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David Birks

Postdoctoral Researcher at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.

The Permissibility of Refusing the MMR Vaccine and the Issue of Blame

Since November 2012, there have been more than 1,100 cases of measles in the Swansea area. To put these numbers into perspective, in 2011, there were 19 cases of cases of measles in the whole of Wales. Measles can result in pneumonia, loss of hearing, and death. There are concerns that there will be another measles epidemic in the future.Read More »The Permissibility of Refusing the MMR Vaccine and the Issue of Blame

What’s Wrong with Infecting Humans?

Earlier this month, I attended a conference on Controlled Human Infection Studies in the Development of Vaccines and Therapeutics. These studies involve deliberately infecting healthy volunteers with a disease (such as malaria, typhoid, norovirus, or salmonella) in a controlled environment. This research has significant benefits for the development of vaccines [some of the benefits are set out here]. Given that these studies could result in the development of new vaccines, they could serve a crucial role in saving many lives. Nevertheless, intentionally infecting humans with diseases is potentially risky. The degree of risk for the volunteers will vary case to case, depending on the disease and the efficacy of treatment.Read More »What’s Wrong with Infecting Humans?

A Living Wage?

This week is Living Wage Week. The aim of this campaign is to encourage employers to pay their lowest paid employees a Living Wage – the amount necessary to meet the basic cost of living –rather than the legally required minimum wage. Currently, the minimum wage is £6.19 per hour, whereas outside London the Living Wage is £7.45. The basic cost of living is determined by the cost of  “an adequate level of warmth and shelter, a healthy palatable diet, social integration and avoidance of chronic stress for earners and their dependents”.

Almost five million workers are paid less than the living wage.Read More »A Living Wage?