Peter J Flegg
[See this vaccine flack being taken apart by Hilary Butler.
[2010 Letter BMJ] The unexplained puzzle of the GMC verdict (and reponses to Peter Flegg)
The bulk of the blame, as Dr Goldacre pointed out, lies with the media for spreading sensational and patently untrue scare stories about MMR vaccine, and with the persisting eagerness of certain individuals and groups to foster the idea that the benefits of vaccine are outweighed by the harm. Both of these factors have resulted in a very confused perception in the mind of the general public about the (small) risks involved with MMR vaccination. --Peter Flegg [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
COMMENT: See Ben Goldacre, and Experts. They own the media yet still complain when the truth leaks out now and then.
What Mr Welsh seems to be forgetting is that without MMR vaccination, every child in the UK would get measles (around 600,000 each year), around 100,000 would need hospitalisation with infections such as pneumonia, between 80 and 120 would die each year, and many hundreds more would suffer permanent brain damage from encephalitis. And that's without even considering the burden from other problems like congenital rubella. Peter Flegg [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
COMMENT: 1 in 6 into hospital is absurd. Of 100+ (all the school) boys in the editors school who caught measles none went into hospital, just a few enjoyable days in sick bay. Measles deaths declined by 99.4% before vaccination and would continue to decline to where they are today with or without vaccination--0-2 deaths.
On a global basis, WHO/Unicef estimate that in 1999 there were estimated to be 873 thousand deaths from measles--- Peter Flegg [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
COMMENT: See African disease statistics. They just make up the figures to suit as Nkuba pointed out: According to government, measles was a threat to national interest, claiming more than 40,000 lives every year (a statistic which is laughable since most people who get measles stay at home and treat it and the majority of sick people go to private clinics that do not keep records this figure was of course trumped up). This of course is a questionable statistic since the majority of deaths in Uganda are not registered and few parents remember any measles death. No point in registering a person once he has died. Forty thousand people are far much less than those killed in Uganda annually due to the civil war, dwarfs the figure for malaria, which kills a child every five second and for which governments is happy to ignore. Update: Letter from Kihura Nkuba October 20th, 2003. It is an old ploy to use third world deaths to frighten people into vaccinating.
As I stated in my last response, in order for the risk/benefit equation to be tipped in favour of leaving children unvaccinated against MMR, there would need to have been more than 7500 deaths from MMR in the last 10 years. --- Peter Flegg [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
COMMENT: A classic considering in 1968 (vax intro) measles deaths were 51!, and the true figure would be 0-2, 0 if proper medicine was used.
Quotes in reply
JABS has received reports from the parents of these 30 children. Four of these children have been assessed by the Government's Vaccine Damage Payment Unit and tribunals have awarded payments. Some of these children died from vaccine induced SSPE after being given a number of measles containing vaccines. Twelve of the children died under the age of two years and were therefore ineligible for assessment by the VDPU. There is an absurd clause which does not allow claims to be investigated until the child passes its second birthday. Just remind me Dr Flegg, when are most baby vaccines given?
The same families could not pursue investigation through the courts because parents cannot access legal aid if the child has died. The Legal Aid Board has its own strict criteria in that there is a cost/benefit rule. As the child has died and obviously does not have any dependents and does not need a long-term care package the value of the child's life if a claim was successful would be rated at about £7,000, it would cost more than this to take the case to court therefore the family would not be allowed to pursue a claim. What price justice?
Why should any parent put their trust in a system that is so one sided? No policy-maker or medical professional (including you, Dr Flegg) takes any risk whatsoever, that burden is solely carried by the child and the family. What makes the situation worse is that the family are not aware that they are taking any risk and if the worst does happen they are on their own.
Quite clearly the Government and the medical profession are closed to any open discussion about vaccine side effects and tactically are of one mind when looking for someone to blame for the fall in uptake of MMR. Remove choice, blame the parents, blame Dr Wakefield, blame the media, blame anyone rather than be held accountable for vaccine damaged children. Please tell me who else is going to raise this issue if not the parents of vaccine damaged children?
he information JABS and its legal team had collected with regard to some 1200 suspected serious adverse reactions and deaths following MMR and MR vaccines was presented to the Health Minister and her most senior DoH officials at the meeting in 1997. I suggest Dr Flegg contacts Prof David Salisbury, one of the officials present at that meeting, and ask how the data was handled and why. From where we stand the issue was raised at the top level with the Health Minister and DoH officials - they simply chose to dismiss the evidence out of hand without any credible clinical follow up to determine either causation or 'wild' claims. One has to wonder why? --Jackie Fletcher
The reality of the years between 1952 to 1970, and afterwards, prove that Dr
Flegg’s mathematical equations are about as relevant as saying that the measles
death rate in Africa, is comparable to the Measles death rate in UK.
