Sarah Boseley: Fake CIA Vaccination Campaign Could Undermine Future Drives

A fake vaccination drive organized in Pakistan by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency as part of its efforts to track down al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden was “not very intelligent,” according to the Guardian’s health editor, who argues that the move could undermine Pakistanis’ faith in future vaccination campaigns.

“Vaccines are some of the most effective health tools we have,” Sarah Boseley writes in her blog for the Guardian. “But vaccines can only succeed if children are vaccinated. And that depends on the confidence their families have in the vaccines. Mounting a fake vaccination campaign could potentially undermine that critical faith.”

The Guardian recently reported that the CIA organized a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to collect DNA samples of children in the area to compare with a sample from Bin Laden’s sister who died in the United States in 2010.

“I’m hoping the Abbottabad ruse will not have such widespread and dire consequences,” Boseley says. “I’m hoping it will be seen for what it was - a black day for medical ethics and a one-off crazy scheme to locate Bin Laden, which failed. Hopefully when the next round of polio vaccination comes along, the vast majority of Pakistani people will not hesitate to bring out their children - and will forgive and forget this piece of CIA stupidity.”

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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