tv Panel Discussion on Epidemics CSPAN April 20, 2017 3:58am-4:54am EDT
welcome to the ninth annual present vessel of books. my name is matt russell. i'm the ceo a public munication and it is my pledge to moderate the session this afternoon. i'd like to think cost indications for sponsoring this venue. mr. mcneil is sponsored by research corporation for science advancement and mr. sorkin sponsored by the bio five institute. the presentation will last an hour, including questions and answers, please hold your questions to the final part of the program and we will manage the questions from the floor. immediately following the session, mr. mcneil will autograph his book in the sales and dining area and the bookstore in the town at the mall, booth 141. books are available for purchase at this location and take special note, mr. mcneil note, mr. mcneil will be 20 minutes late due to the signing due to a live interview following the program with the spin. i want to say hello to our c-span audience that is watching life. hope you enjoying the possible and will become a friend by texting friend 252-0100 as shown
on the sign at the front sign. of course, your gift makes a difference in keeping the festival programming free of charge and supporting critical literacy programs in the community. out of respect, i ask you to turn off your cell phones as i introduce our panelist this afternoon. joel sirkin is the author of the invisible fire, the story of mankind's triumph over the ancient scourge of smallpox. the book came out in 1979, although you might have seen mr. sorkin speak about his latest book, true genius the life and work of richard garvin, the most influential scientist never heard of. a lot of people now have heard about it and they're talking about it today. he's a freelance writer in baltimore a former science
writer at the inquirer and part of the team that won a pulitzer prize for covering 3-mile island in 1979. that same year he won the national association of science teachers best children's book an award for his book jupiter, the started field. he has ten published books and he taught journalism at stanford university, university of california santa cruz and the university of alaska fairbanks. were also privileged to have donald mcneil with us has written a book because, the emerging epidemic. donald mcneil is a science and a reporter for the new york times, specializing in plagues and pestilences. [laughter] he covers diseases for the world core including aids, ebola, malaria, wine and, wine and bird flu, mad cow disease and sars. he joined the times in 1976 as a copy wife and has been in
environmental reporter, theater, nest and an editor. i'd like another hour for the session please. [laughter] he has won awards for cities that have successfully fought aids, about monopolies that keep drug prices high in africa, and about diseases that cannot be eradicated. this afternoon were talking about epidemics, old and new around ' analyst afternoon. [applause] gentlemen, before we really dig into these diseases i'd like to invite you to offer some introductory remarks about your work that were talking about here and what you set out to accomplish with them joel. >> is a well-known phenomenon among the medical writers syndrome, when you write about a disease you become have all the symptoms of it. you must have a helluva life
smart. [laughter] i wrote the book about smallpox at the time when they announced that have been eradicated. it turned out they were wronged by a couple months mother what the hell. >> smallpox was one of the worst epidemics in history. we think as many half a billion people died from it. they did not die nicely. it was a terrible disease, sometimes sometimes it would be in and out in for three days. you'd be perfectly while walking down the street and then you are dead the next evening. it carried by a virus called variola to this very day there is no cure. fourthly, there is no disease. one of the things -- i like the book because it was a lot of fun to write. i'm sorry, but it was. i managed to go to somalia where i interviewed the last person to
have smallpox. there was an accident in a laboratory in london a couple years later that killed several lab workers and the lab chief committed suicide shortly thereafter. the somalia was the last human being to catch smallpox. i have a son who is 47 who has the same scar that i have, well i had it someplace. the smallpox card to child in america had, in the western world, my fund is five years younger has no such scar because they stop that vaccination. the virus itself still exists, if any deep-freeze in atlanta, in in cdc and the russians have a sample but no one knows exactly where. as long as it's day in the deep freezers it safe. if it gets out, were in serious trouble. >> donald, do you have the scars of a medical writers syndrome? i had been feeling really lousy
and went to the doctor, recurring fevers every afternoon and i'd come back from columbia where i was covering the government and i thought, i could not have gotten so unlucky. i started to talk about this and the doctor for me cough and said get up on the table. took one listen to my chest and said it's nothing exotic, you're going for an x-ray. it was pneumonia. i had diagnosed it up course as the cuff and a whole list of other diseases i could diagnose it with. the book i've written is about like a diseases of the world's poor since 1997 when seven when i was a correspondent in africa i started covering aids they are. that's how i shifted from being a correspondent to science news person when i came from overseas. about ten years ago a colleague and i rode with theories about diseases on the brink of eradication, this is germane to
