I Get Mail – You are Not Real!

This was just a weird piece of hate mail and I figured it needed dealing with. It’s rare that I get any vitriol from anti-vax. I know that many anti-vax groups bandied around a “Do Not Argue” List. A list of skeptics who should not be engaged on the so called “Anti-Vaccine Debate”.

So the mails stopped. It’s very easy to argue pseudoscience against the lay person but against a doctor? The arguments are laughable. So laughable I had to ask the question. Do the anti-vax actually know how the human immune system functions? And from the response?

No. No they do not. They have no idea. So let’s laugh at the people who send me weird things. [Read more…]

An Old Response to Russel Glasser Regarding Vaccinations

Hi Avicenna, great article. I’d just like to ask a question because this is definitely an area where I could stand to bone up on my technique.

“There is an absolute hand grenade of question that I have found turns the vaccination debate into an utter rout. How does the Immune System Function?”

Would you mind gaming this conversation out for me a little, either in comments or in a new posts? Let’s say the antivaxxer says either “How the hell should I know?” or gives an entirely wrong answer. Then what? Do you give this entire lecture about how it really works? Or is there a key point that will drive the point home, some major bit of information that you can use to make their ignorance really obvious?

Maybe you could provide a short Socratic dialogue of how you’ve seen this conversation go from there after you’ve tossed the grenade, or link to a forum thread or something?

This is a question from Russel Glasser (that little known blogger on a certain network!) on an old post. [Read more…]

Speaking as a Mother On Vaccination

Society commonly labours under the assumption that people know what’s best for their body. This is generally the case when we discuss the lay public, but when it comes to medicine? The most common mistake we see in anti-vax is that they are willing to use their motherhood as a qualification. That somehow they know what’s best for their child even when they blatantly have no idea about something such as medicine. Oh we liberals look smug, but how many times do we say something like “men don’t have a right to tell women what to do with their reproductive health”. Well Sarah Palin is a woman who got women to pay for their own rape test kits while Dr. Warren Hern faces routine death threats and the death of a partner (the late Dr. Tiller) while being the focal point of an entire movement to deny women’s rights. Their gender doesn’t make an ounce of difference in their arguments. Sarah Palin is plain bad for women’s healths despite being a woman and Dr. Hern’s courage ensures women have genuine medical care and support while making a difficult choice. Their genders are not as important as their understanding of the issues.

With this in mind, I would like to talk about the fallacy of “speaking as a mother”. That ignorance of medicine is encouraged by this kind of attitude mainly because it enforces the ignorance as a good thing.

I received this list from someone who is anti-vaccine stating that she would only vaccinate her kids if these criteria were met.

That’s fine…it truly is a personal choice to vaccinate, and I respect your decision to vaccinate just as I hope you respect mine to decline them. My own research has debunked many of the long-held and unchallenged beliefs concerning vaccinations.  Vaccinating my children would demand all suspension of my critical thinking and common sense.   Here are 6 points you would have to convince me of before I’d ever consider resuming vaccinations.

If it was a personal choice, you would be held responsible for the transmission of disease. We have only prosecuted a handful of people for willing spreading a disease by their actions. Why should we respect a stupid decision? We try and encourage you to vaccinate in the same way that we encourage people to wear a seatbelt. Because it’s for their own good and people are for the most part ignorant outside their field.

A simple response to this? What critical thinking do you gain as a mother that cannot be gained through education? The ability to have sex and get pregnant doesn’t give you knowledge about the function of the human body any more than being able to walk gives you knowledge about orthopaedics. There is a medical reason for vaccination based on science, experiments and testing. And yet all that evidence has to be ignored by in order for your so called “critical thinking and common sense” to come to this conclusion. Ignorance of fact, knowledge and evidence does not make your thinking critical.

 

1. Believe that vaccines are 100% effective, yet the CDC acknowledges they are not.  Far from it.

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep;53(18):389-92– 2004- 5-14
In Michigan in 2003 there was a chicken pox outbreak. Vaccination was verified for 485 students, resulting in a vaccination coverage of 95.7% (485 out of 507).
— http://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Rotavirus.aspx

According to the CDC in 1999, rotavirus was causing 20 to 40 infant deaths annually in the US when the first rotavirus vaccine, RotaShield, was introduced. It was estimated that about 50,000 hospitalizations occurred in the US because of severe diarrhea and dehydration. Today, even though almost all US infants receive vaccines for rotavirus, and despite efforts to improve the management of childhood rotavirus-associated diarrhea, hospitalizations of children in the U.S. with the disease have not significantly declined in the past two decades: the CDC says rotavirus infection is still responsible for an estimated 400,000 doctor visits; more than 200,000 emergency room visits; and 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations in the US.

