This morning on ABC television, 10am Eastern time, Katie Couric is looking into the subject of
injury from HPV vaccine . Over the last eight days the KatieCouric.com blog has accumulated in excess of 5,000 comments , many from very ill young women or members of their families. There has also a flood of sarcastic and dismissive comments from vaccination groupies, the most ubiquitous of which (although better behaved than most) has been San Francisco law professor, Dorit Reiss ("Dorit Reis and the Benefits of Agency Capture" and Karen Ernst's Voices4Vaccines a CDC Front Group and "Who Is Dorit Reiss?"). It has been difficult to follow the blog partly because of the sheer number of comments but also because exchanges get quickly relegated and shuffled amongst the heap, not to mention the fact that any member of the public can delete anyone else’s comments by clicking on a box hiding in the top right corner (a facility which I have not used myself). It is sometimes hard to know whether a conversation has actually be deleted or disappeared so far down the page that it could not be found (and beyond a certain depth my computer will not even open them).
I have copied down a few of these conversations in the past couple of days before they got lost. It was altogether evident that if anyone in the vaccine support mob was going to provide any interesting argument it would have to be Dorit.
1st Conversation (December 2 2013):
Thor Viðar Jónsson:
The amount of horrible information being posted here is staggering. I weep for scientists today having to fight all this misinformation, dishonesty and outright lies being spread against one of the medical marvels of our age.
If the "scientists" were real scientists they would be listening not sneering, and wondering whether they had really got it right. The only explanation of their current behaviour is that they know already that they've got it wrong and they are rushing for cover.
Dorit Reiss (Works at UC Hastings College of the Law):
The large scale studies and the constant monitoring of the vaccine safety suggest that scientists are taking this vaccine's safety extremely seriously, and examining it closely for any safety concerns. The fact that their findings are not what the parents what to hear does not make them any less true. No cover. Just facts. No serious problems have been clearly linked to this vaccine, with millions of doses administered. Teen age girls suffer medical problems regardless of the vaccine. The rates of the very different array of problem raised by the families are not higher in the vaccinated girls than in the general population or unvaccinated girls. The evidence is that the vaccine is extremely safe.
Foregoing this protection because of distressed parents' belief in its harms would be extremely problematic.
Thor Viðar Jónsson:
I worry when someone puts "scientists" in a quote, and perfect post Dorit thank you!
Well, that's what you say, but it is people being judge and jury in their own case. Confronted by a deluge of real human beings saying what they think of the experience a little humility would be in order. I certainly, don't see it here.
By the way can you shed any light on the existence or otherwise of Prof Reuben Gaines of Johns Hopkins University, who also claims to be employed in the Department of Health in Washington DC? In October he admitted trolling me in your Times of Israel blog, and when I mentioned this last night (UK time) I got another troll conversation (again admitted) from one Lance Penna. I don't actually think this sort of stuff really puts the vaccine lobby in a very good light.
Cynthia Denomme Maurer:
Then weep, because science has lost it's credibilty, not because of science, but because of those who claim it as their area of expertise, when in fact, much of it is monetarily fed, forged and fixed studies. I have been a scientist for 40 years. It doesn't take an expert to do the research, it only takes a parent with motivation and love for their children.
John Stone people can err, and parents work on incomplete information that may help them believe in causation where it does not exist. As sociolegal scholars know, testimony by eyewitness is fraught with problems. People's perceptions can suffer from cognitive biases (see Kahnman, Thinking Fast and Slow), people's memories can be faulty and there can be credibility issue. People do err. Scientists err too, but the rigors of the scientific method help reduce these errors. Parents have no such controls.
Even without the potential to err, parents lack two pieces of information: the rates of the harm in the population, and often the biological mechanisms. Without knowing how often this happen sans vaccine, you can't evaluate if the vaccine caused it. So sorry, but parental belief is not a substitute to causation evidence.
me (signed in using yahoo):
John Stone You mad bro?
Cynthia Denomme Maurer actually, training in research method is crucial to reduce bias, avoid errors, and do a good job. I have met many scientists who are conscientious, devoted, and selfless. They don't' deserve this blanket condemnation.
Jennifer Weesner Simpson (CSA at Lowe's Home Improvement):
Dorit Reiss The problem is that the majority of time vaccine injuries are written off as coincidental before there is even an investigation, because of the claim that vaccines are safe. Of the small number of adverse events that are actually reported, I personally know of hundreds of vaccine injuries (all experienced within a week or two of the vaccine) that were never investigated or reported. Many of them reacted to an initial vaccine, and recovered, and doctors said that it was a coincidence, so the child was vaccinated again, and the same reaction occurred, but it was worse the second time, sometimes with permanent disability and/or death. We all have believed in our doctors, trusted them, and we no longer do, because like you, they deny the obvious evidence. ...and you say "I have met many scientists who are conscienti...See More
Jennifer Weesner Simpson I'm saying the parents here have no causation evidence. Most of them did not bring any, and many of them mentioned other possible causes. Bring causation evidence, we will talk.
