Category Archives: Vaccines

What is an Anti-Vaxxer?

13th March 2021

I am particularly interested in the whole concept of being ‘anti-‘ or a ‘denier’, or a sceptic. I think in great part this is due to constant attacks I have had to put up with because of my views of cholesterol and statins. I am often called a statin ‘denier’. I have also been referred to as a professional contrarian, a sceptic, a zealot and suchlike. The best general insult was from Steven Nissen, perhaps the world’s most influential cardiologist:

‘A leading cardiologist has unleashed a blistering attack on “statin denial,” which he calls “an internet-driven cult with deadly consequences 1.”’

What a result! I am now, officially, a cult member. That is, in addition to all my other, myriad flaws. Or maybe it is my cult he was referring to, and other people have joined it. Who knows? The truth is that if I did actually manage to join a cult, or start a cult, I wasn’t aware of it. But then, that’s how they do it, they sneakily pull you in these invisible people with no obvious organisation.

‘It is the very fact that they don’t even exist that makes them so dangerous, my friend. Yes, they truly are that sneaky.’

A closely related insult is that I am part of a ‘sect’. People who read my blog are sometimes insultingly referred to as my ‘acolytes’, or ‘followers’, and so on and so forth. In truth, one thing I don’t think I have ever been called is ‘anti-statinator’, but it could have slipped by without me noticing.

I am often, though, called a cholesterol sceptic. Which is fair enough. I did join a loose alliance of doctors and researchers called The International Network of Cholesterol Sceptics (THINCS), so I can hardly object to being called one.

However, I am not actually a cholesterol sceptic, nor a denier. I am not denying cholesterol exists. I just happen to believe it is not harmful – probably beneficial. To be accurate, it is the other side who attack cholesterol and who should be called cholesterol sceptics. I am really an anti-anti-cholesterol sceptic. This must make me twice as bad. I am not just anti. I am anti-anti.

Do I object to all these attacks? Well, you know, to be perfectly honest, if you can’t take the heat you should stay out of the kitchen. In addition, I don’t think I would be doing things right if people were not hurling insults at me on a regular basis.

It also encourages me to carry on. Because, as Gandhi once said:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’

You may prefer Schopenhauer’s take:

‘First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.’

Once you have reached the violent, ridiculing, insulting, stage you know you are pretty much directly over the target:

‘Bombs away! We will crack that bloody dam one way or another chaps – just don’t refer to my bloody dog by name, or we will never fly another mission.

Anyway, because of my personal history I have taken a particular interest in the matter of personal insults used as a debating technique. Rather than relying on the use of terribly boring tactics like facts, and data. Why debate when you can achieve the same result with a pinpoint laser guided insult?

It is something that has been around for a long time. Schopenhauer in his essay ‘The art of being right’ discussed thirty-eight ways to win an argument. It includes a few techniques that I see used regularly. ‘Appeal to authority rather than reason’ and ‘bewilder your opponent by mere bombast’. At number thirty-eight ‘Become personal, insulting, rude…argumentum ad personam.’

The sad fact is that number thirty-eight works brilliantly. Always has, and it seems that it always will. Find something, anything, a person has said at some point in the past. Use that to relentlessly attack them. Once you have destroyed their character and motivations that is, pretty much, that. It is not really an argument, of course, it is simply a way of stating, about someone else, that ‘you are a disgusting person, and no-one should listen to anything you say, ever again.’

This has echoes with the argument that Wagner was a Nazi (before there were Nazis), so no-one should ever listen to his music. I rather like his stuff, actually. Maybe a bit right wing in parts, a bit loud and brash, but there you go. Clearly not as acceptably left-wing as Debussy. Light and fluffy, wanders about, never really gets anywhere.

Nowadays, things have become far worse. You can spend your entire life building up a spotless reputation. Never do a single thing wrong, ever. But, if you dare to make one mistake, that can be the end of you, forever. This, the obliteration by personal insult, seems to have become more and more popular since the internet took over the world.

I recently read the book ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by John Ronson. It describes people who, in some instances, said one thing, and one thing only, and their entire lives were shredded on-line – then off-line too. In several cases they hadn’t really said anything ‘wrong’. Although they had been rather clumsy in their use of words.

However, someone else had decided to interpret what they said in a certain way and then decided to become insulted. There was no judge, no jury, at work here. They were guilty – and gone. Dragged off by the baying mob for a metaphorical lynching.

The medical and scientific world are, sadly, no different, and never have been. If you hold views that the mainstream finds… finds… I am not sure what the exact word here is. Wrong, misguided, unacceptable, dangerous? Perhaps a combination of all four, and more, you are attacked with exactly the same level of implacable hatred.

A hero of mine is Dr Bernard Lown. Many decades ago, he and his mentor decided to stand against a piece of universally accepted medical dogma. Which was strict bedrest following a heart attack. These two dangerous fools, instead of forcing patients to lie virtually motionless in bed for six weeks, allowed them to sit up in a chair at the end of the bed. Shock, horror.

‘Although I knew that the project would be a chore, I didn’t expect it to be an act of martyrdom. Little did I realize that violating firmly held traditions can raise a tsunami of opposition. The idea of moving critically ill patients into a chair was regarded as off‑the‑wall. Initially the house staff refused to cooperate and strenuously resisted getting patients out of bed. They accused me of planning to commit crimes not unlike those of the heinous Nazi experimentations in concentration camps. Arriving on the medical ward one morning I was greeted by interns and residents lined up with hands stretched out in a Nazi salute and a “Heil Hitler!” shouted in unison.’ 2

It is now well recognised that strict bed rest is deadly, was deadly. An action that killed tens of million world-wide. However, those daring to question it were treated with Nazi salutes. A particularly galling insult for a Jew, I would imagine. And somewhat ironic, as strict bed rest probably wiped out more people than the Nazi’s ever managed.

Moving track to another hero of mine. I used to communicate with Thomas Gold now, sadly, dead. Although he did make it to eighty-four. He was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University. He also had many other broad scientific interests, which included Geology.

