Author Response to Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Retraction of "A lowered probability of pregnancy in females in the USA aged 25-29 who received a human papillomavirus vaccine injection"
By Gayle DeLong
In June 2018, the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A published my article “A lowered probability of pregnancy in females in the USA aged 25-29 who received a human papillomavirus vaccine injection”. Data revealed that 60% of women who had not received the HPV vaccine had been pregnant at least once, while only 35% of HPV vaccine recipients had ever conceived. The article detailed the statistical analysis as well as offered possible biological mechanisms for the results. Three researchers peer-reviewed the article. When the article first appeared, the editors eagerly promoted it by making it free. By early December 2019, the number of views reached close to 24,000.
On October 23, 2019, I received an email stating that Taylor & Francis and Editor-in-Chief Dr. Sam Kacew had opened an investigation of the paper, based on “several public and private expressions of concern about flaws in analysis.” They gave me two weeks to respond to comments from four post-publication reviewers, and I did so. On December 10, 2019, I received an email from Taylor and Francis stating that despite my comments, the “concerns raised by the reviewers still stand,” and they were retracting the article. Since the retraction, the number of views has increased to 24, 227.
In the retraction notice (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15287394.2019.1669991), Taylor & Francis state that all post-publication reviews, “described serious flaws in the statistical analysis and interpretation of the data in this paper” without going into any detail. However, one of their reviewers determined that I had been careful with the limitations and conclusions of the paper. That reviewer agreed with me that an open debate concerning the findings of the paper specifically as well as vaccine safety in general is essential.
The manner in which Taylor and Francis is handling these post-publication criticisms is highly unusual. Typically, if a researcher sees a flaw in a published paper, he or she openly writes a letter to the editor, to which the author can reply. Both the critique and the reply are published in the journal.
A basic principle of medical ethics holds that if there is evidence that a treatment, drug or vaccine may be dangerous, even if that evidence is not conclusive, we must investigate those possible problems until we have settled the question one way or another. Suppressing studies simply because we disagree with them only stifles legitimate scientific debate. My paper did not claim to offer a final answer to this issue. It simply raised concerns and called for further investigation into a question that may have an enormous impact on the reproductive health of millions of women.
Major post-publication criticisms – as identified by Editor-in-Chief Kacew – along with my responses are as follows:
- Methodological Issues: Potential confounders are not accounted for or simply ignored such as an economic downturn, societal trends including postponing pregnancy, increased women in the workforce, changes in contraceptive use, contraceptive failure rates, etc. All these factors impact pregnancy but were not addressed.
The trends mentioned in this criticism address the decline in the overall birth rate. The value of my study is that each observation identifies whether a woman received the HPV vaccine and whether that woman had ever been pregnant. To confirm that overall trends were not influencing the results, I added time trends to the statistical analysis and the results remained: Women who received the HPV vaccine were less likely to have ever been pregnant.
- Misinterpretation of data: Extrapolation of results that the number of pregnancies due to the vaccine are unfounded and supported by findings from studies by an author that uses VAERS database that relies on self-reported adverse events without verification makes the results dubious.
The data I use come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a non-random survey of people living in the United States. By design, each observation represents many more people than the individual who is surveyed. The very essence of NHANES is to generalize from the observations, and the database includes specific weights for each observation.
The comment about the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) is not relevant. While I cite an author who uses VAERS, the citation serves merely as background and plays no major role in the analysis.
- Validity questionable: The issues of selection bias, lack of similar observations in USA and Europe, weak biological plausibility and inaccurate statement regarding dose response are all factors that raise doubts regarding the data.
These criticisms are flat out wrong. No selection bias exists: I use every observation where the person surveyed includes answers to all the questions I use in the analysis. There are similar observations in Europe: In a separate study, I show that birth rates are falling in European countries that have implemented wide-spread HPV vaccine programs. That study is here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645515.2019.1622977 Not only does biological plausibility exist, studies continue to be published that point to a link between the autoimmunity that vaccines can induce and fertility issues. The statement regarding dose response in the paper is correct: I confirmed my interpretation with two independent statisticians.
4) Statistical analysis: The use of the SAS package in this case is not appropriate as this package cannot judge the validity of the questions asked, the selection of variables are biased especially as this statistical model excluded variables in the NHANES data such as contraceptive use. The authors do not provide criteria for including or excluding variables which is crucial.
The data used in the analysis come from the U.S. government. If the responses to questions asked in the course of a national survey sponsored by the U.S. government are not valid, why ask the questions?
The variables I include – age, income, education, and race/ethnicity – are standard demographic and socioeconomic factors that could affect the probability of ever being pregnant.
Concerning contraception, the NHANES database contains fragmentary data. The survey includes questions on only three types of contraception, and many women provided no response to the questions. Certainly, a follow-up study to determine whether contraceptive use influences the results is warranted, but it is beyond the scope of this database and this paper. Certainly, further study is warranted.
Feel free to contact me if you are interested in further details: email@example.com.
Hey, you never know:
once the paper is removed, it may become iconic!
Remember the guy called Andy Wakefield and his "retracted" MMR vaccine case study?
Probably the most read and commonly known paper of all times!
I call it Hermiony's principle - once something is prohibited, no one can bear to miss it - best advertisement ever!
From my own experience - there were no more popular reading in the Soviet Union than "samizdat" - prohibited literature.
