Consider the following logic. (Now, mind you… this is an imaginary story, tale. It probably could not really happen in real life.)
Say, you have 100 pregnant women living in a small city in Brazil. The city borders a dense jungle area. A wealthy local businessman wants to develop the area, and so he buys up the stretch of land and commences spraying large amounts of the highly toxic chemical defoliant Agent Orange to clear the jungle. Lots of it. There are swarms of pesky mosquitoes in the area, so the businessman also starts spraying the highly toxic pesticide DDT. Lots of it.
The spraying goes on daily for months. The runoff from the chemicals contaminates local lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, thus contaminating the local drinking water supply and water people use to bathe with and cook with. People complain to local authorities, but nothing ever gets done. The chemicals are banned substances, but the wealthy businessman has paid off local authorities to look the other way.
Separately, public health authorities said there has been an increase in reports of children coming down with pertussis (whooping cough) and so, one day, the government decides to mandate that all pregnant women in the city receive the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine. The 100 pregnant women cheerily walk over to their local health clinic and get vaccinated for free with Tdap. (Bear in mind that Tdap has never been tested for safety in pregnant women and their fetuses.)1
All 100 women are poor. Half of them are not married. The other half have husbands who are unemployed or underemployed. An unknown number of the husbands or boyfriends may take out their anxiety, anger and frustration on their pregnant partners, which causes high levels of stress. (Hey, it happens when you’re poor, don’t have a job, minimal hope, and you live in a machista culture that reinforces such behavior.) Some of the men work in the fields near the area where the Agent Orange and DDT are being sprayed or they, themselves, actually do the work of spraying chemicals.
Many of the 100 women use drugs, alcohol and smoke to some degree to relieve the stresses, fears and boredom and help numb them, helps them temporarily forget and escape the day-to-day reality of their lives. They all are malnourished to some degree, because they never seem to have enough money to buy enough healthy, nutritious food.
The 100 women give birth to their babies, and it turns out that 10 of the babies are born with microcephaly (smaller than normal heads and varying degrees of brain damage). The government declares a public health emergency—an unnerving and befuddling epidemic of microcephaly. Normally, there might be 1 case of microcepahly in 100 births. But now, for some reason, there are 10 cases of microcephaly per 100 births. Three of the babies with microcephaly are tested for a virus previously known to be relatively harmless. The mothers of those babies are also tested for the virus. The babies and their mothers all test positive for the virus.
“Ah!” the Brazilian and U.S. governments declare, “We have isolated the cause of the microcephaly epidemic! We have conclusive scientific proof the cause is a virus. We must now create a vaccine to give to all child bearing women to protect them from the virus. Let’s spend tons of money on this.”
The “free” press? Editors, health reporters, investigative journalists?
Apparently, they are all on holiday. Or not allowed to ask the most logical question.