The Grapevine

Anti-Vaxxer Biologist Stefan Lanka Bets Over $100K Measles Isn't A Virus; Court Orders Him To Pay Up

Measles Vaccination
German anti-vaxxer forced to pay up after losing 100,000 euro measles bet. European Commission DG ECHOCC by 2.0

German biologist Stefan Lanka breaks the mold when it comes to the anti-vaccination movement. Unlike most anti-vaxxers, Lanka actually has a degree (we think). Like all anti-vaxxers, in my opinion, Lanka is also wrong. So wrong, in fact, that a German court ordered him to pay German doctor David Barden 100,000 euros ($106,000) after Lanka announced via his website that he would pay anyone who could prove measles is an actual virus. Needless to say, Barden was able to provide adequate evidence.

A recent measles outbreak in Germany has resulted in vaccination debate similar to the current one in the United States. The debate has raged on ever since an 18-month-old boy from Berlin became the first casualty of the outbreak. While speaking with a German newspaper, Lanka referred to measles as “a psychosomatic illness” that causes people to become ill after traumatic separations.” Over 750 cases have been reported across Germany since October.

Lanka boldly offered up 100,000 euros to anyone who could prove measles is a virus on his website four years ago. Barden decided to take Lanka up on his offer and began gathering a wealth of research supporting measles as a virus (there is plenty). In true anti-vaxxer fashion, Lanka disregarded each and every peer-reviewed study Barden presented and refused to pay up. That’s when a court in Ravensburg stepped in to remind Lanka that a bet’s a bet.

According to the World Health Organization, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and inexpensive vaccine is available. Around 145,700 people died around the world in 2013 as the result of measles. Recently, the WHO Regional Office for Europe asked health care professionals, policy-makers, and parents to increase the number of children from all age groups who receive vaccination against measles.

“When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96 percent in the number of measles cases in the European Region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers. We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps,” Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money, and time.”

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