In the 1950s he was a great supporter of Alfred Wegener’s theory of tectonic plate movement – to explain the structure of the Earth’s surface. Gold, and anyone else who dared to support this ridiculous and idiotic idea, were flung out of any meetings of the American Geological Society. They were attacked and insulted and disbarred by the great and the good. He was denied tenure at Harvard but was hired by Carl Sagan instead. A good result, I would say. By the way, all geologists now fully support the tectonic plate movement hypothesis, and would viciously attack anyone who question it!

Gold was attacked again, decades later, for putting forward his ideas on the ‘abiogenic theory’ of petroleum generation. Basically, he believed that there is a lot of life deep down in the Earth’s crust, and it creates petroleum as a waste product, which seeps to the Earth’s surface, which then gets trapped in certain places.

‘Gold has been derided by geologists, such as Harmon Craig and John Hunt, who are strongly opposed to Gold’s abiogenic petroleum theory. Others had even started campaigns to prevent Gold from publishing his findings.3

Twice attacked and derided by the establishment. Attempts to prevent his work even being published. I am deeply envious. If you do enjoy a hypothesis that is widely considered ridiculous, then have a read around ‘The Deep Hot Biosphere’. If you are the sort who welcome ideas that seem whacky, you’ll love it. If you prefer to accept scientific consensus without challenge, I’d give it a miss.

So, where was I. Yes, the tried and tested use of derision and personal insults to destroy someone’s credibility. ‘Climate change denier…’ is another example. In this case you will not merely be a denier. ‘You’ are almost certainly being paid by the oil industry … in some way. Find any connection, no matter how tenuous, and pump it for all it is worth. Sorry, I have a pension fund that includes BP and Shell. I think …’burn the unbeliever.’

Now we have the deadliest insult of all. ‘Anti-vaxxer.’ Two relatively short words, but if you dare to touch them, they explode into maelstrom of poison that spreads far and wide, destroying anyone and everyone in range. Today, to mix my metaphors, there is probably no deeper abyss to be dropped into, than the abyss of being labelled an ‘anti-vaxxer.’

Of course, the term has no definition. It doesn’t even have any discernible boundaries. You can be wandering about quite innocently and suddenly find you have become an ‘anti-vaxxer.’ I mentioned that the phase III clinical trials on AstraZeneca’s COVID19 vaccine will not be completed until 2023.

This, it seems, to some people on a medical website called doctors.net makes me an anti-vaxxer. Highly suspicious at the very least ‘And vhy, Dr Kendrick do you find it necessary to point out such matters. Have no doubt my friend that ve shall be vatching you very closely in future.’ I think I am channelling Raiders of the Lost Ark here.

We have now reached the position where, to state an incontrovertible fact about a clinical trial, makes you an anti-vaxxer. Which means that there truly are no longer any places to go. If, that is, you want to discuss vaccines in any way.

The only approved position to take, particularly if you are a doctor, is the following… ‘All vaccines are entirely safe. They have no adverse effects, and they are one hundred per cent effective in all cases. Anyone who questions vaccines in any way does not understand anything about science and they are putting millions of lives at risk. In fact, they should probably be treated as criminals.’

Here is the view of one doctor, from the BMJ

‘….criminalising people who intentionally hurt others through false information should also be considered. The freedom to debate, and to allow the public to raise legitimate vaccine concerns to fill the knowledge void, should not extend to causing malicious harm 4.’

And who, exactly, is to decide what constitutes malicious harm? I feel that this would be a rather large step – backwards – for mankind. This moves well beyond obliterating someone’s reputation. We should be flinging anti-vaxxers in jail.

That will certainly help to silence the bastards. A little ‘anti-vaxx’ symbol to be delicately pinned onto clothing whilst outdoors, perhaps. Otherwise, they could be walking amongst you, killing your children and elderly relatives, and you wouldn’t even know. Maybe we should build special camps to house them in at the same time.

Goodbye age of enlightenment. So long scientific debate. Finally killed by COVID19. You will be missed. I hope some small groups may manage to keep the flame alive. Right now, it seems to have been stamped out.

1: http://www.cardiobrief.org/2017/07/24/nissen-calls-statin-denialism-a-deadly-internet-driven-cult/

2: https://bernardlown.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/a-chair-to-the-rescue/

3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold

4: https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n272?utm_source=etoc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tbmj&utm_content=weekly&utm_term=20210219

Stamping on the ‘anti-vaxxers’ – a very stupid idea

17th November 2020

The COVID19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the concerns that a number of people have about vaccination. However, such is the eagerness to develop a vaccine, and get everyone to take it, that authorities are now looking to ban anyone who raises doubts. For example, the Labour Party in the UK is now calling for emergency ‘anti-vaccine’ laws:

‘Emergency laws to “stamp out dangerous” anti-vaccine content online should be introduced, Labour has said. The party is calling for financial and criminal penalties for social media firms that do not remove false scare stories about vaccines.

It follows news of progress on the first effective coronavirus vaccine. The government said it took the issue “extremely seriously” with “a major commitment” from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle anti-vaccine content.’ 1

There are so many things that could be said about this, that it is difficult to know where to start. Or to finish. I think in this blog I am just going to stick to focussing on a single issue. Which is that, if the intention of such laws is to ensure more people are keen to be vaccinated then I have news for the Labour party.

It will almost certainly backfire.

This is because state censorship does not change minds, never has. Whilst debate, at least superficially, has been silenced, the concerns do not disappear. Instead, the doubts are often redoubled. Once you start banning and censoring and fining and arresting, people start to wonder if you are just afraid to make your case. As Wendell Phillips said, and many people think:

‘He who stifles free discussion, secretly doubts whether what he professes to believe is really true.’

Once censorship starts, people are also reminded of the worst, most dreadful periods in history the world has even seen. It has always been one of the primary tools of totalitarian regimes:- Nazi Germany, Russia under Stalin, North Korea, China and Iran today.

One of the greatest books of the twentieth century is George Orwell’s 1984. It is a book mainly concerned with how facts, and truth, are tightly controlled by the party.

‘And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth.’

