A shot against vaccine critics
In your view, this risks child health more than side effects from vaccines?
Of course it does. Look at what happened with whooping-cough vaccine. In the 1970s, a British researcher claimed it caused brain damage. At the time, 80 percent of children got the vaccine. But the claim got publicized, and the vaccination rate dropped to 30 percent. Within two years, more than 100,000 children in England were hospitalized with whooping cough. In the U.S. more than 800 lawsuits adding up to more than $20 million dollars were filed against the vaccine makers. Yet the scientific community did further studies, and the evidence is conclusive that there's no link between the vaccine and brain damage.
People today think they have some inalienable right to compensation if things go wrong. That's new. It wasn't my parents' attitude. And it's not how medicine works. You learn things the hard way in medicine, when things do go wrong. And medicine evolves, and you fix them. But people no longer accept that.
But don't you yourself have a financial stake in vaccines? You hold a patent on a rotavirus vaccine.
I do. But I don't make any money from it. I'm a basic scientist, and I'm funded by grant money. The vaccine is made by Merck, and I don't get any money from Merck.
Seems like a conflict of interest, though.
When people say that, they presume to know what's in my heart, and that really gets me angry. I'll tell you what's in my heart. I'm a pediatrician. I have kids myself. If a rotavirus vaccine ever gets approved, it can save 2,000 lives a year. That's why I do this.