The epidemic in the DRC has been impossible to contain because of the spread of anti-vax myths
With the possible exception of quinine, for centuries the only treatment for malaria, and antibiotics, vaccines have saved more lives than any other intervention in medical history. Yet, from New York’s Brooklyn to Camden in north London to Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, vaccines are in retreat, shunned by populations who seemingly have little sense of the risks they are running with their own or other people’s lives.
Why this should be so is one of the conundrums of our age. Is it all the fault of social media and anti-vax propaganda that has taken root on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? Or has society grown complacent about the risks that infectious diseases posed to previous generations, when it was common for children to be paralysed by polio or rendered deaf or brain-damaged by measles?