this discussion then zika. zika is beginning in this organization. it will be a long time before anyone eradicates zika. been to diseases eradicated, nobody remembers the second one but it's winter. no one knows about it because it's an animal disease that killed animals. that may not seem absurd but if you're in east africa in the 19th century when the disease reached africa from asia, with shalini's troops it wiped out all the postgame and cattle in west africa and a third of the horn of africa needed them. it was eradicated a few years ago by hard-working veterinarians finally realize that they had to stop tackling the cows to back vaccinate them. between the herders who wander across northern somalia to the
go to the first and stick them with the vaccine my partner and i wrote about polio any worms, and those be eradicated any, measles, and iodine deficiency. when you go to eradicated disease when you have a good working vaccine that provides last long-lasting protection, what you have a good solution, it's relatively easy to get the first 99% of the disease. it takes years, sometimes decades, we've been fighting polio -- it's been rotary international in 1988 and it was going to be there millennial gift to the world and back then they raise $200 million for the fight and they got it down to
99%, but were still fighting polio. okay to read about a billion dollars in the year. it's like squeezing jell-o to death. you think you've gotten it and it pops up. two years ago we thought it been eradicated in africa but more cases popped up in nigeria last year. the reason is the diseases persistent places where people are poor and war is going on. you can't go into the testing and see if people have it. we know there's a pocket of polio in northern nigeria, where the nigerian government is fighting out. we know that is on the border of pakistan and afghanistan in the no go areas around there. it's a combination of war and bad luck, sometimes. there are very few pockets of the world but only recently i made the jump over to people into dogs. people were tossing fish got to
talk. the doctor picked up any worms and now they have more cases in dogs than they do in people. the dogs reinfected drinking water where people pick it up from. there's a whole new struggle over that. you can see is a long gated discouraging effort. every disease is different but it's fascinating to write about them. >> were going to get to the heart of the battles with the diseases in just a bit. i think this is all the makings of a hollywood thriller and you're going to hear there's even some lying, cheating, stealing that has gone on in the course of that. let's start before the pen hit paper. joel, the first first case of smallpox was reported thousands of years ago with eradication and victory declared fewer than 40 years ago. i'm curious, how did you get your head around researching this disease that literally changed history? that was my job. it fascinated me.
smallpox is actually an easy disease to eradicate, relatively speaking. it has several characteristics . there was a book in there. i traveled all around the world to record it and i must say, i had a good time doing it. we spent some time in northern india demonstrating to the people who live there that vaccination was painless, it wasn't a big deal and that you can stand up in the back of jeeps, go like this and stab your arms. i am now about the most immune smallpox man. pretty darn close to it. it was a challenge and the people involved were challenges well. i should.out that the book is controversial.
the virus is not the enemy, the people were the enemy. we kept running up against the bureaucracy. i should add da anderson, the man who iran the smallpox program who died just a couple months ago, by the way, blames me and my book were not getting a nobel prize for medicine. i hope he's not right. they honestly deserve it. what about you donald. it didn't hit the global scene from 1947 in uganda. one might assume you have a bit of advantage over to all that you only had 70 years of stories. what i like smart short stories. they had noticed, discovered in 1977 any monkey. in a cage wasted in a tree and an impenetrable forest.
it disappeared and there weren't test for it for a long time. it came on the radar a couple of years, few years ago when it started to somehow left asia and crossed the south pacific there was an outbreak on yap island and that the cdc investigated. yap island is one of the island that we fought over in world war ii in the japanese. there are some services that the united states still provide to the micro islands. there were no serious side effects. they didn't notice anything. it was a mild disease. then it turned up in polynesia back in 2013 and there it was pretty well investigated. a race of the population 66% 6% of the population were infected in six months and they did notice and uptake in cases of temporary blouses. but terrifying paralysis. they did notice anything about babies.
