False Government Rubella Scare Stories - Only 20,000 Percent Overstated 1 June 2005
Clifford G. Miller,
Lawyer, graduate physicist, former university examining lecturer in law

Send response to journal:
Re: False Government Rubella Scare Stories - Only 20,000 Percent Overstated


Dear Sir,


Tony Floyd, Medical Student, Newcastle University cited truly shocking rubella figures [1] .......

.... shocking because they are impossible.

Mr Floyd says:
"In the United States .... [i]n 1964 there was [sic] approximately 12.5 million cases of rubella, as many as 11,000 fetal deaths, and approximately 20,000 cases of congenital rubella."
The authority cited was a 1984 article [2] by, among others, Walter Orenstein, a Director of the US National Immunisation Programme. His job was to promote vaccination.

On those figures Mr Floyd extrapolated further figures which are so out of line with what is known that the wheels of this bandwagon start to fall off.

Why impossible ..... ? Because the true figure was nearer 20,000 percent lower. The incidence in 1964 would have resulted in less than 200 congenital rubella syndrome ('CRS') cases for the whole of the USA and not 20,000.

The 1964 recorded rubella incidence for Maryland, USA, was, for example, 1:1000 population [3], [4]. The sub-group of CRS cases was typically 1:1000 of total rubella cases [5]. The largest annual total of nationally reported cases of rubella in the United States was in 1969, when 57,681 cases were reported (58 cases per 100,000 population). [5] At around 12,000 percent fewer cases than the figures Mr Floyd cites, well within the order of magnitude of error government is comfortable working with, but not an error the public would tolerate (if only the media would spill the beans).

The figures Mr Floyd cites are also impossible for the very reason that if the 1964 figures were as he claims, then the disease concerned would seem to have been something new, that overcame the naturally acquired immunity of 1 in 16 Americans to rubella infection [5]. That immunity was acquired when epidemics of rubella occurred every 6-9 years, and in annual rubella outbreaks.

If it did that to naturally acquired immunity in 1964, it would today do even greater damage to the weaker 'immunity' conferred by vaccines (and those of you who think existing vaccinations will protect against a pandemic of 'flu or anything else should think again - sometimes faith is not worth dying for).

A web search produces numerous webpages repeating the figures Mr Floyd cites, referring to 1964 as a 'pandemic' and attributing the Orenstein paper as their source. It is strange therefore that other more recent texts appear not to refer to these figures, making passing reference and no more, such as 'epidemics of rubella occurred every 6-9 years, with the last major U.S. epidemic occurring in 1964-1965.' and without mentioning 'pandemic'. [5] If the figures had been as outrageously large as Mr Floyd claims, and reliable, then they would be a major issue for any work of reference on the topic, but that seems not to be the case. Further, where also are all the 1960's papers telling us all about this remarkable pandemic and commenting on what kind of rubella or rubella-like disease this might be?

Where are all the US paediatricians who might have been starting out in practice then or who were still in medical school who might have remembered such an auspicious 'pandemic'.

Then how is it that we start to hear about these horror stories in a paper published 20 years later and just in the middle of the big push for the MMR vaccine in the USA and only 4 years before its introduction into the UK?

Why did Mr Orenstein not comment on the 1940 rubella epidemic which was three times that of 1964, when Maryland saw 10,000 cases of rubella - three times greater than in 1964 and a pattern, if repeated throughout the US would still have seen 8000 percent fewer cases than those claimed by Mr Floyd in 1964? [3]

It is becoming increasingly clear to me from seeing the kinds of exaggerations that have been taking place that drug companies in the post WWII era of the 1950's and 60's could only have been looking closely at the rapidly falling disease incidences in the western world. In doing this they could not have failed to realise three things. This was a lucrative business opportunity to introduce mass national vaccination programmes. They could only win. Two hundred years of disease statistics showed disease incidence had been dropping dramatically, continuing with low levels post 1940. It would be like playing football downhill with a gale on your back against a one legged team. They must have realised their vaccines would be heralded as the saviours of the world from disease. They also must have realised that if someone did not do something pretty damn quickly, the opportunity would be gone, as the morbidity and mortality levels continued to fall to very low levels through the rest of the 20th century.

What troubles me also greatly is that DT vaccines first appeared in the 1920's, just in time for Kanner to 'discover' autism and which he described as something not seen before (and so anyone claiming it had been around in 1800, there appears to be some difficulty with that proposition). What further troubles me is the association between DT/DTP and autism from the earliest times of its introduction into the USA in the 1940's.

This also then means that if vaccines, and not just MMR vaccines, have been implicated in autism (and many other ailments besides), the claim that autism appears coincidentally around the time when MMR is administered is self-confounding. With the authorities failing to admit the vaccine/autism connection for other vaccines, the claim rings hollow. Further, we see an acceleration of autism when vaccination is accelerated and expanded.

Finally, the case study forming the basis for modern vaccination is smallpox vaccine. However, the claim that smallpox vaccine eradicated smallpox rings hollow when the history is considered. Despite compulsory vaccination through the Vaccination Acts of 1840, 1841 and 1853 and the Acts of 1861, 1867 and 1871 making parents liable to repeated fines, the smallpox vaccine still had not eradicated smallpox in 150 years since Jenner's demonstration of cowpox vaccination. [6] The last large epidemic of smallpox (but not the last epidemic) was in London in 1901- 02. [6] Legislation to make immunisation compulsory was widely unpopular (the vaccine was lethal) and all legislation enforcing compulsion was finally withdrawn in 1948. [6]

What is particularly troubling about the smallpox story is that smallpox continued to be imported into the UK from overseas up to the 1970s. How is it that a population without herd immunity suddenly seems not to be dropping like flies to this 'dangerous' disease? What is more, by the mid 1970s, it was clear that the risk of death from the complications of smallpox vaccination outweighed the predicted number of deaths that would follow importations. [6]

Consider in parallel cholera, which seems to have vanished with the advent of clean water. Smallpox vaccine is no success story. It illustrates instead the success of medicine and drug company interests over commonsense and our political masters.

email Clifford Miller bmj0505431"insert an 'at' sign"


[1] The Cost of a Rubella Outbreak Would be More than Just Financial 25 May 2005

[2] Orenstein WA, Bart KJ, Hinman AR, Preblud SR, Greaves WL, Doster SW, Stetler HC, Sirotkin B. The opportunity and obligation to eliminate rubella from the United States. JAMA. 1984 Apr 20;251(15):1988-94. PubMed

[3] Maryland Department of Health, 3,583 cases of rubella during 1964. accessed 30 May 2005

[4] Population 3.9 million in 1970, increasing by 1/2 million every 10 years - provides estimated population 3.5 + million in 1964

[5] Epidemiology & The Prevention of Vaccine Preventable Disease 5th Edn, Jan 1999, p178-9, W Atkinson MD MPH, S Humiston MD MPH, C Wolfe, R Nelson

[6] Immunisation against Infectious Disease 1996 - The 'Green Book'.

Competing interests: None declare