Vaccines: The good, the bad, and the ugly.


The Good:

More research has confirmed what we already know, Gardasil is an amazing vaccine that women everywhere should get.  It is also an incredibly wise business investment as it becomes more widely available.  Merck is rolling in the money.

  • New data shows a vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer partially blocks infection by 10 strains of the virus on top of the four types the vaccine targets. Gardasil is the only cervical cancer vaccine on the market, approved for sale in 85 countries and pending approval in 40 more; it has racked up about $1 billion in sales since its June 2006 U.S. launch. GlaxoSmithKline PLC is awaiting approval of its own vaccine, Cervarix. There are more than 60 strains of the HPV virus. About 15 are thought to cause cervical cancer; Gardasil protects against 12 of those, plus another two that cause genital warts but not cancer. Two strains cause 70 percent of cervical cancer. Merck studies following 17,600 young women for three years found the vaccine to be 99 percent effective in blocking those strains. “There’s the potential for an additional 30,000 to 40,000 cancer cases being prevented each year,” mostly in developing countries, based on preliminary estimates and widespread vaccination in those regions, said Dr. Eliav Barr, head of Merck’s research on infectious disease and vaccines. There are 9,710 new cases of cervical cancer and 3,700 deaths in the U.S. each year. Worldwide, there are nearly 500,000 new cases and 233,000 deaths a year.  (Source)

The Bad:

Another major setback in the battle against the HIV pandemic.  Merck lost a lot of money in this vaccine, good thing they make Gardasil.

  • Merck’s promising HIV vaccine has failed in large scale tests. The vaccine did not prevent HIV transmission or reduce the average number of viral particles. It was widely considered the most promising vaccine. It used a novel approach of T cell synthesis as opposed to typical antibody stimulation. It was a major setback in the mission of finding a viable vaccine for complex virus. A vaccine is generally regarded as the only viable solution for an epidemic of HIV’s magnitude that reaches across so many continents and into such poor regions of the world. This is in no way the end of the search, just merely a tragic bump on the way. I honestly believe there will be an effective, widely distributed vaccine in my life time. I look forward to the day.  (Source)

The Ugly:

  • There is a group of people out there who don’t believe in vaccination. To me they are kind of like insurance fraud criminals, everyone pays for their crimes. Now I won’t deal with those who refuse all vaccines, as they don’t deserve to be dealt with. But there is a group that is growing in size and popularity. Those who refuse to have their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine (mumps, measles, rubella). A 1998 paper pointed out a link (not a causal relationship) between the vaccine and autism. The paper has been largely disregarded by the scientific community and no evidence of a relationship has been found. But there is one group still clinging to the article, mothers of autistic children. While I agree the autistic are an underrepresented group because of their communication problems and that they need a voice, I think that blaming the vaccine is the wrong approach for the group. While I doubt there is a relationship between the vaccine and autism for children where autism was not already a likely outcome, I would not say it is not possible. But what is important to consider is giving up the KNOWN advantages of the vaccine to avoid POSSIBLE UNKNOWN disadvantages. I believe individuals should be able to opt out of vaccines for their children, that more research should be done, and that potentially changing the dosing schedule to either a smaller dose or to start later in childhood may be helpful. But it is irresponsible for these groups to publicly denounce an important and effective vaccine. There words create doubt and increase the likelihood of parental refusal of MMR. Current research indicates the number of MMR vaccinations is decreasing and correspondingly the measles rate is soaring. I recently saw an example of this vacciphobic argument on Oprah. Jenny McCarthy (hot actress/mother of an autistic child) directly blames her son’s autism on the MMR vaccine. While I respect what she is doing because she thinks it will help others and that she isn’t hiding her child like some celebrities do (cough. John Travolta), she didn’t mention where she went to medical school in the interview.  (Source)
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One Response to Vaccines: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

  1. Alex says:

    I sympathize with the parents of the autistic children. When something like that happens to one of your kids and there is so little known about it, I can’t imagine not looking for somethings to blame. I also understand how it could obviously cause much more harm than good.

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