[WORLDKINGS] On this day - July 18, 2023 – The 131st anniversary of the first human trial of a cholera vaccine by Waldemar Haffkine (1892)


(Worldkings.org) Waldemar Haffkine tested the first cholera vaccine on himself. Because of his contributions, he is named "a saviour of humanity".

Waldemar Mordechai Wolff Haffkine (15 March 1860 Odessa – 26 October 1930 Lausanne) was a Russian-French bacteriologist known for his pioneering work in vaccines. Born into a Jewish family in Odessa, Russian Empire, Haffkin was educated at the University of Odessa and later emigrated first to Switzerland, then to France, working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he developed a cholera vaccine that he tried out successfully in India.


At the time, one of the five great cholera pandemics of the 19th century ravaged Asia and Europe. Even though Robert Koch discovered Vibrio cholerae in 1883, the medical science at that time did not consider it a sole cause of the disease. This view was supported by experiments by several biologists, notably Jaume Ferran i Clua in Spain.

Haffkine focused his research on developing a cholera vaccine, and produced an attenuated form of the bacterium. Risking his own life, on 18 July 1892, Haffkine performed the first human test on himself and reported his findings on 30 July to the Biological Society. He is recognized as the first microbiologist who developed and used vaccines against cholera.


Even though his discovery caused an enthusiastic stir in the press, it was not widely accepted by his senior colleagues, including both Mechnikov and Pasteur, nor by European official medical establishment in France, Germany and Russia.

After these initial trials, larger clinical trials were carried out in India, where cholera was a major problem. The vaccine was found to be safe and effective, and it was eventually used to protect people in India and other parts of the world from cholera.


According to the World Records Union (Worldkings.org)

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