A case-control study has shown that 41 percent of meningitis occurred in children vaccinated against the disease. The vaccine’s protective efficacy was minus 58 percent. This means that children are much more likely to get the disease if they are vaccinated. ~ JAMA, 1988, Osterholm et al., 260: 1423-1428

No one ever said that vaccines were 100% effective. Vaccines produce immunity by subjecting the body to the antigens of the disease without the virulence of the disease. It stops MOST infections, not all. This wanes over time, but so does natural acquired immunity you gain from contracting the diseases. Nothing works 100% of the time. I mean, cars crash all the time, does this mean that you will never drive? Close to a million people die a year from drowning, does this mean you will never learn to swim? Seatbelts sometimes kill people, does this mean you will drive without one? Bullet proof armour doesn’t work all the time, does this mean we should send soldiers into battle without it?

In the USA out of 1000 children born, 6 will die. Does this mean that you shouldn’t have kids because 100% of them will not survive?

This is without the sheer outright ignorance in this argument.

  • The Michigan chicken pox outbreak is comparing raw numbers directly comparing numbers of afflicted individuals without any thoughts of ratios of their normal populations. Raw numbers mean nothing. Otherwise the USA has 1 million cases of HIV as does Malawi which means that the USA has the same amount of HIV (it does not… 1 in 300 people have HIV in the USA while in Malawi it’s 1 in 15). With that in mind if I recall correctly in this case it turned out that of the people afflicted roughly 16% of people who had a single vaccination of chickenpox (as opposed to the double vaccine) contracted the disease while more than 80% of those who were not vaccinated contracted the disease. And this is without the sharp drop in virulence of those vaccinated who tended to recover quickly and not show as many other effects.
  • It’s statistics used to befuddle, badly applied and that doesn’t mean anything. It shows a core lack of mathematical understanding being used to creat

    e a complete lack of awareness and indeed con people who lack an understanding of stats into following this kind of silliness. It’s the mathematical equivalent of saying that 3 = 4

  • The rotavirus stats are from before the introduction of the US vaccine. This is an outright lie. ” In the United States, before introduction of a live, oral pentavalent rotavirus vaccine (RV5) in 2006, rotavirus caused an estimated 20 to 60 deaths, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, 205,000 to 272,000 emergency department visits, and 410,000 outpatient visits annually”. If one reads the article one notices that the overall rotavirus season just one year shows a massive difference with a peak 11 weeks later than it’s normal median in December and shorter seasons lasting around 14 weeks rather than 26 weeks. There was also a drop from roughly 3500 positive cases of rotavirus to 1300 cases in the same number of people tested.
  • Meningitis vaccine being used protects against Haemophillus Influenzae B (HIB) the major cause of bacterial meningitis is Meningococcus. There are other viral, parasitical and fungal causes too. But these are two different species of bacteria. Meningococcus vaccines are still undergoing testing and where rolled out are experimental. Roughly 54% of meningitis cases are due to Meningococcus and therefore HIB vaccines would not protect against it. Again an argument from ignorance of the fact that meningitis is caused by a variety of organisms.

2. Believe vaccines do not contribute to the spread of these illnesses, yet the CDC acknowledges that they do.

– http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol6no5/srugo.htm Vaccinated adolescents and adults may serve as reservoirs for silent infection and become potential transmitters to unprotected infants (3-11). The whole-cell vaccine for pertussis is protective only against clinical disease, not against infection (15-17). Therefore, even young, recently vaccinated children may serve as reservoirs and potential transmitters of infection.

Except they don’t spread as much of the disease as a fully infected individual does because pertussis is spread by air and not coughing means fewer pathogens are released. In addition vaccinated individuals get rid of the disease far faster and are therefore infective for far lower amounts of time. In addition vaccinated individuals are also harder to infect…

In short? You are less likely to run across someone with pertussis. This is called herd immunity. It’s effect is well documented considering this quoted an article about Rotavirus which showed a decrease post vaccination even in unvaccinated children due to the effect.