Of course, Orwell was not the first to notice the critical importance of freedom of speech

‘Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come in their presence.’ Frederick Douglass

‘Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.’ Benjamin Franklin.

Deep down we all know this. We know that this essential freedom – to say what you really believe to be true – is the essential pillar of any free society. It carries a cost, of course it carries a cost. People say stupid things, people say wrong and misguided things. They can be damaging things, but the alternative will always be much worse in the end.

I say this because people also say things that, whilst angrily dismissed at the time as dangerous foolishness, are later found to have been correct all along. I have spent many years looking at the history of medical science (if that is not, at times, an oxymoron). I have seen many activities considered to be of inarguable benefit, turn out to be indefensible malpractice.

Bernard Lown is, I think, my number one medical hero. His motto ‘Do as much as possible for the patient, and as little as possible to the patient.’

As he also said:

‘From my earliest days in medicine, I have struggled against the prevailing model of health care. My opposition in part was provoked by the growing prevalence of overtreatment. Resorting to excessive interventions seemed to be the illegitimate child of technology in the age of market medicine.’ 2

He tells a tale from the 1950s where the orthodoxy of the time was to ensure strict bed rest following a heart attack. In the face of considerable hostility, he and his mentor, Dr Samuel Levine allowed patients to sit up in a comfortable chair at the end of the bed. Shock horror. In his own words:

‘The idea of moving critically ill patients into a chair was regarded as off‑the‑wall. Initially the house staff refused to cooperate and strenuously resisted getting patients out of bed. They accused me of planning to commit crimes not unlike those of the heinous Nazi experimentations in concentration camps. Arriving on the medical ward one morning I was greeted by interns and residents lined up with hands stretched out in a Nazi salute and a “Heil Hitler!” shouted in unison.’  3

Heil Hitler indeed. An almost perfect irony, I suppose.

It turns out that strict bed rest was absolutely and completely and totally the worst possible single thing you could do. I estimated, some years ago, that this action resulted in the premature death of around one hundred million people, worldwide. It could well have been more.

I imagine the ‘Heil Hitler’ shouting interns and residents would have happily endorsed censorship of any criticism of strict bed rest … for the good of society, no doubt.

Of course, had this happened, we would probably still be enforcing strict bed rest to this very day. Once a treatment becomes ‘standard practice’, there is no longer anything else against which to compare it, so you have no idea if it is beneficial, or harmful. That is what happens when you ban freedom of thought, and speech.

Leaving aside the principle that freedom of speech is our single most important freedom and must be handled with exquisite care. If we crush dissent, we also crush progress. Stupid ideas will, in the end, be shown to be stupid. Nonsense will be exposed as nonsense. However, if no criticism allowed, stupid ideas that are widely believed to be true, cannot be challenged and we will be stuck – forever.

I think most people recognise this truth. I also think most people, when they see things being banned and censored … wonder why. You immediately raise doubts. Why are they doing this, are they attempting to hide something? You will not convince anyone, ever, by censoring them, or shutting them up. You will, instead, make them more certain that you are hiding something, and that they are right.

Censorship always hardens attitudes; it does not change minds. Anti-vaxxers (whatever that stupid deliberately demeaning term means) will become more anti-vaxx. Discussion will be driven underground. Heroes and martyrs will be created. You will have done the exact oppositive of what you hoped to achieve.

You don’t win arguments by clubbing people into submission. All you do is silence them and redouble their determination.

1: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54947661

2: https://myheartsisters.org/2019/11/17/bed-rest-overtreatment-dr-bernard-lown/ 3: https://bernardlown.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/a-chair-to-the-rescue/

3: https://bernardlown.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/a-chair-to-the-rescue/

Ninety per cent

10th November 2020

‘Ladies and gentlemen, roll-up, roll-up, roll-up. My new product, just brought to the market this very day, prevents ninety per-cent, yes ninety per-cent of all known things happening to you. Yes, a remarkable ninety per cent. Not sixty per cent, not seventy per cent, no…not even eighty per cent. But ninety of your finest American per cent – of things’.

‘What is a thing, madam? What a very good question, and by the way your child is a most beautiful young girl, is she not. And your hair, someone did a most fantastic job on that. You must have paid a fortune for such magnificent styling… you sir.’

‘You are asking how much it costs. Cost sir, now cost doesn’t come into it. I can promise that I will never make a penny from selling this product, this year…. Not a penny, as I promise on my mother’s grave sir, my mother’s grave.’

‘Lady at the back there what was that …you say that my mother is still alive, you met her for coffee last week. Gracious, she does get about doesn’t she.’

‘Back to you sir. Cost, this product .. it does have to be kept at a very low temperature, so valuable is it sir. The cost of the refrigeration unit. Now, that is pricey sir very pricey.  Pricey indeed.

‘How pricey sir. I can tell you are a very clever man, there is no way I could fool you, is there. But pricey sir…made by top scientists, and they do not come cheap, no they do not. I wish with all my heart it were otherwise, but you cannot buy the product without the refrigeration. It would not make sense otherwise, would it sir. But you know, my good fellow, how can anyone quibble about the costs of keeping this remarkable product cold, when it will prevent ninety per cent….of things.’

‘But do not simply take my word for it. No. Here is a young lady who was injected with this product just the other day. Yes, just the other day. And do you know what… Well, don’t listen to me. Here she is…. big round of applause for this very brave young lady. Now Miss Fauci, for that is your name is it not… yes it is. You were injected with this very product seven days ago and what has happened to you?’

Miss Fauci: ‘Nothing.’

‘Yes, absolutely nothing happened to young Miss Fauci. Nothing at all. When you think of all the things that could have happened, and yet none of them did, did they. Well, this is remarkable, truly remarkable. No fevers, no loss of smell, no cough….?’

Miss Fauci: ‘Yes, nothing at all.’

‘Ladies and gentlemen, can you believe it. Nothing happened to this young lady at all after seven whole days.’

‘What was that madam, nothing happened to you either. Goodness me, you have been lucky haven’t you. You must be one of the lucky ten per cent. Here, have a free PCR swab to celebrate. Yes, keep it madam, its yours. Your day just got even better. Yes, have two, one could be positive, the other negative, we never really know do we. Ha, ha… my little joke.’

