What is Vaccinia?

  • The Vaccinia virus (VACV or VV) is a large, complex, enveloped virus belonging to the poxvirus family.

  • It has a linear, double-stranded DNA genome approximately 190 kbp in length, and which encodes approximately 250 genes.

  • The vaccinia was at the heart of the modern smallpox vaccine. History has it that Edward Jenner isolated a cowpox virus and injected it into a boy.

  • This protected him from small pox and birthed the vaccination era.

  • However, recent work finds that Jenner may not have just used a cowpox virus.

  • What he used may have contained even the horsepox virus and slivers of other viruses too.

  • This cocktail makes up vaccinia and there are new investigations into its genetic structure to make it amenable to new kinds of vaccines.

  •  The smallpox vaccine might actually have come from horses.


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