Nicolette's Reviews > The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease
The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease
Jun 30, 2018
Let me express, again, how desperately Goodreads needs half-star options for reviews, because this would be nestled perfectly in a 3.5 rating it was an option. Leonard Hayflick is a fascinating individual in history and whether or not I find him good or bad on his quest to create vaccines while being pulled in many different historical and contextual directions, he's a star in this book, at any rate. It's certainly comprehensive, but there was definitely a feeling or notion of waffling in which there was an underlying narrative to the ethical discussion of using the fetal cells of an individual who received no compensation for what was the baseline (to my understanding - I am definitely no scientist) of thousands, even millions of individual vaccines. There's a red running thread through the history of the vaccines and the use of them, and there's a wistful, romantic thing about that, but it's forgotten throughout most of the book. The discussion of consent is the main ethical question, intertwined with notions of compensation, but the issues with experimenting on those who cannot choose for themselves is definitely lacking in exploration or empathy. It was framed with colors of religion more than it was framed on exploitation of the poor and less fortunate, which may have benefitted from more focus. In tune with views I already hold, it seems that we haven't found ways to ethically, properly test and experiment where all parties' consent is involved and all harm is avoided. Maybe that's ultimately the point, that we would not, or are not able to, reach scientific conclusions without keeping some part of it out of the dark, keeping it out of a layman's hands in order to push to unadorned, unfolding experiments.
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