Stick with the science
Source: New York Times/Seth Berkley
Government representatives are meeting in Geneva this week to decide whether to introduce a global ban on mercury that could include thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative that is used to prevent bacterial or fungal contamination of multidose vials of vaccine. Hosted by the UNEP, the committee is charged with drafting a global treaty to rid the world of the threats posed by mercury. Despite the ominous connotations of mercury, the decision should in theory be a no-brainer: The scientific and medical consensus is that thiomersal poses no human health risk, and that rather than saving lives, a ban would put millions of the world’s poorest children at risk of deadly diseases by disrupting vaccination programs. In 2010 alone it is estimated that more than 1.4 million child deaths were prevented through the use of thiomersal-containing vaccines. Little wonder that organizations such as the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the GAVI Alliance oppose a ban.