Posts tagged ‘vaccines’


23 March 2022

Three Hundred Guts Per Hour

Hugh Pennington

The Weigl typhus vaccine was made by the intrarectal inoculation of lice. Twelve-day-old lice were put in a clamp with their rears in the air. A very fine glass pipette was inserted into the anus and a tiny drop of fluid containing the typhus bacterium was pumped in. The intestines were harvested and ground up with phenol to make the vaccine. These processes needed people: injectors, who could infect up to two thousand lice per hour; dissectors, who could harvest three hundred guts per hour; and feeders to propagate the lice, kept in cages strapped to their legs.


18 March 2022

A Man for Half a Season

Benjamin Markovits

Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire makes his stand on the sanctity of the Sabbath. It seems basically crazy to give up a chance at Olympic gold just because you don’t want to run on Sunday. Yet he holds his nerve and we’re supposed to respect him for it, even if I always preferred the Jewish guy, whose main problem is that he has to fight against England’s gentlemanly commitment to mediocrity. 


29 December 2021

Rogue Science

Edna Bonhomme

On a chilly late November afternoon, 150 people gathered at Lübeck airport in Schleswig-Holstein to be injected with a substance they had been told would protect them from Covid-19. The unauthorised vaccine was developed by Dr Winfried Stöcker, who didn’t carry out proper clinical trials but did test it on himself. He also owns the airport.


5 May 2021

Broken Bargains

Anne Orford

The TRIPS Agreement came into effect in 1995 as part of a broad new suite of trade agreements resulting from the Uruguay Round of multilateral negotiations that led to the creation of the WTO. The agreements were treated as a ‘single undertaking’. States had to sign up to all of them if they wanted to join the new organisation. On its own, the TRIPS Agreement was a strikingly bad deal for most states, especially in relation to the expanded patent regime it established.


4 May 2021

The People v. Bill Gates

Linsey McGoey

Bill and Melinda Gates have asked for privacy after their divorce announcement, but a storm of attention seems more likely. Interest in their marital arrangements isn’t merely prurient. They are public figures and their personal lives have political ramifications. The urgent question in global health circles is what will happen to their powerhouse foundation in the wake of their split. Large amounts of funding hang in the balance.


18 December 2020

Everyone, Everywhere

Sophie Cousins

The first recorded polio epidemic was in Sweden in the 1880s, though inscriptions in Egypt suggest the disease dates back to ancient times. In 1916 the virus devastated New York and swathes of the north-eastern United States, killing six thousand people, mostly children, and leaving thousands more paralysed. Unlike other deadly epidemic diseases, such as tuberculosis, polio appeared to have no correlation to poverty. ‘Once the terror stalks, mere wealth cannot buy immunity,’ as the Ladies Home Journal put it in 1935. ‘The well-fed babies of the boulevards are no safer than gamins from the gutter from the mysterious universality of the crippling midget, once it’s on the rampage.’