Posted by: Irena | December 17, 2019 at 10:10 PM
Posted by: Pft | December 16, 2019 at 05:51 PM
I understand your reason for comparison but this far outweighs theories and facts about the solar system. I am repeating myself for sure but this is without doubt the biggest crime in all history !
Posted by: White Rose | December 17, 2019 at 06:11 AM
Galileo would feel right at home in todays scientific environment. The high priests of the Medical Industrial Complex have spoken. Like the Pope they are infallible and their word is final.
Posted by: Pft | December 16, 2019 at 05:51 PM
Clearly your paper violated a long standing edict issued by the FDA back in 1984. It raised serious issues that brought into question the safety of a vaccine.
But, the FDA has expressly stated "doubts, whether or not well founded, as to the safety of the vaccine, cannot be allowed to exist." They were talking about the oral polio vaccine then, but this is across the board Pharma/State policy for every vaccine today.
Posted by: Bob Snee | December 16, 2019 at 05:47 PM
I am disheartened to see that the timely and important paper written by Gayle DeLong, PhD has been retracted when her research is so strong and her analysis compelling. As we've been seeing lately, there appears to be increasing discomfort with any research that does not align to the "party line." This is wrong and particularly upsetting to those who well know how thorough and diligent Gayle is in her work.
Posted by: F Edward Yazbak MD | December 16, 2019 at 04:14 PM
In light of your leading article about the censorship of Gayle DeLong's paper in a 'reputable' journal, I would like to draw readers attention to the following.
HYPOTHESIS AND THEORY ARTICLE
published: 23 September 2014 in PUBLIC HEALTH doi:
Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent
There was a slow fuse on this piece of censorship.
Professor Goodson wrote and had published the article in 2014, it was only withdrawn from it's original place in the journal in 2019. In all probability this was because during 2017/18/19 there has been a gradual fight-back against the HIV hypothesis of AIDS.
I'm putting this up because I think it is important that those fighting for civil rights and good health on the vaccine issue, see clearly that the whole contorted landscape of corporate 'science' now repeats itself in various disciplines.
I found a reference to Professor Goodson's paper but when I looked for it, I found that it had been removed from the journal it was published in. I eventually found a copy of it. When I first read it, I was struck by it's discursive nature and the fact that it included reference to a whole army of qualified people, some of whom I had worked with or written about. The paper shows clearly that there have always been two sides in this debate. One side has always had the high ground, the money, the interests of the corporations, while the other side has always been made up of hard working, sincere but censured dissidents.
Posted by: Martin J Walker | December 16, 2019 at 12:28 PM
I think the most important thing is that there are now a lot of scientific articles, personal testimony, and books like The HPV Vaccine on Trial available on the Internet and on Amazon regarding the extreme dangers of the HPV vaccine. It would be interesting to do a survey on why anyone gets it in the face of these mortal dangers. It's safe to say that virtually everyone has access to the Internet and to Amazon. They could ask for the book on interlibrary loan from their public library if it did not have the book available to check out. Why would anyone gamble with their or their children's lives without having researched it carefully? Just blind trust in their doctor and the vaccine companies?
Posted by: Cia | December 16, 2019 at 11:56 AM
Thank you for the brilliant explanation. This is how the vaccine cabaal is going to operate in the future. Silence and censor everyone who speaks against or questions their agenda on all online and social media platforms and then strong arm journals to retract any science that questions the agenda using ghost-written bull shit.
Too bad that the WHO is also bought by Pharma and spout the usual garbage of how vaccines have saved millions of lives instead of talking about the tens of millions that they have caused to be chronically ill. Please continue to publish true science questioning the one-size-fits all vaccine madness. Thank you
Posted by: RaviK | December 16, 2019 at 11:52 AM
Amazing Table , amazing Figures
And I did not know Romania had rejected Gardasil ..... Should we send over Stanley for a pep-talk ?
Posted by: White Rose | December 16, 2019 at 10:33 AM
Such shameful censorship by vaccine mafia of science which reveals the truth about devastating effects of vaccines on human life and health is common in our times. The more revealing the publication, the more likely it is to be suppressed. Unfortunately now most scientific journals serve various drug/ pharma cartels, which became a new era inquisition. Science is dead now. Long live the underground science. You should put your publication on Web with the annotation that it was first published and then withdrawn by this scientific journal. And be proud of your treatment, as only the most important science is censored. Copernicus was able to publish his revolutionary work on movement of Earth and other planets around Sun only while being on his death bed.
Posted by: no-vac | December 16, 2019 at 10:19 AM
Gayle: Thank you for this clear explanation. An outrage that good science is suppressed, while so much meaningless junk gets published in journals both prestigious and otherwise.
Posted by: Gary Ogden | December 16, 2019 at 08:54 AM
You should be proud your study was published if only for a little while. I have started saving articles that show the truth, if only for a little while.
Posted by: D | December 16, 2019 at 08:27 AM
It is perhaps ironic that Taylor & Francis has just asked me to review an article for another journal. Evidently, Taylor & Francis first promoted me as an important and reliable researcher. Then they withdrew my article without detailed explanation. And now, just a few days later, once again treat me as an important and reliable researcher.
Posted by: Gayle DeLong | December 16, 2019 at 08:27 AM
How many more times is a paper likely to be retracted if it offends the vaccine lobby?
Posted by: John Stone | December 16, 2019 at 07:25 AM