it was only when the disease got to brazil that it the brazilian some month problems going on. then they were relieved. the health administered that this was good news. it turned out to be zika and were not worried, that's a mild disease. it was only in late august, early september in the northeast where they had a tremendous epidemic of zika, nine months before the doctors that worked in the intensive care unit, it began to talk to each other and say there's a mother and daughter team that worked in hospitals and said hey, i normally see one or two sick babies and i have five in my word right now. her daughter said i had seven. they called other doctors and realized that something had happened. they looked at the mothers and said that a lot of them head zika symptoms five months
before. in my case, i had heard heard of zika two or three months before because i got a phone call out of the blue from a population person for the university of texas medical branch and he said hey, there's a doctor here would like to talk with you about bengay. i should be writing more but they been around more and i have a lot of things to do. he said there's this other disease called zika. that's a catchy name. what is a? i ended up talking to the doctor and he told me that some of the background of asia in front polynesia and the fact that there's but there's no mention of microsoft list. as i took notes and i signed them, dated dated them put them in my head file of things i'm going to get to when i can get to this file which is a must do it now pile and it was in the week after christmas last year
and a slow news week and i was waiting for an item that i'd read 300 word column i read read every week along with every other coverage and saw out of brazil a notice saying the health administration asked women stop having children. that made my antenna stood up meanly. you never hear that kind of thing. yes, china had the one child policy but i never have another country asking the mothers do not have children. the thought policy you want to have. if you keep it up there won't be any more brazilians. i called the only doctor i knew in brazil and asked if this was true. it's terrifying and we don't know what it is but we have a horrible el niño year, last year and lots of lots of mosquito bites and we don't know what disease zika is caused, we don't know what other disease is the mother had we don't know much about diseases. were still trying to figure it out so i wrote a story that day,
december 209 and we called our bureau tree and he and i collaborated a day later. that's how we got off the back sounding the alarm and the battle cry. we won the smallpox battle in the late 70s and it's said that the engagement was more like conventional warfare. can you talk about that chris martin one of the weaknesses is that the animals have no reservoir. it goes from person-to-person. it doesn't hide in birds, or animals it doesn't fly around with mosquitoes. if you could break the chain between one infection and another, you stop the infection. the standard way of doing it was to vaccinate everybody around. give some thought to the idea that vaccinating everyone in india, vaccinating everyone in back bingo - or nigeria clearly doesn't work.
it works in western countries. smallpox was unheard of by the middle of the 20th century and most of the western countries. some of the smallpox spectators, mostly but not entirely, were american. they figured out that you didn't really need to do that and that it was impossible to do that. they found out that if you had a case of smallpox, you would find every person who had contact with that person and then you drew a circle around them and vaccinated everybody within that circle. so if you had somebody with back smallpox in town a then you didn't bother about town bc and d. that's how it was on. they also had several other advantages that other diseases do not have. the vaccine itself goes back to 1769 and edward jenner discovered that jerry made with sores on their hands had cowpox. while they had cowpox they never got smallpox.
what would happen if you took the material from the source on their hands and gave it to someone through the skin would that give them immunity as well and it turned out it did. he did it with a seven -year-old boy with his mother's permission, i thoroughly hope. he injected -- he injected the cowpox in the kids arm and deliberately put virus from the smallpox into another wound later on to watch what happened. what happened was nothing. he was immune. a, you had a very good vaccination. the second of all you could freeze-drying this vaccination. it did not need refrigeration, you could carry it for months in the desert without having to worry about electricity. they also invented a different type of needle that goes up, look like a you want top. you didn't have to inject it.
they would put fluid containing glycerin in the dry vaccine -- they put fluid on your arm and then they go like this just to break the skin and that's all it required. emotionally doesn't hurt, i can tell you from that from experience. we learn to smile as we did the. [laughter] those characters do not exist in any other disease. once they got those things organized and wants the people from cdc and the world health organization figured out the way of isolating potential victims that's what they do. >> that's the war that was one. worse still, donald engaged in war with zika. two days ago the cdc updated its travel guidance that recommended that pregnant women not travel anywhere there is zika virus. what is today's bona fide and zika look like chris mark. >> is a little unclear because it's still cold.