In reply to Peter Flegg’s expansion of my question to him: no, it did not occur to me that Peter Flegg would decide to include the third world when the BMJ was discussing a topic based in UK.
But since Peter Flegg wishes to compare apples with army jeeps, let's discuss his concept of that as well. Flegg states that, "in 1999 there were estimated to be 873 thousand deaths from measles, reducing to 530 thousand in 2003."
Last year, WHO (2) stated that measles mortality in Africa had slashed the death rate from measles by 91% since 2000. This 91% is an artifact figure, because before 2000, measles in Africa was "estimated", while after 2000, notifications were only accepted after being laboratory proven. In 2000, WHO implemented a system of laboratories (3) specifically to diagnose measles, and provide the laboratory confirmed cases which are now the basis of WHO data.
Look at pages 2, and 14. On page 14, 14,185 cases were reported in 2006, but after blood testing, 9,764 were "discarded". That's an immediate 69% drop in cases, because they are no longer relying on doctor's eyes.
On page 2, of 14,185 cases, 3,257 were accepted, leaving a balance of 10,928 discarded measles cases which equals 77% which were NOT measles after being blood tested, but which would have been accepted on the pre- 2000 measles notification system. Comparing data from laboratory-confirmed blood tests after 2000, with pre-2000 guessing, and then claiming a 91% decline, is not a valid scientific comparison.
Which raises an obvious issue. Peter Flegg says that clinicians caring for measles cases " would have had no doubt. Acute measles is a relatively easy clinical and laboratory diagnosis." Did (and can) UK doctors do any better than those who guessed measles in Africa before 2000, or even New Zealand for that matter? That depends on who you listen to. ----Hilary Butler [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
An old UK newspaper article, unfortunately undated, received on 17th April
1997, reads: London (Europe Today). – "97.5% of the times that British doctors
diagnose measles they are wrong", says a publication of the Public Health
Laboratory service. The mistake being made by National health GP's was found
when the services tested the saliva of more than 12,000 children who had been
diagnosed as having measles. Roger Buttery, an adviser on transmissible diseases
at the Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Department, said that the majority of
doctors "say they can recognize measles a mile off, but we now know that this
illness occurs only in 2.5% of the cases." Buttery says that doctors classify as
measles, many other viruses that also cause spots. He found eight different
viruses during the survey in East Anglia. One of them, parvovirus, gives
symptoms similar to German measles. The reason for the high rate of error
puzzled Buttery. "Doctors are neither vague nor careless," he said. The solution
is to defer the diagnosis until more detailed information can be got. There are
5,000 to 6,000 cases of measles registered each year in the United Kingdom, but
these findings now call most of them into doubt."
A later report by the same laboratory (4) showed that the most common viruses causing "morbilliform rash" in the UK are "parvovirus B19; group A streptococcus; human herpesvirus type 6; enterovirus; adenovirus, and group C streptococcus."
An editorial in an Australian medical journal (5) pointed out that:
• In Sydney, in 1990-1995 only 49% of 58 notified cases were serologically confirmed.
• In Victoria, in 1997-1998 only 8% of 248 notified cases were serologically confirmed, and for the whole of Australia in 1997 – 1998, only 45% were serologically confirmed.
• In 1994 in UK and Finland, only 1% of notified cases were serologically confirmed.
So now, doctors check for BOTH IgM (immediate antibody) IgG (evidence of past infection). If there is both IgM and IgG an enzyme immunoassay or a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction is required to type the virus to figure out whether it's wild, vaccine, or whatever (6). In my files is an MMR information sheet to parents which states that neither rubella nor measles can be correctly diagnosed without a blood test. (In UK they use a saliva test.)
