Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is WHO's pandemic plan the problem?

From PharmaTech comes the following paragraph, which implies that once a pandemic is identified, the WHO's Pandemic Plan goes into effect. An evaluation of severity is missing from this scenario. Somehow, the assumption seems to be that pandemics (all pandemics, especially those associated with influenza viruses) are dire events with high mortality rates. Yet the word pandemic only means "widespread."
"WHO’s 2009 pandemic-preparedness plan was an updated version of its first such document, which the organization drafted in 1999. Stressing the effort WHO put into the plan, Fukuda said that the plan included contributions from more than 135 public-health scientists from 48 countries. A request for public comments on the draft document yielded more than 600 replies."
Fukuda's protest that swine flu is a "real" pandemic is correct. Swine flu is a pandemic, and it is mild. A new type of cold virus can also cause a pandemic.

So who decides that a sufficiently severe pandemic is occurring, and therefore WHO's pandemic plan needs to be activated? Wouldn't that be Fukuda and Chen? Isn't Fukuda dodging discussion of what is really relevant?

Somebody at WHO has to take responsibility for the worldwide misallocation of many billion $s in public health resources. A conflicted SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts) gave WHO advice. But who at WHO flipped the switch?

World Health Organization calls swine flu critics 'irresponsible' / AP

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization has rejected as "irresponsible" allegations that swine flu is a fake pandemic. WHO also dismissed claims it colluded with drug companies to bring economic benefit to the industry by playing up the danger of the new H1N1 influenza strain. WHO officials met Tuesday with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe after the watchdog body questioned whether the U.N.'s health agency acted under undue influence.

Spokesman Gregory Hartl says WHO has always been "very measured and sober" in describing the outbreak as causing overwhelmingly mild disease. Hartl said Monday that from a scientific point of view "this is plainly a pandemic and for people to not describe it as a pandemic is irresponsible."

How many Americans were REALLY immunized for Swine Flu?

CDC called a few thousand random phone numbers and asked people whether they had been vaccinated. CDC said the response rate was poor. From this admittedly poor quality dataset, CDC told the world that 20% of Americans had been vaccinated against swine flu.

But CDC had a high quality dataset telling it exactly how many Americans had been vaccinated. From the immunizations program's beginning, CDC has required all centers giving swine flu immunizations to provide weekly tallies of numbers vaccinated.

So why did CDC waste taxpayer dollars dialing random phone numbers, and waste the time of people answering the phone? Early in the epidemic, over 50% of Americans who were surveyed said they planned to get the shot. It seems Americans exaggerate their willingness to be vaccinated when queried by government agencies or their proxies.

Didn't CDC like the actual percentage of vaccinated Americans that had been reported by vaccine clinics? Did CDC instead seek a result from random dialing that would make CDC appear to have been more successful at convincing Americans to be vaccinated? "From our point of view, this looks very successful," said CDC spokesman, Richard Quartarone.

According to Bloomberg, "The U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany and France have vaccinated less than 10 percent of their populations, compared with 20 percent in Europe in a typical flu season." And in another Bloomberg article: “The willingness to be vaccinated against swine flu is much lower than what governments projected,” said Andrew Goodsall, a health-care analyst with UBS AG in Sydney. And in Texas last week, it was reported that 80% of kids who had received the first swine flu shot failed to return for the second dose.

Yet CDC has claimed that more Americans were vaccinated than in a typical flu season. I think we deserve to see the real data.

"Public health officials who want to increase vaccination rates will need to focus more attention on convincing people who most need it of its safety," Robert Blendon, director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, said in a statement released with the poll. "Findings here—like past polls—suggest that beliefs about safety have been difficult to change for a segment of the public."

No wonder the Pharma-Government complex has been sending out feelers regarding mandatory vaccinations. Aggressive PR is failing to convince most people of the need to be vaccinated for minor annoyances. Meanwhile, who is in charge of US vaccine safety "science"? CDC.

Do you need a shot now?

INFLUENZA Virus Isolated

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Swine Flu Didn't Fly/ Truthout

From Niko Kyriakou at Truthout, excerpts:
Wow, what a year 2009 was for makers of the swine flu vaccine. CSL Limited's profits rose 63 percent above 2008 levels, while in the third quarter of 2009 - just about the time H1N1 contracts picked up steam - GlaxoSmithKine enjoyed a 30 percent jump in earnings to $2.19 billion. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, which prevents H1N1, saw second quarter profits leap to 12 times what they were in that quarter of 2008. But in 2010, drug companies may get their comeuppance.
On Tuesday, the Council of Europe launched an investigation into whether the World Health Organization (WHO) "faked" the swine flu pandemic to boost profits for vaccine manufacturers. The inquiry, held in Strasbourg, France, vindicates a worldwide movement of insiders, experts and elected officials who accuse the United Nations organization of misleading the world into buying millions of unnecessary vaccines...
Food and drug agencies in Canada, the UK, France, the US, and elsewhere guaranteed vaccine manufacturers that they would be shielded from any lawsuits connected to the vaccines. This enabled companies to fast track the testing process, reducing some trials to as little as five days.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved/ Wall Street Journal

The Jan. 24 WSJ ran an Op-Ed on the anthrax letters investigation and meaning of 1.4% silicon in the letter anthrax, by Edward Jay Epstein. Subtitled "The FBI disproved its main theory about how the spores were weaponized," excerpts from the article follow:

The investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks ended as far as the public knew on July 29, 2008, with the death of Bruce Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md. The cause of death was an overdose of the painkiller Tylenol. No autopsy was performed, and there was no suicide note...