we been through your one from my.of view we did very badly, were feeling zika. the advice to women to simply wear deeds and long sleeves is not enough. not a single city in the western hemisphere except miami is like blowing flog out of the back. the mosquitoes live in very close proximity with people. you have zika about 200 miles of the south of tucson. sometime in the near future it will be here. it may be a race between the virus in the vaccine. it's mostly a mild disease but it is completely devastating to fetuses. it's extremely dangerous for pregnant women to get it. what upset me is that neither
the cdc nor the who would clearly speak out and say, if you can avoid getting pregnant during the high season of zika transmission in your town, please avoid it and we will help you avoid it by getting new contraceptives. the cdc was actually speaking contraceptives and puerto rico in large amounts but it wasn't saying anything about it. it said that they should talk to their own doctors. many women don't have doctors before they get pregnant. it's actually true that it's difficult for women, teenagers to prevent any pregnant. it's never been true that it's been impossible for every buddy. the other thing they should have talked about with abortion. there are countries in the hemisphere where abortion is legal and for the mothers -- you may have seen a story in the new york times today, she spent time with three mothers who had zika babies and these babies cannot
make eye contact, they will never have anything like memory or thoughts, they often are cramped up like this, they're actually at a fair risk for death because of aspiration, pneumonia, or constant seizures. had those had those mothers been able to choose, some may have chosen -- and that should have been made clear and available to them. no one should force anyone to have contraceptives or abortion but it should be discussed. those agencies refuse to do that. i think of the real public health failure. i don't know anyone who's been able to back as the case in these battles, were talking about the whole as a disease. how ironically, they find
themselves battling with the science itself. we'll get to who in a minute but i want to get back to that but let's talk about the world politics play good bad or otherwise in the smallpox eradication. >> this is one of the shining moment of politics. this is during the cold war so we were antagonistic to the russians and yet, the group of people that i hung around with in the world health organization comprised about every country in the world and they were all cooperating. the russians were helping the americans, the americans were helping the russians and the guy who is leading me around was check, this was when check is obvious was a communist country and the money was available. smallpox got to the.and this happens with many diseases became a childhood disease. children got it. if they died, they were immune
for the rest of their lives. it became relatively easy to keep them out of the country. united united states spent millions of dollars to keep every port of entry looking for someone who would come in with smallpox or. it was one of the best examples of international cooperation and could not have been done. >> as we're talking before the session, i shared some of my own experiences working in federal health policy in washington and do nih appropriations work, i know all too well the politics, from a funding perspective you said fighting fund diseases becomes a fad and fighting others doesn't. that doesn't seem rational. can you talk about that christmas more people die particulars this then any other disease in the world. tb has somehow lost its benefits.
there is an aide that specializes in fighting aids. the aids and regulus are linked. people with immune systems that are depressed often diet regulus. that is a disease that is out of fashion breast cancer gets more money than other kinds of cancer because it is popular. warm diseases around the world are ignored in diarrhea and pneumonia till most kids under five around the world and that means fighting a lot of different things but you don't hear the attention paid to it and you don't see the kind of fundraising efforts from countries or individuals. when a disease like polio catches on and it's one group
like rotary decide this is our disease, were going to make money by getting rid of it. this a great deal of focus goes into it. we shouldn't leave you alone but it's deftly true that some diseases get more attention because they're essentially, a hip disease fight back you've seen that we've its way into the public sector as well as the private sector in terms of funding? it's a combination of newspaper coverage and advocacy, leading to attention from politicians leading to money from congress. connect the world health organization we could do an hour and a half on the who, only intrigue. [laughter] you said the world health organization was the hero and the villain. you talk a little bit about it. describe a little bit the drama
between the dichotomy. >> yes, there is drama. the world health organization is a very large bureaucracy is most un are and it is my pet theory based on no facts whatsoever that the reason they are because they're based in geneva switzerland. with a beautiful lawn entries and the people who work there call themselves international. they don't pay any taxes. their country is the world. i always thought if i took the kids with gabby's and put them on the front lawn of the world health organization to remind them about what they're supposed be doing the world to be a better place. the people who are out in the field spent a great deal of time trying to get the resources they need and the permission they need to do what they needed to do. for example, they needed more trucks and more deep in india and for some reason or other that people in geneva decided they didn't need more deep and more trucks. so, they stole them. and when they were done with them they returned them wherever
they stolen from an inoculating people. there was a woman, while never forget, a french researcher a lovely state we woman had two dresses, she'd wear 11 day, wash and wear it the next day and this is how she went to life because she was always out in the field. she told me how she learn to cry when necessary. to go up to a bureaucrat and they know you can't do this whereupon she went on to you, weep. and she swore to me she always got what she needed to get. the fight between the people in the field and the people back in geneva, was so bad that when the book did come out that anderson try to disown what he told me. i had it on tape and actually do that.
