Who Invented the Polio Vaccine?

Since it's invention in 1955, many countries have made the polio vaccine mandatory.
Since it's invention in 1955, many countries have made the polio vaccine mandatory.

The invention of the polio vaccine is one of the most notable inventions in the medical field. Its invention led to a great breakthrough in the fight against polio which was one of the leading causes of deformities and deaths in the world. Polio is known to paralyze the limbs of individuals who are not vaccinated against it. The individuals are left with an inability to walk and conduct vigorous physical activities. In extreme cases, the victims of the disease end up dying.

Who Invented the Polio Vaccine?

Jonas Edward Salk is acknowledged for being the first person to successful come up with the polio vaccine. Jonas Salk was an American scientist and virologist. Before Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine, polio was a life-threatening and a scary disease in most parts of the world. Prior to the introduction of Salk’s polio vaccine in 1955, approximately 58,000 people were infected by the disease. Over 3,000 people died and 21,000 were left paralyzed. Children were the most affected. President Franklin Roosevelt was also a victim of polio. For this reason, Roosevelt developed an institution that would help scientist develop a polio vaccine.

Life and Career

Jonas was born on August 28, 1914, in New York City. He later attended the New York University School of Medicine. He graduated in 1939 with a medical degree. Thereafter, he went for his internship program at Mount Sinai Hospital. He worked at Mount Sinai Hospital for two years before moving to the University of Michigan to study flu viruses, becoming a doctor in the process. However, he opted to work as a researcher, rather than a physician.

Salk’s Journey to Inventing the Polio Vaccine

In 1947, Salk was appointed to work with the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine. Still, in the same station, the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis sponsored a program that focused on determining how many viruses of polio existed in a body. Salk took advantage of this opportunity and decided to research further on developing a polio vaccine. Together with a few of his colleagues, Salk kept researching on the project for a continuous period of seven years. In 1955, he came up with a vaccine that became the first successful polio vaccine. A field trial was set to test the Salk’s vaccine. The testing involved 20,000 medical physicians and practitioners, 64,000 school staff, and over 1.8 million school children. The field test was largely successful. On April 12, 1955, it was announced to the public that a polio vaccine had been successfully developed.

Embracing Salk’s Vaccine

After successfully developing the vaccine and receiving a widespread acknowledgment, Salk begun campaigning to make the vaccine mandatory for children. In his campaigns, he made it clear that he had no interest in acquiring profits from the vaccine. In fact, he said the vaccine belonged to the people, and not to him. His vaccine was made compulsory in America. They began administering it to the people. Many other countries recognized the works of Salk almost immediately. The first countries that tried Salk’s vaccine included Canada, Sweden, Norway, West Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Denmark.


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