Kinch’s tale picks up speed and interest in the second half of the 19th century ... Kinch has done these early scientists a great service by recounting their contributions. There are some fascinating episodes about the discovery and use of bacteriophages ... It is vital that there is widespread public understanding of the importance of vaccination and above all of the need for high compliance rates. Kinch has practical suggestions as to how this might be done ... This is an important book, but one marred by the author’s tendency to pad the narrative with historical anecdotes of often marginal relevance.
We live in a world of risk and risk assessment. The trouble is that if you or your child happens to experience a one-in-a-million event, a remote possibility becomes a certainty. That’s good when it’s the lottery, bad when it’s a disease. Many people also increasingly distrust the 'experts' who are judging risk, especially when it comes to a child’s well-being ... Michael Kinch has spent his career studying vaccines, but he has sympathy for these parents. In Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity, he acknowledges the risk—real, if slight—that any vaccination might produce unwanted consequences, and he writes of several disastrous episodes ... This is a fine book, marred only by a few factual slips.
The benefits of vaccines are colossal, and claims that they can cause autism are absolutely false. Roughly two centuries after the introduction of a vaccine for smallpox, that horrific contagion has been eradicated ... Immunologist Kinch reviews the history of various infectious diseases, how vaccines work and their efficacy, relevant biomedical research, and the personalities who played pivotal roles in this field. Adversaries of vaccination have their reasons (religious beliefs, vulnerability to propaganda), but science is not on their side. Vaccines don’t trigger autism, while pathogenic microbes and ignorance can wreak havoc and result in countless unnecessary deaths.