Saturday, August 08, 2009

Flu vaccine may be more dangerous than virus: ethicist

From the Winnipeg Free Press:
The race to create a vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus could place the public at a greater risk than the illness the vaccine is designed to prevent, says a University of Manitoba ethicist.

Arthur Schafer, director of the U of M's Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, said it appears a vaccine will be rushed to the public before it can be determined properly that it's safe - or if it even works.

Schafer said the scientific research shows the effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccines in the past has been marginal. The effectiveness of antiviral drugs, designed to mitigate the effects of flu, is equally unimpressive, and research shows the drugs can have dangerous side effects, he added.

"Good ethics requires good facts, and the ethical debate so far has been who should be the first (to get the vaccine) and there has been virtually no discussion of the safety and effectiveness of the drug," he said. ...more

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