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Journal Articles Journal of Contemporary History Year : 2022

The Cost of Trust: The World Health Organization and Vaccination's Contested Economization in France

Gaëtan Thomas

Abstract

This article explores the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) within the tumultuous history of the hepatitis B vaccine in France, including a controversy that erupted in 1996 and lasted several years. When the first hepatitis B vaccine was commercialized in France in 1981, it inaugurated a new era in the industry characterized by high prices, an unprecedented number of patents and aggressive commercial competition. By inscribing the hepatitis B vaccine controversy into a broader, global history of the economization of immunization – in which the WHO played a central role – this article reframes the causes and implications of a controversy that both actors and scholars have approached through a primarily national lens. The challenge posed to the economic approach to immunization prepared the ground for subsequent critiques of vaccines as commodities. The article discusses a key transformation in the recent transatlantic history of public health by focusing on the perceived association of immunization with a contested economic order.
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hal-03700735 , version 1 (18-01-2023)

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Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives

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Gaëtan Thomas. The Cost of Trust: The World Health Organization and Vaccination's Contested Economization in France. Journal of Contemporary History, 2022, 57 (4), pp.939-958. ⟨10.1177/00220094211057833⟩. ⟨hal-03700735⟩
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