Vaccine cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War

   In the nearly half-century of the Cold War confrontation, unlike political wrestling and arms races, the United States and the Soviet Union have maintained close cooperation in medical and health care.
   In the 1950s, virologists represented by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin in the United States developed a poliovirus vaccine. In 1955, Salk’s inactivated vaccine became the first vaccine approved by the US government and was widely used. Sabin believes that a vaccine composed of weakened but still active poliovirus will be more effective than an inactivated virus vaccine because it can generate lifelong immunity. But because most people in the United States have been vaccinated with the Salk vaccine, there are not enough subjects to prove the safety and effectiveness of his vaccine. Therefore, Sabine’s vaccine was not initially successful in the United States.
   At the same time, the polio virus is also raging in the Soviet Union, and the incidence has risen sharply. The Soviet leader Khrushchev sent Mikhail Chumakov, the most prominent virologist at the time, and others to the United States to communicate with scientists such as Salk and Sabin. The two sides exchanged some medical science knowledge. The most important thing is that after this visit, Chumakov and Sabin established a friendship, which laid the foundation for future cooperation in vaccines between the two countries.
   In June 1956, Sabin was invited to the Soviet Union and delivered his three “weakly virulent” virus strains to Chumakov, using his attenuated vaccine technology to help Chumakov and others promote Soviet polio Development and use of vaccines. Chumakov vaccinated himself with a vaccine developed by Sabin, and his wife also vaccinated their three sons and several nieces and nephews.
   In 1959, Chumakov decided to organize the first large-scale clinical trial, using the weakened live strain developed by Sabin to make an oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). At that time, the Soviet Union had already started to use Salk’s vaccine, and the Soviet Ministry of Health believed that there was no reason to conduct clinical trials of other vaccines. But Sabine’s vaccine is easier to vaccinate (usually the vaccine is taken in candy or drops of medicine), the production cost is lower, and the lasting effect is longer. Chumakov persuaded Anastas Mikoyan, a member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, to conduct a more extensive experiment. After clinical trials, Sabin and Chumakov proved that the polio vaccine produced with a weak virus strain is safe and effective. Nearly 100 million young people under the age of 20 in the Soviet Union and other countries have been vaccinated with the vaccine. This also made the Soviet Union the first country to use the Sabin live vaccine on a large scale. A few years later, the Soviet Union actually eradicated the threat of polio.
   China is also a beneficiary of the US-Soviet vaccine cooperation. “The father of Chinese polio vaccine”-Gu Fangzhou studied at the Institute of Virology of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences from 1951 to 1955. After returning to China, the Ministry of Health established the “Live Polio Vaccine Research Collaboration Group”, with Gu Fangzhou as the team leader to conduct research on live polio vaccine. In 2000, the Chinese health department and the World Health Organization confirmed that polio had been completely eliminated in the country.
   Although the smallpox vaccine was born in the 18th century, the key to the complete elimination of the infectious disease is not a breakthrough in medical technology, but the cooperation of major powers during the Cold War.
   In 1967, as many as 2 million people died of smallpox worldwide, and another 15 million were infected. American scientist Henderson realized that the Soviet Union had promoted the global smallpox eradication campaign for several years and pledged to donate 25 million doses of vaccine each year. Therefore, he contacted Dimitri Venidiktov, the then Deputy Minister of Health of the Soviet Union. In addition to ensuring the donation of vaccines (the United States has also agreed to provide 50 million doses of vaccines each year), Work together on strategy and logistics. During the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Soviet Institute of Virology Cooperated to provide smallpox vaccine to developing countries-the Soviet Union provided 450 million doses of vaccine, while the United States provided a large amount of funding to support the world. Health Organization, and provide expert groups and professional knowledge. Two seemingly most unlikely allies eventually led the fight against smallpox.
   In 1980, under the joint efforts of the whole world, the World Health Organization announced that the world had officially eliminated smallpox. Without US funding and Soviet vaccines, and without the institutional power and political support provided by the two superpowers for the plan, the smallpox eradication plan cannot be launched, let alone succeed.