How a Cow Saved Millions of Lives


How a Cow Saved Millions of Lives

Everyone in the world is waiting for a vaccine for obvious reasons – no one wants to die from COVID-19.

As it stands now, there are 23 companies that are working on coronavirus treatments or vaccines. One of them, Israeli Bio-Defense Lab announced on May 5th, 2020 that it found an “antibody that neutralizes” the coronavirus. Those companies better rush, since our daughter, who is expecting her first baby in the beginning of September, informed us that we will probably have to wait until there’s a vaccination before we can meet our granddaughter. There have been cures for plagues for over 3,300 years. The Torah describes a plague, which struck the children of Israel who started sinning in the desert after their exodus from Egypt, and thousands began to die. Moses told Aaron to quickly take a firepan with incense (a ketoret) to go into the middle of the congregation and atone for their sins. “He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was checked. Those who died from the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred.” (Numbers 17:13-14) But what was the incense called ketoret, and how did Moses know about this miracle cure? According to the folklore story, when Moses had ascended to heaven to receive the Torah, the Angel of Death, whose name was Satan, taught him the secret.

However, it took thousands of years and millions of people dying before vaccines were discovered. I learned about this in the book “The 100 Most Important Events & People of The Past 1000 Years.” There I found that “The eradication of one of the worst plagues ever can be traced to a cow. Smallpox caused scarring and blindness and at its peak in the 18th century killed 60 million Europeans, most of them children.”

In 1796, Edward Jenner, a general practitioner from rural England, theorized that cowpox built one’s immunity to smallpox. He extracted a cowpox-infected lymph from a cow and inserted a small amount into the arm of an eight-year-old boy. Seven weeks later, Jenner injected a boy with smallpox. His immune system responded positively. This discovery led to the birth of the science of immunology. Vaccinations became a reality. The word is derived from the Latin vaccinus, meaning “of the cow”.

We live in different times, thousands of professionals in many different countries spend billions of dollars trying to find the cure which might revolutionize how many diseases (not only COVID-19) are treated. It was Satan who told Moses about the cure. Dr. Jenner experimented with inoculating using cowpox. In 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which helped thousands of lives. He began a series of experiments involving the common staphylococcal bacteria. An uncovered Petri dish sitting next to an open window became contaminated with mold spores. Fleming named the ‘mold juice’ penicillin. This accidental discovery changed the course of medicine. What will help modern science to find a new cure? Time will tell.

P.S. To photograph cows, I decided to drive to the area close to Tomales Bay in Marin. These four images are the result of this trip.

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