Druin Burch, an Oxford physician and professor, has penned a fine piece, appearing in the December/January issue of Natural History, advocating for placebo-controlled trials for all medical interventions. It’s a good read.
Some gems: “In the nineteenth century, improvements in public health practices had greatly prolonged human life. Medicine itself, however, only started doing more good than harm around World War II . ..”
In a discussion of childhood cancer treatments: “Giving new treatments to children outside of controlled trials is not merciful compassion. It’s a gamble in which the child is as likely to be hurt as helped, and after which-due to the lack of control-we won’t even be able to tell which effect the treatment has had.”
He speaks of the appeal of dogma, calling historical and current medical wisdom “eminence-based medicine.” Does this sound like CDC vaccine policy? He makes exception only for existing drugs known to be safe for use in diseases with high case-fatality rates (his example being Ebola).
But then he makes this curious statement: “Similar arguments could be made for some vaccines, provided those vaccines are closely related to ones for which we already have abundant knowledge.”
Abundant knowledge from placebo-controlled trials? Please, Dr. Burch, give us the names and dates of those trials, the outcomes, the raw data. I know of only one: One of the six Gardasil trials had a very small saline placebo arm, in addition to the adjuvant (Amorphous Aluminum Hydroxyphosphate Sulfate) arm. The data in the tables for pain, swelling, and redness are broken out into the three arms. For all serious adverse reactions, however, the placebo data are hidden, lumped together with the adjuvant arm in the tables, to give roughly the same rate of 2.3%. This is not science. It is flim flam.
We do not know, Dr. Burch, not for any vaccine, the “effect the treatment has had,” except, perhaps, in the case of smallpox. We do have very good historical records, from the UK and elsewhere, comparing morbidity and mortality rates with vaccination rates in the 19th century for smallpox, which clearly show the cure was worse than the disease. Why else did Parliament overturn the mandate in 1907?
We also know that case-fatality rates in the industrialized world for the infectious diseases we vaccinate against are very low, and nearly non-existent in the well nourished. Science today, not only vaccine science, but pharmaceutical science and nutrition science, has been corrupted like never before, in part by dogma, but in the main, by the allure of riches.
Dr. Burch knows full-well that questioning vaccine dogma is career suicide, but, in a way, he has questioned it by the force of his argument in favor of basing all medical treatment upon real scientific evidence. For this I thank him.
Gary Ogden is retired and loves gardening, cooking, and learning, particularly about the science of nutrition, human health, and soil.