The story of mankind's struggle against polio is compelling, exciting and full of twists and pardoxes. One of the grand challenges of modern medicine, it was a battleground between good and bad science. Gareth Williams takes an original view of the journey to understanding and defeating polio. read more...
Polio became one of the iconic diseases of the 20th century because of its horrific impact on victims and society. Until effective vaccines were introduced, there was no protection against the infection, which could break into any home and paralyse or kill a previously healthy child. During the early 1950s, polio terrified Americans almost as much as the threat of nuclear annihilation - partly because the fear of polio was deliberately exploited by the March of Dimes, headed by polio survivor President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to raise funds to defeat the disease. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin became locked in a cut-throat race to develop rival polio vaccines. Both succeeded, but their rivalry degenerated into a clash of big egos which held up progress and put patients at risk. Worldwide vaccination campaigns have pushed polio to the brink of extinction. Unfortunately, it still clings on in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern Nigeria, where the greatest obstacle to defeating polio is anti-Western ideology. Because of conflicts and the migration of refugees, polio is now spreading to other regions - and raising the possibility that this is becoming a battle we can never win. short..
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