There may be a time in the near future when a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered. It will be a joyous day, perhaps one of the best medical advances of all time. Hundreds of thousands of lives will be saved.

We should celebrate, throw our hats in the air, sing for joy and express great appreciation for all the scientists, patients, investors and anyone who contributed to the discovery.

We’re concerned that’s not going to happen.

In today’s divided America, we might hear complaints. That the Republicans or Democrats delayed the discovery, or that there was a conspiracy that prevented the vaccine from being used. We may hear that the pharmaceutical company that discovered will make too much money, or that companies couldn’t produce enough doses quickly enough.

We spent a few minutes looking back to the early 1950s, when cases of polio surged in the United States and the rest of the world. Although the case numbers were small compared to today’s cases of COVID-19, they were particularly harmful because they affected children the most. Thousands died and tens of thousands were left with physical damage.

The first effective polio vaccine was developed in 1952 by Jonas Salk and a team at the University of Pittsburgh. The testing started small and grew as successes were recognized.

The world celebrated. Newspaper headlines included “SALK’S VACCINE WORKS!” “POLIO ROUTED!” and “POLIO VACCINE SAFE, EFFECTIVE AND POTENT.”

Vaccinations were conducted all over the world. In 1994, polio was eliminated in North and South America. The disease was officially eliminated in 36 Western Pacific countries (including China and Australia) by 2000. Europe was declared polio-free in 2002.

We’d like to keep this page from history in front of us, waiting for the days when the COVID-19 virus is discovered, widely distributed and the disease eliminated. We should give thanks and celebrate each of those milestones.

An editorial from the Madison Daily Leader, South Dakota.