Hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. This photo shows a vaccination campaign in Guatemala. A new book takes a look at race to develop the rubella vaccine.

Hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. This photo shows a vaccination campaign in Guatemala. A new book takes a look at race to develop the rubella vaccine.

Last year more than two thousand babies in 19 countries were born with abnormally small heads and other birth defects after their mothers were infected with the Zika virus while pregnant. This wasn’t without historical precedent. In the 1960s, tens of thousands of babies in the United States were born with severe birth defects because their mothers contracted rubella, also known as German measles, while pregnant.

In a new book, science writer Meredith Wadman tells the story of how scientists raced to fight rubella, using some controversial techniques. The vaccine was developed with the use of fetal cells, and it was tested on orphans, many of them babies and children of color.

In telling that story, Wadman teaches us about the efforts to combat diseases today.

Guests

  • Meredith Wadman Reporter, Science; she has also written for Nature, Fortune, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Read An Excerpt Of "The Vaccine Race" by Meredith Wadman

Adapted from THE VACCINE RACE: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman. Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Meredith Wadman.

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