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The Battle To Beat Polio

May 20, 2014

 

 

This is on iPlayer for the next 6 days. I’m watching as I type.

 

Stephanie Flanders, former BBC economics editor, has a very personal interest in the battle to beat polio. Her father, Michael Flanders, one half of the world-famous singing duo of the 50s and 60s, Flanders and Swann, was paralysed by the infection when he was 21. He used a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and died early at 53 through complications caused by the disease. Stephanie was just six.

But the desperate search for a vaccine was far from straightforward. Stephanie discovers that it is the story of decades of battling between good and bad science, celebrity scientists with giant egos, prepared to take enormous risks to be first with a vaccine, and countless innocent victims. By the end, Stephanie realises there might have been a polio vaccine years earlier, and hundreds of thousands might have been spared, including her Dad.

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