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A Booster Shot of Science


Vaccines have guarded health and life for centuries, relegating once devastating diseases to near total obscurity. But many people now take vaccines for granted, and some blame vaccines for autism and other disorders. On Respectful Insolence, Orac reports the downfall of 1998 research which first tied MMR vaccines to the occurrence of autism in children. As Orac writes, “hearing that the man whose bad science launched a thousand quackeries had finally been declared unethical and dishonest [...] brought joy to my heart, the joy that comes with seeing justice done.” ERV jumps on other news, concerned that it could fuel anti-vaccine alarmism. Researchers inspecting animal vaccines discovered an infectious endogenous retrovirus originating from the cat cell lines used in vaccine production. This “distinct-from-but-related-to feline leukemia virus” raises concerns about vaccines passing ERVs from one species to another. Finally, Janet Stemwedel on Adventures in Ethics in Science vents some steam after reading student attitudes toward H1N1 vaccination in the school newspaper. Janet criticizes both the newspaper for juxtaposing “reliable information from experts with whatever a student wandering across the reporter’s path might happen to opine,” and the students themselves for holding forth their unscientific optimism.

Links below the fold.