RELEVANT HISTORICAL LESSONS, AND A POLITICALLY INCORRECT OPINION ON:
This years INFLUENZA vaccine
(containing A Sydney, B Beijing and A New Caledonia)
by Hilary Butler.
(A clearer understanding of the immunological implications for anyone who receives the influenza vaccine will be better understood by reading the new paper THE ROLE OF VACCINES IN SIDS available from the author.)
Virus Lays Side Low
The Warriors fly to Canberra today hopeful theyve seen the last of a flu virus that has dropped half the side over the past fortnight, despite pre-season injections. (Weekend Herald, July 3-4, 1999, C6)
The last article I wrote on influenza was in Volume 9, Number 3, (Feb-Apr 1997) in which I detailed then up-to-date information on New Zealand and USA, and made some "future pointers".
Firstly, that someone would start promoting a combined flu/pneumonia vaccine, since most of the deaths from influenza are from pneumonia. Its not far away
Secondly, that the influenza vaccine would be extended to all age groups, including children, because the manufacturers now have the ability to make enough vaccine to multi-jab everyone in the world every year. No longer are they restricted to "at-risk" groups, which was an arbitrary allocation due to the then available supply. The New Zealand Herald, 31/1/2000, A15, discusses two studies which concluded that influenza vaccination may be warranted in children under two because they were hospitalised for influenza "at rates similar to those for adults at high risk." Interesting. Ever heard of a baby with the flu? The babies, however, would need two flu shots
Thirdly, I discussed some little gems from an apparently still embargoed American document (briefly discussed in JAMA, 17/1/1996, Vol. 275, No. 3 pg. 179180) which mysteriously appeared in my letter box one day and I predicted that this document would become the basis of the "rule the world" approach for blanket coverage with this vaccine. And its happening
Fourthly, that a National Immunisation Register would become the main tool
I have to admit that I have not scoured the medical literature recently for all the studies of the effectiveness of flu vaccines. I stopped doing that religiously in 1992, when I got sick of the continual drip, drip of the media saying "flu vaccines will stop you getting the flu", while the literature said something else. As a result, this article is not "exhaustive", nor the last word on the flu vaccine. Nothing ever will be. It was also written at very short notice, so had to utilise on-hand facts. We can always update you later, if you feel the need.
This year, the media has gone mad on influenza early, with the Otago Daily Times 23/2 saying that in New Zealand, 470 people die every year from the flu, and influenza causes 20005000 hospitalisations. The Dominion 22/2 says, "Overseas studies suggest flu immunisation cuts hospitalisation by half and deaths by two-thirds for people aged 65 and over." But there are some additional twists to the promo-blurb. One of the most prominent features has been the assertion of the Health Department that the flu vaccine does not cause flu. Reported in the Gisborne Herald, 16/2/2000: "No excuses, jab not cause of flu". This has been repeated in several articles. If it never happens, why major on it or could it be that where there is smoke there is fire? .
News from the sick bay:
Despite a flu shot, Sen. Ted Kennedy is expected to spend the next few days at Sibley Memorial Hospital, where hes recovering from a flu-like "viral illness." (The Washington Post, Tuesday, 8/2/2000, C3).
So now we hear that Ted Kennedy, and no doubt others like him, have a "flu-like viral illness", when they get flu after the vaccine. And where is the evidence to prove that is was an unrelated strain? Cant find it . Is the "prosecution, defence, judge and jury" holding all the strings, and using that lack of evidence to suit themselves?
Another little complication is the story behind why two new drugs were developed, called Tamiflu and Relenza, and why it was attempted to keep them away from the public. A fishy piece if ever there was one. When news of potential anti-flu drugs leaked to the surface around 1992, I wondered how vaccine manufacturers might view the potential impact on their profits. When I read that 19 experts on the FDA committee spent hours bogged down in amazingly technical arguments about the clinical tests and what they proved, then refused to approve the drug (NZ Herald, 1/3/99) the first question that came to mind was "What were the vested interests of the committee members?" History, in the form of medical journals and Senate hearings, has shown that often the medical people on these committees have links with the relevant manufacturers or "conflicts of interest". Did it happen in this case? During that week, the company which manufactured Relenza, Biota, had seen a huge rise in stock prices to $9.30, which on FDAs snub of the product, crashed, with some brokers calling it worthless, or a buy at 60 cents at best.
Then someone remembered that since approval had already been given on two other continents, the FDA ruling didnt mean much, and the price recovered slightly to $4.00 by the end of the week. And they were right. In the Wall Street Journal 11/1/2000 is an extraordinary article detailing the rise and rise of these two drugs. This Northern Hemisphere flu season, the two manufacturers of Tamiflu and Relenza began an aggressive new marketing campaign, even though the incidence of the flu is neither higher nor more serious than in previous years. Tom Skinner, a press spokesperson at the CDC commented that they were getting the highest level of media calls about the flu that they had ever seen:
"While difficult to document, the intense promotional activities by Roche and Glaxo appear to be driving much of the flood of media interest in the flu. Roche is being particularly innovative, blanketing local reporters in different cities with nearly identical press releases about outbreaks of the flu in their area, that differ only in their references to local-area doctors and hospitals being swamped by flu patients"
Marketing strategies extended to employing grandmotherly actresses who handed out packets of freeze-dried chicken soup, the message supposedly being that while grandmas chicken soup might be good for flu, Tamiflu disables the virus, and is much better.
It is all part of a $50 million campaign being waged by Roche and Glaxo, and they are succeeding, with doctors writing only 16,000 prescriptions for Tamiflu and Relenza in the week ending December 10, 80,000 the week after and a staggering 160,000 in the last week of December. "We are seeing tremendous consumer demand," said Charles Alfaro, a Roche spokesperson.
