In recent weeks we have seen a media led campaign that has resulted in sensible debate about vaccination being sidelined by hysteria and misinformation.
An artificial dualism has emerged where people are cast as either ‘pro’ or ‘anti’.
This mitigates against myriad other positions, such as being in favour of vaccination in general, but having concerns about individual products or ingredients.
In amongst all of this are key areas which are being consistently, and one suspects at times deliberately, overlooked.
Australia stands apart from every other Western nation in terms of key areas of policy and regulation.
And the ‘All Trials’ campaign which now has the backing of the entire British medical establishment, has demonstrated that the medical evidence base has been massively corrupted by pharmaceutical marketing concerns.
Beyond this the current media campaign asks medical professionals to depart from their long standing ethical framework.
But let’s look at the first area to begin with.
There is medical consensus that there are over 40 types of adverse reactions to vaccination which can range from mild swelling, to neurological and auto immune dysfunction, and worst case even death.
There is no debate about this. The only disagreement is about how prevalent this is.
A World Health Organisation document discusses this in relation to the need for compensation schemes for those injured, and cites ethicist Michelle Mello.
It “…..argues that solidarity means members of a community do not bear the risks of vaccination alone.
Vaccine injuries can be severe and complex, and are often suffered by children who require a lifetime of care and may not qualify for other benefits under accident insurance schemes.
In a vaccination program, the injured and uninjured pay unequal shares……… Mello argues that, in line with principles of fairness and solidarity, mechanisms are needed to prevent the uninjured (unintentionally) “free-riding” on the injured.(1)
Australia stands apart from virtually every other Western nation in that it has no compensation scheme for those injured or killed by vaccines.
Whilst there is no argument that adverse events do occur, the only debate is over how common they are.
This is impossible to quantify in Australia because we do not have an adequate system for reporting adverse reactions.
During the height of the flu vaccine adverse reactions in 2010, Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases from the Australian National University was interviewed by ABC news.
He felt the number of adverse reactions was under estimated.
Authorities don’t have a congruent and approachable system to monitor peoples’ reactions.
He believed that an effective surveillance system should monitor a sample group of thousands for one or two weeks before a new vaccine is rolled out for the entire population.
“We need a better system than voluntary notification to the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) that there’s a problem,” he said. “Because whenever you do that you really underestimate how much of a problem there is. (2)
Vaccination proponents often argue that extreme adverse events are rare, but this is cold comfort a family who have suffered such a life changing event, and the fact is we simply do not have reliable, agreed upon statistics.
Parents are being asked to take a risk, but currently we have no way of quantifying the magnitude of that risk.
So far Collignon’s common sense suggestions have been ignored.
Parents of vaccine injured children are forced to take individual legal action, further adding to what the World Health Organisation states is an unfair burden.
The second issue is that the media repeats the mantra that vaccines are ‘safe and effective’.
This is little better than a pharmaceutical marketing slogan, and does not reflect the reality of their own product information, let alone the scientific evidence base.
Every vaccine product insert lists a range of possible adverse reactions of varying severity, and no vaccine claims 100% efficacy.
In many cases it is not even close.
But to put this in context the entire medical evidence base has been corrupted by pharmaceutical marketing for many decades. In 2002 The Lancet revealed that some 90% of clinical guidelines were being written by people with financial links to pharmaceutical companies. (3)
In a very real sense the over whelming majority of medical research is being conducted according to the dictates of pharmaceutical marketing goals.
But worse than this is the revelation that articles in medical journals are being ‘ghost written’ by pharmaceutical employees, and this is being hidden under ‘non disclosure’ agreements.
As scandalous as this is, it is made worse still by the fact that pharmaceutical companies routinely withhold data that doesn’t suit their interests.
A stark example of this occurred when the product Vioxx killed tens of thousands of people.
The company withheld vital data from medical professionals, and this practice is entirely commonplace.
In fact since the early 90’s pharmaceutical companies have been fined over 30 billion dollars for what the Cochrane Collaboration – a leading independent medical research organisation – describes as a ‘laundry list’ of crimes. (4)
The problem is so bad that the head of the Nordic division of the Cochrane Collaboration, Professor Peter Gotzsche, has directly compared pharmaceutical companies to organised crime. (5)
The journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics now contends that only one in 12 pharmaceutical products works as its maker suggests and a staggering one third are harmful. (6)
This is a high stakes game of chance, with the odds increasingly stacked against the consumer.
