Monday, March 24, 2003

Epidemiology: what is it good for?

The question seems pertinent in the light of a recent report in the Lancet. It notes that the number of cases of vCJD declined last year. Cases per year peaked at 28 in 2000 and there were only 17 last year. While it may be that the number of cases might increase again somewhat, it is now abundantly clear that vCJD will not be the mass killer that was previously feared. At one point, half a million cases were predicted. Even in August 2000, researchers were suggesting as many as 136,000 cases. Even in the last few weeks, another study has predicted 7000 deaths. It is all very reminiscent of the exaggerated fears about AIDS in the UK in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the health pages are filled daily with spurious new causes for heart disease and cancer based on shaky evidence. I suggest an immediate cull of epidemiologists to prevent the spread of further panics.

Epidemiology uncovered, by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick

Q&A: has vCJD peaked?

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