Meanwhile, other medical people appear very annoyed, judging by the material flowing from their pens. It appears they are worried that Relenza and Tamiflu have the potential to reduce the number of people having the vaccine (The Press, 25/1/2000). The same FDA committee that got their noses in a snit about the drugs in the first place, has gone on the offensive, sending letters to doctors reminding them that vaccines are the best protection, and that people with flu can develop severe bacterial infections which must be treated with antibiotics. They also made Glaxo change an advertisement which they thought overstated the drugs potential. In fact, the arguments have an echoing familiarity with the New Zealand Health Departments recent moaning to TVNZ about the publicity surrounding the Lyprinol TV exposure.
The ultimate in reasons as to why Relenza and Tamiflu are a bad thing is an inference made by the chairman of the National Coalition for Adult Immunisation, Dr Greg Poland, a vaccine "expert" at Mayo Clinic whose slogan is "Up to 60 times more adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases than children." To quote NZ GP, 9/2/2000:
"They go and they sit in crowded places like the doctors and emergency waiting rooms, so if you didnt have influenza when you came in you have it when you leave."
Meanwhile, back at the fort, American Health Departments enlisted Giant food stores in America to be a venue for in-store influenza vaccination programmes to try to increase uptake (Greenbelt News Review, 14/10/99, pg. 3). If Mohammed wont go to the mount
The Washington Post 17/10/99, A15, put out full page ads saying:
"From now through November 13th, licensed health care professionals will be giving flu shots in selected Giant stores for $10 And by getting vaccinated early, you can greatly reduce your risk of getting the flu this season. Now thats a healthy idea thats a real shot in the arm."
But in New Zealand we are being told that immunisation campaigns have not achieved their targets in many countries (NZ Herald 17/1/2000, A 10). The tenor of newspaper articles is changing as well. In the past, it was just "at risk" people. Now, we are being told that not only should older people get vaccinated, but anyone who has contact with them:
"Anyone who has not had the strains of flu circulating in the community could catch it and get seriously ill some may even die, even the fit and healthy. The only protection was to have the flu vaccine, Mr Jennings said."
Thats funny. I read in a 1990 medical article that: "In the general community attack rates during an influenza epidemic are around 1% and the vaccine is estimated to give 70 80% protection." (Brit. J. Gen. Practice, Jan 1990, Vol. 40, pg. 10)
Now, the news media tells us that "attack rates often reach 10 to 40% of the population over a five to six week period." (Gisborne Herald, 21/1). How things change will it soon be 100%?
Four years before, the Dominion, 12/3/96 reported Dr Jennings (New Zealands resident flu expert) as saying:
" children, unless they fall into one of the at-risk categories, are not usually vaccinated. Dr Jennings says their immune systems are more intact, so they react more severely to the vaccine. And though children get the flu, it is seldom life-threatening for them."
Now they want to vaccinate children, because it appears that children give it to everyone else. Especially in Manukau:
"In the past two years the harsh Sydney A flu virus has emerged in poor areas of Manukau before spreading to other parts of the region. Statistics show the high incidence of flu in Manukau is a combination of poverty and a large population of children, says Nicholas Jones, Public Healths physician for disease surveillance." Manukau Courier, 1/2/2000:
"He [Dr Nicholas Jones] says GPs working in poorer areas should make sure people living in crowded situations get a free vaccination if they are eligible." NZ Doctor 2/2/2000.
Might malnutrition be a factor? I looked in vain to find anything in any of the clippings about the use of non- patented medicine in this years publicity. Apart from one reference to eating good food I could find nothing. Dr Lance Jennings goes on about how serious influenza is, but nowhere do I see any mention of his study (mentioned in North and South, June 1996) "conducted at the University of Wisconsin in 1988 which demonstrated that a daily dose of 2000 mg of vitamin C reduces the severity of a cold by one half, and alleviates influenza symptoms."
Nor is it mentioned that a recent review (Paed Infect Dis J, 1997;16: 836-7) of three vitamin C studies found huge decreases (³ 80%) in pneumonia in people who took vitamin C as opposed to those who didnt, and mentioned Sabins findings that no cases of pneumonia were found in monkeys with adequate vitamin C.
This would seem very important, since the focus of the medical peoples loving-kindness seems to have been the elderly. So why doesnt Lance Jennings tell them that zinc is vital for colds (and the flu)? The last time he mentioned that was in the Sunday Star Times, 7/7/96. Since vitamin C is his interest, why doesnt he tell the group most at risk from the flu that they could not only lessen the severity of, if not prevent, both flu and pneumonia by taking supplements, but that vitamin C would increase their iron absorption (Nutrition Reviews Vol. 45, No 7 July 1987) and greatly enhance the Th1 cellular immunity which is all important in fighting the flu (Paed Inf Dis J, 1999;18: 283-290). Vitamin C and E supplementation also reduces the risk of cataracts by at least 50% (Canadian study, mentioned in Time, 6/4/92). Vitamin C reduces coronary mortality by 50% in comparison with those who dont take it (BMJ Volume 314, 1 March 1997), vitamin E significantly improves cell mediated immune responses in the elderly (JAMA, May 7, 1997, Vol. 277, No 17:1380-1386), a high level of vitamin C means you have a far lower chance of having a stroke (BMJ, Volume 310, pg. 1563-6), men with a history of cardiac disease who were given beta carotene supplements of 50 mg every other day suffered half as many heart attacks, strokes and deaths as those popping placebo pills (Harvard study 22,000 male physicians Time, 6/4/92), and that supplementation with vitamin E reduces the pathogenesis of arthritis, diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus (Am J Clin Nutr, 1993; 57: 650-656, Metab Clin Exp 1990;39:1278-1284) .
