Still walking around with our pandemic-response-pants down
So I’ve been reading about previous pandemics on the new History of Vaccines site: smallpox, Spanish flu, Bird flu, Swine flu… All have had big impacts on our society and shows how vulnerable we really are. But at least we can rest assured that we’ve seen this coming, planned it out, and can act quickly in the case of a pandemic. Or maybe not, as a recent report in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has shown. Turns out less than 50% of workers critical to the response to a pandemic would not be able and willing to come to work if a pandemic broke out.
Oh no, it's like one of those dreams... (Photo taken by Sally Mattner)
In my last post I spoke about how vaccines work from the point of view of the person receiving the jab or pill. In that case we were talking about immunological memory but vaccines also work in another very important way from the point of view of the community and it is referred to as ‘herd immunity’. Continue reading
Thomas has started a series on vaccines and disease and I thought it was such a great idea that I would hijack it, kind of.
While Thomas talks about specific vaccines and their impact on certain diseases I thought I would cover some more general topics under the umbrella of vaccines. So let me present my own vaccine mini-series to supplement Thomas’ – Vaccines: how they are made?, how do they work?, and why we can’t rely on therapeutics alone in the fight against disease?
This week we will look at how some of the common ways vaccines are made. This has been a topic of interest to me for a while, ever since I heard someone from the (miss-information spreading, anti-vaccination supporting) Australian Vaccination Network giving a talk at a Vegan festival about the dangers of vaccines. In front of a room full of people this woman proudly proclaimed that the polio vaccine is made in monkey brains and if you let your child take the oral polio vaccine they will be eating monkey brain. I was dragged away before I could ‘politely question’ the woman by my wife, who had declared a science free weekend :).
Anyway, the point is that this woman was talking crap. There would be no logic to making the vaccine in monkey brains, how many monkey brains does she think evil scientists can get their hands on? All the monkey heads I get my hands on are used in the construction of two headed monkey slaves. I wouldn’t waste them on vaccine production.¶
Some recent papers from both Journal of Virology and Nature shows the feasibility for using centimetre-wide patches with hundreds of thousands half millimetre long micro-needles to deliver vaccines painlessly. I heard about these at a conference a couple of years ago, but it’s only now that they’ve resurfaced with some really promising potential real world use.
The scientists didn’t develop these patches because of needle-phobic patients. Hell no, they couldn’t care less about your ridiculous irrational fears. These patches are more easily manufactured compared to needle, syringe and vaccine; you just print out a sheet, squirt your vaccine on, freeze dry and cut them into squares. On top of that they’re easier to use; just slap it on like a band-aid and then out the door with them. Continue reading
Hey guys, this week I was thought I’d write some original material for a change, rather than just reposting old stuff that I’d submitted to On Dit. This is a short prose on the point of view of an influenza virus that I’d written in the last couple of weeks. I’ve tried to make sure that some science was still in there in some easy-to-understand format, but if something doesn’t make sense, either send me an E-mail or comment in the thread.
(Picture taken by Thomas Tu)
She is torn away. Like the snapping of a ripcord, her proteinaceous ties to the undulating surface of the cell surface are clipped. She is freed to be jostled violently by the Brownian currents of the syrupy extracellular fluid. They get her nowhere, not that it matters; she has nothing to do, no one to meet, no place to be. Circumstances have pulled her together; they will probably break her apart. Continue reading