• Truth decayRussian trolls, bots spread false vaccine information on Twitter

    A study found that Russian trolls and bots have been spreading false information about vaccination, in support of the anti-vaccination movement. The false information was generated by propaganda and disinformation specialists at the Kremlin-affiliated, St. Petersburg-based IRA. The Kremlin employed IRA to conduct a broad social media disinformation campaign to sow discord and deepen divisions in the United States, and help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

  • Truth decayCould a booster shot of truth help scientists fight the anti-vaccine crisis?

    By Lee McIntyre

    The recent outbreak of measles cases in Clark County, Washington – which has been linked to a plummeting vaccination rate in this hotbed of anti-vaccination activism – makes clear that conspiracy theories, fear, and misinformation know no partisan bounds. One of the first lessons to be learned from this “metastasis” of science denial is how dangerous it is not to fight back. Science denial isn’t limited to fringe groups – if it isn’t fought in the trenches of corporate interest and ideology, it can spread not only to the general population, but to government too, with horrible policy consequences. What is the best way to fight back against such rank ignorance? What we need most to fight science denial is a better understanding of how science works, and we should point out that scientific claims are based on evidence. We should not pretend that vaccines are 100 percent safe. There have been isolated cases of negative reactions, sometimes even leading to death. These, however, represent such a small risk – as compared to the much larger one of dying from childhood diseases like measles or whooping cough – that unless a child is immuno-compromised, it doesn’t make sense to forego vaccines. Indeed, because there are immuno-suppressed children out there, one might say that it is the obligation of the rest of us whose children are not in such a risk group to make sure that our own children are vaccinated.

  • Truth decayRise of European populism linked to vaccine hesitancy

    There is a significant association between the rise of populism across Europe and the level of mistrust around vaccines, according to a new study. “It seems likely that scientific populism is driven by similar feelings to political populism, for example, a profound distrust of elites and experts by disenfranchised and marginalized parts of the population,” says the study’s lead author. “Even where programs objectively improve the health of targeted populations, they can be viewed with suspicion by communities that do not trust elites and experts.”

  • Infectious diseaseNew layer of medical preparedness to combat emerging infectious disease

    Researchers supporting the PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats PREEMPT program will model viral evolution in animal populations, quantify the probability of human pathogen emergence, and pursue proof-of-concept interventions to prevent viral spread to humans.

  • Truth decayAre Russian trolls saving measles from extinction?

    By Ron Synovitz

    Scientific researchers say Russian social-media trolls who spread discord before the 2016 U.S. presidential election may also contributed to the 2018 outbreak of measles in Europe that killed 72 people and infected more than 82,000 — mostly in Eastern and Southeastern European countries known to have been targeted by Russia-based disinformation campaigns. Experts in the United States and Europe are now working on ways to gauge the impact that Russian troll and bot campaigns have had on the spread of the disease by distributing medical misinformation and raising public doubts about vaccinations.

  • Truth decayHow to talk to anti-vaxxers

    By Sarah Fecht

    Despite an abundance of evidence showing that vaccines are perfectly safe and save lives, many people reject them, stoked by the frightening misinformation that spreads over social networks. Vaccine refusal is having a real-world impact. Two decades ago, measles was all but eradicated from the U.S. Now, cases are skyrocketing, with more than 1,700 infections since 2010. in the first six months of 2018, more than 41,000 Europeans contracted measles and 37 died.

  • Considered opinion: Truth decay & measlesA global wave of measles cases fed by conspiracies and misinformation has health officials worried

    By Rick Noack

    The number of people infected with measles keeps rising in the Washington State and neighboring Oregon. Rick Noack writes that “complacency over vaccinations has been accompanied by outright rejection of the scientific evidence on measles vaccines that has saved over 21 million lives since 2000, according to the WHO. Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories on supposedly negative side effects of vaccinations, either against measles or in a broader context, have gained momentum in some communities, in the United States and other countries.” He notes that deliberately spreading misinformation on vaccines to suggest that citizens are being lied to by their leaders has become a go-to recipe of some populist politicians. Thus, after years of railing against vaccines and even proposing a law against them in 2015, Italy’s Kremlin-supported Five Star Movement is now part of the country’s government.

  • SuperbugsCongressional action urged to stimulate antibiotic development

    A coalition of drug makers, infectious disease experts, and public health advocates on Wednesday called on U.S. lawmakers to pass measures that could “jumpstart” the development of critically needed antibiotics. In a letter sent to lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives, stakeholders from large and small pharmaceutical companies and organizations asked Congress to “swiftly enact a package of incentives that would sustainably reinvigorate the pipeline of antibiotics while ensuring patient access and appropriate stewardship.”

  • SuperbugsNew approach to defeating superbugs

    Researchers have developed a new way to identify second-line antibiotics that may be effective in killing germs already resistant to a first-line antibiotic – potentially helping overcome antibiotic resistance. This new research – based on tackling antibiotic resistance via existing drugs (with a twist) — provides an approach clinicians could consult when deciding which antibiotic treatment courses will be most effective for patients.

  • Public healthMeasles spreads in anti-vaccination community in Oregon

    An outbreak of measles spreads across a “hot spot” anti-vaccination community near Portland, Oregon. Twenty-three cases have been comfirmed, with twenty of those who contracted the highly contagious virus not vaccinated against measles because of their anti-vaccination beliefs.

  • VaccinesProducing vaccines without the use of chemicals

    Producing vaccines is a tricky task – especially in the case of inactivated vaccines, in which pathogens must be killed without altering their structure. Until now, this task has generally involved the use of toxic chemicals. Now, however, an innovative new technology developed by Fraunhofer researchers – the first solution of its kind – will use electron beams to produce inactivated vaccines quickly, reproducibly and without the use of chemicals.

  • Flu vaccineFlu vaccine supply gaps may intensify flu seasons, make pandemics deadlier

    More than 50 million people died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. Its 100th anniversary this flu season serves as a reminder to close flu vaccine supply gaps that may be costing hundred to thousands of lives now and could cost many more when the next “big one” strikes, researchers say.

  • EpidemicsNew vaccines center to protect U.K. from pandemic threats

    The U.K.’s first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC represents a major commercial opportunity and also a new front line in the nation’s defense against global pandemic threats. To be up and running by 2022, the VMIC addresses the U.K.’s structural gap in late-stage vaccine manufacturing process development. It will allow development and manufacture of vaccines for clinical trials and at moderate scale for emergency preparedness for epidemic threats to the U.K. population.

  • Truth decayAn information “echo chamber” impedes flu vaccination for children

    Parents who decline to get their child vaccinated against the flu may be exposed to a limited range of information, a new national poll suggests. And depending on which sources parents turn to the most, inaccurate information may influence their decision about flu vaccine for their child.

  • Truth decayThe counties where the anti-vaccine movement thrives in the U.S.

    By Peter J Hotez

    As a pediatrician-scientist who develops new vaccines for neglected diseases, I followed the emergence of doubt over vaccine safety in the general public. Ultimately, in scientific circles, any debate ended when an overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrated there was no association between vaccines and autism. In Texas, however, the anti-vaccine movement is aggressive, well-organized and politically engaged. There are now at least 57,000 Texas schoolchildren being exempted from their vaccines for nonmedical reasons, about a 20-fold rise since 2003. I say “at least” because there is no data on the more than 300,000 homeschooled kids.