Magazine article New Internationalist

Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio

Magazine article New Internationalist

Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio

Article excerpt

Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio by Gareth Williams (Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 9781137299758)

In Paralysed With Fear, Gareth Williams recalls humankind's long and arduous struggle to defeat polio: a disease that caused paralysis or death and created a fear like no other across the Western world in the 20th century. He begins his narrative by taking the reader through some of the more bizarre pseudo-science practices that took place when research into the disease was still in its infancy, at the beginning of the last century. One such experiment included transmitting polio from a dead boy directly into a living monkey's brain.

But it was through various vaccines - designed by a trio of competing scientists: Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and Hillary Koprowski - that were used in the US from 1952, that millions of potential victims all around the globe were eventually saved.

These scientific breakthroughs, however, came at a price.

All three of these successful polio vaccine pioneers chose mentally ill children as guinea pigs to test their early experiments. …

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