Actually, I have met several people with actual vaccine injuries - arms that were swollen for weeks, or brain damage. Their harms were thoroughly investigated. All serious VAERS reports are investigated.
That said, if the report is about SIDS and when the hospital is contacted there is evidence of SIDS, that might be the end. If a parent says vaccines cause their child autism, the investigation will probably be short, because the evidence is overwhelming that vaccines do not.
But the fact that investigation does not conclude what the parent wants does not mean it did not happen.
John Stone and by the way, I've met Mr. Gaines the same way I met you, online. He is clearly very knowledgeable about epidemiology and I have no reason to doubt what he says.
The "pro-vaccine lobby", as you call it, is a group of diverse individuals with various personalities, backgrounds, and approaches to discussion. I'll admit I haven't seen anything Lance or Mr. Gaines did that was particularly outrageous - so you exchanged banter; no threats, hard words from both sides, but that's it.
Would you like to talk of some of the tactics of some anti-vaccine activists?
Why would evidence of SIDS mean "that might be the end" of an investigation? SIDS just means sudden infant death - it does not explain anything, it does not explain causation. Likewise, autism is a spectrum without a defined causation. Some children with autism have been compensated for vaccine causation. Yes, a diagnosis of "autism" ends the investigation - because the link between autism and vaccines is being vigorously denied.
You keep saying that all reports of serious adverse reactions are investigated, but many parents say otherwise.
One reason why scientists might err (apart from professional self-interest) is that also they don't have the full information. What you would want is a full independent medical assessment of each case. But I also know that doctors are terrified of the vaccine issue - they mostly just don't want to go near it and I don't think this makes for safety.
And I know what the doctors did when my son had terrifying reactions to vaccines. They just told us to give him some tylenol and go away (on the phone). They don't want to know. In a 2006 study by a CDC scientist it turned out that 6 in 100 toddlers given MMR2 developed a temperature 39.5C or more, yet there was no long term follow up of health and developmental outcomes for that sub group - the study was wound up after 1 month. And actually nearly 25% of cases the toddler was already definably unwell at the point of vaccination (but modern doctors just steam ahead regardless).
So, mostly I am not really impressed by this Olympian detachment.
Also, the trouble with recall bias studies that I have seen is that the assumption that the written record was complete and accurate is erroneous too. Mostly doctors will not even note bad vaccine reactions in my experience. (Yes, I read Kahneman's book too).
John Stone I don't know what happened with your son and can't comment on that. But - a. The fact that we have tens of thousands of VAERS reports, many by doctors, does not lend support to your claims that doctors ignore such claims. b. Fever as a side effect of MMR was known. Without reason to think it causes long term harm, why follow up? To remind you, measles is much more likely to cause high fevers, and we don't follow up on that, either. c. a mild illness is not a contraindication to vaccination, to remind you.
I'd like some evidence that doctors don't note vaccine reactions, please. Your experience, with all due respect, is probably limited to a small number of cases.
By the way, I am going to be going out with my toddler soon. Since you seem to interpret my tendency to at some point move on from a discussion - depending on what else is on my desk - as a concession for some reason, here is a suggestion: don't. At some point, even I do move on. It usually means I feel we've exhausted the issues and there is nothing more to add, or that I have other things to do.
Thor Viðar Jónsson:
LOL wow, Jan posted this on her wall. "The bottom line to ALL vaccines... Bill Gates Admits Vaccines Are Used for Human Depopulation"
Cynthia Denomme Maurer ...Thank you!
We need to follow up because we have very different health problems from a generation ago. Yes, you get high fevers with measles but measles isn't a commercial product (apart from anything else). I have seen a lot of retrospective MMR studies which do not relate a similar incidence of high fever to the paper mentioned so I have reason to suspect an absence of such recording, rather than absence of high fevers. Also, if doctors were either as blasé about such events as you are (or perhaps as worried as I am) they would likely pass them over.
2nd Conversation (December 3 2013)
Donna Malone (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
Symptoms Post Gardasil:
OVER 32,179 Injured in the U.S. Alone!
