The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease

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The race to develop vaccines was a tense and anxious one, where lives – and fortunes – were at stake. And those interests were not always aligned. Meredith Wadman tells this gripping story about the early days of vaccine development with keen insight after tenacious research – digging into reams of paperwork, from office memoranda to congressional hearings; conducting extensive interviews; and following far-flung, decades-old news stories. The result is a story that is immediate and gripping. In particular, Wadman focuses on Leonard Hayflick, the man who developed a human cell strain for use in research, and Stanley Plotkin, who used those cells to create an effective, safe vaccine for rubella. The entire process was plagued with controversy, roadblocks, personal animosities, and conflicts of interest, and all the false starts and dead ends that accompany new scientific developments; in addition, science at the time had no trouble using the most vulnerable members of society as research subjects in ways we recognize as abhorrent today. Throughout this compelling tale, the author sustains a sense of impending doom that foreshadows the frustrating conclusion to the story of Hayflick’s invaluable cells. This is can’t-put-it-down drama you don’t want to miss.


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Author Meredith Wadman
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 448 pages
Publisher Viking
Publish Date 2017-Feb-07
ISBN 9780525427537
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2017
Category History
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