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Friday, January 29, 2010

Not that this will convince anyone who needs convincing, but...

Two awesome stories came out today about my favorite health intervention: vaccines. The first is the ruling that Andrew Wakefield, the guy who originated the bogus "vaccines -> autism" myth, is a lousy scientist:

The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism acted unethically, the official medical regulator has found.

Dr Andrew Wakefield's 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles - but the findings were later discredited.

The General Medical Council ruled he had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in doing his research.


The verdict, read out by panel chairman Dr Surendra Kumar, criticised Dr Wakefield for the invasive tests, such as spinal taps, that were carried out on children and which were found to be against their best clinical interests.


He also said Dr Wakefield should have disclosed the fact that he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR.

So, in short, the guy who first argued that vaccines cause autism was in the pay of lawyers who were claiming that vaccines cause autism, and behaved in a horribly unethical manner in carrying out the research. Added to the fact that his research was fraudulent and that nobody has been able to replicate his findings and we have a real fail sandwich for the anti-vaxxers.

But if that's not enough, we have more exciting news because vaccines are about to get a real shot in the arm* courtesy of the Gates Foundation:

Endorsing vaccines as the world’s most cost-effective public health measure, Bill and Melinda Gates said Friday that their foundation would more than double its spending on them over the next decade, to at least $10 billion.

The change could save the lives of as many as eight million children by 2020, Mr. Gates calculated. He said he hoped his gift would inspire other charities and donor nations to do the same.

“Vaccines are a real success story,” Mr. Gates said in an interview before the announcement, which he made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The cost is tiny, and yet it saves more lives than any other component of a health care system.”


For starters, Mr. Gates wants to make sure that 90 percent of the world’s children get shots for routine childhood diseases like measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio. Right now, almost 80 percent do. But with 134 million children born each year, it is a constant struggle to keep up, and efforts can be interrupted by factors like war, natural disasters, bad roads and corrupt officials.

And this makes me want to dance in the streets because millions of children will have a chance to live because we were able to give them simple, highly effective, very safe, medical treatment. That's ten BILLION dollars that are going to vaccine programs and research.

I might be using an Apple computer, but I really have to salute the Gates right now.**

* Sorry, I just couldn't resist that joke.

** The fact that Bill Gates is an agnostic is just frosting on the cake.

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Blogger scripto said...

An interviewer mentioned to Gates that some people in this country think the vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases. Gates just kind of blinked like that was the dumbest fucking thing he had ever heard before he launched into a spiel about how many lives vaccine programs will save. What he's doing now more than makes up for millions of blue screens of death.

Monday, February 01, 2010 6:24:00 AM  

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