Anti-vaccine loons often claim that the only reason for vaccinations is the capitalist system and the ill-gotten profits of vaccination.

Here’s data1 from that notorious hotbed of capitalism, the People’s Republic of China of 1965, when measles vaccination was introduced.  For Shanghai …

The incidence of morbidity associated with measles ranged from 909 to 3,510/100,000 persons during the period 1953-1965.  From Figure 1 it can be clearly seen that the incidence of morbidity was reduced remarkably after the introduction of mass vaccination and now is maintained at <20/100,000 persons.

Measles in PRC

For other exciting charts:

Note that the Y axis is a log scale, so the precipitous drop in cases from 1965-1967 was from about 2000 to 50 cases per 100,000.  In 1965 the population of the Shanghai area was roughly 10 million,  so a morbidity of 2000/100,000 persons would be roughly 200,000 cases per year. The mortality rate for measles in China (as elsewhere) was around 1-2%,2 so that’s roughly 2000 deaths per year — mainly of infants and children, of course — that the vaccine prevented.

Another typical loon claim is that vaccines don’t actually do anything — it was entirely the improvements in sanitation that happened at the same time. I’d be interested in knowing exactly how Shanghai improved their sanitation by 90% exactly in 1966. And, since the “remarkable” reduction in deaths is amazingly similar to what happened in Finland after the vaccination campaign of 1982, and in Bourkina Fasso after their vaccine campaign of 2002, how coincidentally those countries also introduced new sanitation at exactly the same time as their measles vaccinations.

It would be hard to imagine three more diverse conditions than Finland, Bourkina Fasso, and the People’s Republic of China, but measles vaccination worked equally well in all three.

  1. X. Jianzhi, C. Zhihui (1983). Measles Vaccine in the People’s Republic of China Reviews of Infectious Diseases, 5, 506-510 []
  2. A Review of the Current Impact of Measles in the People’s Republic of China
    Zhang Yihao and Su Wannian
    Reviews of Infectious Diseases, 5:411-416 (1983) []