the world health organization did not get a nobel prize which they deserved but they were sabotaged. >> if you're talking about the world 80 affirming grin you said that the world health organization despite its importance in stopping economics is essentially powerless. how will it impact the fight? >> let the tweeting begin. the big deadline. >> at the time people have occasionally said let's we want to do something big in the gate foundation. if the 800-pound gorilla of global health. shouldn't we look at into the problem of causing it? yes it has become the 800-pound gorilla but the truth is the 80e
it was the 800-pound float called the world health organization. it absolutely needed someone else driving it. at the same time, the world health organization actually has a tiny budget, two-point to billion dollars. i'm writing a piece about the race for the director general of global organization. the first time the electing cause i democratically. they have 8000 employees. they haven't $8.2 billion 2 billion-dollar budget which is a quarter of the cdc's budget and half the new york post at syrian hospital. the employees, many of them are scattered in local offices and regional offices. there's a great deal of time wasted in battling back and forth with local and regional offices in geneva and they often don't do what people want to do. they had terrible leadership problems.
three quarters of their budget is not from un dues but from donations. the united states, great britain, melinda gates, norway, japan and other powers give them three quarters of their budget and that comes with strings attached, i've heard a who call it a straitjacket. you can spend it on this but you can't spend it on this. one of the things that the money gets spent on, proportional polio. that's formally the rotary pet project. i'm in favor of eradicating polio but it takes up a lot of time. at the who is essential for doing things like biting ebola. they did a bad time, it took them months to get them cranking, doctors without borders was fighting the disease alone in africa. the who used to have teams, rapid teams, rapid response team that would leave geneva to
tackle ebola after. they isolated patients by burying the dead and by decontaminating them with bleach. but the last one in 2014 got away from them and the people who fled from the villages where the epidemic, fled to the capitals. the disease began to spread from the capitals and from that.was out of control for quite a while >> in the field in central africa, you are living in tents, driving a jeep i imagine what the weather was like we have steak, we have alligators, and you are having a pitched battle over postage stamps. >> at the same time, the who is the only organization i can declare a public emergency which you need to do to get it alerted.
it gets a lot of countries cranking there own equivalent cdc to fight the disease. also, when you have an epidemic they oversee the coordination of the network of laboratories, national laboratories and sometimes state laboratories around the world, making them share virus samples with each other so that you have a sense of what's happening and what direction it's moving in. in the age of debt travel is very important. the who -- countries don't like to report that they have diseases. bill cover up diseases, they don't like to report it because it means either business travel and, terrorism or you can no longer export food from your country if your reputation is bad. if they wound here national pride to say that yes we have this horrible fatal disease and we can't control it. countries often don't report as
members of the united nations and the who have to report. it takes a while for the who to beat it out of them but they managed to get the news out. also, when you fight want to fight an epidemic you need hundreds of doctors flying in, countries in west africa had a cup couple hundreds of doctors and most of them died in the first wave of the epidemic. when the cdc sends a hundred doctors to a to the scene very often those doctors and military uniform, there in in the military or the public health service and when then several hundred troops from another country land in your country, your national pride can be wounded quite a bit if you're sierra leone or libya or guinea. the fact that the who is medical peacekeeping troops rather than
doctors is the important psychological effect to being able to fight the academic. >> we talk about the news, and is a public representative, the media is an important group and i respect your nod to the public relations, it was smallpox was eradicated before mobile devices, blogging, blogging, tweeting and in the absence of a digital derivative media what role did the media play in the 60s, 70s, 80s. >> none that i can think of. >> is a good thing or a bad thing? >> good thing. smallpox had disappeared in europe. it had disappeared in north america. pretty much disappeared in south america by the 1970s. certainly not in japan or china
but it existed in undeveloped countries and we tend to ignore undeveloped countries. we were very careful in keeping people who might have smallpox by guarding our borders. some of you may be old enough to remember traveling overseas and you had to carry little yellow card that said you been vaccinated with any number of things including smallpox, actually actually. when you got off the plane from london one of the things they wanted to see was your passport in health certificate. it worked. there was an occasional case in new york city and in every single instance it was someone who came from overseas who was carrying the virus with them. by and large, the underdeveloped world had and we weren't paying attention. >> certainly we were paying attention to zika last year. we had surroundsound as a media perspective. olympians deciding whether or not to go to rio.