‘You sir, you still want to know what a thing is. Goodness me, you’re not one of those anti-product protestors are you. Our products undergo the most rigorous testing for safety, the most rigorous. How many, why, at least thirty people sir. We are not one of those fly-by-night organisations.’

‘You still want more information on things? Have I not just told you everything you could possibly need to know sir? Our product can prevent ninety per cent of things. If that is not enough to convince you sir, then I have not idea what else I can say.

‘Roll up, roll up. Only twenty billion for you, Mr Johnson – you know a bargain when you see one, don’t you. You’re certainly no mug, are you.’

Promoting the Fifth International Public Conference on Vaccination

13th October 2020

‘I would rather have questions that cannot be answered, than answers that cannot be questioned’ Richard Feynman.

As the impact of COVID19 rampages around the world, there is going to be a massive push to get vaccines launched, and immense pressure applied to people to be vaccinated. Therefore, this seems like a perfect time to have a conference on informed consent in Vaccination.

So, I am helping to publicise the Fifth International Public Conference on Vaccination on-line conference*. Information on this can be found here:

https://app.glueup.com/event/protecting-health-and-autonomy-in-the-21st-century-20563/home.htmlhttps://www.nvic.org/about/conference.aspx

I am acutely aware of the fact that even the mildest caution about vaccines leads to you being instantly labelled as an anti-vaxxer, and thus dismissed as some kind of anti-science lunatic.

However, I think we have an immensely important issue rising to the surface today, with many countries lining up to make any vaccine for COVID19 as close to mandatory as can be achieved, without using force.

This is distinctly worrying. As I pointed out in a previous blog, the Phase III trials for any Sars-Cov2 are not due to report for years. Which means that vaccines are about to be rushed onto the market with very sparse data on safety and efficacy. I think that people have a right to be concerned, and a right to refuse to be vaccinated without massive pressure brought to bear.

I strongly believe that this, and other issues on informed consent, desperately need to be debated – out in the open – and the National Vaccine Information Center is trying to do this. The people involved seem to be as far from being zealots as can be imagined. They just want an open and reasoned discussion.

Here is their statement on the issues of informed consent.

Informed Consent: An Ethical Principle

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has not advocated for the abolishment of vaccination laws as other groups have proposed. However, we have always endorsed the right to informed consent as an overarching ethical principle in the practice of medicine for which vaccination should be no exception. We maintain this is a responsible and ethically justifiable position to take in light of the fact that vaccination is a medical intervention performed on a healthy person that has the inherent ability to result in the injury or death of that healthy person.

In consideration of:

  • the fact that there can be no guarantee that the deliberate introduction of killed or live microorganisms into the body of a healthy person will not compromise the health or cause the death of that person either immediately or in the future; and
  • with very few predictors having been identified by medical science to give advance warning that injury or death may occur; and
  • with no guarantee that the vaccine will indeed protect the person from contracting a disease; and
  • in the absence of adequate scientific knowledge of the way vaccines singly or in combination act in the human body at the cellular and molecular level
  • vaccination is a medical procedure that could reasonably be termed as experimental each time it is performed on a healthy individual

Further, the FDA, CDC and vaccine makers openly state that often the number of human subjects used in pre-licensing studies are too small to detect rarer adverse events, making post-marketing surveillance of new vaccines a de facto scientific experiment. In this regard, the ethical principle of informed consent to vaccination attains even greater importance

I would urge people to have a look at this conference, sign in, and make up their own minds about what is going on.

*Disclosure of interest: I was asked to give a lecture at this conference for which I will be paid. The title of my talk is ‘Manipulating Science to Endorse Policy, and Market Products.

A second look at vaccination – answers that cannot be questioned

29th July 2019

 ‘No man can be forced to be healthful, whether he will or not. In a free society, individuals must judge for themselves what information they choose to heed and what they ignore.’ John Locke. ‘A letter concerning Toleration’

Here, I am going have another look at vaccination, before scurrying away from the subject for a bit, and getting back to the safe ground of cardiovascular disease. Much to the relief of some of the regular readers of this blog, no doubt.

I have to say that I thought long and hard about blogging on vaccination. It is the most brutal area for discussion that I have ever seen, and a reputation shredder. If you even dare to hint that there may just be the slightest issue with any vaccine, people come down upon you like a ton of bricks.

I also know that by daring to write on this subject, there will inevitably be people moving behind the scenes to have my blog taken down. I cannot imagine WordPress management going to the wire to protect my right to free speech. A little flick of a switch, and I will be gone from the airwaves.

However, as we move towards a world where it seems that all Governments around the world are going to pass laws mandating vaccination for everyone, and people are fined, or lose their jobs, for speaking out, or refusing to be vaccinated, then I feel that some attempt to discuss the area is essential.

Because, once something becomes mandatory, and any research into possible harms moves strictly off limits, we really need to be absolutely one hundred per-cent certain that there is no possibility that we may be doing harm. Or, that we are reducing any potential harm to the lowest level possible.

Can vaccines do harm?

‘Prof Martin Gore, 67, one of the UK’s leading cancer scientists, has died, the Royal Marsden NHS foundation trust has said. His death was following a yellow fever vaccination.’ 1

A tragedy for a brilliant medical researcher and his family. It was brought to my attention by my wife, who knew him quite well.

However, even here, we can see any criticism of vaccines being toned down and deflected. The words ‘caused by’ were carefully avoided. It was reported that he died following a yellow fever vaccination – which could mean he was vaccinated, then got hit by a bus. In fact, if you read a little more deeply, it becomes inarguable that the yellow fever vaccine was the direct cause of his death.

Yes, such an event is rare, but such events do occur. People can die following vaccinations, as a direct cause of that vaccination, although the information can be very difficult to find. In Germany, the Paul-Erlich Institute [PEI] is the organisation responsible for the reporting of vaccine security/safety.

