Dr Albert Sabin and the Oral Polio Vaccine

On this day, 6th of October 1956 Dr Albert Sabin discovered the oral polio vaccine. Jonas Salk had produced a vaccine before this which was replaced by Sabin’s oral one.

Albert Sabin

Albert Sabin was born in Poland in 1906 and emigrated to the USA with his parents in 1921 to avoid persecutions against Jews . Jonas Salk, born in New York,  was of Russian Jewish parentage. Both these men – sons of immigrants – contributed to the understanding of the polio virus which was to lead to the development of the vaccines.

Polio used to be prevalent throughout the UK and worldwide. Older people will remember a time before vaccinations were introduced.

Sabin’s live-virus, oral polio vaccine (administered in drops or on a sugar cube) soon replaced Salk’s killed-virus, injectable vaccine in many parts of the world. In 1994 the WHO declared that naturally occurring poliovirus had been eradicated from the Western Hemisphere owing to repeated mass immunization campaigns with the Sabin vaccine in Central and South America. The only occurrences of paralytic poliomyelitis in the West after this time were the few cases caused by the live-virus vaccine itself. Science History

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