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Posts Tagged "vaccines"

Brainwaves

Why Feeling Anxious about a Vaccine Makes It More Effective (and Other Benefits of Short-Term Stress)

SAN FRANCISCO—Standing at a podium in front of an audience of psychiatrists, clinicians and scientists, Firdaus Dhabhar brings up a video of his infant son on a large projector screen and presses play. Smiling and wriggling, Dhabhar’s son rests on his back in a doctor’s office—perfectly content. “Watch for the immediate reaction,” Dhabhar tells the [...]

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Culturing Science

On vaccines: scientists can’t stop doing science because of crazy people

Last week, the US Institute of Medicine released a report on the adverse effects of vaccines. And their finding? That vaccinations cause negative reactions in very few people; that vaccines have no connection to autism or type 1 diabetes; overall, that vaccines are safe. The report was commissioned by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, [...]

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Guest Blog

The Lesson of the Fear of Vaccines.

Time for Society to Say Enough is Enough.          The science community laments that people deny the evidence science produces. Usually this complaint is merely descriptive, intellectual frustration sometimes tinged with arrogance. Sometimes the criticism of denialism also offers solutions, which usually include education and communication to make the deniers stop denying, to make [...]

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Guest Blog

Short Story Science: Lenina versus the Pneumococcus

Today is January 28, and Lenina has a smashing headache; she is a Streptococcus pneumoniae researcher. Not that this was the main reason for the headache, but an important meeting was being held today to launch the Pneumococcal Molecular Epidemiology Network’s [PMEN] new paper in Science. Oddly enough, her role at the meeting is to [...]

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Guest Blog

The impossibility of responsible nuance in the vaccine discussion

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 6–2 in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, a case involving parents’ rights to sue vaccine manufacturers. Before getting into the particulars, here’s some important background: In the early 1980s, literally hundreds of lawsuits were filed in civil courts claiming children had been harmed by the whole-cell pertussis component of the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) [...]

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Guest Blog

Review: How the Internet is being used to hijack medical science for fear and profit

In his new book, Tabloid Medicine: How The Internet Is Being Used to Hijack Medical Science for Fear and Profit, Robert Goldberg, PhD, explains why the Internet is a double-edged sword when it comes to health information. On the one hand, the Web can empower people with quality medical information that can help them make [...]

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Guest Blog

The Huffington Post and the ongoing fear that vaccines might cause autism

Almost exactly 13 years ago, Andrew Wakefield addressed a group of reporters in a conference room at London’s Royal Free Hospital to discuss a 12-child case study he and some colleagues had written up positing a theoretical connection between the measles-mumps-rubella virus and gut disorders and then between those gut disorders and autism. Before the [...]

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Guest Blog

The perception gap: An explanation for why people maintain irrational fears

A number of wonderful books decry the public’s seemingly irrational perceptions of risk. Seth Mnookin’s The Panic Virus is the latest, and builds on Michael Specter’s Denialism and Chris Mooney’s Unscientific America. Strong as each book is, unfortunately none get to the heart of the matter, and describes not how we feel, but WHY. Why [...]

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Guest Blog

In the wake of Wakefield: Risk-perception and vaccines

Last May British medical authorities stripped Dr. Andrew Wakefield of his license to practice medicine. In case the name isn’t familiar, Wakefield was the lead author of the 1998 paper published in The Lancet (and later retracted) that set off worldwide fear of vaccines. Now the British Medical Journal has jumped in, publishing an investigative [...]

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Lab Rat

Fighting Cholera With Mass Vaccination

Women walking through the fields for vaccinatoin. Image Credit: Ms HyonJin Jeon (the International Vaccine Institute staff)

When studying bacteria it is quite easy to get fascinated with them as a laboratory specimen while forgetting the huge impact they can have in real life societies. I find the PLoS journal of Neglected Tropical diseases redresses that as it covers work with bacteria and parasites from the front line. My previous post from [...]

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Lab Rat

How cytomegalovirus evades the immune system

schematic of a cmv

The human immune system is a large and complex beast, but in general it has two roles. Firstly, to prevent an infection from causing any harm and secondly to protect the body against a repeat attack. For many diseases protection against reinfection happens very efficiently, and this is the principle on which vaccines are based. [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Covert Operations vs. Public Health: What is the Government Thinking?

