Thoughts on economics and liberty

Have vaccines saved lives? Yes, billions of them.

I had assumed that everyone understood that vaccines are a crucial tooklit of public health and that they have saved vast numbers of lives. Looks I was wrong. My claim that vaccines have saved billions of lives was met with a lot of opposition. Some people shared charts from developed countries to “disprove” my claim.

Here I’ll summarise the logic behind my claim – those interested can research more.

Even in the West, child mortality was around 500 out of 1000 till a few hundred years ago, and life expectancy was around 30 years. But due to the Enlightenment, things changed (see my book, Discovery of Freedom).

With the advent of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD, Western biological science has evolved dramatically over the past 400 years, and its innovations have gone into three key areas:

a) vaccinations (which came before any bacteria or virus was known)

b) clean water (which came accidentally in London with a private sector filtration system for water from the Thames) and sewerage

c) antibiotics and anti-virals

The first of these two innovations came first which led to a significant drop in Western child mortality rates even before the 20th century. And yet, 165 per 1,000 in 1900 children died before age 1 in the USA  in 1900.

At the same time, roughly 500 children out of 1000 were dying in India before age 5.

But the British government in India started public health efforts in earnest from around 1900 and education on public health as well as smallpox vaccines caused a steep decline in deaths of children from around that period. That meant that the average TFR (total fertility rate of 7) for the average woman was now starting to generate more than the desired number of children (in the past only 2 out of 7 survived into their parents’ old age).

It was hard for parents to re-adjust to this changing circumstance (takes 2-3 generations to do so), so ultra-large surviving families of 7+ children became very common in India among the middle classes by the 1920s and 1930s. Only since my father’s generation (and much later in the villages) have Indians re-adjusted their children downwards to 2-3.

By independence, India’s infant mortality rate was around 190 per 1000 (i.e. 2 out of 10 children were still dying before age 1). I have been alive for much of the period since then and I know how vaccines have placed a CRUCIAL role in bringing this rate down to the current 5 out of 1000. I have been an administrator in India and involved in the vaccine campaigns and programs that went (and still go) into interior villages to vaccinate millions of children.

Yes, there were a few (rather corrupt and very shoddy) efforts made to ensure clean water for villagers. But clean water is a luxury that’s not yet available to all villages, even in cities like New Delhi. Till today there is virtually no sewerage in India. There are also almost no health facilities in remote villages: doctors rarely, if ever go there.  And the country is as filthy and dirty as ever before (probably more than ever in the cities which smell like garbage pits; and the rivers carry vast amounts of filth).

So while all the factors are involved in explaining India’s reduction in child mortality and increase in life expectancy, vaccines have played the most important role over the past 100 years or so in India.  Delivering vaccines is cheap: delivering water, sewerage and medicines is very costly.

India’s experience should be multiplied across the developing countries. Developed countries had only a tiny proportion of the world’s population in 1900. The total number of people who have lived during the last 100 years is in the range of 10-12 billion.  MANY of them, in the hundreds of millions if not in the billions, would never have lived without vaccines.

This is the broad assessment – detailed assessments will surely be there somewhere in the literature, but I can assure you that it is WRONG to extrapolate, globally, the impact of vaccines only on the basis of relatively recent data from developed countries.

The developed countries had a more prominent contribution from public health (water, sewerage) and modern medicine; vaccines have contributed most to developing countries. 


I have analysed the data and concluded that covid vaccines ALSO save lives – but VERY FEW, and their immunity wears out very quickly. That’s pretty much like flu vaccines – actually a bit worse.

I do not believe such vaccines (which also cause significant side effects) should be mandatory at all.

I wrote in my articles in 2020 in The Australian and in Times of India that covid vaccines may be considered by those over 75 and those with co-morbidities, etc. but that they must be ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY. No compulsion.

I have also called for a halt to the rollout of covid vaccines in Australia given their significant side effects.  And I have explained why I have taken covaxin covid vaccine in India that I might not have otherwise taken at this stage without compulsion in India and Australia.



No, lifespan in India has not reduced only because of nutrition. A vast proportion of children are still malnourished.


