A controversial new review of the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for boys and girls to prevent different types of cancer, suggests the shot’s safety was not adequately tested in the clinical trials leading up to its approval.
Scientists widely agree that the vaccine has enormous potential to save lives globally, but unproven fears of side effects have hampered its uptake. An investigation I did for Slate in 2017 revealed significant flaws in the manufacturer’s attempt to vet its product’s risks. While the new research supports these findings, anyone looking for quick conclusions can stop reading now. This is a story about process, about the messy, difficult nature of scientific inquiry, and it offers no easy answers. As Dr. Lars Jørgensen, who worked on the review as part of his Ph.D. studies under Dr. Peter Gøtzsche, an outspoken critic of the pharmaceutical industry, told me, “I think it’s really hard to come up with a conclusion set in stone based on this kind of data.”