Disabled 993 Did Not Recover 6,343
Abnormal Pap 549 Cervical Dysplasia 226
Cervical Cancer 69 Life threatening 587
ER Visits 10,946 Hospitalized 3,264
Serious 4,336 Extended Hospital Stay 240
The Injured are experiencing the Following Symptoms
*BRAIN DAMAGE* *CARDIAC ARREST *BLOOD CLOTS *DEATH
* SEIZURES *ENCEPHALITIS* CANCER
*Stomach pain *Muscle Pain & Weakness *Paralysis
*Rash *Severe Fatigue *Swelling*Hand /
Leg Tremors *Fever* Strokes *Dental Changes *Hearing/Vision Loss *Nausea
* Fainting *Dizzy *Swollen Lymph Nodes *Brain Fog *Migraines
*Shortness of breath *Forgetful
* Chest Pain *Vomiting *Auto Immune Issues
* Mood Changes *Skin Eruptions *Chronic Yeast
Infections * Joint/Nerve Pain*Insomnia *Heart Problems*Bruising
* Absent Menses*Hair Loss *Gastrointestinal Problems *Confusion
*Ringing In ears *Ovarian Cysts *Pain Base of Skull
REPORT ADVERSE EVENTS TO VAERS 1-800-822-7967
Find More Information Truthaboutgardasil.org
*NOTE: Request a Merck Manual 1-800-293-3881 for A List of Side Effects!
This Flyer contains the information received by the FDA from Merck, Statistics from the CDC and the latest VAERS reports. Statistics
Show 1- 10% of Injuries & Deaths are reported
CLINICAL STUDIES SHOWED OVER 73% HAD “NEW” MEDICAL
You are treating VAERS reports as if they show causation. They do not. They are not evidence that any of these things were caused by the vaccines. Anyone can report anything to VAERs; before it can be treated as evidence of cause, it needs to be investigated. Most report are found not causally connected: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23063829
Here is an explanation about VAERS: http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com/2013/11/vaers-few-things-we-need-to-discuss.html
About the 73%: It does not mean 73% of women had new conditions caused by the vaccine, just that during the years of clinical trials, most of these young women had some medical problem - hardly surprising. The problems mentioned included diarrhea and indigestion. Shocking, I know, that during several years a young girl would have diarrhea, but still.
Even more important - the girls in the placebo group had 76% new conditions. Less than those that got the vaccine. In short, this is not evidence the vaccine is dangerous.
In contrast, large scale studies show its safety: A Kaiser study with almost 190000 young women comparing events to the general population: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23027469 ; and a Swedish study with hundreds of thousands young women comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated : http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5906 . Neither found evidence of serious risks. The harms were no larger for the vaccinated than elsewhere.
Dorit Reiss - good morning Dorit - good to see you here again. Once again - MORE STUDIES NEED TO BE DONE ON THIS VACCINE!!! I WILL CONTINUE THIS RESPONSE UNTIL THERE ARE MORE STUDIES DONE BY UNBIASED PARTIES....
Thank you for your time and attention!
You can criticise VAERS because the cases have not been investigated but then we have to ask why not? And of course the other problem with passive reporting is that is likely to only pick up 1 to 2% of cases.
So, actually it is likely to be massively understating the problem.
Donna Malone studies are continuing. I just posted two above. Here is another one:
"A total of 113 specialised centres recruited (from December 2007 to April 2011) females aged 14-26 years with incident cases of six types of ADs: idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), central demyelination/multiple sclerosis (MS), Guillain-Barré syndrome, connective tissue disorders (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis/juvenile arthritis), type 1 diabetes mellitus and autoimmune thyroiditis.
No evidence of an increase in the risk of the studied ADs was observable following vaccination with Gardasil within the time periods studied. There was insufficient statistical power to allow conclusions to be drawn regarding individual ADs."
None of these large scale studies found safety concern. Studies will continue, but for the moment, we need to offer children protection with a vaccine that has such impressive evidence of safety, and no credible scientific or medical evidence of serious harms.
John Stone I am criticizing VAERS reports because they do not show causation. All reports of serious events are actually investigated. No deaths have been causally connected to this vaccine yet.
"All reports of serious events are actually investigated."
What a ridiculous statement. I can't think of a single example of this happening in the UK apart from Andrew Wakefield (and look what they did to him).
Look Dorit, I think you have said something extremely foolish. The standard response of the US government to a possible vaccine injury is that it did not happen unless the victim can prove it in the NVICP. No one monitors or investigates adverse vaccine reactions and their sequelae routinely. That's a fiction. Maybe someone looks at reported cases only to dismiss them at a distance (perhaps as statistically insignificant) but investigated?
John Stone VAERS is not in the U.K.
