2005 Volume 52 Issue 3 Pages 111-116
Over ten years after his death, the Sabin oral vaccine continues its profound influence on public health throughout the world. The annual incidence of polio has fallen dramatically since its introduction, with more than 300,000 lives being spared each year and an annual global saving in excess of 1 billion US dollars. In many ways, the development of an effective oral vaccine and its subsequent regulation by the World Health Organization can serve as a model for medical researchers. Our review describes the contribution of Albert Sabin as a medical researcher, and how his vaccine had a profound impact on the global reduction of polio infections. As many different factors influenced health-care last century, we describe Sabin's involvement with respect to prevailing scientific paradigms and public health issues of the time. Our paper also outlines the basic epidemiology of poliovirus and the historical development of an effective vaccine, both with and without Albert Sabin.