Vaccines given to infants and young children over the past two decades will prevent 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, the virus infected about 500,000 Americans a year, causing 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations. In recent years, the number of diagnoses fell to around 60 to 65, mostly in isolated travelers arriving in the USA. But doubt concerning their effectiveness or even motives (some claim vaccines are an Illuminati plot to cleans its population) have contributed to a resurgence of nearly forgotten diseases such as measles, which was officially declared eradicated in the USA in 2000.
To raise awareness to this evolving pattern of thought, the Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organisation headed by Bill and Melinda Gates, commissioned dozens of works of art, ranging from painting, to photographs, to film, ahead of a meeting of heads of state in Berlin at the end of this month. Some of the work will be showcased at an event hosted by the Gavi Alliance and presided by German chancellor Angela Merkel. The event is centred around getting donors to pledge $7.5 billion for vaccinations between 2016 and 2020. This money will help save between 5 and 6 million lives in the developing world. Here’s a few works selected by ZME Science. The full list can be found here.
Evgeny Parfenov introduces his touching vision of James P. Grant, the man who led UNICEF from 1980-1995. James P. Grant’s leadership of the “child survival revolution” resulted in rapid improvements in immunization coverage in poor countries. Evgeny chose to portray Grant, who passed away in 1995, as serene and wise. He placed special focus on the birds in the portrait, which are “dispersed slightly at random, as if they are at play, like children.” Evgeny writes, “We see several birds in the foreground taking flight from Grant’s face, as if they owe their lives and their freedom to the outcome of his mission, his hard work, his struggle, with wrinkles summarizing the trials he has been through, his life’s work, and his wisdom.”
When he learned that pigs can be a source of new strains of influenza, famed Mexican artist Francisco Toledo was highly motivated to create this painting. The pig reminds him of his childhood, when he used to visit an abattoir where his grandfather slaughtered pigs for a living. Francisco says the smell and the way the animal was slaughtered caused a big impression on him. Pigs appear throughout his career in several of his pieces. Here he has prepared a painting using egg tempera on paper of a pig precariously descending a transport ramp.
American photographer Glen Wexler creates a dazzling photo illustration of Jonas Salk’s forward-thinking and creative mindset that led him to develop the polio vaccine. Glen’s inspiration is Jonas Salk’s quote: “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” The digital photograph features a healthy child playing with building blocks, symbolizing the innovation and intuition that Salk embodied in his devotion to finding a solution to polio, historically one of the world’s biggest cripplers of children. Glen says the architectural structures represent global accomplishments, while the shiny building blocks tell the story of each new generation building on the achievements of the past by intuitively tapping into infinite creative possibilities.
At first “Flowers” looks like a textured painting, or perhaps a fabric print. But peer in closer, and there emerge the tiny cells that create this image. As artist Vik Muniz writes: “The artwork is a microscopic pattern of liver cells infected with a smallpox vaccine virus. After infection, the virus turns the cells a reddish color which allows scientists to visualise infection.” The image was created in a laboratory using microfabrication techniques and a high-resolution microscope. Vik then digitally colors the images and makes wall-sized prints “that allow viewers to see both the individual cells, and the pattern as a whole.”
Sophie Blackall takes us on an adventure, in a quest to find every child. Currently, more than 20 million children are not receiving the vaccines they need. Sophie brings these children to life, illustrating corners of the world where children can be missed – whether in remote mountain valleys, desert villages, refugee camps or dense urban slums. We are invited to search for these children, and once we find them, to think about their similarities and the challenge of reaching each of them, seemingly buried like the proverbial needle in a haystack. The illustrations also celebrate the fact that in many places, these children are indeed being found, and given the vaccines and other health services that are every child’s right.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!