From VAERs' site: " Please note that VAERS staff follow-up on all serious and other selected adverse event reports to obtain additional medical, laboratory, and/or autopsy records to help understand the concern raised. However, in general coding terms in VAERS do not change based on the information received during the follow-up process. VAERS data should be used with caution as numbers and conditions do not reflect data collected during follow-up. Note that the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not infer causality." http://vaers.hhs.gov/data/index
Your assumption that there is no follow up is: a. based on the wrong country. b. assumes misfeasance without evidence.
Dorit Reiss the follow up is inadequate. Many U.S. parents have reported that there was no follow up on their children's serious adverse reactions, even when they asked for follow up.
And you seem to have the attitude that absolute proof must be provided BEFORE any reports are taken seriously. Absence of additional evidence does not prove that these adverse reactions didn't occur.
You said yesterday that the US continued to monitor vaccine safety after vaccine release by the VAERS system. And yet now you say that that system is completely not to be trusted. So we have no reliable program at all for monitoring vaccine safety? I know you'd like to say that the vaccines are nearly 100% safe when released, and that no matter how many side effects are reported, nearly all of the the reports are bogus, but the many thousands of people it happens to would not agree, including me and my family.
Twyla Ramos follow up does not have to be with the family. It can just as easily be with the medical team and records.
Cynthia, I did not say the system is not to be trusted. I pointed out that the raw reports do not show causation. They do not.
Reviewing data does not amount to investigating a case. As the rubric you quote makes clear it does not result in any action and doesn't change the status of the case.
3rd Conversation (December 3 2013)
Da Wei Leigh (Dir. Sales and Marketing at Global Fab Semiconductor LLC):
Bhopal in a syringe?
Bhopal occurred in 1984. Although the cloud of poison from the Union Carbide plant blanked the city and immediately began its deadly mission, as late as July of this year, Union Carbide is claiming that the victims rights group fail to prove that there is a causal link between the escape of gas, the instantaneous and subsequent deaths, illness and injury. No link. No proof. People alive the day before died overnight and in droves in the ensuing days, months and years. Yes, almost 30 years later. No link is claimed. http://www.earthrights.org/media/appeals-court-denies-justice-victims-union-carbide-s-pollution-bhopal
I see a distinct parallel in the denial.
It is understandable that Merck does not want a Vioxx II so are doing everything to prevent it.
Will they succeed an continue to deny 30 years from now like Bhophal.
Another distraction? Again, where is your evidence of harms of HPV? To me, this attempt to reach for other cases, no matter how different, is an admission that you have none.
Da Wei Leigh:
Union Carbide needs your talent Dorit. They've succeeded almost 30 years to evade responsibility by denying any cause. Sorry, it is a legal parallel that mirrors Merck's Vioxx behavior and their current Gardasil behavior. Don't you agree? I wonder if Merck and Union Carbide share law firms? It is really the same case, only the players are different. Vioxx was Merck's previous Union Carbide and Gardasil is the current one. One is end phase and the other is just beginning. Compelling!!!
Addryanne Adamsyn (Banana):
Lots of people need Dorits talent. Being different from every single anti vaxer in this crowd that is unable to present a viable defence for their opinions, but doesn't realise this proves that they are wrong.
Da Wei Leigh's parallel is significant. It is the genre of how corporations and governments leave the victims of their mistakes and evil experiments floundering - calling on them to disprove the blatantly obvious. Another parallel would be the UK's Camelford water contamination disaster where under the direction of the UK's Department of Health successive British governments have for a quarter of a century cynically obfuscated an incident which threw into disarray the Thatcher government water privatisation plans.
The answer is in the real world of industrial science no one ever admits error unless they are forced to. We also had in the UK in the 1980s - another Department of Health masterpiece - the contaminated blood for haemophiliacs scandal and another report 25 years later finding no one to blame (at least they couldn't entirely disguise what happened) for what was little better than bureaucratic mass-murder.
The point is no one ever rolls over and apologises or admits culpablility, and what what we are getting here is just what you'd expect from governments and corporations that have done harm on an industrial scale. And we will continue to get lots of flippant remark saying you can't prove it, but it is a legal strategy which is neither humane, honest or scientific.
If ordinary citizens disregard all the smarmy, superior denials who is to blame them?
A variety of non-related examples is not evidence of harms. Just like the rollovers of Ford Pinto do not mean the Fiesta is dangerous. Especially when vaccines are subject to so many more accountability mechanisms than other drugs.
No, it is a question of how they are related. I am pointing out that if vaccines cause harm (as many here believe) governments and corporations would hire lawyers and scientists to defend their reputations rather than ever admit anything. Don't you agree?
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.