daily headlines on the battle and $1.1 billion to spray south florida and provide health care at torrey in the territories and i can see that you might be biased but did the media change? >> since i kind of started it at least in the northern hemisphere. yeah, we were game changers. i was shocked when i realized -- when i saw that asking around ideas for a column i saw this news item a local cnn affiliate in brazil that picked it up and mentioned it and i called the cdc and said, what about this was mark i looked at their website and they said someone will have to get back to you tomorrow on this. this disease appears to be
attacking the babies opinion women. why is there a travel advisory for pregnant women? they said we basically haven't talked about it yet. as i reported on it, the cdc kept i was getting phone calls from the pregnant women saying i don't know what to do and supposed to go to a family wedding i'm three months pregnant, and i am ma'am i'm a reporter with a ba in rhetoric. you should get medical advice from doctors. i called my doctor and he seems to think i'm fine but there's no guidance from the cdc. good god, no don't go. i don't understand why the cdc is not clean out a warning. there's basically me screaming at todd skinner saying why aren't you issue mean a warning. were working on it.
but the problem is i'm getting more calls from tiger women and i'm calling the cruise companies and airline companies and their attitude is the cdc says the find to go. women should just be careful from getting bit by mosquitoes and they should be wearing deep and long sleeves. mia plenty of beat on our cruise ships so we don't plan what i demanded an interview with the head of migration and 14 and he was very tt knowing that he wasn't allowed to say that were discussing it with our partners. we have to let our partners know before they found out in the media. he meant that we are calling mexico and all of the cities in latin america and caribbean to let them in their ambassadors know that we are about to drop a neutron bomb on their tourism trade and their business travel and to let them know. that should come later. this is january in new york city, a lot lot of pregnant women are getting on planes and
ships. and they're in danger. issue it now. they finally said it was going to come out in an hour. it them until 7:00 p.m. at night to say it. they finally issued it and a neutron bomb dropped. macro to go to your questions in just a minute but i'm curious with smallpox having been wiped out, what is next on the eradication horizon? are we still in that 1% we've gone to the 99 fairly well checked off. >> if i were to bet it would i would say polio. it may take years. that 1% may be permanent. viruses out there and they're going to stay out there and they won't leave us alone. that will be my guess.
>> is going to be polio or ginny worms. they're down to fewer than 100 cases cases a year. but they been down below 300 cases for many years and problems keep popping up. i'm hoping jimmy carter is still alive to see the ginny worms. it's looking more dicey. although he is aware of it and i'm hoping bill gates is money doesn't run out before polio is eradicated. [laughter] >> what lessons can we learn from science and even from golf smallpox story. try to give you some encouragement about these zika outbreaks unless there's a second edition of your book in the works. >> not that i know of. i learned today that i have a sponsor when i introduce me. i didn't know that. [laughter] i get the prize all the time. i think we'll be talking about zika again.
right now, what stopped zika, except in miami and it can always come back -- when i was a cop reported the police would say is the best top on the force , jack frost. why ? because people go indoors and stop killing each other. [laughter] deck frost is also the best stopper of mosquito borne diseases. it will be hot and wet again and the disease will be on the move again. we don't know how much herd immunity there is. probably more than a quarter of puerto rico got infected in the first way. once you been infected you can't get infected again you can't spin up the viral storm. puerto rico may be safe. a lot of the islands in the south pacific have zero cases because everyone got infected. in a lot of places, including
the united states, there is no cured immunity. >> every expert i talk to will say the word flu within the next first two sentences, influenza. it's not if, it's when. >> people don't take flu enough seriously. every year there's the flu shot and it loses faith and credibility. in 1918 when the event comes back as it could in anytime, people will be crying for a vaccine. >> i would like to offer the opportunity for the audience to ask questions. we have microphones on either side of the center part of the room so will only be able to take your questions if you step up to the microphone. please introduce yourself and direct your question specifically to one or both of our authors.
>> thank you. question for both of you. why is there so much misinformation about vaccinations and want to be done to combat that information? oh boy. i have no absolutely idea. it makes no sense to me whatsoever and again, the first vaccine was 1769, edward jenner's. we have proven proven that they worked in 1769. either the earth is flat or the earth's not flat. >> the vitamin industry is a lot under against the vaccination. i thought in south africa and aids, they basically said you don't need to take those antivirals, their poisons. they can be poisonous but if you have a it's with to save you. it was a vitamin salesman and
the anti- vaccination is being pushed by people who have alternative cures are alternative treatment. i find that pernicious people. people who believe that the moon walk place on a sound stage in life in us. we no say on the other hand, the vaccination center says this doesn't work. there's no question that vaccines have side effects. new vaccines need to be tested ferociously for safety but most of the routine vaccinations have arty been through that testing and some side effects do come up in some children do die but if you go on the internet and look at old medical films of kids dying from diphtheria or tetanus you'll see how horrible the consequences could be.
