towards the elimination of polio

One piece of good news is that that polio has been eliminated in nearly all countries of the world, and is on the verge of being eliminated everywhere. I never knew before that the American medical researcher Jonas Salk (1914-1995), who discovered, developed and introduced the first polio vaccine in 1955, campaigned for mandatory vaccination and never patented his vaccine, so never profited from its use.

The good news rarely unfolds as swiftly as the bad, so this graph dates back to 1980. Polio was once a global scourge, and was endemic in 125 countries as recently as 1988. Polio clings on in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and particularly Pakistan — but the world is on the verge of eliminating it entirely. Jonas Salk, who developed the first polio vaccine in the 1950s, did not patent it, declaring, “could you patent the sun?”

Tim Harford, “A year in charts: From bitcoin to Trump and chess playing robots“, The Big Read, Financial Times, 28 December 2017 (gated paywall).

This chart is one of many in Mr Harford’s column.

Polio is all but eradicated. Number of reported paralytic polio cases (thousands)

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