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BSI response to the death of Alana Cutland and the reported investigation of the yellow fever vaccine involvement

The tragic death of Cambridge University student Alana Cutland is now reportedly being investigated as to whether the yellow fever vaccine was a factor involved in the incident. In response to this story, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement.

Prof Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“The details of the tragic incident that led to the death of Alana Cutland are insufficient to determine the cause. There is speculation that the yellow fever vaccine could be a factor but it’s not possible to say without knowing all the facts and investigating the medical evidence in this case.

“Yellow fever is a serious viral disease that is found in the tropics and spread by mosquito bite. Vaccination against yellow fever is advised to people who are travelling to areas where this disease is found. According to World Health Organization (WHO), there is no risk of yellow fever transmission in Madagascar and a yellow fever vaccination certificate is only required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of transmission of the disease.

“What we know with certainty from multiple studies is that the yellow fever vaccine is very effective and has a very low overall risk of serious side-effects (at about 1 in 100,000 of vaccine recipients). Due to a potential increased risk of experiencing serious side-effects, the NHS does not recommend the yellow fever vaccine for people over the age of 60 or anyone who is immunosuppressed or has a medical history of thymus dysfunction. Anyone travelling to a region with yellow fever is advised to discuss the individual risks and benefits of the vaccine based on their specific travel itinerary with a healthcare professional. However, at this point there is no evidence to suggest the yellow fever vaccine was responsible for this tragic incident.”