Therefore, according to medical literature, and information provided to parents, I would dispute Flegg’s assertion about the ability of all doctors to easily or accurately diagnose measles or rubella, without the assistance of technology. For the same reason, I also dispute the validity of comparing any historical data from 1850 with any data after laboratory data conformation was required.
However, since Flegg is presumably calculating his risk benefit analysis on potentially invalid data, I have no choice but to do the same. If the UK historical data for measles deaths is inaccurate because it too contains more “viruses” than just measles, that makes Peter Flegg’s calculations in the first paragraph, even more extravagant. ----Hilary Butler [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
In countries like UK the decades of pre-vaccine death decline is obviously
due to factors unconnected with the use of any vaccine. For the same reason, the
WHO media release claiming that the measles vaccine has reduced the measles
death rates in Africa by 91% between 2000 – 2007, defies logic, analysis and
reason for anyone who knows the facts. I note that Peter Flegg has stopped short
of repeating that spectacular assertion. Perhaps it's because even he can see
the ludicrousness of such a claim.
If that is the case, the Peter Flegg fails to mention that comparative data in the UK, uses the same "mistake". Total numbers without any laboratory confirmation before 1994, cannot be validly compared with laboratory-confirmed cases only. To do so is not legitimate "science". ----Hilary Butler [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
In UK, from 1998 to 2007 (as of 24th November), there were 28,364 cases of
Out of the 12 deaths from 1998 - 2007, one is known not to be measles, one is provisional, 2 were immunodeficient children within the age where vaccines are administered, and the other 8 were older deaths resulting from infections contracted prior to 1967. From the years of 1998 – 2007, the risk of any unimmunized child dying from ACUTE measles was as follows:
immunodeficient children = one per 14,182 cases of measles; healthy normal children = 0 out of 28,364.
Any suggestion that in 2008, the risk of any child dying of acute measles is 1 in 2,000 is another fictional statistical manipulation, in the same vein as: “in order for the risk/benefit equation to be tipped in favour of leaving children unvaccinated against MMR, there would need to have been more than 7500 deaths from MMR in the last 10 years.” -----Hilary Butler [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
Peter Flegg says, "The only reason more children do not die of measles in the
UK is that herd immunity is still sufficiently high to protect those who cannot
or have not been fully immunised."
That is not entirely correct in my opinion.
A site called Measles Initiative says that (7), "Measles is a leading killer of children in many developing countries for several reasons. Children are already compromised with poor living conditions, they are infected at very young ages when their immune systems are not strong, malnutrition is rampant in many homes, and many families do not have access to medical care to treat measles and its complications. Measles, itself, does not kill children. Instead, complications from measles attack the child's already weak immune system. Measles attacks the body, inside and out. It is similar to HIV in the sense that when it knocks down the immune system, the child becomes susceptible to the myriad of diseases that fester in poor living conditions."
Do children in the United Kingdom have the same living conditions as children in Africa? ----Hilary Butler [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]
Peter Flegg also says, "I have no doubt that another vulnerable group
(infants too young to be vaccinated) will see deaths within its ranks before too
Before the measles vaccine was used, it was exceedingly rare for any infant younger than 18 months to acquire measles because of the strong maternally transferred immunity and, if a mother breastfed, through the many immunological components within breast milk.
Those women in UK who now have naturally acquired measles in the last decade, will transfer solid immunity to their babies, and their babies will be unlikely to experience measles before 18 months. On the other hand, those vaccinated mothers who have not had natural measles, will not transfer that sort of immunity to their babies, and their babies might be at risk. That being the case, to blame unvaccinated children for a relatively new problem created by the use of a vaccine in the first place, is more fact juggling.
A better initiative to reduce all risks to any child from any cause whatsoever, would be to employ a certain young British chef to help start nationwide "Vitamin D, Victory gardens, exercise and cooking course" initiatives for parents and the unemployed, as well as someone else to teach "breastfeeding, home nursing and nutrition during infection". More than any vaccine, parents who provide their children with correct nutrition, enough vitamin D, sleep, exercise, and decent home nursing, can vastly decrease the annual expenditure of NHS with regard to a long list of conditions, (including potential complications and deaths from any infections).
These are conditions African parents would give their eye teeth for. If they were able to achieve even half of what the UK achieved after World War II, even without a measles vaccine, African children would have far less to fear from measles infections. ----Hilary Butler [Letters BMJ Becoming Ben Oct 2008]