Table of contents:
- Mass epidemics of the 20th century
- Samples of American scientists and Soviet developments
- Defeated polio and candy vaccines
- Rescue of fellow citizens and maternal riots of Japanese women
In the 20th century, the world was overtaken by a real catastrophe - the polio epidemic. One tenth of the sick died, and about half of the rest became disabled. The poliomyelitis of the victims was not analyzed. Starting in the United States, it crippled the strength of President Franklin Roosevelt, science fiction writer Arthur Clarke and director Coppola suffered from the disease. In the USSR, an epidemic came at the height of the Cold War, forcing the warring countries to scientific alliance.
Mass epidemics of the 20th century
The first information about poliomyelitis reached today from Ancient Egypt and Greece. In the form of small, rare outbreaks, poliomyelitis plagued society throughout the 19th century. A thorough study of the disease began at the end of the 18th century. Then the famous surgeon Heine called this ailment children's spinal paralysis, and only decades later, Russian scientists proved the infectious nature of poliomyelitis. Research took a lot of time, and the disease was just beginning. By the early 20th century, poliomyelitis had become an epidemic. The disease, severe in its consequences, seriously affected the nervous system, the spinal cord and mercilessly claimed the lives of children. Citizens of Scandinavian countries and North America fell ill in the tens of thousands.
The summer of 1921 became a national disaster in the United States as well. In the eastern part of the country, about two thousand people, most of whom were children, died from poliomyelitis within a few months. Thousands of others who were ill remained paralyzed. After World War II, the incidence of polio rose even higher. The epidemics have already affected the countries of Southern, Central and Eastern Europe. The peak of the American epidemic is considered 1952. The number of cases reached 60 thousand, and children died from complications - pneumonia and paralysis of the respiratory muscles. At the same time, poliomyelitis reached the Soviet Union.
Samples of American scientists and Soviet developments
The first to fight the formidable virus were American specialists who had a solid base for scientific research and innovative laboratories. The Americans, in contrast to the post-war USSR, could afford such expenses. But this advantage did not play a special role, and the vaccine developed in the USA in 1955 turned out to be ineffective. The injection did not have the desired effect on the virus, and the vaccinated child remained a carrier of the infection.
As for the USSR, by the end of the 50s, polio was rampant here, and parents dreamed of vaccinating their children. Moreover, the epidemic began with the prosperous Baltic, after switching to Kazakhstan and Siberia. The disease claimed over 10 thousand lives annually. Prevention of poliomyelitis in the Union was elevated to the rank of priority state tasks. The work on the creation of a vaccine was headed in Moscow by Mikhail Chumakov, the head of a specially created institute of poliomyelitis. In Leningrad, the Department of Virology of Experimental Medicine, headed by Academician Smorodintsev, operated in parallel. Soon the revolutionary vaccine was ready, it remained to conduct live experiments.
Defeated polio and candy vaccines
Before mass vaccination, Soviet scientists were obliged to secure the trust of the population, for which they decided first to vaccinate themselves and their loved ones. Chumakov and Smorodintsev performed experiments on the use of the vaccine on themselves several times, but this was not enough. The vaccine was intended for children, and someone's healthy child who had no immunity to the disease should have received the first live polio vaccine.
It was impossible to find volunteer parents who would agree to a mortal risk in relation to their own child. And then Anatoly Smorodintsev took an incredible step. The academician brought the finished drug to his home, dripping it onto cookies for his granddaughter at dinner. The experiment went off with a bang. A 6-year-old girl was examined by several doctors every day, measuring all possible indicators, checking reflexes and conducting tests. After 15 days, antibodies appeared in the child's blood. This day became a holiday for all Soviet medicine, and personally for a risky grandfather.
Rescue of fellow citizens and maternal riots of Japanese women
300 thousand doses of the life-saving vaccine were sent to the especially affected Baltic states. Convincing parents, teachers and kindergarten educators to take the medicine safely was not easy. Therefore, each time vaccination in each new institution began with the fact that the Soviet authors of the drug who arrived here took the drops themselves. After the preventive campaign carried out in Estonia in the summer-autumn of 1959, only six children were infected with polio against the background of the previous thousands.
During this period, a real tragedy unfolded in Japan. The small country was rocked by thousands of severe polio infections. Only a live vaccine produced in the USSR could cope with the epidemic. But the Japanese government could not afford to register and authorize the import of the drug from the Soviet Union. Then the mothers of children infected with polio decided to take to the streets demanding to immediately allow the import of the Soviet vaccine. And the result was achieved: the polio vaccine from the USSR was urgently delivered to Tokyo. 20 million children in Japan were saved from potential infection.
The next step of scientists was the elimination of the epidemic in Tashkent, in parallel, outbreaks of poliomyelitis were extinguished in several regions of the country. The vaccine production technology was improved, even vaccines appeared in dragee candies produced at Moscow confectionery factories. After mass immunization against poliomyelitis, over 100 million people (80% of the total population) were vaccinated by 1961. The result was a 120-fold reduction in the incidence of poliomyelitis in the USSR!
Then the authoritative American virologist Seibin said that the Russians won the blitzkrieg war against polio, spending 10 times less time on it than the Americans. The Soviet vaccine was recognized by the world scientific community and protected tens of millions of children around the world from a terrible disease.
However, terrible epidemics happened in the USSR itself. For example, hong kong flu.