Over on the book of faces, the subject of vaccines has come up and the usual suspects are screaming about how they’re a scam designed only to get money for “big pharma.”
So let’s look at that. Let’s use “measles” which is often dismissed as a “harmless childhood disease” and so would be one of the more routine (and therefore cheaper) things to treat. (Please note: I am just dealing with the ” vaccines are a scam to make money” argument here. Other anti-vax arguments can wait for another day.)
Before the vaccine came out, the US averaged about 400 cases of measles per 100,000 citizens per year:
That’s per 100,000. Looked at in total numbers:
Now, this “harmless, childhood disease” was perhaps less harmless than people may have thought. Looking at deaths per year we get the following:
Before the vaccine an average of about 450 per year died from measles. I will note that a number of sites out there have charts that show the “mortality rate” for measles going down, way down, long before the vaccine was introduced. However, what the naive reader might miss is that they are looking at the mortality rate of measles cases. I.e. what chance someone who got measles had of dying. The chart says nothing about the likelihood of getting measles in the first place.
Comparing the death numbers with the total number of cases and we get a death rate of about one in a thousand or 0.1%. (Other sources give a rate of 3 per 1000 or 0.3%–for purposes of this post I’ll use the lower number.)
In addition to the death rate, measles can require hospitalization. In the years 1985-2002 an average of 757 patients per year were hospitalized for measles (total 13621). The low was 19. The High was 5856 in 1990. For comparison, over that period 147 patients died (above chart). So for every death there are 93 hospitalizations.
So with modern medicine and standards of care, if we had the same number of measles cases as before the vaccine was introduced the number killed (correcting for current US population, 1.8 times what it was in 1960) would be 810 per year (about 30 per 100,000). And the number hospitalized would be over of 75,000 or just under 4300 per 100,000.
A typical hospital stay is 5 days at a cost of $10,000 and that’s just for the bed and the most basic of care. It doesn’t include actual treatment. It certainly doesn’t include any time in the ICU. That means the cost per 100,000 for treating measles, what “big pharma” could get from letting people get measles and treating those who require hospitalization is $43 million per year per 100,000 people at an absolute minimum.
So how does that compare to how much they make from vaccines? Well, the MMR vaccine costs about $100 per dose. That is for three diseases, but let’s leave that aside and only consider measles. The standard is a dose and a booster in one person’s lifetime. Considering an average lifespan of 75 years that works out to about a bit under 2700 shots given per 100,000 people per year assuming everyone gets the vaccine. Or, $270 thousand per year per 100,000 people.
$43 million to treat. $270 thousand to vaccinate. Letting people get the disease and treating it grosses 160 times as much as vaccinating.
If they were really about selling out your health for money, they’d let you get sick.