Consequently, Ivins, who was assisting the FBI with its investigation, as well as all the scientists who had access to the anthrax, became suspects in the investigation. They were intensely questioned, given polygraph examinations, and played off against one another in variations of the prisoner's dilemma game. Their labs, computers, phones, homes and personal effects were scrutinized for possible clues...

Livermore scientists had tried 56 times to replicate the high silicon content without any success. Even though they added increasingly high amounts of silicon to the media, they never even came close to the 1.4% in the attack anthrax. Most results were an order of magnitude lower, with some as low as .001%.

What these tests inadvertently demonstrated is that the anthrax spores could not have been accidently contaminated by the nutrients in the media. "If there is that much silicon, it had to have been added," Jeffrey Adamovicz, who supervised Ivins's work at Fort Detrick, wrote to me last month. He added that the silicon in the attack anthrax could have been added via a large fermentor—which Battelle and other labs use" but "we did not use a fermentor to grow anthrax at USAMRIID . . . We did not have the capability to add silicon compounds to anthrax spores."

...even though the public may be under the impression that the anthrax case had been closed in 2008, the FBI investigation is still open—and, unless it can refute the Livermore findings on the silicon, it is back to square one.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

David Kelly post mortem to be kept secret for 70 years as doctors accuse Lord Hutton of concealing vital information / Daily Mail

The Chilcot Inquiry into the facts surrounding the decision for Great Briitain to enter the Iraq War has now been lobbed a ball it probably can't duck.

A group of physicians have asked for release of data--including autopsy reports--on the death of David Kelly. Kelly, a WMD expert, told the BBC that Blair's government had "sexed up" a report on Iraq's WMD: that there was no evidence for the claim that nuclear weapons could be sent overseas by Saddam Hussein within 45 minutes. Shortly thereafter he was found dead in the woods near his home.

His death was not explained satisfactorily. Now it turns out that Lord Hutton, who convened an earlier inquiry into Kelly's death that many regard as a cover-up, sealed all the records for 70 years. This new fact seems to clinch Hutton as a cover-upper.

Now the Chilcot hearing will almost certainly need to delve into the circumstances of Kelly's death, and behind all that is the role Labor Party leaders may have had in it. So far, Chilcot has dodged the entire issue of Kelly.

UPDATE: The TimesOnline (and other UK media) have reported that Lord Hutton will be making classified documents available to the 5 doctors investigating Kelly's death. The Times site has a nice clickable summary of the witnesses' testimony at the Chilcott hearing, where Tony Blair dodged and prevaricated on Jan. 29.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Swiss warn on flu vaccine with autoimmune disease/ Reuters

ZURICH (from Jan. 20, 2010: Reuters) -

Switzerland's medical regulator recommended patients with serious
autoimmune diseases should not use an H1N1 flu vaccine from
Novartis, saying there were no studies assessing the innoculation in that
population.

Swissmedic said on Wednesday it could not be ruled out that either or both
the adjuvant -- which can enhance the immune response -- and/or the antigen, or less active ingredient, could lead to an intensifying of autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, are caused by an overly
active immune system attacking its own body, targeting substances which are
normally present.

Novartis was not immediately available to comment.

Instead, Novartis was busy flogging its MF59 adjuvant in the US for BIRD FLU. The only problem is that enhanced immune responses are dangerous in people who have autoimmune diseases, or a genetic predisposition to them. And from another of today's Reuters articles:

A vaccine additive made by Novartis (NOVN.VX) and used in its European influenza shots can boost the body's immune response to a wide range of viruses, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

Tests in the laboratory suggested the so-called adjuvant, called MF59, helped the immune system counteract not only the H5N1 virus in the current experimental bird flu vaccine, but mutant viruses as well. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggests using vaccines with adjuvants may protect patients against even more types of flu viruses than they are being vaccinated against. Adjuvants are widely used in European flu vaccines as well as in Canada. But are not widely used in the United States -- even though the federal government has spent nearly $700 million buying them.

The reason? People might not trust them.

Other studies have shown adjuvants can stretch the supply of flu vaccine, because
shots using them require much less of the actual vaccine antigen.

"Adjuvanted vaccines produce higher immune response than unadjuvanted vaccines particularly in the elderly and young children," Dr. Vas Narasimhan, president of Novartis Vaccines USA, told a U.S. Congressional hearing last November.

