The race for vaccines: lessons from history

As the campaign to vaccinate the population against Covid-19 picks up pace, Gareth Williams explores previous efforts to combat lethal diseases, from smallpox to polio

Gareth Williams explores previous efforts to combat lethal diseases, from smallpox to polio. (Image by Getty Images)

Gareth Williams, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Bristol, traces historical efforts to vaccinate populations against killer infections – from Edward Jenner’s eureka moment with smallpox in 18th-century England to rival scientists’ bitter battle to conquer polio in 1950s America.

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