Following the 60th anniversary of Jonas Salk’s Polio vaccine being declared both safe and effective, charity CEO Ted Hill MBE wrote a letter to UK press editors to remind them of the PPS legacy that still remains. You can read the letter in full below:
60 years after vaccine and Britain’s Polio legacy still remains
Sunday (12 April) marked the 60th anniversary of Jonas Salk’s Polio vaccine being declared both safe and effective, following what was one of the largest clinical trials in history. At the time, the news was met with jubilation across the globe as people learnt that the Polio virus would be dealt a striking blow at a time when it was at its most terrifying.
As CEO of The British Polio Fellowship, I am all too aware of how important that vaccine was to a generation living in fear of the deadly disease, and with Europe having no new cases of the disease since the 1990s, it is something that is often taken for granted. Despite this, we are still not in a position to say the UK is “Polio free” as there are approximately 120,000 people still living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), that are going largely unnoticed.
PPS is a potentially debilitating neurological disorder that surfaces amongst Polio survivors later in life. Symptoms include a reduction in stamina, shortness of breath, reduced mobility and a greater sensitivity to the cold and it affects a similar amount of people to Parkinson’s, yet benefits from only a fraction of the public knowledge.
Although Jonas Salk’s vaccine saved millions of lives and saw Polio diminish to a point where eradication is now within the world’s grasp, let us not forget those who are still living with Polio’s PPS legacy. To find out more visit www.BritishPolio.org.uk
Ted Hill MBE
CEO, The British Polio Fellowship