TIME

We’ve been here before

Welcome to two Americas—and two American health crises: the coronavirus epidemic of 2020 and the polio epidemic of 1916. Now, as then, there are no proven cures. Now, as then, there is no vaccine. Now, as then, there is plenty of hooey going around—but there’s a lot to learn from that long-ago tragedy too.

Comparisons are more commonly drawn between the 1918 flu pandemic and today, but the polio outbreak is actually the more apt one. Today, we hear nonsense about injecting disinfectant into the body to battle coronavirus.

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