Dear skeptics (not only) in Europe!

As many of you know, the lack of vaccinating is becoming a serious issue (again, not only) in Europe. That is why the Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos has created the #ProVaxChallenge.

“It is a challenge for all, who are not afraid of needles. And an even bigger challenge for those, who are. Join MUDr. Jaromir Sramek, the chairman of the Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos, in a 2018 vaxathon. Immortalize yourself either while getting a vaccination or with a post-vax band-aid. Take photos of your vaccination cards. Don’t be afraid to involve your kids and pets. Share your photos on social media with the #ProVaxChallenge.

The goal of this challenge is to show people that vaccinating is a part of life in the 21st century. The first compulsory vaccinations were introduced in the half of the 19th century. One of the most significant accomplishments of preventive vaccinations was the eradication of variola in 1980. Many other diseases, for which vaccinations do exist, have not been eradicated. A new wave of, an already numerously overcome, fear of vaccinating is causing a resurgence of diseases, which doctors, until recently, saw only sporadically.

In 2016, almost 10% of newborns worldwide were not vaccinated. What’s alarming is that nearly one-half of these newborns live in countries, where medical care is available, but their parents refuse to vaccinate, many times for irrational reasons. That is why the number of unvaccinated children in developed countries is growing.

The ECDC reported 4,643 cases of measles in 2016. In 2017 there were more than 20,000 with 35 deaths. The pathogen is not picky about where its focal point is, so there were measle hotspots not only in Romania (10,623), Italy (4,991) or Greece (1,463), but also in Germany (926), Czech Republic (146), France, Great Britain, and Sweden. No one can come up with an estimate of how many people will succumb to measles in 2018.

The USA is suffering from exponential growth in cases of mumps.

Europe as a whole is suffering from growth in cases of hepatitis A.

257 million people are living with hepatitis B, which managed to take the lives of 887,000 lives in 2015. Even though children can be protected from this disease by vaccinating.

There are vaccinations available for all of the diseases mentioned above. However, most of these cases manifested in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated individuals. According to WHO, in 2016 the vaccination coverage of the second dose of the measles vaccine has dropped under the needed 95% in twenty of the twenty-seven EU countries. The WHO also reports that the vaccination coverage of DTP3 fell under 50% in the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, as well as Ukraine.

Though it is slowly changing, vaccinations remain voluntary in many European countries. Due to the lack of experience with diseases, due to relying on lies and myths propagated by “alternative” experts and under the emotional duress brought on by antivaxx activists, their active suppression of facts and fearmongering, many people are afraid to vaccinate, especially when it comes to their children. Then they, in good faith, endanger herd immunity and thus are endangering not only themselves but also those, who cannot be vaccinated for valid reasons.

Let’s lead by example and practically show that vaccines are safe, apart from sharing scientific data and statistics. Let’s show that we are not afraid of vaccines, we do get vaccinated, and vaccines don’t harm us!

Help us, in 2018, raise awareness of the number of adults and children, who are protected by vaccines.”

Aneta   Pierzyna


Transparency of evidence of government policy

Sense About Science has published a report with the title Transparency of evidence; a spot check of government policy proposals July 2016 to July 2017.  The report ‘scores 94 government policies produced by 12 departments, to assess how transparent they were about the evidence behind the policy. It is designed to show where departments are on transparency, and shows how they can improve further’. The research was conducted in partnership with the Institute for Government and funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Alliance for Useful Evidence.


UK water companies use dowsing rods

‘Almost all of the UK’s water companies have admitted their engineers use dowsing rods to detect leaks or find pipes, despite there being no scientific evidence for their efficacy. Ten of 12 companies confessed their occasional use of divining rods – a form of magic that dates back hundreds of years which, in reality, relies on the same unconscious muscle reflexes as ouija boards.’


Gwyneth Paltrow’ GOOP brand wins pseudoscience award

The ‘wellness’ brand GOOP owned by Gwyneth Paltrow has been awarded the first ever ‘Rusty Razor’ award by UK’s Skeptic Magazine for being the ‘best’ promoter of the worst pseudoscientific nonsense. The award came as part of the magazine’s annual ‘Ockham Awards’. Goop was invited to collect its award, which was being handed out at the recent QED Conference in Manchester, but sadly no one from the company responded. Skeptic Magazine Editor Deborah Hyde said: ‘We were surprised at quite how many public vote nominations GOOP received for the “Rusty Razor” award for pseudoscience – it’s certainly a popular win. When there are so many issues affecting public health today – the rise of measles and whooping cough due to reduced rates of vaccination, for instance – it’s a shame that many people prefer to contemplate their yonis than engage with evidence-based reality’.


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Measles ‘eliminated’ in the UK

‘The elimination of measles has been achieved in the UK for the first time, the World Health Organization says. The global health body classes a country as having eliminated the disease when it has stopped it freely circulating for at least three years. While there are still small clusters, many of these are brought in from abroad and they are not spreading. But health experts said there should be no complacency, warning there were several large outbreaks across Europe. The news comes just a week after it was announced England had achieved the target of getting 95% of children to have had the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine by their fifth birthday. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were already achieving it.’