In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

Europe's top court alarms vaccine experts

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Science  30 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1320
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6345.1320

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Summary

On 21 June, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling in the case of a French man who claimed his multiple sclerosis was triggered by a hepatitis vaccine. Some media stories suggested that from now on, "vaccines can be blamed for illness without scientific proof," which alarmed vaccine advocates. But experts on liability law are divided on what the court's decision will mean for medical product liability in Europe. Some argue that rather than dealing a blow against science or vaccines, the court sought to balance individuals' rights against society's interest in preventing disease; others say the ruling leaves a worrying amount of room for judges in the European Union to ignore certain kinds of scientific evidence.