I could go on and on, filling pages with medical references to studies which, if doctors took seriously and educated people, would help and save the lives of millions. Instead we read that Professor Matthew During, who has developed a vaccine against the effects of strokes, now wants to manufacture a vaccine against depression and obesity (The Herald 26/2/2000). Never mind that Dr Carl C. Pfeiffer, PhD, MD, has successfully treated even the most intractable schizophrenia with individually tailor-made vitamin programmes (Mental and Elemental Nutrients A Physicians Guide to Nutrition and Health Care, Keats Publishing Inc, ISBN; 0-87983-114-6).
And thats the key, and the rub isnt it? These things need to be individually tailored. People need to be educated to learn about what their bodies need, and to take responsibility for themselves. And this means taking time, talking, sharing and convincing. It is so much easier to push a desk, a laboratory. The articles flow regularly, the conferences are timely breaks, and the Nobel award at the end sounds wonderful, not to mention financial security. Pardon me if I sound cynical but no longer is there the same altruism in medicine that my parents once saw.
Meanwhile real PREVENTIVE medicine goes begging while others search for patented acclaim. "Deficiencies of vitamins and trace elements are observed in almost one third of all elderly" (Nutrition of the Elderly, NY Raven Press 1992) and JAMA Vol. 277, No. 17, pg. 1398-99: "Graying of the Immune System." It is literally that caused in large part by nutritional deficiencies. I believe that the call for vaccines for everything is the biggest medical rip-off of the millennium because if every doctor educated their patients about nutrients based on just the last 10 years of medical literature, and even half of them took it seriously, our health budget would immediately be dramatically slashed. But that might mean doctors in hospitals dont have a job any more .
As for the elderly, the influenza vaccine is the biggest rip-off of their lives. If they were educated as to nutrients, micronutrients, and simple preventive measures available at their back door, not only would the statistics they are emotionally blackmailed with become meaningless, and the impact of influenza on them be minimal, but many of their other health problems would be resolved by the same actions. And they dont know that. Why? Maybe they dont want to know? And maybe that apathy is partly because these researchers do what they are paid for, to develop and push products with a Wall Street Journal rating.
What do these experts recommend to the poor and elderly in Manukau? Just immunise and that is all. Its quick, easy, and takes no time. Contrast that with these extracts of advice in the Taupo Weekender, 10 February 2000:
Being fit and healthy is first defence against flu: "Doctors say people should bolster their general fitness and health to ward off an impending virulent flu strike. Dr Alastair Fraser says a vaccine should be available late next month. Alastair says the vaccine is only active for around three months, so it is no use giving it too early But he advises that people should improve their fitness and eat healthy foods to help reduce the risk of infection. Keep hydrated, get lots of sleep, eat good food and keep fit to keep the bodys natural immune system in shape, he says. Alcohol should be cut as it suppresses the immune system."
Heres someone who cares! But even this is controversial. Dr Rod Ellis-Peglers attitude sums it up: "Eat well, stay fit, catch it anyway" (North and South June 1996 pg. 97)
Back to the vaccine story. In Wellington, The Dominion, 23/2/2000 was telling everyone:
"Doctors in most parts of New Zealand are cancelling patients appointments for influenza vaccinations because national supplies have run out as a result of exceptional demand."
And the Christchurch, Press, 24/2/2000:
"Early demand exhausts flu vaccine a rush on demand has exhausted national supplies of the vaccine Canterbury Health Virologist Lance Jennings said a national influenza immunisation strategy group formed this year had also boosted awareness of the need for vaccine Dr Jennings said doctors had got organised earlier this year as a result, and demand for the vaccine outstripped supply He said it was important for people to get immunised before the flu season hits. It usually peaked during June, July and August."
Hmmm and if Dr Alastair Fraser is right, and the vaccine is only active for three months, all those people Dr Jennings organised to have the vaccine early will be most vulnerable by May, way before the season even peaks. He has support too, in research results which show that among the elderly antibody rates decline between 13 months after the shot (J Clin Micr, Dec 1989, pg. 2669). Amazing, then, how a public health nurse, Joan Painter, can get away with saying in the Gisborne Herald, 16/2: "After several years of vaccination a persons resistance to all strains of flu was far greater". Does she not know that there are thousands of unvaccinated elderly in this country who have maybe only ever had one attack or none of influenza in their lives? And by this very fact, thousands of the vaccinated elderly in this country dont need the vaccine? Another interesting facet of this story is that this is not the first year for the A strain in New Zealand. The West Coast Times, 11/1/2000, in detailing the expected strain, said:
"Dr Jennings said in some ways having a fourth outbreak of Sydney flu (A) in New Zealand would be useful because it was incorporated in the new vaccine that would be available next month. If a new strain emerged, the vaccine might not be effective."
Now pardon me for being dense, but isnt the incorporation of a new strain in a vaccine to protect against whatever is known to be coming up? Or are there some things were not being told here? This expected strain is one that regular imbibers of the vaccine are rushing to have for the fourth time in a row!
The fact is that the history of the influenza vaccine is paved with verbal evasions, political manoeuvrings and pharmaceutical shenanigans that most people have no idea about. It seems that truth is dependant on "circumstances".
Consider the following extracts 8 years ago, from an "eminent" Australian World Health Organisation doctor:
"Hundreds of Victorian doctors and pharmacies have run out of influenza vaccines, and there are fears that the stock has been depleted by healthy people who could be doing themselves more harm than good by taking the vaccine.