The work of Dr Peter Doshi and the independent Cochrane Collaboration should give us pause for thought.
“The current system……. is one in which the meagre details of clinical trials published in medical journals, often by authors with financial ties to the companies whose drugs they are writing about, is insufficient to the point of being misleading”. (7)
A stark example is being provided by legal action being undertaken by former Merck scientists turned whistle blowers, who allege a range of frauds in relation to the company’s MMR vaccine.
” According to the whistle blowers’ court documents, Merck’s misconduct was far-ranging:
(i) It “failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented,
(ii) used improper testing techniques,
(iii) manipulated testing methodology,
(iv) abandoned undesirable test results,
(v) falsified test data,
(vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine,
(vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling,
(viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA,
(ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract,
(x) engaged in the fraud and concealment describe herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine,
(xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and
(xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing.” (8)
If this wasn’t bad enough, another whistle blower Dr William Thompson of the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has supplied Congressman Bill Posey with at least a thousand documents which he claims show the CDC has been hiding a possible link with autism. (9)
Posey’s science committee have not as yet completed their analysis, but at the very least it demonstrates a lack of transparency from an organisation which is meant to be at the forefront of protecting us.
So when we hear the mantra that vaccines are ‘safe and effective’ it certainly seems that some people who are in a position to know don’t agree.
Given that the morbidity rate for measles is extremely low for robust individuals, we would expect any vaccine to be unequivocally safe and effective.
The senior post doctoral researchers in vaccine safety at the University of British Columbia Professor Chris Shaw and Dr Lucija Tomijanovic have presented many papers on the deleterious effects of vaccine adjuvants.
They have investigated the mechanisms of aluminium based adjuvants in paediatric populations and concluded that children have an immune system that is a work in progress, and is far more susceptible to harmful side effects.
Their ‘observations raise plausible concerns about the overall safety of current childhood vaccination programs’.
Tomijanovic states, ‘Physicians should adopt a more rigorous evidence-based medicine approach, in order to provide a balanced and objective evaluation of vaccine risks and benefits to their patients’ (10)
Israel’s Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld has presented many times on the role aluminium adjuvants can play in auto immune dysfunction.
He believes there are identifiable genetic markers for those who will suffer an adverse reaction, but so far we do not see any testing for this.
In May last year the French government took these issues seriously enough to order an open enquiry where experts and even journalists with a range of perspectives were asked to present.
This is stark contrast to Australia where any issues of vaccine safety are subject to denialism, and often concerted attempts to denigrate the reputation of anyone who takes any position other than complete compliance with the current schedule and the corporate media story.
What is especially disturbing is the role of a handful of bullies who use threats of violence to intimidate anyone who doesn’t toe the line.
The level of hatred directed at people who are in some instances not proposing anything that isn’t already entirely commonplace in many other Western nations is a sad indicator of how non-scientific this whole issue has become.
And by and large the mainstream media has been little more than the marketing arm of pharmaceutical concerns, publishing one sided articles that ignore important issues of policy and evidence.
This writer knows from personal experience that material written for corporate clients, and presented as ‘media releases’ is often re-printed with little change, and even less questioning.
There are some great journalists such as Natasha Bita who won a Walkley for her pursuit of the dodgy flu jab story in 2010, but for the most part the mainstream media, and in fact many supposedly ‘alternative’ news outlets are content to push the corporate marketing agenda.
It has created a climate of fear where good science and good policy cannot flourish.
Many of the most vocal lobbyists who shout ‘science’ the loudest appear to not understand the concept at all, and certainly not research and media bias.
Policy makers, researchers, regulators and the media need to be insulated from pharmaceutical marketing concerns, and their various front groups.
As things stand the medical evidence base is so compromised it will take decades to sort out, if at all, and this can only happen if we have rigorous independent assessment of the evidence.
Consumers should be adequately protected, and certainly not bullied into making decisions that have unquantified risks attached to them.
