Should we bring back the smallpox vaccine?

Christine Stabell Benn talks to Medical Republic about vaccines and their non-specific effects.

Snippet from the article at Medical Republic

It’s 1979 and Danish anthropologist Peter Aaby has taken the long flight, once again, to the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau in the midst of a devastating measles outbreak.

Mothers in Guinea-Bissau know that there’s about a 50% chance that their child will die before the age of five. Measles causes 10 to 15% of these deaths. 

In December that year, however, the Bandim Health Project, involving researchers such as Peter Aaby,  launched the first measles vaccination campaign, and 85% of children were inoculated. 

And that’s when something really unexpected happened. Instead of childhood deaths decreasing by 10-15% in line with predictions, the mortality rate plummeted by 70%. 

“Seven-zero,” says Christine Stabell Benn, a professor of global health at the University of Southern Denmark, who is also involved in the Bandim Health Project.

“That’s a tremendous reduction in mortality. Measles vaccine should not reduce mortality to that large extent according to what we know about measles vaccine and its effect.”


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