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Surprising Science

Stop Vaccinating Girls Against H.P.V.

At this year’s Lindau meeting of Nobel Prize winners, the virologist Harald zur Hausen said vaccinating only boys against the human papillomavirus would achieve better results.

What’s the Latest Development?

At this year’s Lindau meeting, an annual gathering where Nobel Prize winners share their thoughts with budding scientists, the focus was on physiology or medicine. Harald zur Hausen is the virologist who won a Nobel Prize for discovering that the human papillomavirus causes cervical cancer. It is surprising, then, to hear that he advocates vaccinating only men for the sexually transmitted disease: “If you only vaccinate boys, you would have a better result than if you only vaccinate girls. Boys are a little more active than girls.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The annual gathering of Nobel winners in Lindau, Germany, makes a wealth of scientific wisdom available to the next generation of researchers. It is a truly special gathering where ideas big and small are discussed toward the end of a healthier, happier and more knowledgeable existence. As for Hausen, he acknowledged that his thinking might be a bit utopian. Cervical cancer kills 250,000 girls and women every year worldwide, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.


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