3. Believe that vaccines are 100% safe and do not cause encephalopathy and other complications, yet the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Court has paid out over $2 BILLION to families with vaccine-injured children.

http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/statistics_report.htm
http://www.ebcala.org/areas-of-law/vaccine-law/analysis-finds-evidence-of-autism-in-many-vaccine-injury-cases

“The Committee has set forth Comment K in this bill because it intends that the principle in CommentK regarding ‘unavoidably unsafe’ products, i.e., those products which in the present state of human skill and knowledge cannot be made safe, apply to the vaccines…” ~ http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-152.pdf

– Vaccines can cause death in Immunocompromised Individuals “The administration of vaccines presents a problem in children with immune defects…No live virus vaccines should be given since there is a risk of causing disseminated infection that may be fatal. Even with killed virus vaccines, the patient will not make antibodies in response to the injection.”
Essential Pediatric Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology ~ Raoul L. Wolf, pp. 15

  • Nothing is 100% safe. As we discussed before.
  • Autism has increased because we have expanded the definition of autism which includes a lot more people
  • Encephalitis has gone down in occurrence since the introduction of vaccines since some of the major causes of encephalitis are rabies, japanese encephalitis virus, west nile and polio all of which are vaccine preventable and this is withouth HIB and Meningococcus. Even if vaccines did cause it directly of which there is no actual evidence with a quick google finding mainly results from Mercola and Whale.to and a few reports of people getting encephalitis after a measles vaccines that is corrected with medication and indeed with little to no correlation.
  • This argument is that some immunocompromised children cannot produce antibodies to vaccines. This we know. We don’t vaccinate those children. Those children are protected by the herd immunity. It’s why in the west these children usually are infected by non pathogenic species such as fungal infections and normal commensal infections rather than say diseases like tuberculosis or cholera or typhoid. Seriously? We are discussing normal healthy children and you bring in the one group of people who aren’t benefitted by vaccines directly.

4. Believe that vaccines are produced for the improvement of our health, yet the manufacturers are SO concerned about our health, that they include this disclaimer on every vaccine package insert, “_________ has not been evaluated for its carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or its potential to impair fertility.”

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm101580.pdf (page 6/13)


They also use pesticides, components of antifreeze, excitotoxins, known endocrine disruptors, and formaldehyde – why? If our children drank these components, we would call poison control. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-1.pdf

  • Er.. this is just one vaccine package. And it is being honest, we haven’t done any research into that aspect of it. It should not cause any issues because diptheria, pertussis and tetanus themselves don’t cause cancers, so expecting their toxoids and antigens to cause the effect is bonkers. However Diptheria and Tetanus straight up do kill people.
  • Concentration is important. The amount in vaccines is miniscule often in 1000th of a milligram to 1000000th of a milligram. Do you use spirits to clean wounds? Congratulations! You have just consumed more formaldehyde than in a vaccine. Do you drink beer? There is a tiny tiny amount of methyl alcohol in there which is converted by the body to formaldehyde. Have you been bitten by an ant? Formic acid is broken down by our body to formaldehyde. Ever used rubbing spirit to clean a wound? Methanol again. In fact you MAKE formaldehyde since it is a precursor for DNA. Seriously? There is 0.02 to 0.005 mg (or 20 to 5 micrograms) of formaldehyde. A newborn weighing 3 Kg has roughly 240 ml of blood which works out as a concentration of 20/240 = 0.08 micrograms per ml or 80 nanograms… In short? Insanely small amounts. Most of the “scary stuff antivax love to worry about” are things like this.

5. Believe that these infectious illnesses – each and every one for which there is a vaccine – are highly contagious, deadly unless vaccinated against, with no effective natural remedies, and that permanent immunity is inferior to vaccine-induced inflammatory responses. If that were the case, the human race wouldn’t have made it this far. You and I would not be here because previous generations would have died out. Knowledge is power.

A chance my child could have serious convulsions after the DTaP vaccine? 1 in 1750: American Academy of Pediatrics. Pertussis. In: Peter G, editor. 1997 Red book: report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 24th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 1997. p. 394-407.

A chance my child could die from pertussis? .00011%.  http://www.exemptmychild.com/56401/56690.html

So the argument is that the vaccines worked so well in the USA that you don’t want to vaccinate anymore because the disease is rare and will continue to do so until the disease comes back and kills more children?

