Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine in 1955, just before Albert Sabin developed his oral polio vaccine in 1961.
Approval of Salk’s vaccine followed national testing of the Polio Pioneers, one million children between the ages of six to nine years. Salk also gave his experimental vaccine to his children, his wife, and of course, to himself.
In 1955, he appeared on See It Now and told Edward R. Murrow:
Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?
Although he could not have patented his vaccine if he had wanted to, he was right that “there is no patent.” The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which he was working for, didn’t patent the vaccine either.
In 1961, Sabin’s live, attenuated polio vaccine replaced Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine that had been in use since 1955. The United States switched back to IPV in 2000 because of concerns over VAPP.
In addition to his vaccine, his Salk Institute for Biological Studies continues to do research on aging and regenerative medicine, cancer biology, immune system biology, metabolism and diabetes, neuroscience and neurological disorders and plant biology.
More on Jonas Salk:
- About Jonas Salk
- Ask the Experts about Polio Vaccines
- Polio Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know
- World Health Organization Guidelines for Containment of Poliovirus Following Type-Specific Polio Eradication — Worldwide, 2015
- A Look at Each Vaccine : Polio
- History of the Polio Vaccines
- Inactivated Polio Vaccine
- Oral Polio Vaccine Cessation
- The 100th birth anniversary of Jonas Salk
- Salk’s swansong: renaissance of the injected polio vaccine
- Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin: One of the Great Rivalries of Medical Science
- Dr. Jonas Salk, Whose Vaccine Turned Tide on Polio, Dies at 80