chickenpox vaccine

The Doyen of Chickenpox Vaccine Doodled by Google on February 17!

Healthcare Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi is a known name in the field of medicine. He holds the distinction of being a well-known doctor and virologist, who went on to develop the very first vaccine pertaining to chickenpox. Google Doodles honored him on February 17, 2022.

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi belonged to Osaka (Japan), and was born in the year 1928 on February 17. He was conferred upon several awards throughout his career. Some of them are inclusive of Thailand’s Prince Mahidol Award and Japan’s Saburo Kojima Memorial Culture Award.

How did chickenpox vaccine come into being?

The motivation to devise cure for chickenpox came from the fact that his oldest son got it from neighbor. He further mentioned that his temperature had shot up, and he started having trouble in breathing.

As such, he began developing a vaccine against chickenpox in the year 1971 and completed it in the year 1973. The same vaccine was approved for usage at the global level in the year 1986 by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare backed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Since then, this vaccine is being administered to zillions of children across the globe in the form of an effective measure for preventing occurrences of this contagious viral disease along with transmission.

The name of the vaccine is “varicella vaccine”. This chickenpox vaccine was licensed in the year 1995. The CDC confirmed that prior to the year 1995 almost every person in the US had contracted chickenpox. Every year, the virus resulted in close to 4 Mn cases of chickenpox, 100-150 deaths, and 11K hospitalizations.

This medical stalwart passed away in his own country on December 16, 2013 due to cardiac arrest. His wife and two children have outlived him. Google marked February 17, 2022 as his 94th birthday by dedicating a doodle to him.

About Dr. Takahashi

Dr. Takahashi obtained his medical degree from Osaka University and did join the Research Institute for Microbial Disease in the year 1959. Therein, he was leading the laboratory in development of vaccines for rubella, measles, and mumps. After making a breakthrough in developing vaccines for polio and measles, Dr. Takahashi did accept research fellowship in the year 1963 at Baylor College in the US.

The chickenpox vaccine was developed using VZV (Varicelle-zoster virus) that was isolated from the child’s vesicular fluid. VZV is amongst the human herpesviruses causing shingles (herpes zoster) and chickenpox (varicella).

Oka Strain

As per Japanese researchers, the family name of the boy was “Oka”. Therefore, virus’ name was “Oka strain”. The vaccine was also named “Oka Varicella Vaccine”.

In all, Dr. Takahashi’s landmark research regarding chickenpox vaccine did change the course of the world 3 decades ago and the scenario has been healthier since then. Children were born in a chickenpox-free atmosphere post 1995. This was an enlightening trend in the history of medical sciences. With Google Doodle commemorating his 94th birthday on February 17, the millennials have also got to know about his contributions. It was, indeed, a constructive gesture by Google!

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