‘Between 1978 and 1993 approximately 13,500 cases of undesired effects resulting from medications for vaccinations was reported to the Paul Erlich Institute (PEI) which is the institute which is responsible for vaccine security; the majority was reported by the pharmaceutical industry. In 40% of cases the complications were severe, 10% pertained to fatalities on account of the effects.’ 2

Yes, the numbers are relatively small – although by no means vanishingly small. In a fifteen-year period that is 1,350 deaths. If the Germans are preventing tens of thousands of deaths a year through vaccination, then a thousand severe complications and a hundred deaths or so, per year, may be a price worth paying? Discuss.

Primum non nocere

My own view is that you should never compel people to undergo a medical procedure that could result in severe damage – or death. But my philosophy is very much on the radical libertarian end of the spectrum. Others feel that personal liberties should be restricted for the overall good of society. A central philosophical divide, I suppose.

One of the other interesting facts from the Paul-Erlich Institute is that ‘severe cases’ of vaccine damage, that occur, that must be reported, include:

  • Encephalopathia: Encephalopathia is frequently overlooked as it does not always entail severe symptoms. However, there can later be developmental retardation. Encephalopathia can also trigger cri encéphalique
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Sleeping sickness 2

These are not my words; these are the words of the PEI.

This list obviously raises the issue of potential brain damage following vaccination. Something that was seen with Pandemrix, used to protect against Swine Flu (HIN1).

‘An increased risk of narcolepsy was found following vaccination with Pandemrix, a monovalent 2009 HIN1 influenza vaccine that was used in several European countries during the HIN1 influenza pandemic. Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological caused by the brain’s inability to regulate the sleep-wake cycles normally. This risk was initially found in Finland, and then some other European countries also detected an association. Most recently, scientists at the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) have found evidence of an association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy in children in England. The findings are consistent with studies from Finland and other countries.’ 2

[A finding not seen in any safety testing carried out prior to the launch of Pandemrix]

Thus, not only can vaccines cause severe reactions up to, and including, death. They can also lead to neurological damage such as narcolepsy. Is this all specifically to do with the vaccine itself, or the preservative it is carried in, or something else? Who knows?

Yet, and yet, despite the apparently indisputable evidence that vaccines can, and do, cause neurological damage we can find articles such as this below. Chosen pretty much at random, but it sums up the current mainstream thinking.

The “urban myth” of the association between neurological disorders and vaccinations

‘In modern society, a potentially serious adverse event attributed to a vaccination is likely to be snapped up by the media, particularly newspapers and television, as it appeals to the emotions of the public. The widespread news of the alleged adverse events of vaccination has helped to create the “urban myth” that vaccines cause serious neurological disorders and has boosted antivaccination associations. This speculation is linked to the fact that the true causes of many neurological diseases are largely unknown. The relationship between vaccinations and the onset of serious neuropsychiatric diseases is certainly one of coincidence rather than causality. This claim results from controlled studies that have excluded the association between vaccines and severe neurological diseases, therefore it can be said, with little risk of error, that the association between modern vaccinations and serious neurological disorders is a true “urban myth”. 3

What is being stated here, very forcefully indeed, is that there is no causal relationship between vaccination and neurological damage. It is simply a myth. I find the two bodies of evidence here impossible to reconcile.

Just to give two examples, the Paul Erlich Institute records encephalopathia, seizures, epilepsy, deaths and suchlike, following vaccination. The Pandemrix vaccine, in turn, has been proven to cause narcolepsy. Even the manufacturers, GSK, admitted that it did.

‘The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic left a troubling legacy in Europe: More than 1300 people who received a vaccine to prevent the flu developed narcolepsy, an incurable, debilitating condition that causes overpowering daytime sleepiness, sometimes accompanied by a sudden muscle weakness in response to strong emotions such as laughter or anger. The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has acknowledged the link, and some patients and their families have already been awarded compensation. But how the vaccine might have triggered the condition has been unclear.4

This is… I am not sure what it is. The evidence clearly says one thing, yet we are told we must believe that this evidence is simply an ‘urban myth.’ I feel as though I have been transported to Wonderland, or some scary totalitarian state, where the truth cannot be spoken.

Even when it comes to the most contentious area of all, vaccines and autism, it appears to have been accepted – at least in one case in the US – that vaccination lead to autism, with a girl called Hannah Polling.

‘Officials at the US Department of Health and Human Services investigating Hannah’s medical history said that vaccine had ‘significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in energy metabolism’, causing damage ‘with features of autism spectrum disorder’. 2

The final part of the statement was very difficult to understand. ‘The officials said that the vaccine didn’t cause her autism, but ‘resulted’ in it.’ The vaccine resulted in her autism. Or, her autism resulted in her vaccination?

I have tried that statement a few different ways around, and I have no idea what that means. A lead to B, but A did not cause B. Because B resulted in A…

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.

I do, “ Alice hastily replied; “at least I mean what I say, that’s the same thing, you know.”

“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “Why, you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see!”  Alice in Wonderland.

However, the Polling case does raise a further potentially important issue. Namely, that it seems possible that some people have underlying ‘mitochondrial dysfunction,’ and that vaccination may aggravate this problem, with potentially serious consequences.

Narcolepsy, for example, is believed by some researchers to be a problem with energy production in the mitochondria. Others feel that ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) could be the result of a mitochondrial dysfunction triggered by various viral infections and, therefore, possibly vaccination?

All of which means that the possibility exists that vaccination could trigger, or exacerbate, significant mitochondrial dysfunction in susceptible individuals. This may or may not be true, but it must surely be an area for research?

To my mind it would be extremely important to establish if mitochondrial dysfunction represents a ‘risk’ for vaccination. We could then identify, using some genetic/epigenetic test, those individuals who are more likely to be damaged by vaccination. At which point we could look at ways to prevent the risk of damage – however small that risk may – be in a susceptible population.

For example, it could be possible to space out the vaccines, or only give separate vaccinations to these individuals. Maybe we could avoid vaccinating against relatively mild conditions e.g. chicken pox, or rubella (in boys) in these individuals. To me, these things seem eminently sensible areas for study.

