My apologies to the Washington Post and 2014 Pulitzer Price winner Ed Saslow a reporter for the Post from whom much of this post will be taken. He published and interview he had with 88-year-old Stanley Plotkin.
Vijay B. Samant, President and CEO of Vical, Inc. said this: “Dr. Plotkin has been a tireless advocate for the protection of humans, and children in particular, from preventable infectious diseases. His lifetime of work on vaccines has led to profound reductions in both morbidity and mortality not only in the United States, but throughout the world. His unbending adherence to the principle of being guided by outstanding science has led him to be admired by his peers. He demonstrates the combination of scholar, scientist and public servant exemplified by Dr. Maxwell Finland.” (I note that Dr. Maxwell Finland graduated from Boston English High School.)
Here are some of the quotes from Doctor Plotkin.
“I cut my teeth on polio and anthrax in the 1950s. I developed the rubella vaccine that’s now in standard use throughout the world, and I’ve worked on vaccines for rotavirus, rabies, Lyme disease, and cytomegalovirus. When I first started, we only had two ways to develop a vaccine, and now we have many more methods that show incredible promise. More than 100 vaccines are being developed against this virus — all in record time. Science is cumulative. It builds steadily toward progress, and that’s been my answer to despair during this last year. I can look back over my life and see a degree of advancement that’s staggering.”
“We can say with justification that vaccines have changed the world, and that gives me hope that they can do so again. I had contracted three diseases by the time I was 10 years old that are now prevented by vaccine: pertussis, pneumococcal pneumonia and severe influenza. At that time, only a handful of vaccines were given to children. Now, at least 16 are on the routine schedule. Parents can expect their children to grow up, and that’s a relatively new thing. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. But because people now have the great luxury of forgetting about these diseases, we are starting to run into all kinds of strange conspiracy theories about vaccines. Some people revert back to the Dark Ages of mysticism and pseudoscience. The White House had that guy [Scott] Atlas. I mean, my God! The minimizing, the skepticism about masks — you couldn’t have made it up. Then there are people like Andrew Wakefield or Robert Kennedy, who have influence and use it to spout nonsense about vaccines, and that’s dangerous.” (My emphasis)
“Opinions don’t count for all that much. Facts count, and we have a lot of data about the safety of vaccines. Nobody can say vaccines are 100 percent safe. There’s nothing that’s 100 percent safe. That’s ridiculous.” (My emphasis)
“It’s not an exaggeration to say our future depends on finding solutions. That’s why I wanted to work in a laboratory ever since I was about 15. It is tedious and uncertain work, but it has aspects of an almost religious experience. You are that explorer in unknown territory. I think back to a Tennyson poem, “Ulysses,” which I quoted long ago in my college yearbook: “To follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the outmost bounds of human thought.”” (My emphasis)
I find that we are fortunate in this country having such dedicated people who seek knowledge behind the curtain. Yet so many without any scientific background doubt these experts in the virus area and in the climate change area. These later are Trump supporters. What do we do when people believe nonsense?
As for vaccines, one only has to think of Jonas Salk and Albert B. Sabin for their work in bringing to America the polio vaccine which all but eliminated polio in the United States. Dr. Salk is is quoted as saying: “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” I note the similarity of his philosophy with that of Doctor Plotkin.