As a Ukrainian with Jewish roots saved the world from plague and cholera: the story of Vladimir Khavkin

The words “plague” and “cholera” are still used as a curse, causing a shudder to most people. Fortunately, there was a superhero who was able to overcome this scourge of humanity. Humble inhabitant of Odessa Vladimir Khavkin invented two unique vaccine that has saved millions of people, says “KP Ukraine”.

Как украинец с еврейскими корнями спас мир от чумы и холеры: история Владимира Хавкина

Photo: Shutterstock

In India, the scientist is given the title “Mahatma” which means “father of the nation”, in his honor called the Bombay bacteriological Institute is the largest center for the study of plague and cholera in Southeast Asia, Queen Victoria herself gave Mordecai Wolff Haffkine the order of the Knight of the Indian Empire, in Israel, planted a grove of remembrance of the microbiologist, and the city of his childhood, Berdyansk, there is only a small Museum at the station.

No wonder the writer Anton Chekhov said about Dr. Hawking: “It is the unknown man, a great philanthropist who applauded all of Europe, and at home he is known to nobody”.

Born Vladimir Aronovich in Sunny Odessa, and at birth was given the name Marcus-wolf. Father — teacher of the Jewish government College Aron Khavkin. Mother Rosalia Landsber — the daughter of a teacher of the Hebrew language in the same school. From childhood, Vladimir was inquisitive and hardworking child. He studied first at the heder, the Jewish school for boys, and in 1879 graduated in Russian Berdyansk men’s gymnasium and entered the natural Department of physic-mathematical faculty of the Imperial Novorossiysk University in Odessa, says the “Country of knowledge”.

The father money for the education of the son was not. In the end, after long negotiations, agreed to help the elder brother of Vladimir — he gave him ten rubles a month in the classroom. Odessa University, where he received the guy gave a poor student 20 cents a day… for lunch. Bonus — eminent teacher, Ilya Mechnikov, who played in the lives Khavkin a significant role.

Dreamers in Russia has always been rife. After the Decembrists, after the emancipation of the peasants, feeling the wind civil liberties, came to the idealists of the sixties. To replace them was the seventies, for the sake of people’s happiness ready to fight and sacrifice, not only armed with revolutionary theory, but also with bombs and revolvers.

With one of these ascetics – Vera Figner, nicknamed Vera-revolver – found in the mystery of Odessa the turnout of the members of the student circle of people. Among them was Vladimir Khavkin. And after some time, militants from the “people’s will” will be killed Odessa-General police chief Strelnikov. Individual terror will figure prominently in the practice of Russian revolutionaries. Political investigation will show increased interest in “fighter for people’s happiness” Vladimir Havkin. Three of his arrest, which followed one after the other, not over the court and the prison only by a lucky chance: the secret police had enough evidence to prove the involvement the troubled student to terror.

But Khavkin was “on notice” from the police. Watched him, he was under secret surveillance. Organized by students against the University authorities, in which Hawking was involved in, led eventually to his expulsion from the Novorossiysk University, writes “Lech”.

Havkina still allowed to defend his thesis as an external student in 1884, but to continue his scientific work or teaching in Odessa, he could not – he was unreliable. The organization of the people was in Odessa completely destroyed, Khavkin lost close friends, he did not have the opportunity to earn even little money.

Serum from beef broth

As a Jew Havkin has not had the opportunity to conduct research in Russia. University leadership, in an effort to open the talented student the road to a career in science, suggested Khavkine to accept Orthodoxy. However, Havkin declined the offer. In 1881, the swordsmen moved to Switzerland. In 1888 Khavkin followed Mechnikov and was appointed Privat-docent of the University of Lausanne. In 1889, he, on the recommendation of the Mechnikov became an employee of the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

Paris! The palaces and libraries, Sorbonne, writers and artists in Montmartre, the coffee shop on the boulevards, boats on the river, the lilac rooftops of the Latin quarter, stunning girls, and Burgundy. And – freedom without boundaries!

Why is dizzy the Russian provincial, is the reason to the winds…

But not for Paris temptations Vladimir Khavkin left hateful Motherland. Science will save the world – remember this man, forsaken by beauty murderous political rebellion.

The main activity Khavkin was to protect the human body against infectious diseases with the help of serums and vaccines. By 1892, Mr haffkine developed the first effective vaccine against cholera, proving itself on its safety for humans, says Wikipedia.

Scientist chose the shortest way, which the other did not go to do a vaccine is a poison produced by plague germs. So went faster than skip bacilli from generation to generation through the organisms of thirty rabbits. Yes rabbits and was not. Germs bred in meat broth. To them it was something to cling to on the surface, Khavkin dropped into the broth drop fat. Germs clutching a greasy spot and grew down like a stalactite. These “stalactites Khavkin” testified that bacteria feel great. From time to time flasks with them shacked bacilli were drowned, to the surface again dripping with fat, for it clung to new germs, and so until all the broth is saturated with toxin. Before injecting the poison the rats that they have developed immunity to the plague, the flask was heated to 60 degrees — this pasteurization killed bacteria, keeping them toxin.

Persuaded to the vaccine by their example

The discovery microbiologist experienced first injected the vaccine, then injected himself with the drug of the causative agents of cholera, which was neutralized during the day.

