When I was 6, very shortly before polio vaccine was released, my best friend, from whom I was inseparable, contracted the disease, and was permanently paralysed from the waist down.
Unbeknown to me, my parents lived many weeks of terrible anxiety on my behalf. This is an anxiety that no parent now has to experience, thanks to the vaccine.
But as a medical student, I saw a case of generalised vaccinia (the active virus in the smallpox vaccine) and never forgot it. A young man with severe eczema had, against all accepted practice, been immunised against smallpox and later died.
In the absence of perspective, information can be dangerous; and nothing is harder to assess than the proper significance of a single dramatic event.… Seguir leyendo »