The fuzzy logic of vaccinology

Going to a pharma-funded vaccine trade conference like the recent 11th Annual New Technologies, New Vaccines (NTNV) conference in Delaware or the upcoming Maurice Hilleman Vaccine Symposium in Montana is kind of like going to a gun show sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Lots of great product manufacturing brainpower at both. But just as I wouldn’t go to an NRA show to look for experts on how to solve gun violence in the United States, I wouldn’t expect to find experts on the bodily consequences of vaccines at the pharma one. Yet, that’s the fuzzy logic we’re being sold.

Here’s part of the NTNV show’s intro: “Infectious Diseases remain one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Despite remarkable advances made in vaccine development in the 20th century, the ease of world travel and increased global interdependence have added complexity to fight against these infectious diseases. With an aim to provide a forum for discussing the challenges faced in the vaccine development…” yada yada yada.

Here’s part of the Hillman symposium’s intro: “At the symposium, internationally recognized experts will give research updates on vaccine work for worldwide problems, such as HIV and Ebola, as well as updates on vaccine efforts of particular relevance to Montana, such as in brucellosis. Research efforts led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Merck & Co., Inc., will also be summarized.” yada yada yada

Lots of doctors at the pharma conferences, and I’m dead certain they love to bill themselves as vaccine experts, and that that’s the way they are glorified when they’re interviewed on TV and radio. But truth is, they’re not experts on vaccines. What they may be is experts in the development of vaccines and how to inject them, in much the same way as gun makers know how to make guns and shoot them. See the subtle difference? It’s kind of important.

(Hmm, random thought here: At least the NRA ain’t forcing me to buy a gun.)

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