The Phaserl


Researchers can Prevent Outbreaks by ‘Vaccinating Fewer People’

by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:

It seems like every time you turn on your TV, there is a vaccine ad promising to protect you from everything from HPV to shingles, to pneumonia to the flu. Vaccine controversy as a whole aside, I’m here to report how some scientists at the University of Aberdeen say they have come up with a mathematical method to prevent epidemics which actually involves vaccinating fewer people. [1]

The method is called “explosive immunization” and it’s being hailed as the fastest and most efficient way of preventing the spread of disease. It involves analyzing data on how people interact and move between communities to identify those most likely to pass on infection. These so-called “superblockers” have patterns of activity that make them more likely to pass on an infection. [2]

By targeting “superblockers” for vaccination, the proportion of people requiring treatment declines significantly, they say. [1]

Upon conducting mathematical modeling, the researchers were able to predict that targeting 60% of the UK population with the MMR vaccine using their method would prevent a measles epidemic. Currently, over 90% of the UK population receive the vaccine.

Instead of targeting people for immunization based solely on the number of contacts they have, explosive immunization “looks at the whole network to identify patterns of connectivity” that allow scientists to “more accurately identify who should be vaccinated,” according to Professor Antonio Politi.

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