Vaccines are widely, legitimately, hailed as one of medicine’s most powerful weapons in the fight against infectious disease. Millions of lives are saved, deaths prevented, every year using this simple tool that can cost as little as a handful of pennies.
Holy bang for the buck, batman!
So it’s unfortunate we know so little about how vaccines actually work. Not knowing has spawned a persistent anti-vaccine movement by those who fear, based on little hard evidence, the potential for harm caused by tweaking our immune system.
But not knowing is also causing some problems for the biomedical community.
“I don’t see how we’re going to ever develop effective vaccines against AIDS, TB or malaria without first gaining a lot more insight into how the immune system works – and how vaccines promote immunity,” said Alan Aderem, president of Seattle Biomed, a research organization that has been working on matters of global health since Bill Gates was a teenager. Continue reading