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Anti-Poverty Vaccine? Is That Possible?

Introducing Peter Hotez, my friend and today’s best known proponent of anti-poverty vaccines. Peter is an accomplished scientist and pediatric infectious disease specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital. A tactful, vocal proponent for policy and civic action on multiple health fronts, one of his most intriguing campaigns is to combat poverty through vaccination.


The associations between poverty and ill health are legion. A pregnant women with hookworm infestation, for example, is likely anemic, malnourished, and fatigues easily. Her ability to earn a living, care for herself, or care for her family is usually impaired. Hence, her poverty increases.


Our world’s poorest citizens are plagued by a number of parallel infectious diseases that limit their income-earning potential: schistosomiasis, African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), or American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), malaria, tuberculosis, among others. Vaccine development against these poverty-inducing maladies hold promising potential., but has been generally slow and under-funded. And yet – as proven in the case of smallpox – such effective vaccines may not only prevent disease, but also prevent poverty.

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