The epic and controversial story of the major scientific breakthrough that led to the creation of some of the world’s most important vaccines.
Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant. There was no vaccine and little understanding of how the disease devastated fetuses. In June 1962, a young biologist in Philadelphia produced the first safe, clean cells that made possible the mass production of vaccines against many common childhood diseases. Two years later, in the midst of a German measles epidemic, his colleague developed the vaccine that would go on to effectively wipe out rubella in many countries.
This vaccine and others made with those cells have since protected hundreds of millions of people worldwide, the vast majority of them preschool children. Meredith Wadman’s account of this great leap forward in medicine is a fascinating and revelatory read.
“An extraordinary story and Wadman is to be congratulated, not just for uncovering it but for relaying it in such a pacy, stimulating manner. This is a first-class piece of science writing.”
“Extraordinary … ‘The Vaccine Race’ is a tremendous feat of research and synthesis, its lucid technical explanations combined with forays into the business politics of big pharma, and portraits of the scientists whose work has saved untold lives.”
“Epically readable – superb.”