A snapshot biography of Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk, a physician and researcher, introduced the first safe and reliable polio vaccine in 1955. Polio, a debilitating virus that caused paralysis and death in a percentage of its victims who were mainly children, was by that time a national epidemic in the U.S., and a serious problem in countries around the world. Hoping to help their ailing population, the U.S. government licensed the vaccine the same day Jonas introduced it. Canada and European countries quickly followed suit. The vaccine was so effective, it significantly dropped polio cases.

Jonas was celebrated around the world. Despite his success, he never patented the vaccine.

When asked in an interview about who owned the patent, Jonas answered, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

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Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, SAS Scandinavian Airlines.