However, it seems that we are trapped within a paradigm where it is impossible to suggest that any vaccine, for any disease, may be associated with/cause any degree of harm. In such an environment, objective scientific research becomes impossible. ‘As vaccine can harm no-one, we cannot try to find out who may be harmed. Thank you, comrade.’

As you can probably tell, I find this all very worrying and deeply, deeply, disturbing. If science has any purpose it is to seek the truth – however much that upsets the current status quo. When I see, what I believe to be important and valid questioning being crushed, I find it almost physically painful.

If that questioning results in the finding that vaccines truly do not cause any adverse effects, then that is fine. I would be more than happy with that outcome, although it currently seems inarguable that vaccines do cause adverse effects. However, as I see it, we currently have a situation whereby:

  • Pharmaceutical companies do their own safety testing on vaccines (somewhat like Boeing did on the 737 Max 8). The regulatory authorities have been, effectively, side-lined.
  • Many safety studies have only lasted days, with little or no research on any long-term effects. In fact, as far as I can establish, there has been no long-term safety research [see under Pandemrix]
  • Some vaccines have been proven to cause neurological damage
  • The preservatives and adjuvants in vaccines have not been studied for safety
  • There has never been a randomised controlled clinical study on the efficacy of any vaccine – beyond looking for a raised level of antibodies
  • Some/many people can suffer from the diseases they have been vaccinated against – and this is not monitored in any way.

Any of these things should be a very large red flag.

Looking specifically at efficacy, on that list, it is usually stated that vaccines are rigorously tested for efficacy. Here is what the University of Oxford has to say in its site ‘Vaccine Knowledge Project.’

‘Phase III trials gather statistically significant data on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy (how well it works). This means looking at whether the vaccine generates a level of immunity that would prevent disease, and provides evidence that the vaccine can actually reduce the number of cases.5

However, this does not actually test whether a vaccine really does reduce the number of cases of a disease. As I wrote in the previous blog, even in population with a 98% vaccination rate against measles, a school population still suffered a measles outbreak, and many of those previously vaccinated suffered from measles.

Which means that the statement from the Vaccine Knowledge Project…. and provides evidence that the vaccine can actually reduce the number of cases’ needs to be read very carefully. It could be taken to mean ‘provides all the evidence needed.’ Which is what it has been crafted to imply. However, it actually means ‘provides evidence regarding a ‘surrogate end-point’ which suggests that vaccines may reduce the number of cases.

If you want to know if a vaccine really works, vaccinate a hundred thousand people against a disease. Do not vaccinate another hundred thousand people (matched and randomised) – and then see what happens. Then you will know how well your vaccine works.

This is a requirement of all other forms of medical intervention (with provisos), but it is not a requirement for vaccines. A true efficacy study does not simply look at a ‘surrogate’ marker. It needs to study hard endpoints e.g. how many people are truly protected against the disease. Also, what the rate of adverse events may be.

Of course, there are those who think that such a trial would be ridiculous and unethical. Here, I quote from a website KevinMD:

‘….as some have actually demanded, we must have a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the gold standard of clinical research. RCTs use random assignment of subjects to one group or the other, in this case vaccine or a placebo (fake vaccine), and ensure both the subjects and evaluation team be blinded to who got what.

Think about this for a minute. They are demanding parents agree to subject their child to a trial in which they have a 50/50 chance of getting a fake vaccine. All this to satisfy the concerns of vaccine deniers.

It would be incredibly unethical to do such a study, and no institutional review board (aka human studies committee) would ever approve such a thing. For such trials, there must be reasonable uncertainty about which group is getting the better treatment, and in this case, there is none. The bottom line is any vaccine skeptic who demands proof like this is being massively disingenuous. It’s akin to demanding a randomized controlled trial of parachutes.’ 6

What is being said here is that there is no uncertainty that vaccines work, so there is no need for a randomised controlled trial. The counter argument to this is simply to turn the argument inside out. Without an RCT, how do you know that vaccines work? Where is your evidence? Or does ‘just knowing that it works’, count?

Medicine is littered with examples of interventions that were considered so inarguably beneficial that no trials were ever done. Strict bed rest following an MI, the radical mastectomy, x-ray screening for lung cancer, PCI in the non-acute setting.

Bernard Lown was a man who dared challenge the ‘unquestionable’ benefits of coronary artery bypass surgery. He had a long and arduous battle to publish his evidence that CABG may cause more harm than benefit. His blog on this, ‘A Maverick’s Lonely Path in Cardiology (Essay 28)’, is well worth a read. As he concludes:

‘A new treatment, whether involving drugs or procedures, is improper without indubitable supporting evidence of benefit. The patients’ well-being must not be compromised by imagined good when countervailing interests are at the same time being served. Our forty-year struggle essentially concerned medicine’s first and inviolate principle, primum non nocere. “First do no harm” is the litmus test sanctioning the privilege to practice medicine.’ 7

Bernard Lown is one hundred per cent correct, and I find it difficult to conceive that anyone who has the slightest understanding of science could write the words ‘The bottom line is any vaccine skeptic who demands proof like this [an RCT] is being massively disingenuous.’

Disingenuous… Personally, I demand proof like this for all medical interventions, wherever possible, and so should everyone else. The reason why, is because evidence from controlled clinical trials (with all their inherent flaws) is the only tool that we possess to properly assess benefit vs. harm. Without such evidence we are simply hoping and praying that benefits truly outweigh any downsides.

For example, with the Pandemrix vaccine. Had an RCT been done, it is possible, even probable, that the adverse impact on Narcolepsy would have been picked up. Therefore, it would not have been used, therefore many thousands of people would not have been harmed – above and beyond narcolepsy. Some of the key issues around Pandemrix were discussed in the BMJ article ‘Pandermix vaccine: why was the public not told of early warning signs?’

‘Eight years after the pandemic influenza outbreak, a lawsuit alleging that GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix vaccine caused narcolepsy has unearthed internal reports suggesting problems with the vaccine’s safety.

