Fake news and distrust of science could lead to global epidemics

by Heidi Larson and Peter Piot
WIRED Magazine, January 2018 issue

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Vaccines are one of the most important scientific inventions of all time, preventing millions of cases of disease every year and helping to consign once-deadly outbreaks to history. Yet these vital public-health tools are under threat from growing public mistrust in immunisation and the rise of so-called “fake news” drowning out expert voices. This “anti-vax” sentiment and pushback against scientific evidence threatens public health around the world, from measles outbreaks in the US and across Europe, prompting stricter vaccination laws, to persisting polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If this trend continues, 2018 could see a devastating resurgence of deadly diseases previously on the brink of eradication.

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