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Editorial

You Can't Vaccinate Your Way to Health

Government eradication programs almost always end in failure  (Part 1 of 3)
By:  William G. Winter, DVM

Saying government eradication programs virtually never work runs counter to conventional wisdom.  But, as George Orwell so graphically illustrated in his landmark book 1984, anything repeated often enough passes for the truth after awhile.  Even bald-faced lies. 

The government agencies' basic approach to cases of suspected "contamination" or"contagion" is block-headed and monolithic.  There are some standard characteristics:

  1. Round up, quarantine and isolate the suspects.  Quite often this includes a security band of innocents who were unlucky enough to be proximate to the suspects.  Bummer.
  2. Mark them in some way to make them identifiable, such as a tattoo, or, nowadays a microchip.
  3. Devise a "test" to judge the guilty.
  4. Ideally, exterminate (kill) the contaminated ones as well as those who may have been exposed, or at the very least, lock the bad guys up and throw away the key.
  5. Activate(and subsidized)  industry to find a "silver bullet" that will cure the horrible plague.

Thousands of examples abound in modern culture.  We are seeing the last of the majestic American Elms being thrown into the shredders in an attempt to kill the Dutch Elm Virus.  Sure it kills the patient but, as Big Brother teaches us, that's the only way to save the patient.  When the last elm on earth is safely shredded and buried in the landfill, we will at last have won the war against Dutch Elm Disease.  Mission accomplished!

Around the world, sharpshooters and guardsmen have declared war on several animal diseases.  Using the blockhead model, a determination is made that the "Intruder Alert" alarm has gone off.  All it takes is the suspicion of illness in many cases.  Immediately, the process begins and woe to you if you stand in the way.  We are currently seeing the scramble alert approach wherein we have declared simultaneous war on bovine TB, brucellosis, chronic wasting, bovine spongiform encephalapathy, and avian flu to name a few.  No one seems to notice that the number of wars are increasing.  Meanwhile, old diseases such a malaria, bubonic plague and polio, earlier losers that were beaten in our previous war campaigns, are now crawling out of the Mission Accomplished trophy room.

In summary, as the current thinking goes, if only we had a better, more efficient way to line up these contaminated ones, then we could create the model for quicker sorting, marking, judging, and exterminating these bad apples.  Then we could work on the magic bullets for the rest of us, right?  What is truly happening here?

Part II - a) If this model is so ineffective, why do we stick to it then? and b) Vaccine manufacturing is a very, very big business

Part III - Getting out of the box.  A truly superior model of what really works to prevent disease.