Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, CIE (1860-1930): prophylactic vaccination against cholera and bubonic plague in British India

Journal of Medical Biography, Vol 15 (Feb 2007) p9-19, Paper by Dr Barbara J Hawgood


Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine developed an anticholera vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, in 1892. From the results of field trials in India from 1893-1896, he has been credited as having carried out the first effective prophylactic vaccination for a bacterial disease in man. When the plague pandemic reached Bombay, Haffkine became Bacteriologist to the Government of [British] India (1896-1915). He soon produced an effective antiplague vaccine and large inoculation schemes were commenced. In 1902 nineteen people in Mulkowal (Punjab) died from tetanus poisoning as a consequence of antiplague vaccination. Haffkine was blamed unjustly and exonerated only in 1907 following a campaign spear-headed by Ronald Ross. In India the stigma remained. In 1925 in tribute to the great bacteriologist, the Bombay Government renamed the laboratory as the Haffkine Institute. The Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd and the Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing in Mumbai continue to be important centres for public health.


Portraits on stamps from India and Israel on the Jewish Gen biography page.

Pasteur Institute biography with portrait.


To contact Barbara Hawgood, email barbara@hawgood.com

Return to list of biographical articles by Barbara Hawgood

Return to the home page of David and Barbara Hawgood

This web page amended by David Hawgood on 28 April 2009

Valid HTML 4.0!