Denise Lockett wants to know what is the science of deaths from measles (September 3). She is angry about Big Pharma profiting from the sale of MMV vaccines.
I guess she does not have access to the internet; I only had to type "measles deaths" into Google to learn that 2,600,000 died from measles in 1980. And by 2014, global vaccination programmes had reduced the number of deaths from measles to 73,000.
However, anti-vaccination campaigns have reduced the number of children being protected, and deaths have since risen to 110,000 per year. In First World conditions, one patient in 1000 develops encephalitis that can lead to death. In Third World conditions, one measles patient in every 300 dies.
In New Zealand's 1991 measles epidemic, about 7000 cases were reported and seven people died. So far in our current epidemic there have been 975 cases of measles, with about 350 hospitalised from complications (diarrhoea, pneumonia, ear infection), and one child in intensive care with encephalitis.
Merck's 10-dose ampoule of MMV vaccine costs US$75, or $125. About 55,000 babies are born in New Zealand each year and about 18,000 are not vaccinated, saving the NZ taxpayer about $230,000, and depriving "Big Pharma" of about $60,000 in profits.
One day in a hospital bed with measles complications costs New Zealand taxpayers about $300. The complications can last for a week or more. So far, the 350 people hospitalised with measles have cost taxpayers more than $800,000.
In the climate of measles
David Bennett's hands-off approach to climate change (Chronicle, September 2) is fair enough if you imagine that global crisis has not reached this country. But that is not the case.
If the worldwide rise in measles is put into the same too-hard basket, it means we wait until those heavy-hitting nations sort themselves out before treating any outbreaks here.
Surely New Zealand can do more in the face of climate change!
Meaning of life
With the quote from The Scientist magazine Mandy Donne-Lee supplied in her August 31 letter, "Scientists' work", she seems to argue scientists should stick to empirical science and not meddle in matters of God or life meaning.
While that appears to be her view, does she, or do other adherents of traditional religious views, question why such believers, as I assume she is, are often happy to make incursions into just about every aspect of science and secular life?
I believe, also, that the religious view does not have a monopoly on, nor a particularly justified outlook on what it is to find meaning in this life. To make such a claim smacks of arrogance. It needs to be said, too, that in a number of fields science and spiritual significance are finding more common ground.
Dating of minerals
For Mr Warburton's information:
"Thermoluminescence dates are obtained from individual grains of common minerals such as quartz. When such grains are heated, they emit light, and this is related to the radiation 'stored' in the crystal structure.
"It is assumed that the radiation was absorbed from the environment, building up from zero at in the past. A date is calculated by measuring the light emitted from the mineral grain when it is heated, and measuring the radiation in the environment where the grain was found.
"Unfortunately, there are many unknowns and many assumptions need to be made, including the amount of radiation 'stored' in the mineral at a certain time in the past, that the change in radiation has only been affected by the radiation in the environment, that the radiation in the environment has remained constant, and that the sensitivity of the crystal to radiation has not changed.
"All these factors can be affected by water, heat, sunlight, the accumulation or leaching of minerals in the environment, and many other causes."
From The Dating Game by Tas Walker.
•Send your letters to: Letters, Whanganui Chronicle, 100 Guyton St, PO Box 433, Whanganui 4500 or email email@example.com