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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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4 thoughts on “Have vaccines saved lives? Yes, billions of them.
  1. Roslyn Ross

    It is claimed vaccines have saved millions of lives but it is only a claim with no historical data to support it.

    The reality is, thank the engineers not the doctors because it was improved living conditions, particularly sanitation and hygiene, which diminished epidemics and improved health so mortality plummeted.

    By the time vaccine programmes were in place they were not needed as any study of history reveals. Look at Measles as one example:

    Quote: Early in the last century, measles killed millions of people a year. Then, bit by bit in countries of the developed world, the death rate dropped, by the 1960s by 98% or more. In the U.K., it dropped by an astounding 99.96%.

    And then, the measles vaccine entered the market.

    After the vaccine’s introduction, the measles death rate continued to drop into the 1970s. Many scientists credit the continued decline entirely to the vaccine. Other scientists believe the vaccine played a minor role, if that, noting that most infectious diseases similarly petered out during the 20th century, including some, like scarlet fever, for which vaccines were never developed.

    The credit for the century-long decline, scientists generally agree, goes to improved nutrition and improved health care, side effects of the West’s growing affluence. In the U.S., the death rate dropped by about 98%, from about 10 per 100,000 population a century ago to one fifth of one person by 1963, the year measles vaccines made their American debut. Both before and after vaccination started, victims tended to be poor.

    In 1970, Dr Edward H. Kass, of Harvard, gave a speech to the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, of which he was then President. He warned his colleagues that drawing false conclusions about why mortality rates had declined so much could cause them to focus on the wrong things.

    He said:
    “…we had accepted some half truths and had stopped searching for the whole truths. The principal half truths were that medical research had stamped out the great killers of the past —tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia, puerperal sepsis, etc. —and that medical research and our superior system of medical care were major factors extending life expectancy, thus providing the American people with the highest level of health available in the world. That these are half truths is known but is perhaps not as well known as it should be.”

    In 1977, Boston University epidemiologists John and Sonja McKinlay published a seminal work on the role vaccines (and other medical interventions) played in the massive decline in mortality seen in the twentieth century.
    The McKinlay’s study was titled, “The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century.” Their data showed:

    “that the introduction of specific medical measures and/or the expansion of medical services are generally not responsible for most of the modern decline in mortality.”

    The one area where modern medicine has made a difference is in crisis/trauma and many people survive terrible accidents and even minor ones, which would have killed them in generations past. But, no, people are not living longer, there are just more people who survive childhood and that means, greater numbers will reach old age.

    And in these times, when they do they are often sickly, sickening and probably wish they were dead or had stayed away from toxic medications and vaccinations.

  2. Roslyn Ross

    Having lived in India I would suggest that even there, some improvements in hygiene and sanitation have helped and it is not vaccines. Famine was a big killer and rickets made infant mortality more likely in affected mothers. While India is still in appalling shape for most of its people, it is still not as bad as it could be because the British left supportive systems in place, including safe water. Well, not safe enough for expats but safe enough for Indians who are used to food and water which are likely to kill Europeans.

    I spent more than four years living in India and decades living in four African countries without being vaccinated and never got sick.

    Those pushing vaccines refuse to do the one study which would settle it: looking at health and disease in fully, partially and non-vaccinated children and adults.

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    “I spent more than four years living in India and decades living in four African countries without being vaccinated and never got sick.”

    That’s now how science is done.

    “British left supportive systems in place, including safe water”. You must surely be joking. I’ve lived and administered this country – except for a FEW parts of a few cities, clean water has not been available in India, and is still mostly not available.

  4. Alex Deans

    Bernard, Bechamp, and their successors, proved that germs are not the actual root cause of sickness or disease… in reality, it is a weak terrain that is the ROOT CAUSE of sickness and disease.

    A “weak terrain” is naturally more vulnerable to germs, so it needs to be built up through:

    maximizing our nutritional status
    minimizing our toxicity status, i.e. detoxification
    maintaining a proper pH or acid/alkaline balance
    maintaining a proper energetic/electrical balance
    For this and other reasons Bechamp argued vehemently against vaccines, asserting that “The most serious disorders may be provoked by the injection of living organisms into the blood.” Untold numbers of researchers have agreed with him.

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