Mainichi News May 14, 1961

In the summer of 1961, Japan was again hit by the polio epidemic. Pfizer’s vaccines were still at a development stage and Japan was yet to manufacture domestic products in a sufficient quantity. Although the Soviet Union was producing children’s oral vaccines, experts were not convinced of the quality. Then Japanese mothers took it upon themselves to push for a solution. They lobbied the authorities and politicians. Eventually the health minister decided to import Soviet products to vaccinate 10 million children, and Canadian vaccines for 3 million. The result was a huge success; infection declined dramatically with few adverse events reported. One may wonder why the Soviet Union, the major supplier, handled quality control so effectively. I do not believe it has anything to with their SOP. It is because Russians love their children.