The story of how polio has made its comeback is not simple. The opposition to polio vaccination is astonishingly widespread. There are leftwing websites such as VacTruth that, remarkably, blame polio vaccines for the epidemic. Polio eradication is a moral question: what do we owe to the most vulnerable? Suspicions were deepened by the CIA’s Osama Bin Laden hunt going under cover as a polio vaccination campaign, a cruelly careless tactic.
Should we be surprised when leftwing critics attack genetic research, or when rightwing critics attack climate change data, or when people from across the political spectrum mistrust science itself? Polio vaccination, one of our clearest collective duties to the children of the world, is now a casualty of the philosophical struggle for truth.
In May, authorities in London declared polio a public health emergency and made it clear that not only must the viral epidemic be stopped, the epidemic of ignorance and mistrust must be tackled as well.
This article appeared in Cosmos 58 – Aug-Sep 2014 under the headline “The year polio won a reprieve”.