Innovations and Inaugurations: Woodrow Wilson

Innovations and Inaugurations: Woodrow Wilson

01.14.13 | By

[caption id="attachment_5497" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Woodrow Wilson Sworn in as President"][/caption]

The human toll of a run-away pandemic virus can be breathtaking. It's the kind of thing that Woodrow Wilson likely had little idea that his administration would face when he took the Presidential oath office in both 1913 and 1917. Yet during his presidency, Wilson would confront one of the gravest public health crises in global history.

The so-called Spanish Flu raged across America and around the world in 1918 and 1919 during Wilson's second term. As many as 50 million people globally and over 650,000 Americans died during the pandemic. In fact, more people died from the Spanish Flu than died in World War I.

Practically every family in America was affected. President Woodrow Wilson himself caught the flu in Paris while negotiating the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. While many efforts to control the spread of the flu were effective - techniques still used today - medical understanding of the origin and the biology of the disease was limited and hampered efforts to control it.

It wasn't until the Second World War that the first vaccine for influenza was developed by scientists, providing the world with new protection from the deadly flu virus.

Today, while the threat of a pandemic flu remains, our ability to prepare for it, treat it and even prevent it has grown enormously as a result of continuing innovation and medical progress. America's biopharmaceutical research companies are working closely with government laboratories and public health authorities and other partners worldwide to improve vaccines and patient access to them.

Working together, public and private partners in medical innovation are also developing new vaccines and other treatments designed to protect against the next potential pandemic. In fact, over 300 new potential vaccines are now in development.

Public health experts say that the challenge is not whether there will be another pandemic like the Spanish flu - it is just a matter of predicting when this could happen. But it is important to know that medical progress, research and innovation has helped provide tools to fight pandemics and give us a fighting chance to prevent the kind of devastation experienced during Woodrow Wilson's second term in 1918 and 1919.

Be sure to check out the Innovation and Inaugurations Pinterest board for some interesting pins.

Edited for typo: 1/15 @ 11:40am

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