This is the fourth instalment of Paula Jardine’s six-part investigation into the planning behind ensuring vaccine acceptance and countering vaccine ‘hesitancy’. You can read Part 1, published on Wednesday, here, Part 2, published on Thursday, here, and Part 3, published yesterday, here.
WHEN Unicef launched the Child Survival Revolution in 1983, it openly acknowledged that infectious childhood diseases in industrialised countries had ceased to be a serious threat before vaccines were introduced, thanks primarily to improvements in sanitation and nutrition.
Later, something resembling a bait and switch took place in traditionally accepted scientific thinking on this empirical observation. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now brands the central role played by improved sanitation and nutrition an anti-vaccination myth, and largely credits vaccines for the reduction in disease burden instead. This amounts to a misrepresentation, an untrue statement of a material fact that is being used to inflate the past performance of vaccines. It would count as unlawful mis-selling in other commercial contexts.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says: ‘Immunisation is a global health and development success story, saving millions of lives every year.’ It puts the number of lives saved annually at between 3.5million and 5million.
Yet, perversely, universal vaccination may be masking health and mortality problems that arise from the vaccines as, by definition, there’s no control group for comparison. Igor Chudov analysed the 2021 statistics from Florida: ‘What I found is that in 2021, parents of newborns in Florida were much more “vaccine hesitant”, for reasons obvious to my readers, and therefore childhood vaccinations decreased from 93.4 per cent previously to only 79.3 per cent in 2021. During the same time, “all cause” infant mortality under one year of age in Florida also DECREASED by 8.93 per cent.’ (nb – his emphasis)
Chudov’s findings chime with those of Australian physician Dr Archie Kalokerinos who investigated a doubling of the infant mortality rate in Aborigine communities in the 1970s on behalf of the Northern Territories government. He discovered the death rate rose after they began vaccinating malnourished Aborigine children. In some communities, every second child was injured or died.
A 2016 meta-analysis of studies into the DTP vaccine, against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) found it increases female mortality rates. Court cases in the US in the 1970s linked it with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The CDC calls this association ‘one myth that won’t seem to go away’. Disturbingly in this context, the extent of DTP vaccination coverage is a metric used to monitor access to primary health care and is used by the vaccine alliance GAVI as an equity measure.
A 2021 vaccination impact study led by Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London made the great claim that vaccine campaigns in low and middle income countries had saved a total of 23million children’s lives over the past two decades, and projected that this figure will increase to 37million by 2030. But as with any honest cost-benefit analysis, Ferguson’s estimates need to be offset against another statistic. GAVI itself acknowledges that vaccination campaigns had, until a decade ago, negligently added to the chronic infectious disease burden in the developing world: ‘In 2000, roughly 39 per cent of all healthcare-related injections administered globally were delivered with reused disposable or inadequately sterilised syringes, which resulted in an estimated 23million people infected annually with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).’
It took a decade to reduce these incidental infections to near zero by using disposable syringes.
The official line from the WHO is that people have become complacent: vaccines are such a successful intervention that the public have forgotten how serious and how deadly the diseases were. To keep people compliant with national immunisation schedules and hit WHO vaccination coverage targets, practitioners are told to tell parents ‘better safe than sorry’.
The example that is used to generate sufficient anxiety or fear is measles, a highly transmissible virus which remains a leading cause of death in parts of Africa and Asia. The CDC insists that getting the vaccine is safer than getting the disease yet provides no statistics to illustrate the relative risk.
According to the UK-based Vaccine Knowledge Project, ‘in high income regions of the world such as Western Europe, measles causes death in about 1 in 5,000 cases, but as many as 1 in 100 will die in the poorest regions of the world. Worldwide, measles is still a major cause of death, especially among children in resource-poor countries.’ One US-based website aimed at public health students and practitioners ignores the nuance, putting the risk of death from measles at 1 in 500 while selectively setting it against a one in a million chance of an allergic reaction to the MMR and ignoring the risk of all the other potential adverse reactions on the US government’s official table of measles vaccine injuries.
A measles mortality map produced by the US government in 1890, seventy years before the vaccine was introduced and before the improvements in sanitation, water quality and nutrition occurred, shows geographical differences in death rates that indicate other underlying factors contributing to measles deaths. The greatest of these risk factors was shown to bemalnutrition, as the body’s demand for vitamin A increases in response to a measles infection. Likewise people whose diets are lacking in animal protein, vitamin A’s primary dietary source, are at the greatest risk of death or serious complications.
In countries where malnutrition is a problem, the antibody response to measles vaccines can be boosted by giving vitamin A supplements. Protein malnutrition is amongst the leading causes of death in many places where measles mortality remains high.