The broadcast on Sunday of the second part of the interview that the program What about Évole dedicated to Miguel Bosé in prime time I was stunned and deeply disturbed, as I imagine must have happened to the vast majority of viewers. In my case, in addition, there was added the uneasiness (for very few known) of having been the scientist proposed by Évole’s team to connect to the interview and counteract the denialist arguments of the actor and singer. However, this meeting was never possible, given the divo’s refusal to listen to a discordant voice that openly disagreed with his exalted points of view and called into question the weakness of his arguments. As I was certainly frustrated that I could not debate with him, I use these lines to tell him a few things about vaccines, the most impactful invention in human history, and the main cause that our life expectancy as human beings has grown so much in the last century.
One of the great paradoxes of the present moment is that vaccines are victims of their own success. From our Western perspective, we have too quickly forgotten the danger posed by some extremely lethal microorganisms, simply because we no longer see them on a daily basis. When a society does not routinely suffer from such serious diseases as smallpox, polio, measles or tetanus, it can afford to lose respect for them, but doing so is a major mistake and irresponsibility, and the demonstration of a memory. very short-term and a boast of arrogance from the new rich.
For years I have been working as a pediatrician and researcher in very poor countries, trying to improve the health of the most disadvantaged populations – especially children -. Beyond improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, it is essential to invest efforts in prevention and, in this sense, vaccines have been the main pillar of the strategy for decades. The transformative power of vaccines is unmatched, and in the last 20 years alone it is estimated that the expanded childhood immunization program has prevented up to 37 million deaths worldwide (please reflect on this number). However, the fact that in the middle of 2021 a child still dies every 20 seconds from a disease preventable by an existing vaccine is a good sign that there is still much work to be done, and that the current debate should focus on how to improve coverage to achieve this. to the last child on the planet, and not about the nature of their impact.
And what lessons can we learn about vaccines in the current pandemic? The impact that we have been able to observe in the few months that they have been used in the context of covid-19 should be enough to convince the most skeptical. And if not, ask the elderly in our country’s nursing homes, who have survived the greatest health crisis in recent decades alone with hardly any weapons to defend themselves, and who are starting – thanks to vaccines – to see the light after so much darkness.
I would have liked very much to be able to share this data with Miguel Bosé. Scientists use the experimental method, debate and exchange of data — and interpretations thereof — as a tool for growth and progress. But to debate you must always be willing to listen first. Lectures on scientific topics are always welcome when they come from duly accredited sources. No one should use the public loudspeakers that fame gives for free to launch inflammatory proclamations and dire accusations without even bothering to present verifiable data. With the same forcefulness with which good old Bosé shouted anti-vaccine harangues on Sunday, raving about world conspiracies and manipulative powers that be, one must be able to communicate with transparency, rigor and without a hint of doubts, and as if it were a mantra, that vaccines save lives and that we still need them badly.
Quique Bassat He is a pediatrician and epidemiologist, ICREA Researcher at ISGlobal, a center promoted by Fundación la Caixa
#told #Miguel #Bosé