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How America's first polio vaccine led to the growing vaccine crisis

Growing vaccine crisis

The United States vaccine crisis refers to one of the major social issues of modern times. This crisis involves a shortage of flu machines in a state where thousands of elderly people may suffer and even die from life-threatening complications from influenza. There are more than 90 million of people in high-risk categories. These include elderly, children, infants, pregnant women, and people who have problems with the immune system.  However, at the moment, it is legally prohibitive for the United States pharmaceutical companies to develop and produce influenza vaccines that may prevent pandemic disease. According to the President Bush, the country has to confirm liability protection for these companies, since they will not make any new influenza vaccines, unless they are not protected from litigation. This actually means that nation-wide epidemic of Avian Flu could be possible. On May 3, 2006, the President Bush reported on nation's lack of preparedness for a bird flu pandemic, warning that such an outbreak could kill up to 2 million people. The United States is at the back of the line in ordering essential flu medicines, since the liability protection for local manufacturers is not approved.

The real reason

The reason for this confusion can be traced back to 1955, to an event known as the Cutter incident. Cutter laboratories were just one of the couple pharmaceutical companies licensed by the United States government to produce the vaccine for polio. The American medical researcher and virologist Jonas E. Salk developed this vaccine. It was first introduced in 1995. At that time, just after the war, polio was the most severe public health problem, and the epidemic was increasing. Only in 1952, 58,000 new cases were discovered, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left paralyzed. The Salik polio vaccine was the only way to prevent the epidemic but what actually happened is that the production error made large portion of these vaccines tainted with live poliovirus. In other words, 120,000 vaccines contained the poliovirus and 40,000 of vaccinated children developed abortive poliomyelitis, 56 developed paralytic poliomyelitis and of these 5 children died. Moreover, polio infection continued in the families and communities of the little patients, and 113 more people were left paralyzed and 5 of them dead.

The Cutter incident is one of the worst pharmaceutical errors today and both the Cutter Company and the NIH Laboratory of Biologics Control are responsible for this terrible outcome. Today, we are still experiencing the consequences of their carelessness through the vaccine crisis of our times.

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