"Patients who want protections from an expected outbreak of the lethal flu strain A-Beijing are being turned away. New supplies of the vaccine are expected to be ready in the next few days, but the director of the World Health Organisations Melbourne influenza centre, Dr Alan Hampson, said there was no guarantee supplies would keep up with the demand.
"I think it will be touch and go. I think we will use all the vaccine we had planned to release, and if anything happens to create additional demand we will have to look at ways of getting more, he said. Dr Hampson said the solid take-up of the vaccine was good news if at-risk people such as the elderly or chronically ill, were receiving the vaccine.
"But he was concerned some healthy people were seeking vaccination, wasting supplies and damaging their own natural immunity. Unnecessary vaccination was a particular problem with children who, if otherwise healthy, should be allowed to go through mild bouts of influenza to build up resistance." (Deborah Stone, Health reporter, Sunday Age 26/4/92).
Way back then, a high-up doctor stated that the influenza vaccine could damage the immune system of healthy people? Amazing how advice has now changed because manufacturing techniques have become more advanced and universal supply is now guaranteed?
But what about that remark about healthy people having the vaccine and damaging their own natural immunity?
How could this be if it is fact?
A 1999 medical article has shed light on a possible connection, and also confirms previously discounted "history". J Inf Dis, 1999; 180: 579 85 should be compulsory reading for all medical people who still insist that any vaccination is "natural". Interestingly enough, it is one of the few articles on influenza vaccines not funded by vaccine manufacturers.
This very carefully worded article used animal experiments to determine the type of immunity given by the currently used inactivated influenza vaccine. Which, of course, leaves the experts the opening to say that mice arent humans. But if there is no similarity, then there was no point in the study in the first place, and the funding would not have been granted. So, lets work on the assumption that the findings are valid and applicable to humans. The first two sentences read:
"Immunisation with live influenza virus expands Th1 memory cells and facilitates more rapid recovery after heterosubtypic virus challenge. Immunisation with inactivated virus generates a Th2 response and does not lead to heterosubtypic immunity."
So far, so good. How does this relate to humans?
"Evaluation of memory responses of mice immunised by the various protocols demonstrated that the type of immunisation imprints T cell memory dictating the nature of the response to subsequent infection."
"Live, or live attenuated virus immunisation primes for heterosubtypic immunity, but inactivated virus does not. It is generally believed that this results from a failure of inactivated virus to enter into the endogenous pathway (natural method of acquiring immunity) and stimulate cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) generation (the manufacture of virus-specific CD8+ memory T cells capable of killing virus-infected cells) inactivated virus may expand Th2 cells and prime for the wrong type of immunity."
They went on to describe the three experiments they did.
But the authors wanted to go further and see if the vaccination would
then determine how the immune system would react, if it came into contact with the virus again. They found that immunisation with different forms of the virus had imprinted immunological memory, resulting in animals injected with inactivated virus only responding with a Th2 response, and:
"In contrast, animals immunised with inactivated virus alone continue to make a Th2 response even after live virus infection."
The last paragraph of the article was interesting:
"We do not mean to imply that inactivated virus plus IL-12 and anti IL-4 would be superior to the currently employed trivalent influenza virus vaccine, but the data suggest that a renewed interest in inactivated virus vaccines may be warranted. If engineered to create the correct cytokine environment, they may be able to prime for some degree of cell-mediated immunity that might be crucial in host defence."
And is there historical precedent for these comments? Of course. After all, the article above was written with the full knowledge that the flu vaccine is not that good.
SOME HISTORICAL LESSONS
Some of you may have heard the presentations in New Zealand by Dr J. Anthony Morris in 1992 and 1995. But what you might not know is that his expertise and reputation for strict honesty was honed to a fine edge on the political carving board of the Influenza vaccine. There are lessons to be learned by the current medical profession, if only they cared. So who is Dr Morris, and what are these lessons?
Here are some extracts from an article in the Washington Post, 13th March 1977:
"The major impetus behind criticism of flu vaccines can be traced back to the work of J. Anthony Morris. In the mid-1950s, Morris was recalled from Asia to take a major job, in a reorganised laboratory within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His task was to investigate vaccines, and assess the risk factors involved in their use.
"Morris began to concentrate on flu vaccines, and became alarmed at what he found. He discovered, for example, that there was no way to measure the potency of vaccines. No matter what the labels on a batch said, the actual strength of the dose might vary. But far more serious, Morris says, as a result of his experiments, he was convinced we had scientific evidence that flu vaccines didnt work.
"By the mid-1960s Morris was deeply involved in experiments on the long-term effects of flu vaccine and his research was indicating that, far from stopping flu, vaccination might well increase an individuals susceptibility.
"The scientists criticism of flu vaccination ran directly counter to national medical strategy, and he began to run into fierce opposition from his superiors at NIH. I dont know for certain why, Morris says, but there is a close tie between government scientists and manufacturing scientists. And I was hurting the market for flu vaccine.
"Gradually his laboratory staff was whittled down. Publication of his scientific articles was blocked by superiors. Thousands of experimental animals, crucial to his work, were ordered destroyed. Finally he was forced from his laboratory and given a small room with no telephone. His research materials were crated and taken away."
"It was at this point that Morris in desperation went to the law offices of Edward Bennett Williams to seek help. They said it looked like another Ernie Fitzgerald case and turned him away. Fitzgerald is a civil servant in the Pentagon who was victimised for exposing cost overruns in the Defence Department."
"At this point, Dr Morris was introduced to James Turner, one of Ralph Naders lawyers whose concern was health:
"He got in touch with Morris, checked out his scientific credentials and spent six months poring over Morris work. I was very impressed, Turner says and I thought we had a chance to win.