‘…the raw numbers of adverse events were not small. Although it is often said that perhaps only up to 10% of adverse events are reported to national reporting systems, by late November, GSK had received 1138 serious adverse event reports for Pandemrix—a rate of 76 per million doses administered. By mid-December, there had been 3280 serious adverse event reports (68/million doses). The last report seen by the BMJ, dated 31 March 2010, shows 5069 serious adverse events for Pandemrix (72/million doses).8

As the article goes on to say:

“What is the purpose of pharmacovigilance if nobody is acting on the information? This information took eight years to come to light through academic work and litigation. Is this acceptable? If the information at our disposal is partial, that is the direct consequence of secrecy, which should not surround any public health intervention.”

Pandemrix and Arepanrix were designed for a pandemic and were removed from global markets after the pandemic. Whatever adverse events they may have caused, they are vaccines of the past. But the events of 2009-10 raise fundamental questions about the transparency of information. When do public health officials have a duty to warn the public over possible harms of vaccines detected through pharmacovigilance? How much detail should the public be provided with, who should provide it, and should the provision of such information be proactive or passive?’

All good questions.

Had Pandemrix not caused narcolepsy in large numbers, litigation against GSK would not have taken place – in Ireland. Had this not happened, data about the high rate of other adverse effect would never have seen the light of day. It seems that the European Medicines Agency had little interest in the matter.

‘What EMA knew—or could have known—about the comparative safety of GSK’s pandemic vaccines is hard to discern. It told The BMJ that “EMA does not perform comparative benefit and risk evaluations between products approved in the EU, or between EU products and products approved or used outside the EU.”

So, if monitoring product safety is not of interest to them, what exactly do the EMA do? Central here, however, is the fact that we had a vaccine causing a high number of serious adverse events and no-one did, or said, anything. Had there not been a lawsuit, we would still have been unaware of any problems. At least that is my understanding of what happened here.

Does anyone care? Well, in many countries you cannot even sue the manufacturer if a vaccine damages you – as also mentioned in the BMJ article.

‘Another element, adopted by countries such as Canada, the US, UK, France, and Germany, was to provide vaccine manufacturers indemnity from liability for wrongdoing, thereby reducing the risk of a lawsuit stemming from vaccine related injury.’ Quite extraordinary. In my view, beyond extraordinary.

A manufacturer makes a product that you believe may have damaged or killed a loved one, and you cannot do anything about it. Or, those who made the product cannot be sued. In banking they have a phrase for this. They call it moral hazard.

‘lack of incentive to guard against risk where one is protected from its consequences, e.g. by insurance.’ In this case no insurance is required. Governments have given pharmaceutical companies a free pass. Depending on your belief in the inherent ethical standards of pharmaceutical companies you may – or may not – find this reassuring.

Personally, I find it extremely worrying that people, and the entire medical profession, appear willing to accept that all vaccines, for all conditions, are entirely effective and have no adverse effects…. Even when it has been demonstrated, beyond doubt, that they do.

Anyway, I feel I should probably stop here. Others have gone much further than me, others have been braver. But there should be nothing ‘brave’ about asking legitimate scientific questions. As Richard Feynman said. ‘I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.’

 

1: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jan/11/top-cancer-scientist-prof-martin-gore-dies-after-rare-reaction-to-yellow-fever-vaccination

2: Doctoring Data pp 228 – 9 ISBN 978-1-907797-46-0

3: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718347/

4: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/07/why-pandemic-flu-shot-caused-narcolepsy

5: http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/vaccine-development

6: https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2018/11/why-demanding-a-randomized-controlled-trial-for-vaccines-is-disingenuous.html

7: https://bernardlown.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/mavericks-lonely-path-in-cardiology/

8: https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3948

My feelings about the vaccine debate

9th July 2019

As readers of this blog will know, my primary area of interest is cardiovascular disease, which a big and complex subject, where anyone questioning the ‘conventional’ ideas gets ruthlessly attacked. However, in comparison to the area of vaccination, the battles in cardiovascular disease pale into insignificance. Mere squabbles in the nursery.

I am a member of an on-line doctors’ community in the UK called Doctors Net. Not open to the public. Whenever any story about vaccination emerges, the vitriol, anger and naked rage is quite scary to observe.

Whenever the issue of MMR raises its head on Doctors Net, doctors have stated that Andrew Wakefield should be thrown in jail, and never allowed to earn any money ever again, that he is a crook and a criminal – and those are the nicer comments.

It is clear that, in the medical profession, there is an unquestioned faith in vaccination. That is, all vaccinations, for all diseases, everywhere – for everyone. Anyone who dares to hint that, ahem, there could be some negative issues associated with vaccination is subjected to withering contempt. ‘You will be responsible for killing millions of children.’ You don’t understand science.’ And suchlike.

When it comes to the science, it does amuse me that vaccination began before anyone understood any of the science – of anything to do with microbes and the immune system. It all began, so it is recorded, with the observation that milkmaids were much less likely to get smallpox.

This led to the idea that you should deliberately infect people with a bit of cowpox, to prevent them getting smallpox. Bold.

‘The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Jenner to denote cowpox. He used it in 1796 in the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox.’ [from the website that cannot be named… Wikipedia actually]

This was suggested at a time when all doctors thought infections were spread by Miasma. Basically, a nasty smell. No-one had the faintest idea that there were bacteria, or viruses. Somewhat ironically, vaccination – giving a small amount of a substance to cure/prevent a nasty disease – became the underlying principle of homeopathy – which most doctors now angrily dismiss as ‘woo woo medicine.’

Clearly, vaccination did not start as science. It basically started as a hunch, based on no comprehension of the science at all. Of course, that doesn’t make it wrong, but you can hardly suggest it was founded on a thorough understanding of the human immune system. Edward Jenner did not know that such a thing existed, and nor did anyone else. It was just a good guess.

The science of vaccination then became, what I call, backwards rationalisation. ‘It works, now let us work out how the hell it actually works.’ Again, nothing wrong with this. The best science often starts with observation, not a hypothesis. Graphene is a recent example. Two scientists larking about in the lab with Sellotape and pencils.