Graffiti on USAID poster - David Lisbona/flickr

My attention having been riveted by Ebola, I missed this startling news last week: U.S. Agency for International Development sent young people undercover to Cuba to incite anti-government activism. Their cover was an HIV prevention workshop. This short-sighted idiocy was apparently aimed at making Cuba more “democratic,” by overthrowing Raul Castro, though that small nation [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

What do you need to know to survive this year’s flu?

I spent a year filtering spit and nasal washings, growing influenza in tissue cultures in a minimalist lab, and trying to develop an oral flu vaccine, all as part of my Infectious Diseases fellowship thirty years ago. We’re still not there…but for now, here is information to help you this year. Every year, the strains [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Clinical Trials for Beginners: Ethics – Pediatric Anthrax Vaccine Case Study

Having looked at the rampant conflicts of interest surrounding the anthrax vaccine and a bit at the logistics of the proposed pediatric vaccine trial let’s look at the trial in the context of ethical principles. Ethical context The need for ethical guidelines came to vivid attention during World War II, when the Nazis tortured many [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Anthrax vaccine – To the victor, the spoils

In my last post, we began to play “Follow the Money” to better understand the history of the anthrax vaccine and the current proposal to test the vaccine on children. Conflicts of Interest-Case Study Major issues with the anthrax vaccine include safety, conflicts of interest and the lobbying power of the drug developer. I don’t [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Anthrax, anthrax, everywhere…

This past week brought news about another successful bioterrorism response drill, effectively delivering hypothetical medicines to protect the citizens of Baltimore from a hypothetical anthrax attack. Frankly, I always shake my head in dismay when I read of such preparedness exercises. I think back to my childhood, with its “duck and cover” Cuban missile crisis [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Molecules to Medicine: Public Health or Impaired Penises?

Viagra

Today’s news starkly juxtaposed this countries’ priorities. First was news of the approval of yet another look-alike drug for erectile dysfunction, avanafil (Stendra). Then “From First Cold To Grave: How Two-Month-Old Brady Died Of Pertussis.” Brady was too young to have been protected by receiving immunizations, but there are strategies for protecting newborns from pertussis, [...]

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Observations

Getting Killed for Saving Lives

Three suicide bombers stormed the office of the International Red Cross in Jalabad, Afghanistan earlier today and at least one guard has been killed. No one has so far claimed responsibility, but al-Qaeda has targeted the group in the past whereas the Taliban has not, according to the Wall Street Journal. The incident follows an [...]

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Observations

Election: Romney and Obama Tied on Vaccines

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

How do you know that a real-live human being is behind the past 14 weeks of blog posts exploring the individual questions posed to presidential candidates by ScienceDebate.org? Because people make mistakes. Last week I inadvertently posted the vaccine answers to the analysis about rare earth elements. Thanks to sijodk for politely pointing out the [...]

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Observations

What Really Happened in Malta This September When Contagious Bird Flu Was First Announced

malta ESWI meeting

A controversy over whether the U.S. government should allow details of a deadly new flu strain to be published in scientific journals has recently caught fire in the media. But I first heard the news of the mutated virus months ago in Malta at the European Scientific Working group on Influenza (ESWI) meeting. The morning [...]

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Observations

Nearly 400 Accidents with Dangerous Pathogens and Biotoxins Reported in U.S. Labs over 7 Years

working in biosafety level-4

A workplace accident might mean a paper cut or spilled coffee for many—or even loss of life or limb for others. For a select few scientists, however, a little slipup on the job could release a deadly virus or toxin into the environment. Some 395 reported “potential release events” of “select agents” occurred in U.S. [...]

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Observations

Vaccine for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Remains Safe

vaccination

By now, you’re probably aware of the hype over a vaccine associated with these three letters: HPV. Designed to prevent people from acquiring human papillomavirus, some strains of which can lead to cervical, vulval, anal and vaginal cancer in women not to mention cancers of the anus and penis in men, the HPV vaccine has [...]

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PsiVid

India Trip to Examine Issues in Child Survival: How Science and Engineering Help

Back in October, I opened my email to find an interesting invitation for me to apply for a trip to India as part of a special International Reporting Project bloggers’ trip focusing on child survival and related issues of health and development. The trip described in full “The trip will focus on issues of child [...]

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Symbiartic

Science Merit Badges

ScienceMeritBadges-01

I was only in the Girl Scouts for a few years, but I really like the idea of merit badges: you do a task, master a skill, learn something new, and you get a physical token of your achievement to display on a sash. I wish I was still earning badges for things like getting [...]

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