"Together they drew up a detailed memorandum charging irregularities in the NIHs handling of flu vaccines and alleging that the government had long been certifying for public consumption watered-down vaccines. This report became the basis for a grievance proceeding on behalf of Morris within the government and it sparked an investigation by Sen. Abraham Ribicoff. Soon the General Accounting office was called in to investigate.
"In the face of the Turner attack, NIH officials could only retort that Morris was extremely difficult to death with. Ribicoffs Senate hearing prompted then Secretary of HEW, Elliot Richardson, to transfer Morris laboratory to the Food and Drug Administration, where he resumed his work. Morris had been vindicated, but his lonely watchdog role was by no means over. The government continued its flu vaccination program as if nothing had happened.
"Morris then began to investigate the new live flu vaccines that the government hoped would be the eventual conqueror of the flu. The vaccine administered to the public has been composed of dead viral material. A live vaccine, which can be inhaled or taken in the form of nose drops, contains living virus modified in such a way that it produces a mild case of the disease. It is thought to produce the right kind of antibodies to protect against the disease. This live vaccine was given to humans, including small children, in the early 1970s in a test program. Morris began to test the live vaccine in mice a precaution which had not been taken. He found that the live vaccine accelerated the growth of tumours in the test animals.
"The alarming finding that live flu vaccine might be carcinogenic was acutely embarrassing to federal health experts, since the vaccine already had been tested on people, had won special Congressional support as a potential cure-all for flu and was indeed earmarked for eventual public use. Morris unpopularity among the health bureaucrats increased markedly.
"The General Accounting office, a congressional watchdog agency, concurred with some of Morris' criticisms, which eventually led to changes in the regulation of vaccines (Washington Star, 5/1/79, A2.). In 1978, Dr Morris became a prominent public critic of the Swine flu vaccine program. He had sent memoranda to various officials pointing out that the vaccine was dangerous, that it was impossible to accurately measure vaccine potency, and that his tests showed that it might result in hypersensitivity and trigger neurologic illnesses ranging from persistent head-aches to paralysis to Guillain-Barré, and maybe even death. He also insisted that the virus was probably not related to the one that caused a global epidemic in 1918-19, and that there was no evidence that the Swine flu could spread from person to person. (In 1988 a swine-flu virus killed a 32-year-old Wisconsin woman - J Clin Micr 1989, pg. 1413-1416 but presumably the lessons had been learned, since there was not even the whisper of a vaccination campaign. JAMA 1988, Vol. 260, No 21, pg. 3116 subsequently confirmed that "continuous transmission of Swine influenza virus in humans has not occurred."). The Swine flu virus had not been isolated anywhere since it had been suspected in one person in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and that even if the virus could spread, the vaccine did not produce the right sort of antibody to protect. In other words, it wouldnt work, and was dangerous. He was ignored by his superiors. Specifically, as stated by the Washington Star, 5/1/79:
"Two Harvard Professors concluded that the failure of the Swine-flu program illustrated fundamental weaknesses in the nations scientific decision-making process. Specifically, they said the director of the Center for Disease Control, who conceived the mass immunization effort, had "put a gun" to the head of President Ford by overselling the program."
"Since his superiors would not listen, Dr Morris appeared on the Phil Donahue show, stating who he was, and why he was concerned about the vaccine. As the Washington Post 13/3/77 said about Dr Morriss continual whistle-blowing:
"This was just too much for the FDA, and Commissioner Alexander Schmidt fired Morris for insubordination."
The final paragraph of this article went on to say: "After nearly 20 years of struggle within the federal government Morris fights on. Its a medical rip-off, he says of the flu vaccine program. We should recognize that we dont know enough about the dangers associated with flu vaccine. I believe the public should have truthful information on the basis of which they can determine whether or not to take the vaccine. And, he adds, I believe that, given full information, they wont take the vaccine."
But the public were not given full information, more than 40 million took the vaccine, and Dr Morris was proven correct in his predictions, with the result that the vaccination campaign was called off in total disarray to the political and medical embarrassment of many of Dr Morriss colleagues.
The Washington Star 5/1/79 reported that a Civil Service Review had ordered reconsideration of the FDAs dismissal of Dr Morris:
"Expressing new concern for the welfare of whistle blowers. A Civil Service review panel has ordered a reconsideration of the FDAs decision to fire a scientist who outspokenly challenged the Swine flu program in 1976."
"Schmidt, in his letter firing Morris, said, Your direct disobedience of your immediate supervisor signifies to me your unwillingness to exist within a necessary chain of administrative command.
"Dr Morris said yesterday, that he was tremendously encouraged by the latest Civil Service ruling, and added: My biggest concern is not me. Its what this case might mean to other people. Hopefully, other persons in Government will feel free to express themselves more openly."
So what has this to do Relenza or mice? Dr Morris did his research in the days when no-one knew anything about Th1 and Th2. They called it cellular and humoral immunity, but there was no scientific proof that these two could and did work autonomously. But Dr Morris asserted then, and still asserts now, that the influenza vaccine did not, and still does not, provide the right sort of immunity. And I believe he is right. The work with mice proves it.
And he was not the only one to think so. The Australian Sunday Herald-Sun (13/9/92, pg. 28) stated:
"Professor Graeme Laver, a colleague from the John Curtin School of Medical Research, has joined scientists in the US and Britain to map the precise shape of a key protein in the influenza virus."
"Before he left for an international conference in the Palau Islands on efforts to find a flu blocker, Professor Laver warned the mutant influenza virus would make the AIDS virus look like a picnic (in the event of a pandemic). He said vaccinations were almost useless and a super-flu could develop at any time."