Just in case you are wondering. Yes, I do believe that vaccination works. Or, to be more accurate I believe that some vaccination works. Most vaccination, all vaccinations?

However, I do speak as one who has had seven hepatitis B inoculations and, once, just about managed to provide a blood test to show that I had made enough antibodies – to allow me to work as a doctor. A friend, who worked as a surgeon, had twenty-two hep B inoculations, and never managed to raise an antibody. He did explain to me how he continued to work as a surgeon, but I have forgotten how he managed.

Which means that I have personal – and slightly painful – experience that vaccination is not equally effective for everyone. Why not? Does anyone care about such things? It seems not. Just close your eyes and vaccinate away. No-one can question anything. Such as, why do inoculations produce antibodies in some people, and not others? Kind of interesting you would think – but no. Question not, the mighty vaccination.

This is strange, because it has been clearly established that vaccination does not work in many people:

‘An outbreak of measles occurred in a high school with a documented vaccination level of 98 per cent. Nineteen (70 per cent) of the cases were students who had histories of measles vaccination at 12 months of age or older and are therefore considered vaccine failures. Persons who were unimmunized or immunized at less than 12 months of age had substantially higher attack rates compared to those immunized on or after 12 months of age.

Vaccine failures among apparently adequately vaccinated individuals were sources of infection for at least 48 per cent of the cases in the outbreak. There was no evidence to suggest that waning immunity was a contributing factor among the vaccine failures. Close contact with cases of measles in the high school, source or provider of vaccine, sharing common activities or classes with cases, and verification of the vaccination history were not significant risk factors in the outbreak.

The outbreak subsided spontaneously after four generations of illness in the school and demonstrates that when measles is introduced in a highly vaccinated population, vaccine failures may play some role in transmission but that such transmission is not usually sustained.’1  

We are told that if you reach a measles vaccination rate of 95%, in a population, you cannot get an outbreak. Seems that is wrong. You can get an outbreak in a 98% vaccinated population. Wouldn’t it be nice to know why?

It does seem weird that measles is the chosen battleground for the vaccine furies. I am not entirely sure why. You would think the highly vocal pro-vaccinators would point to smallpox, or polio – or suchlike. Although, to be frank, I look at smallpox and wonder. I wonder how the hell we managed to eradicate this disease so quickly and simply. The entire world successfully vaccinated in a few years – with a perfect 100% record. No vaccine failures, all populations in the entire world vaccinated? Quite some feat.

An alternative explanation is that some diseases naturally come and go. Measles, for example, was an absolute killer three hundred years ago. Captain Cook introduced it to South Seas islands. The mortality rate was enormously high in native populations that had never been exposed to it before. Gradually the death rate attenuated. In most of the Western World measles was becoming a ‘relatively’ benign disease by the time vaccination came along.

If we look back in history, the black death wiped out half the population of Europe. What was it? It was almost certainly not the plague, although many people claim that it was. From the descriptions of those who died from it, it seems it was possibly a form of Ebola (haemorrhagic fever).

‘The Black Death of the 1300s was probably not the modern disease known as bubonic plague, according to a team of anthropologists studying these 14th century epidemics. “The symptoms of the Black Death included high fevers, fetid breath, coughing, vomiting of blood and foul body odor,” says Rebecca Ferrell, graduate student in anthropology. “Other symptoms were red bruising or hemorrhaging of skin and swollen lymph nodes. Many of these symptoms do appear in bubonic plague, but they can appear in many other diseases as well.”

Modern bubonic plague typically needs to reach a high frequency in the rat population before it spills over into the human community via the flea vector. Historically, epidemics of bubonic plague have been associated with enormous die-offs of rats. “There are no reports of dead rats in the streets in the 1300s of the sort common in more recent epidemics when we know bubonic plague was the causative agent,” says Wood.’ 2

Of course, we cannot be sure what the Black Death was. We do know that it came, it killed, it went. It also appeared to leave a legacy of people with CCR5 Delta32 mutations. People with this mutation cannot, it seems, be infected by the Ebola virus (or, indeed HIV). Ebola and HIV both gain entry to cells using the CCR5 protein, and if it is missing, the virus cannot get in. [Yes, you can cure HIV by giving bone marrow transplant from a donor with the CCR5 Delta 32 mutation – little known fact].

Why would we have this mutation far more commonly in areas of Europe than, in say, Africa – where the Black Death did not occur? Unless it provided a survival advantage at some point, against a virus that was (or was very like), Ebola.

Looking back at smallpox, did vaccination get rid of it? Or did vaccination simply apply the final push to see off a weakened opponent?

The plague itself – where has it gone?

Yes, I do look at the official history of vaccination with a jaundiced eye. The greatest successes… Well, it seems inarguable that vaccination has created enormous health benefits. Polio and smallpox – gone. But has this been entirely due to vaccination – possibly? I am yet to be convinced.

In truth, I find the entire area of vaccination quite fascinating. But the problem, the great problem, is that even by writing this blog I will have said several things that cannot be said.

  • Vaccination does not always work – burn the unbeliever.
  • Vaccination may not have been entirely responsible for ridding the world of smallpox – burn the unbeliever.
  • Measles is not the killer disease that it once was – burn the unbeliever.
  • You can have measles vaccination and still get measles – burn the unbeliever.

To me, these are just facts, and to state them is simply part of valid scientific questioning. For some reason, I am not entirely sure why, to question any ‘fact’ about vaccination is to be flung into the outer darkness. People get very, very, angry. They close their minds and they get polarised. Parts of this blog will almost certainly be taken out of context and used to attack me.

I don’t really know how to open the debate out into something sensible. Something scientific, something questioning and positive. Screeching at people that they simply don’t understand ‘science’ is not a good approach. In addition, yelling that they are ‘killing thousands of children’ is not a way to conduct a debate.

I feel that I do understand ‘science’, whatever that means exactly. Or at least I understand the scientific method. Which primarily consists of questioning everything – and feeling free do to so. One thing I do know is that anyone who states that the science is settled, and inarguable, and all the experts agree, and must therefore be right – clearly does not understand anything about science. At all.

1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1646939/

2: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020415073417.htm