The media was full of stories this week about wretched Andrew Wakefield and the MMR vaccine scare. Who knows how many children have unnecessarily suffered from wholly preventable diseases because of his discredited piece of research?
Meanwhile, reputable researchers have been beavering away on a vaccine to prevent rotavirus infection. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, usually in children. In England and Wales, according to the Health Protection Agency, around 18,000 children need hospital treatment for rotavirus infection each year. In Africa, as you might expect, rotavirus is a big killer.
So three cheers for research that shows that vaccinating babies in South Africa and Malawi can significantly cut cases of this horrible disease. And a question – why, when it causes so much illness in the UK, is it not routinely part of our childhood vaccination schedule? Could this be linked, by any chance, to whipped-up media scares about childhood vaccines?