>> great question. >> hello. my name is jenna and i'm studying to become an epidemiologist in the long run. i was wondering how difficult it is to find that balance in alerting the public about a disease outbreak versus inducing panic. >> you have to write it very well. usually if in the second paragraph. it's not in the first paragraph. i will.out to you as every medical writer will say, people who have the disease if your uncle is dying of cancer and you see a story about a study done on mice in australia you will call the writer, no matter how many caveats people will do the very best they can and won't work. >> i see my job as trying to
calm down the irrational panic about diseases and yet occasionally, trying to spread a little panic. if there's not enough attention being paid to it. wally podrazik is an example. trying to spread a little panic about zika. the flu every year. you can see the lines go up and down every year they try to push a panic about this is a really bad flu season and it hasn't been a really bad flu season since 2009. i try to write sensible articles and not ringing the alarm bells. they've cracked the genetic sequences and he successfully predicted, the last pandemics. he was accurate. but the other 13 times, henry i'm going to keep an eye on it.
it might go crazy but i'm watching here. >> dear member the panic over swine flu? and it never showed up. that's no one's fault. it was just the way science is. >> the 2009 swine flu did show up. >> thank you. >> to the disclosure, i had a maternal grandfather grandfather was a veteran of world war i and died of tubercolsis 13 years later. my question is edward jenner -- as you pointed out he had discovered the vaccine for smallpox, however it was very rare that cowpox was rare that time and i don't know why if it disappeared but if it did disappear is that something that we need to keep in mind? the other question i have is for both of you.
i've been told if you have a disease called spanish flu you can be assured it is in from spain but it's from some other country. if you have german measles the left country you can blame is germany. do you have any thoughts as regards to the identification for these diseases that have a country associated with it ? >> there's a reason why it was called spanish flu but i can't remember. there was no military censorship in spain. the flu may have came out of kansas but the flu devastated the armies of germany and england and france and the united states but there was military censorship imposed because no one wanted to talk about the deaths over there. only when the flu got to spain and there was no military censorship that it be called the spanish flu. i don't know about german measles in light of that other
comment, the man i always thought was my grandfather was actually my great uncle because my grandfather died of the spanish flu and his brother married his brother's wife. what happened in that case and i think in other cases in the past, without our modern medicines communities do what they can to try to stop pandemics. there was a movie about six years ago called contagion that i thought was good in terms of everything that was on screen but i was disturbed by most of the stuff that was offscreen because they didn't have any recognition that there might be some social problems of getting food, and that sort of thing across borders. i'm wondering if you can comment on what passed on the epidemics
and what unities have done to stem epidemics when they didn't have our modern medicine. >> they used isolation. during the black death you had entire cities and towns that roll themselves up and would letting anybody in or out. it was fairly effective and keep in mind that these diseases including smallpox, come in waves and go. think of the black death in the 14th century which wiped out a behalf of the population of europe. the only thing they could do was to isolate the towns and villages. i ought to.out before were done there was no cure for smallpox and most viral diseases. if you caught smallpox now, which you won't, there's almost nothing they can do for you. >> the word quarantine comes from the italian word for 40 because that's how they -- when
both came into the harbor, the both would have to sit in the harbor for 40 days under the assumption that any diseases on the vote would burn itself out on the vote. and they could come in. quarantine was the world way. now we make a vaccine. but they get over borders one way or another and also when you impose a quarantine you and all trade, business, cause economic chaos and no disease can be complete. i quarantine. when the swine flu came out of mexico, close the border, and i was sitting there thinking wait a minute the first outbreak of swine flu was in new york city by catholic school students from high school in queens who had been to mexico on their spring break. are we going to close the east river and let no one leave queens?
you can't stop quarantine. >> of course vaccines only work against viruses not bacteria. the bubonic plague was bacteria. regrettably we are coming to the end of our time here. this is live television. i'm so sorry. this is not fun for me. we do want to thank our authors here for a rich discussion about epidemics. [applause] and i want to thank all for attending the session and your support of the festival and don't forget to become a friend so that the festival days free support literary programs in our community. donald mcneil will be late to the live interview. enjoy your evening. thanks for coming. [inaudible conversations]