“In his 2006 memoir The Broken Boy, which has recently been reissued with a chapter on Covid, journalist Patrick Cockburn recounts his experience of contracting polio at the age of six, while living in Youghal, Co Cork. His brother Andrew, who was three years older, also contracted the disease. Cockburn describes himself as ‘uniquely unlucky’ — his parents Claud and Patricia, returned from England to their house in east Cork, despite the fact that Cork city was in the midst of a polio epidemic. At least 50,000 people got the virus during the outbreak — one of the last great outbreaks of polio in western Europe, ahead of the first doses of the Salk vaccine that arrived in Cork in 1957.”

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