Another Professor not convinced about the vaccine! Most of you will be wondering how effective this vaccine is. Here are the main points from a sampling of articles:
Brit. J Gen. Pract, Jan. 1990 Vol. 40, pg. 10 12. Outbreak of influenza A in a boarding school in 1986:
"In the first out-break there was a higher attack rate in the children who had been vaccinated twice in the period 1985-86 (39%, 20/52) than in those who had never been vaccinated (31%, 21/68). Similarly, in the second outbreak, the more recent vaccination in the autumn term of 1986 showed no protective effect 39% attack rate in those vaccinated (151/387) and 37% in those not vaccinated (31/83)."
"Vaccination is a fairly expensive and time consuming procedure and there is some evidence to suggest that immunisation with influenza A (H3N2) vaccine merely delays natural infection. It might therefore be better to experience the inconvenience of a natural infection at an early age, particularly for the often milder H1N1 strains, avoid annual vaccination and gain more lasting immunity in the long term."
JAMA, 1992, Vol. 267, No 3, pg. 344-346:Outbreak of Influenza A in Washington nursing home.
Influenza occurred among 21 (19%) of 113 vaccinated residents, and 14 (16%) of 88 unvaccinated residents. Vaccine efficacy for preventing influenza was 20%. Tests showed the virus was antigenically similar to the A(H3N2) component of the vaccine administered.
MMWR 1986; 35:729-731:
Influenza outbreak among personnel on a Florida naval base, with an attack rate in those who received the current vaccine (A/Chile/1/83 H1N1, A/Mississippi/1/85 H3N2 and B/Ann Arbor/1/86) was higher in the vaccinated (37%, 23/63) than in the unvaccinated (33%, 11/33).
MMWR, February 28, 1992, Vol. 41, No 8:
A(H3N2) influenza vaccine administered to 88% of residents of a nursing home. An outbreak of influenza A occurred. Influenza occurred among 18% vaccinated and 31% of unvaccinated; Pneumonia following influenza occurred in 9% of vaccinated and 17% of unvaccinated. 29% required hospitalisation and 2 died (vaccination status not reported!). The calculated vaccine efficacy for preventing influenza was 43%, and pneumonia was 45%. 10% of employees (33) were vaccinated, 19% of whom got influenza. The calculated vaccine efficacy for preventing influenza in the employees was 86%. Tests identified the virus as A(H3N2).
Journal of Clinical Microbiology March 1991, pg. 498 505:
"Rates of protection against influenza illness afforded by commercially available inactivated virus vaccines have generally been lower in elderly individuals, particularly those who are institutionalised, than efficacy rates reported in studies of younger populations. These observations, which suggest that the immune response to inactivated influenza vaccines may decline with advancing age, have prompted the search for alternative approaches to vaccination that will more effectively stimulate immunity to influenza in elderly individuals."
Research Resources Reporter September 1990:
"A substantial proportion of individuals with AIDS and Aids related complex remain unprotected against influenza even after two doses of influenza vaccine."
J Inf. Dis1990;161:869-877: (one of three different references dated 1989 1990 detailing 3 different studies)
"Evidence from previous studies suggests that live influenza A virus vaccines may be more effective than inactivated virus vaccine in inducing immunity against wild-type influenza virus"
J Clin Micr November 1990, pg. 2539 2550 concluded that the live- attenuated influenza A virus vaccine induced a higher level of cytotoxicity and a response cross-reactive among influenza A virus subtypes compared with inactivated virus.
Journal of Infectious Diseases 1990, 161 pg. 333: "Questions have repeatedly been raised about efficacy in the elderly especially with regard to the type B component."
I thought the efficacy of A was low, but if theyre concerned about the B strain as well .???
And heres one reference to back up Dr Alastair Frasers assertion that you shouldnt give the vaccine too soon, because it lasts three months (at the most).
J Clin Micr Dec 1989, pg. 2669: (live vaccine, dead vaccine, and combination A influenza vaccine given to elderly). "Information regarding the duration of antibody responses to influenza vaccination in elderly population is limited we had previously found in seronegative young adults serum IgG HA antibody induced by live or inactivated influenza A virus vaccines remains elevated for at least 6 months after vaccinations the present study shows that the levels of both serum IgG and nasal wash IgG IIA antibodies declined in all three groups of vaccinees between 1 and 3 months after immunisation our findings suggesting short duration of systemic and local antibody responses have obvious implications with regard to the scheduling for the elderly so that they can derive maximum protective immunity against influenza."
Maryland Medical Journal October 1988;
Vaccine combination A/Taiwan, A/Leningrad, B/Ann Arbor. 126 residents, 5 status unknown, 87 had vaccine, 36 got A/Leningrad flu, attack rate 41%: 15 of 34 non-vaccinated also got flu attack rate of 44%. One of the five pneumonia cases was not vaccinated, - pneumonia in vaccinated = 11%, unvaccinated 7%. "Incidence of illness and complications were not significantly different in vaccinated and nonvaccinated residents .this study found no protective effects of influenza vaccination in a nursing home population."
Why dont we hear about these studies any more?
Because, stung by such reports, medical people no longer want to talk about such articles. They consider them "unreliable." Instead North and South, June 1996 said:
"A USA 1994 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vaccination against influenza in 849 healthy working adults was carried out in the Minneapolis-St Paul area and published in The New England Journal of Medicine on October 1995 and came out in favour of immunising the well. It is one of the first reliable recent studies on the subject and revealed significant health and economic benefits: upper respiratory illnesses decreased by 25 percent, absenteeism from work decreased by 36 per cent and visits to the doctor by 44%."
