Smallpox was the first disease in history to be eradicated in 1980, largely due to the research of Edward Jenner. His desire to test convention and push the boundaries of human knowledge has saved hundreds of millions of lives.
There are many aspects of modern life that we take for granted, above all the impact that science, innovation and discovery has had (and continues to have) on our day-to-day existence.
While it is easy to quantify statistics on causes of death, we rarely stop to consider the number of lives saved by technological advances, by the prevention of disease, or by the availability of effective treatment. We believe this is something that needs to be more widely acknowledged and celebrated.
Using calculations from the website Science Heroes, this infographic compares the estimated number of lives saved around the world by research and innovation (click image to see full version).
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Note: only innovations which have saved over 1 million lives have been included.
You might not know…
At the age of 14, James Harrison had an operation to remove a lung. He received around 13 litres of blood and subsequently decided to become a blood donor. His blood was found to contain rare antibodies which were used to develop an injection against rhesus disease, which caused the deaths of thousands of unborn babies each year. 60 years and over 1,000 blood plasma donations later, Harrison has saved the lives of approximately 2 million babies.
Made of peanuts, sugar, vegetables oil and milk powder, Plumpy'nut is a paste used to treat severe malnutrition. It is rich in fats, vitamins and proteins and promotes rapid weight gain, eliminating the need for hospitalization. Easy to store and administer on a large scale, Plumpy'nut has saved millions of lives during famines and natural disasters.
Belding Hibbard Scribner invented a device which turned kidney failure from a death sentence into a treatable disease. Before the device, kidney dialysis could only be performed five to seven times before arteries and veins were permanently damaged. Implanted in the arm, Scribner's invention provided a permanent solution and has saved over 8 million lives