It is incumbent upon the companies who make billions from these products to allow open and unbiased scrutiny to unequivocally prove they are safe and effective.
Policy should not be based upon media induced hysteria.
And medical services must be provided in accordance with long standing medical ethics.
Patient care is meant to be undertaken on an individual basis with due regard to ‘informed consent’, and yet time and again this seems to be ignored when it comes to vaccination.
‘Greater good’ arguments are a slippery slope because they have been used to justify actions that are hostile to a particular minority.
An especially extreme case is the human experiments conducted under the National Socialist government in 1930’s Germany – research that may have been for a ‘greater good’ but disastrous for the research subjects.
Medical care is therefore aligned to individual circumstances and choices.
And ‘informed consent’ means that the benefits and risks of any medical procedure must be fully explained.
Far too often medical professionals fail to disclose vaccine package insert information, and to properly articulate any risks.
And when there is an adverse reaction, it seem hardly ever to be reported.
Mandatory reporting of all suspected adverse events would allow a much clearer picture to emerge, and assist with identifying potentially dangerous products before they can do widespread harm.
Peter Collignon’s eminently sensible suggestions are still being ignored it seems.
Finally it is worth noting that the majority of medical professionals including doctors and nurses in many countries refuse routine vaccinations. ….. “nurses, joined by many physician organizations and researchers, reject the notion that vaccination is a fail-safe solution to prevent the spread of the flu virus… there are health reasons why some elect not to be vaccinated. Some vaccine products have been withdrawn, as when Bell’s palsy developed for many recipients.
It has just been reported that 800 European children contracted narcolepsy, an incurable sleep disorder, after receiving the swine flu vaccine”. (11)
It is time for Australia to stop the denialism and ensure that good, independent science prevails.
It is time for policy makers, regulators, media, medical professionals, and scientists to be protected and insulated from pharmaceutical marketing in all its varied and often imperceptible forms. We should be outraged that content in medical journals is at times little more than advertorial and marketing spin.
We should be furious that most media outlets seem to be little better than corporate marketing franchises, whipping the ‘herd’ into a frenzy of fear and hatred.
We should be mad as hell that the profit margins of corporate entities are apparently more important than the health of everyday citizens.
And we should never forget that many pharmaceutical companies have repeatedly committed a litany of crimes so outrageous as to be scarcely believable.
They should be held accountable – not the people who are pointing this out.
If the Cochrane Collaboration’s Professor Peter Gotzsche is correct and pharmaceutical products are the third highest killer of people in Western nations, this should be the story the media is getting frenzied about.
But the fact it isn’t says a huge amount about what is wrong and what needs to be done about it.
(2) Simmons, Amy and Anderson, Brigid. (2010). Parents recount flu jab nightmare. ABC News. Here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-29/parents-recount-flu-jab-nightmare/414908
(3) Horton, Richard. (2002) Just how tainted has medicine become? The Lancet, Volume 359, Issue 9313, Here:http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2802%2908198-9/fulltext
(6) Light, Donald W and Lexchin, Joel and Darrow, Jonathan J (2013) Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs – Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics.. Here: http://www.pharmamyths.net/files/JLME-PROOFS__7-10-13.pdf
(7) Thomas, Katie (2013). Breaking the seal on drug research. New York Times. Here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/business/breaking-the-seal-on-drug-research.html?ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=all&_r=1&
(8) Solomon, Lawrence (2015). Merck has some explaining to do over its MMR vaccine. Huffington Post. Here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lawrence-solomon/merck-whistleblowers_b_5881914.html
(9) Power, Scott. Posey looking at whistle blower’s CDC autism documents. Here: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/political-pulse/os-us-rep-bill-posey-looking-at-immunizationautism-20140909-post.html
(10) Shaw, Chris and Tomijanovic, Lucija (2012) Mechanisms of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and autoimmunity in pediatric populations. Lupus. Here: http://lup.sagepub.com/content/21/2/223
(11) Solomon, Lawrence (2015). Why governments want healthcare workers to stop resisting immunization. Huffington Post. Here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lawrence-solomon/canada-vaccinations_b_4593168.html