Why the change in discussion from elderly to the well? Why is this one reliable, and everything else not?
Scand J Infect Dis 29: 181-185, 1997: The study preamble mentioned a previous randomised control trial among 1950 employees during a 5-month period in which acute respiratory infection was clinically observed in 8% of the vaccinated group and in 15% of the controls. The mean sick leave was 0.5 days less among vaccinated employees. The 1997 study was conducted among 458 municipal homemakers between the ages of 18 and 62, most of whom worked with elderly people in the high-risk category. The vaccine offered was Fluzone with 2 influenza A components, and 1 B component. 47% accepted vaccination. No incentives other than free vaccinations were offered. The cost of an influenza infection was FIM 1,183, while the cost of an averted infection was FIM 6,270, which resulted in a negative cost-benefit ratio. Under "conclusions" it was stated "Influenza vaccination had a marginal protective effect on illness and absenteeism among healthy employees vaccination costs clearly exceeded the benefits evidence for the cost-effectiveness of vaccinating healthy adults during low or medium influenza activity remains inconclusive." Absolutely amazing! I looked for other suggestions as to what could be recommended, and found another interesting gem... the last sentence of the abstract: "Optimal vaccination strategies for healthy adults need to be planned individually with minimal loss of working time."
An even more recent double blind study in the Paed Inf Dis J, 1999, Vol. 18, pg. 779-783 showed this:
" the results of this study show that conventional inactivated influenza vaccine reduced absenteeism by 28%.... The vaccine did, however, not decrease the number of days the subjects suffered from any symptoms of respiratory infections. The immunisation also failed to significantly reduce episodes of respiratory infections.
"We therefore conclude that health care providers of paediatric hospitals who are exposed to patients with respiratory infections and who work with severely immunosuppressed patients should be encouraged to take the vaccine, or should at least be informed about the potential benefits of influenza immunisation. Improved immunisation rates among HCWs would most probably not only increase the quality of life of health care providers, but also reduce absenteeism and the frequency of nosocomial infections."
Confused yet? I cant understand why not ?!@#$%
The only recent study I have regarding elderly is Arch Intern Med., 1998; Vol. 158, No 16, pg. 176976. This interesting little article compared the benefits of influenza vaccination for low, intermediate and high-risk senior citizens because "Uncertainty about the benefits of influenza vaccination for healthy senior citizens may contribute to lower rates of utilisation in this group". The authors maintain that vaccination reduced hospitalisation for pneumonia and influenza by 29% in high risk patients, 32% in intermediate risk, and 49% in low risk. Effectiveness for reducing hospitalisation for all respiratory conditions was 19%, 39% and 22% respectively, and reducing deaths from all causes was 49%, 64% and 55%.
The total group break-down of all risk groups combined looks like this:
Reduced number of Pneumonia hospitalisations =39%
Respiratory conditions all causes =32%
Congestive heart failure =27%
All mortality =50%
Their conclusion was that healthy senior citizens as well as senior citizens with underlying medical conditions benefit from vaccines and that everyone over 65 should be vaccinated. In spite of a funny little sentence under "cost benefits" which says, "within the subgroups these findings did not reach statistical significance." If the figures didnt reach statistical significance, then just how did they come to such sweeping conclusions?
And when it comes to the subject of the New Zealand medical establishment having a handle on all relevant issues on one of my recent visits to a medical library I came across a wonderful influenza notice, and purloined it off the notice board. It requests staff be vaccinated with the influenza vaccine. There is a lovely
little sentence which reads:
"The vaccines are accepted as being effective, providing the great majority of staff are vaccinated."
Now wouldnt you think that any vaccine worth its salt would either work, or not, regardless of how many are vaccinated?
And as for my prediction on the baying of doctors for the use of Pneumonia vaccines, sure enough:
"North Shore doctors are leading a push for free pneumonia vaccines for people with chronic respiratory problems." (North Shore Times-Advertiser, 11/2/2000, Front page).
Here are some statistics to chew over. But before you do, dont forget the reference to vitamin C reducing pneumonia by 80% ..
(All these studies support the maximum possible universal use of pneumococcal vaccines. As usual.)
New Engl. J Med., April 29,1993 pg. 1252:
"Recent case-control studies have demonstrated an overall protective efficacy of 56%"
Drugs & Ageing 1994: 5 (4) 242-253, pg. 246:
"For all patients over 65 years of age, the vaccine efficacy is 44 61%"
Genitourin Med. 1995; 71: 71-72:
"Physicians and patients should be aware that the vaccine is not fully protective and that episodes of sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis could still be pneumococcal in origin and should be treated appropriately."
Clinical Infectious Diseases 1995; 21:616-20:
"Controlled clinical studies have not shown convincingly that pneumococcal vaccination offers protection against pneumococcal pneumonia in elderly persons."
Clinician Review 11/3/97 www.medscape.com:
This article starts: "Despite widespread endorsement by numerous medical organisations, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is administered to only 30% of individuals for whom it is indicated." On page three it says "The pneumococcal polysaccharide prevents pneumococcal infection in as many as two thirds of people who are vaccinated for invasive diseases the vaccine ranges from 56% to 81% effective for other types of pneumococcal infections, e.g., non bacteremic pneumonia, the vaccine may be less effective The antibody response is diminished or absent in people who have compromised immune systems, and poor or inconsistent in children younger than age 2 years because their immune systems are immature." Then is a long discourse about how badly under-utilised it is etc etc.
