Sabin Develops an Oral Polio Vaccine (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Sabin developed a polio vaccine consisting of weakened strains of poliovirus, which, when eaten, caused a harmless infection in the gut and stimulated long-lasting immunity but did not cause paralytic disease.
Summary of Event
Almost a century ago, the first major poliomyelitis (polio) epidemic was recorded. Thereafter, epidemics of increasing frequency and severity struck the industrialized world. By the 1950’s, as many as sixteen thousand individuals, most of them children, were being paralyzed by the disease each year.
Within twenty years of the first epidemic, scientists had shown that polio was caused by a virus and had discovered that deliberate injection of this virus into monkeys caused them to develop paralytic polio. This important discovery raised hopes that a vaccine would be developed quickly to control the disease. Unfortunately, although a means was now available to test the safety and effectiveness of potential vaccines in animals prior to use in humans, the choice of the monkey species was unfortunate because it fostered the mistaken belief that the virus infected humans as it did monkeys, namely, by inhalation through the nose.
It is now known that, in humans, poliovirus enters the body through ingestion by the mouth. It replicates in the throat and the intestines and establishes an infection that normally is harmless. From there, the virus can enter the...
(The entire section is 2192 words.)
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