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August 2, 1947


JAMA. 1947;134(14):1177. doi:10.1001/jama.1947.02880310035011

Less than thirty years ago more than 21,000,000 people throughout the world died of a pandemic disease the cause of which at that time was unknown. Human influenza virus was discovered by Smith, Andrewes and Laidlaw1 in 1933. The possibility of a major epidemic during World War II led to experiments on producing, on a large scale, a vaccine which would protect our armed forces and civilians against influenza. The first vaccine prepared on a large scale contained inactivated influenza virus obtained by the elution of adsorbed virus from chick red cells.2 This vaccine produced protection against influenza, but it contained about 80 per cent of impurities in the form of nonvirus protein materials. The second vaccine produced on a large scale was prepared by the selective removal of inactivated virus from the extraembryonic fluids of the infected chick embryo by high speed centrifugation.3 This method yielded