While writing last weeks post on Forbes magazine's infatuation with vaccination, I came across a statistic (wildly inconsistent the the current body of scientific evidence) that's bandied about endlessly in the vaccine community: as many as 1 out of every 500 contracting the measles will die from it. In the piece, I speculated as to where it's origin lie but it was only speculation. I decided to contact the CDC and wrote:
Your site makes this claim:
For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die.
What is the basis for this number? In the pre-vaccine era ~450 deaths occurred out of 3-4 million cases. That's far fewer that 1 or 2 deaths per thousand.To their credit, they responded promptly, proffering this "answer":
Measles can have more serious effects and complications on children, especially children less than 5 years of age, than on younger adults. Pneumonia, which is more common in children, is responsible for approximately 60 percent of deaths. It is estimated that 1 out of every 1,000 children with measles will die. In the pre-vaccine era in the US, approximately 3 to 4 million cases occurred each year, but not all cases occurred in children. So, one would expect the mortality rate to be lower than 1 per thousand.Very nice, but I don't actual see an answer to my question in the text. Do you? Was my question confusing or unclear? I don't think so.
But let's eliminate some extranious material to examine the question's clarity. Stripped down, the dialogue goes something like this:
Robert: What's the basis for the claim "for every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die."
CDC: It is estimated that 1 out of every 1,000 children with measles will dieNo, the question was clear; maybe they were just avoiding it. Or maybe they don't even know their own sources. Neither is a glowing reflection on the agency. But I really was hoping for an answer considering the "statistic's" popularity within the vaccination community. Anyway it's no big deal. It's a point that can be easily refuted with citable evidence. And I'm sure one day, a source or rationale will emerge.
More troubling than this unsatisfying response was the thought that some would have to deal with the CDC or another government agency to provide answers regarding questions of much greater importance - such as those involving vaccine injuries and their causes. What would those people do and what recourse would they have? It's a sobering question and, in light of the bureaucratic, pro-vaccine nature of the establishment, one I'm happy I'll never have to ask