Doctor Jonas Salk – The Creator of the Polio Vaccine

July 2, 2020 1:51 pm


As the world struggles to come to grips with a new global pandemic of Covid-19, it is worth remembering how many viruses have wreaked widespread devastation before it – and how many pioneering scientists have fought back and won.

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One of these is Doctor Jonas Salk. Born in New York in 1914, Salk was aware of polio from an early age – as was the whole of America at the time. At the age of 2, the city he lived in suffered the worst polio epidemic in the country. A virus that was not only highly contagious, but also had a crippling effect, especially on children and babies, many of which would not live through the disease, the United States, as well as many other countries around the world, suffered high epidemic years of polio.

Salk was a bright medical student, and throughout World war 2, worked with scientists helping to develop new flu vaccines. He went on to become head of a laboratory in Pittsburgh, and after the war, he began his research into creating a polio vaccine.

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Much like today, vaccine development has to go through many trials, such as these paid clinical trials but by 1950, Salk had the first version of the polio vaccine. He concluded his medical trials by 1953, including himself and all of his family in the vaccinations and by 1955 the polio vaccine was rolled out across America and went on to vaccinate millions of schoolchildren – the most susceptible to this debilitating and deadly virus.

Doctor Jonas Salk lived until 1995, and was able to see, from his work polio almost eradicated in the United States.