In the homeland of the scientist, even when an epidemic of cholera, to use the new vaccine is refused. In most European countries too. But the UK authorities have realized what a tremendous value on a global scale has opening Khavkin. They allowed the doctor to test the vaccine in its colony of India, a country that in the late nineteenth century was almost completely affected by cholera.

Exactly 125 years ago, Vladimir Aronovich went there as state bacteriologist. The young scientist immediately started to work — organized tent city and promptly established the mass production of its vaccine.

Then, together with his assistants, the four Indian doctors, went to the village was Katal Bagan near Calcutta, where the disease broke out. The peasants in this village and didn’t want to hear about any vaccinations and were disposed towards strangers is very militant. From the crowd of villagers who had gathered to gawk at the doctors, at first, heard threats, and then threw stones. Indian doctors wanted to take Khavkin, fearing reprisals, but he suddenly took off his jacket, lifted his shirt and injected himself with the vaccine in the right side. It shocked peasants. In the end, more than half of the villagers agreed to the vaccination, and none of them subsequently suffered from cholera. After two years of hard labor mortality in endemic areas has dropped by three quarters.

It would seem that you can breathe, but new trouble came: in 1896, the plague struck Bombay is the second largest city in India. Khavkin has offered to use his invention of the serum, but it doubted the patron and immunologist Ilya Mechnikov and Louis Pasteur. But the result was incredible — 93% guaranteed protection.

In 1897, Queen Victoria awarded Khavkin one of the highest orders of the British Empire. In honor of him in London a reception was given, attended by the largest English doctors. With a welcome speech by the famous surgeon Lister. Khavkin thanking for all the good that he has done for India, and thus for the UK, Lister noticed, that of all the vile that is in the world, most disgusting anti — Semitism.

Rats for experiments were caught by the sailors

Believing that the wizard Hawking, the British called him again accepted a staff biologist in the civil service, promised British citizenship and the lab.

The lab in the Bombay medical College have identified with unprecedented generosity — the whole room. In the state — one laboratory and three of the courier. Experimental animals — rats, which sailors for pennies caught on come from European courts. Simultaneously with Havkin, several research centers have developed an antiplague vaccine in much more luxurious conditions. And yet, undocumented immigrant is all furnished.

Trial batch was prepared in just three months. The assistant fell ill with a nervous breakdown, couriers fled, and Khavkin worked 14 hours a day. In parallel, he read about future vaccine lectures to local medical students.

Besides them, no one would venture to take root, but the Ukrainian microbiologist 10 January 1897 drove himself under the skin of a quadruple dose of the plague poison — 10 milliliters of solution. The serum is safe. Such “persuasion” to the local population seemed genuine, and willing to be vaccinated were more and more.

In 1915 bacteriologist-seeker worked in the British war Ministry, where he led vaccine British soldiers going to the battlefields of the First world war.

Dr. Khavkin has retired and returned from India to Europe in 1915. In the same year he was invited by the British defense Ministry for consultations: vaccinate if sent to the colonies of the British soldiers? The military has expressed deep interest in research and practical activity of the scientist. It is unlikely that topics of conversations with leaders of the Ministry of defence is only limited to the issues of vaccination. But most of the issues discussed in this Department for a long time hidden under a signature stamp “top secret”.

By the time the Germans had used at Ypres toxic substances – their monopoly superweapon, poison gas called “mustard gas”. In the countries of the anti-German coalition – and especially in England – struggled to create their own weapons of mass destruction, in no way inferior to German gas, and better yet, his superior.

It was also clear to the layman: one who consults with the plague and cholera, may and kindle this terrible disease in the right place at the right time. The idea of biological weapons was in the air fighting over Europe.

It is not known what the Hawking after his return from India where he lived, who whiled away his spare time. But, in the end, disappear – the inalienable right of every free man, especially such a special one, a lonely man like Vladimir Khavkin – retired winner of cholera and plague. Maybe he sick society colleagues are sometimes envious and uninteresting. Maybe the physical condition of this strong man and the big guy went into decline and he became a hypochondriac and a recluse. Anyway, but in Lausanne, on lake Geneva, we find Vladimir-wolf Khavkin in the second half of 1920-ies.

A narrow strip of shoreline in the foothills of the Swiss Alps has always been something of a clarifier of the world’s troubles and hassles. And Dr. Hawking was one of those who strolled through green, well-tended streets of Lausanne, went down to the shore, looked at the water and white birds over the water. He has completed his life, leaving a mark in the lives of millions of others.

There, in the town of Lausanne, in 1930, he died of heart disease, but before it had time to write a will. Having lived an ascetic life, Khavkin has accumulated 300 thousand dollars and a huge library. All this is considerable as the scientist left the Jewish community.

In 1935, Mahatma Gandhi personally visited the Institute in Bombay, details learned about Hinduism contrary to the details of the preparation of meat broth for vaccines and after a few hours of thinking expressed a desire to be vaccinated.

So forty years after the creation of “lymph Khavkin” all over the world were vaccinated more than thirty-five million people.

The day of the death of a scientist in India declared a day of mourning, and his “great white healer” the Hindus still revered as a deity.



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