  • The incident rate in the USA at one point was 1/300 per year for Measles before the measles vaccine was introduced. Now measles isn’t so dangerous in a first world country. Only 1 in 1000 children get encephalitis there, so we can work that out as roughly a 1000 lives ruined a year… By comparison now? Only maybe 5 to 10 people ever get that sick because of the vaccine.
  • Measles had a 95% transmission rate. Measles also killed an empire. It shows the level of education in the USA that the most powerful and advanced native american civilisation’s history is not taught. The Aztec Empire’s fall was helped by a measles epidemic brought by the conquistadors.
  • My grandmother had 9 children, my mother has only 4 brothers and sisters. My great grandmother has 8 children but only 2 daughters and 1 son. I wonder why… You are merely the product of those who were lucky to survive. In the USA 6 per 1000 children born die in the first year. In India it’s 60. In Nigeria it’s 120. Vaccination and medicine make the difference. Evolution does not care about those who die, we do. If we had today’s survival rates, I would have a lot more uncles and aunts.
  • Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus still exist. They still kill. They can come back and many of these diseases have come back before. Diphtheria was on the rise in the USA again due to reductions in vaccinations. Diphtheria and Tetanus are horrible ways to die. Pertussis is just a lousy disease. You may not die from it but it will really really suck. In the USA 50 – 100 people a year contract tetanus. ALL unvaccinated or lapsed. It takes 4 – 6 weeks of ICU care. Each day of ICU care is 15,000 dollars. Each day is a day you may die. You may need tracheotomy to help you live with all the complications that entails. Diphtheria’s name used to be the Strangling Angel. It’s not a name that’s very fun and still kills between 25 to 30% of it’s victims EVEN with medicine. Pertussis can make you cough so hard that your ribs break. It’s not like a movie, a broken rib is enormously painful and feels like you are dying. Every breath is painful and it simply robs you of oxygen.

6. Believe that pharmaceutical companies, the CDC and the FDA truly have our best interests at heart.

  • Pharmaceutical Companies are not in bed with the FDA or the CDC.
  • The FDA is an independent watchdog for medication safety. It takes between 12 to 15 years to gain FDA approval via independent testing. No drug tested outside american soil can be sold there without testing by the FDA
  •  The CDC is a medical statistics organisation that charts disease spread and the like allowing medical professionals to react appropriately to epidemiology. Their main role is charting disease spread of diseases and ensuring doctors are prepared to deal with it.
  • Both actively add controls and regulate the pharmaceutical industry. This argument was mainly created by quacks who complain that the FDA doesn’t validate their nonsense. Mainly because their quackery doesn’t work.

i. Congress’s 1986 Vaccine Injury Act removed parents’ right to sue in state/federal court, protecting vaccine manufacturers from liability, and created a special vaccine court that could accept/reject claims at its leisure http://www.nvic.org/injury-compensation/origihanlaw.aspx

This is due to the fact that a court of law is a lousy place to try a medical issue because debate and rhetoric and uneducated juries are poor adjudicators of biology. A vaccine court uses trained lawyers and judges and isn’t bound by a jury.

ii. BRUESEWITZ v. WYETH – US Supreme Court decision upholding the 1986 “unavoidably unsafe” language.  Parents do not have the right to sue a vaccine manufacturer – even if catastrophic side effects result from their unsafe products.  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-152.pdf

This is plain foolish since this streamlines the process by which money is given to vaccine claimants. And there are unavoidable unsafe effects. Such as allergies and the like. If you are allergic to latex and put on a plaster (band-aid), then you will have an allergic reaction. This is not the company’s fault. It is an unavoidable unsafe effect. In short? The article complains about legislation that makes claims EASIER.

iii.  Johnson & Johnson “cozy” relationship with FDA http://www.seattlepi.com/health/1500ap_us_jj_recalls_congress.html

Article Removed. Also if the relationship was so cozy, the FDA would be hamstringing AstraZeneca, Bayer and GalaxoSmithKline who are not american companies and who are J&J’s big rivals.

iv. Avandia and the FDA http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/06/health/06fda.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1181134287-GoZ27pFnLfDZW+O8VgbuHA&oref=slogin

 I note that the people who actively noticed and created the black box label were doctors not quacks. Take a hint… Medicine is distributed by people who are actually quite good at statistics and who routinely write papers.

v. Vioxx and FDA http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/read/8625

 You mean Dr. David Graham… The Associate Director of the FDA… The man who blew the whistle on a prior drug using actual science?

vi. Bayer and Factor 8 – http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/22/health/main555154.shtml

 So Bayer is evil for distributing a vital drug needed for haemophiliacs that contained an unknown virus that was only discovered 5 years after the distribution… Oh right! Hindsight is 20/20… And Bayer placed it’s safety precautions because of fears of Hepatitis rather than HIV.

vii. Menaflex Knee Implant Approval (admitted undue influence from Congress)- http://documents.nytimes.com/f-d-a-review-of-the-regen-menaflex-device#p=1

