The Panic Virus
University of Indiana
The Panic Virus
As a title The Panic Virus sets the stage of the mindless-fear that Seth Mnookin discusses in this documentary/narrative novel that explores the limited range of thought that people have when it comes to accepting medical expertise as opposed to personal beliefs. This book blossomed from the wake of some bad science in the late 1990s. A British gastroenterologist, Andrew Wakefield, published a paper stating that the MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella) had the capability of causing autism in children. After several studies it was determined that there was no link found between childhood vaccinations and autism and that Wakefield was in fact a fraud that was trying to promote himself within the scientific community. Sadly, it was too late by the time this was all discovered as the media had already created a frenzy and started what could easily be considered one of the most devastating health scares of the decade which we are still fighting to correct. The saddest part in this entire ordeal is that even after his “fudged findings” were disproven, people continue to believe this claim and don’t vaccinate their children from fear of the repercussions. They listen to famous figures such as Jenny McCarthy (whom will later be mentioned) and refuse to face the scientific facts that are within their reach. Meanwhile, children around the world are dying from easily preventable diseases that were once extinguished (Mnookin, 2011).
Mnookin tells the stories of a wide variety of people in this book ranging from parents that have experienced the direct effects of vaccinations (and lack there of) to the celebrities that speak for anti-vaccinators. One very notable fact about Seth Mnookin’s The Panic Virus is that Mnookin discusses the history of not only the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, but also the accomplishments that science has had throughout history with the...