Epstein-Barr virus — why we need a vaccine for it

The Epstein-Barr virus is one of the most ubiquitous viruses that infect humans. Around 95% of humans are infected by the virus, so it is probably the most common virus, at least for humans. However, I bet most people haven’t heard of it and are unaware that they have the virus floating around in their bodies.

How did you catch it? It spreads through the saliva, so it could have been from your mother when she shared some of her food with you. Or it could have been from sharing a milkshake while on a date. Or maybe you got it when you kissed your date. In fact, if you caught the virus in this last scenario — as a teen or young adult — then the Epstein-Barr virus may have triggered mononucleosis, or the “kissing disease,” in which a massive immune response against the pathogen causes weeks of sore throat, fever, and debilitating fatigue.

The Epstein-Barr virus is so pervasive, and the outcomes are so minor, you might be wondering why we need a vaccine. The problem is that the outcomes aren’t all that minor — rare, but very serious, outcomes are frequently observed because so many individuals are infected by the disease.

This article will examine what the Epstein-Barr virus is, and why it is so dangerous. Hopefully, it will be obvious why we need a vaccine.

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Vaccines did not cause cancer in the son of Dr. Theresa Deisher

Theresa Deisher

On April 1, 2019, Chief Special Master Nora Beth Dorsey rejected a lawsuit from Dr. Theresa Deisher before the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for compensation for the loss of her young son (referred to as H.S.) who died on July 3, 2015, aged 14, from an aggressive cancer. It is horrible to lose a child at any age, and incredibly painful to lose a young child.

H.S.’s last year appeared to be difficult to all concerned, and I would like to offer Dr. Deisher my very sincere condolences. But there was no good basis to blame his cancer or death on vaccines, and the theories offered were very, very implausible. Continue reading “Vaccines did not cause cancer in the son of Dr. Theresa Deisher”

Vaccine Court – causation and administrative discretion

vaccine court

A recent case provides insight into how the decisions of the Special Master in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – also known as the Vaccine Court – are reviewed by the appeals system. There are two issues I hope readers can take from this story:

  1. There is an elaborate system for appealing NVICP decisions. Next time someone tries to claim there is no appeal, or that the petitioners are not given a hearing, remind them they’re very wrong.
  2. The legal standard used to assess the Special Master’s findings of facts – what it is and how it works. What we see is that both the judge in the US Court of Federal Claims and the Circuit Court gave the Special Master’s decision pretty close scrutiny. 

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