By Emily Harari, Sophie Timmermann and Diyala Shihadih
Elena Conis contributed research
For decades, the world has worked to eradicate polio, and we have never been closer. On August 24, the entire Africa-region was certified wild-polio-free. Now, only two endemic countries remain: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But global responses to the novel coronavirus threaten to reverse these culminating achievements in unprecedented disease control. The global campaign to keep polio at bay was largely suspended in spring to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Failure to achieve polio eradication could result in a global resurgence “with as many as 200,000 new cases occurring every single year, within ten years, all over the world,” said Oliver Rosenbauer, polio eradication spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO). …
Two heads hovered over the lab bench. “It worked,” Myeong-Je Cho said, pointing to a single, fuzzy black band on the freshly printed paper. The size of a paper clip, it was what every geneticist hoped to see. The results indicated that his gene had made it, “transformed,” into the cell. Cho, a postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996, came there to work with one of the leaders in genetic transformation. He stepped aside so the expert, his supervisor, could see the results for herself.
Peggy Lemaux’s green eyes flicked from the paper to Cho with the glimmer of scientific discovery. …