At this time, more than 2 yr into the COVID-19 pandemic, we have marveled at the scientific advances that led to the unprecedented rapid development of safe and effective vaccines for this disease, fostered in large part by great but previously unheralded advances in messenger RNA vaccine research. These astonishing developments were preceded by a century of persistent and innovative antitoxin and vaccine research pursued by many physicians and scientists for diseases from diphtheria to tetanus to polio.

While vaccine development is certainly a fundamental life-saving technology, many other developments have been responsible for prolonging the human lifespan, and especially reducing infant and child mortality. These developments, largely in the realm of public health (documenting infant and child mortality, infant nutrition, and sanitation) as well as contemporaneous scientific developments, are beautifully documented in Perri Klass’ book, A Good Time to be Born (re-published in 2022 as The Best Medicine: How...

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