Perhaps you should be more worried about Congress placing pressure on the public body than the FDA.

viii. FDA/CDC cover up actual swine flu numbers http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/24/Superstar-CBS-Reporter-Blows-the-Lid-Off-the-Swine-Flu-Media-Hype-and-Hysteria.aspx

I buried kids who died from swine flu… It’s not a hype. Swine flu had the Haemagluttinin 1 and Neuroamidase 1 variation which was famous in the Spanish Flu outbreak. Which killed between 50 to 100 million people (because we don’t know how many died in India and China and Africa). At the low end of the estimates it killed 3% of the world’s population… Let’s just say we were rather scared of what it could do since the last time it fucked is over quite badly and we hadn’t tested modern medication on it. We were also worried at what it would do in places like India and Africa where a lot of people wouldn’t have access to the medication.

And this article is from Mercola who encourages a lack of vaccination solely to sell his own products. The man is a vulture selling vitamins at 120 dollars for 3 months worth of pills that cost around 5 dollars to make. Hell Boots in the UK sell multi vitamins at a WHOPPING 25 dollars for three months worth and that’s pricey.

ix. The FDA approves a non-existent product from a fictitious company http://gaia-health.com/articles351/000378-system-sting.shtml

Gaia Health are stupid. Just plain stupid. They believe that you can wish diseases away and routinely give out health advise that would be laughable if it wasn’t killing so many people in third world nations. Oh and FDA standard doesn’t mean FDA approved. FDA standard are FDA quality controlled labs set up in many countries who want drugs to meet the standards because they do not have a standardisation board like the FDA. No drug tested abroad will be able to be sold in the USA unless it was tested in the USA as well. It’s why most multi-national drug companies have R&D in the USA as well as Europe and any country with this kind of rule, where they test the drug simultaneously across the world in order to sell in various closed markets.

In short? Nearly every single one of the points made is foolish and not a single one actively indulges in anything remotely biological. I am fairly sure this is the usual anti-vaccine stance where ignorance about biology and medicine is a badge of honour, but not one of them so far has been able to explain the basics of immune systems and the mechanism of action of something like a vaccine.

In short? This is pretty much par for course. A tapestry of lies and half truths created via quote mining and misrepresentation of data.

Not the Ducks – A Dissection of Quackery

Lynne McTaggart’s making some  waves out there in the anti-Medicine movement. For those who are unaware, Lynne leveraged her wide variety of skills into becoming one of the anti-medical lobby’s spokesmen. She’s the author of What Doctors Don’t Tell You and also runs a site. Needless to say? She’s a pretty big deal among the quack community.

And to new readers? They are quacks. They are bullshit merchants. That is the kindest thing I can say about them. They invent treatments for problems that either don’t exist or are being treated by other things and flog it for vast profit.

At a fundamental level the difference between medicine and quackery is that medicine is science. The quacks? None of what they do is scientifically proven or in some cases the advice that they give is nothing short of deadly.

Lynne McTaggart has absolutely no medical background what so ever. The people taking medical advice from her and her site? They think she is an expert. Many of the things she says are plain outright wrong. And she’s set her sights on the HPV vaccine.

The Human Papiloma Virus is at the moment the biggest single preventable cause of Cancer in women. Roughly 12,000 diagnosed per year in the USA and 3000 deaths thanks to the regular pap smear detection detecting so many. But here is the thing? Why treat when you can prevent? The treatment for a cervical carcinoma is not difficult but frankly? It’s a hysterectomy. It’s a procedure and a necessary one for a lot of people, but why would you want to not drop the rate of this procedure? [Read more…]

Not the Ducks – Measles Doesn’t Believe in Your God

It’s rather weird to think of the Measles as a deadly killer. In fact the problem is it’s not. The chance of you dying from a Measles infection is very very low.

But the fact of the matter is simple. Measles was once one of the biggest killers on the planet. More feared than Polio and with a death toll that makes HIV look like something more quaint.  [Read more…]

I Get Mail – Pertussis Porkies

“The trickiest thing with this vaccine is something called Original Antigenic Sin. To give a very simplified explanation, the immune response to the vaccine is incomplete and therefore the vaccinated can still carry and transmit the bacteria. This may also explain why vaccination “immunity” doesn’t last as long as natural immunity. What makes it really bad is that once you’ve been vaccinated, even if you later go through the illness, you’ll never be able to develop long-term immunity. Your body has been set to an incomplete immune response PERMANENTLY.”

[Read more…]