An article called "Fixing the black eye given to pneumococcal vaccination"(found on http://www.slackinc.co) April 1998, Atlanta, published the study results of Swedish investigators who were discharged from hospital after admission for pneumonia due to any cause. There were 339 in the vaccine group and 352 in the placebo group. The study showed that 63 (19%) in the vaccine group and 57 16% in the placebo group developed community acquired pneumonia. They determined that "the 23 valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine did not prevent pneumonia overall or pneumococcal pneumonia in middle-aged and elderly individuals." They then concluded that the vaccine is between "50% and 80% effective in the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease in this population."
(Does that sound contradictory to you??? )
All of which said about as much as had been said before. But this time Dr David S. Fedson, MD, director of medical affairs, Pasteur Merieux MSD, came out swinging, shredding everything about the study that he could think of, even stating that the study was seriously under-powered. (The reality is that these criteria would probably eliminate all medical literature on all studies for influenzaand pneumonia so far). But his most interesting comments are these:
"Even if, as the Swedish investigators state, pneumococcal vaccination did not have a wide impact on the total number of pneumonia cases in the community, it is simply inaccurate for them to state that vaccination would therefore be of limited value. Pneumococcal vaccine should be recommended and used because it prevents invasive pneumococcal disease; that is all we really need to know."
One of the lessons to be learned from the Swedish study is that attempts to increase pneumococcal vaccine use no longer require the undertaking of randomised, controlled trials to prove efficacy:
"The failure to use pneumococcal vaccine can no longer be attributed to limited protection of the vaccine itself," said Fedson. "It is the result of limited imagination regarding the burden of pneumococcal disease and the limited understanding of the protection afforded by vaccination. The effectiveness of pneumococcal vaccination is firmly established and requires no further demonstration." For more information: Fedson DS. A commentary on the report of the Swedish pneumococcal vaccination study group. Presented at the 1998 National Adult Immunization Conference, March 3-4, Atlanta.
In which case wed better not ponder the recent findings in Emerging Infectious Diseases. 1999, Volume 5, No 3, that three trials of pneumococcal vaccines have shown that those vaccinated simply carry different serotypes in their throats not present in the vaccine, compared to those not vaccinated, because the number of types is so vast:
"Furthermore, the epidemiological findings of these studies should be the impetus for further research into the role of serotype and other factors in determining the variation in pneumococcal virulence, the nature of immune responses to organisms like the pneumococcus at the nasopharyngeal mucosal surface, and other questions in the biology of bacterial carriage."
Not only were these trials unnecessary, according to Fedson, but they too were probably a result of limited imagination and understanding . And as to being the impetus for further research??? Why do we need to do ANY research anyway? After all, according to the gospel of Dr Fedson .he knows all there is to know.
And they truly wonder why, world-wide, there are so many vaccination organisations just like us, questioning their wisdom and intellectual superiority.
Portrait of the ultimate scientist Dr J. Anthony Morris.
By Cam Esser (his daughter)
One of the things that stands out in my mind is Dads professional honesty and integrity. One time my brother was writing a report or producing some sort of science project when he was in high school.
I think he mentioned to Dad that he wanted to report something that actually didnt happen, whether it was due to lack of time or laziness, I dont know! But at the time I was also in school I was impressed by Dads answer: that it would be dishonest to misrepresent the experiment. "It would be better to fail than to lie", he said.
That kind of sticking to the truth despite the consequences always has stayed with me, and influenced my own decisions.
Also, too, my Dad has had a lifelong penchant for living simply. Despite his more than adequate salary, especially for that period when I was still at home, we never lived in a big house, nor drove fancy cars two indicators in American society that you have "arrived".
We had "just enough" toys to make us happy, and received from Dad the knowledge that we could and should make the environment fit our needs.
For example, "Dont live with inconvenience if you can change it. Dont be content to accept things as the way they are if they are problematic;" he would say.
"Theres no room for a small table to hold a lamp next to the desk? Well design a small extension to the desktop, stain it to match the desk, and voila! A place for the lamp.
No room for a TV in a small bedroom? Well, just design a perch inside a closet door, and open the closet door when you want to watch TV.
You dont agree with the Presidents policy on swine flu? Well, design a method to refute it and present it as your solution to the problem.
These analogies may not be very profound, but they characterise Dads philosophy. Of course, this presupposes a certain amount of vision, or one-track mindedness to attain the desired goal. It can be called intensity, drive or just plain stubbornness. And God knows that anothers stubbornness can be a good trait if it happens to agree with ones own thinking, but maddening if it conflicts. Such, no doubt, is the case with my Dad, who if nothing else, can be portrayed by friend and foe alike, as being "stubborn."
Dad is stubborn in the sense that once he sets his mind to something he usually achieves his goal. He put himself through the university and got his doctorate against great odds. He lived a different life than his many siblings, and achieved noteworthy success in his field. He did what he felt necessary; he made personal sacrifices, and did so without much of a support system that many of our world find exceedingly difficult to do without.
In a sense, he can be called a "loner", because many of his goals were attained by denying himself personal contacts that would have been obstacles to what he wanted to achieve with his life.
He could pull a curtain down around himself and declare that someone, upon making an enquiry, "had no reason to know." He would insist that someone, when presented with a choice, should make an opinion based "only on the facts." "This is a fact," he would say, and give statistical information.
He would have made a great judge.
As a mentor to his 7 grandchildren, he has no parallel. His sterling qualities come to the fore, and his defects are few. And that is the way it should be with grandchildren.
To conclude this short essay on my Dad, Dr. Tony Morris, he continues to live an active, inquiring life, and inspires many to do the same. In the scientific community he has rallied others to aim for, and achieve, worthwhile goals.
And he continues giving Ruth, his wife of 58 years, his children and grandchildren a legacy that one person can make a difference for good in the world.
[Vaccination] [Hilary Butler]