I read the intro to Obukhanych's book and this was part of the first sentence she wrote:
I have yet to encounter one among my own kind: a scientist in the trenches of mainstream biomedical research who does not regard vaccines as the greatest invention of medicine.
It's a powerful sentence and I immediately wanted to know more about her to give some perspective on the book. All I really knew is it was self-published in 2012. Where is she working? So I searched YouTube and found this fascinating talk that she gave a year and a half ago:
I paid a lot of attention and learned a number things. You can tell she's very educated.
She opens with a paper from the 60s by two scientists from the CDC who said measles is a relatively mild disease and fatalities are rare. When asked why they wanted to develop a vaccine they replied "because they can."
She's right, compared to the diseases they had seen recently back then like polio, measles is relatively mild. I would have preferred her to be precise and say about 500 children were dying of measles per year in the U.S. back then instead of using the term rare.
I wasn't sure where she was going with this. If she could show that deaths from the vaccine were higher, then that would be a valid point. Instead she said the government was taking our liberties away for a relatively mild disease. I understood the sentiment but it's not science and I think it's valid to be concerned about 500 deaths per year.
The next thing she pointed out is that tetanus is not contagious. I checked and she's right. I didn't know that. Her point seemed to be the government had no right to require the tetanus vaccine if children sick with tetanus don't endanger other kids at school. Fair point, correct science. I just don't think we should have any child go through tetanus unless there is some greater harm from vaccines. I was expecting her to get to that.
Her next point is people who have had measles have greater immunity than people who just get vaccines. She's right again. It's possible to get measles even if you're vaccinated. So a higher percent of the population has to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity than the percent of the population who has had measles.
I was still having trouble getting the point. If you don't vaccinate, a lot of people have to get sick and some die to get much herd immunity.
Near the end of the talk she brought up the case of a measles outbreak in Canada where the mainstream press reported that it was because of the number of unvaccinated, but she said through surveillance they found out that wasn't true. Wait, surveillance? That seems like a bold claim. Can we see that data? She just dropped that statement and moved on. That didn't sound like science at all. The numbers are usually very reliable about who is vaccinated and how the disease spread from person to person.
Somewhere along the way she displayed a chart very much like the one below to show you can still have outbreaks in the age of vaccines. I thought it was an extraordinary chart. How two scientists can look at the same chart and take away two completely different conclusions leaves me thunderstruck. The only thing I could think of is she must have some real data to show the vaccines are potentially worse than all those deaths. But she ended her talk without going there. I don't know what to say to that. Maybe she covers it in her book?