Samoa vaccine story – tragedy abused by anti-vaccine websites

Samoa vaccine story

On Friday, July 6, a tragedy occurred in Samoa, a small country located in the Pacific Islands. Two children brought in for routine MMR vaccination died within minutes of receiving the vaccine (one report said hours and the first expert quoted below was responding to that, but the rest consistently said minutes – another question for investigation). The government reacted to the Samoa vaccine story immediately, opening an inquest into what may have killed the children. 

These are the known facts about the Samoa vaccine story. First, my deepest condolences to the families – it is beyond tragic. This tragedy should be investigated, and when the facts are known, they should be shared, steps should be taken to prevent recurrence, and consequences imposed where appropriate (the fact that a second vaccine was administered after the first death is especially troubling).

Unsurprisingly, this has been picked up by anti-vaccine pages and activists as evidence that vaccines kill and that there is a conspiracy of silence to hide that. Both of those storylines are wrong. I want to take a look the facts behind this Samoa vaccine story. Continue reading “Samoa vaccine story – tragedy abused by anti-vaccine websites”

Kiribati needs to find some new land as oceans rise

Caroline Atoll (Kiribati), channel between west side of Long Island and Nake Island (in background)

Sometimes, when we talk about the consequences of global warming, it feels as though it’s an intellectual exercise.  Maybe the winters seem a little warmer.  Maybe we know that the sea-level will rise.  But that’s all down the road, and maybe, we can change the direction upward direction of the global temperature. Continue reading “Kiribati needs to find some new land as oceans rise”

Giant prehistoric penguin is reconstructed in New Zealand

I just blogged about giant fleas in the Jurassic.  Now, I’ve got to mention the giant Penguin that has just been reconstructed from fossils found in New Zealand.  The penguin lived about 26 million years ago and does not look like any modern penguins.  It was about 1.3 m tall (approximately 50 inches), and weighed about 60 kg (around 132 lbs), which is about 50% larger than the biggest modern penguins.

It also had vestigial wings, much larger than current day penguins, which might indicate an intermediate species between the common ancestor to all birds and the modern species.  Based on its body shape, it probably could go deeper and faster than modern penguins.

via Giant prehistoric penguin is reconstructed in New Zealand | Science | guardian.co.uk.