WHO examines claims over exaggerating swine flu danger / Deutsche World

Snippets from Deutsche World online:
Amid criticism that it exaggerated the dangers of swine flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) has begun a week long meeting in Geneva. Critics accuse the organization of having been too quick to proclaim a pandemic.

British member of parliament Paul Flynn wants an investigation into exactly how the pandemic was handled. "We want to know who decided the level of risk," he said. "Was it decided on medical and health grounds or was it decided to meet the priorities of making profits of the pharmaceutical organizations. The great danger is that having cried 'wolf' on avian flu and on swine flu, nobody is going to trust the World Health Organisation if they come out with another threat, with another scare story in the future."

In Norway the ministry of health announced a deal with GSK identical to one the pharmaceutical giant signed with Germany and Belgium, allowing the country to save around 24.6 million euros ($35.4 million).

The Greek government cancelled 12.3 million of its flu vaccine orders, from a total of 16 million originally destined for the 11 million Greek population, while Norway had ordered 9.4 million vaccinations from GSK, foreseeing two doses for each of its 4.8 million citizens, in accordance with the recommendations at the time from health authorities.

A total of 97 people have died in Greece for reasons linked to swine flu and in Norway 29 people have died from the virus.

But this is a debate that won't go away – next week in Strasbourg, the council of Europe is set to hold an emergency debate on the swine flu pandemic – WHO officials and executives from the vaccine producers will be required to attend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2 Studies Question the Effectiveness of Flu Vaccines/NY Times

From the NY Times, Sept. 21, 2005 -

Just as governments around the world are stockpiling millions of doses of flu vaccine and antiviral drugs in anticipation of a potential influenza pandemic, two new research papers published today have found that such treatments are far less effective than previously thought.

"The studies published today reinforce the shortcomings of our efforts to control influenza," wrote Dr. Guan Yi, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, in an editorial that accompanied the papers...
In one paper, international researchers analyzed all the data from patient studies on the flu vaccine performed worldwide in the past 37 years and discovered that vaccines showed at best a "modest" ability to prevent influenza or its complications in elderly people.

The current bird flu virus does not spread easily - if at all - from human to human, and so has little potential to become a worldwide human scourge. But the World Health Organization has warned that it could acquire that potential through a couple of common biological processes, and that countries should prepare for a possible wave of serious influenza...

In people over 65, the vaccines "are apparently ineffective" in the prevention of influenza, pneumonia and hospital admissions, although they did reduce deaths from pneumonia by "up to 30 per cent."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why not a US investigation of the swine flu response?/ Alliance for Human Research Protection

The Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) calls for an investigation of
conflicts of interest at Federal Agencies which spearheaded the excessive,
expensive, and unjustifiable federal expenditure in response to the false Swine
Flu "pandemic" in the U.S. Indeed, "off the record", CDC even stage-managed media coverage of the epidemic.

Issues requiring investigation:

1. BARDA (the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority) is a new federal agency that has been charged with procuring countermeasures for attacks by weapons of mass destruction. BARDA had no expertise obtaining drugs in common usage. Why then was it made the lead federal agency to procure vaccines and drugs for a nonexistent Bird Flu outbreak, and for this year's Swine Flu pandemic?

BARDA contracted for enormous quantities of new drug and vaccine products which had not
been tested in the field. It is unknown if any of these new entities will work as desired. Indeed, as reported in the BMJ on December 8, 2009, no reliable evidence supports the usefulness of Tamiflu in treating the flu, which was purchased in huge amounts.

2. Why were the manufacturers of all five Swine Flu vaccines and the two antiviral drugs (Tamiflu and Relenza) issued blanket liability waivers--as were "government program planners" at BARDA and other agencies who had approved and exhorted their use?

DHHS Secretaries under George W. Bush and Barack Obama approved these liability
waivers under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP).

However, neither the Bush nor Obama administration made any attempt to inform Americans that in the event that they suffered a drug or vaccine-caused injury, they were prohibited from accessing the US legal system to seek damages. Discussion of the PREP law which enabled this can be found here.

3. AHRP would like to know why the US treasury, and worldwide health budgets, have come to resemble Big Pharma's cookie jar?

With a reported 36,000 U.S. deaths annually from seasonal flu, and (at most) 10,000 deaths from swine flu, we believe that President Obama's declaration (in October 2009) that swine flu presents a national emergency was as ill-advised as it is preposterous.

And with the pandemic over, declaring the week of January 10 "National Influenza Vaccination Week" to push more vaccinations... is a cynical ploy to provide cover for officials who wasted $ billions ordering excessive vaccine. How long does vaccine protection last? Could we use the excess supply to add to seasonal flu vaccine next winter, as already planned?

Or does next year's supply require spending more billions?

Is Avian Flu vaccine next for selected groups?/ WHO

WHO's Strategic Group of Experts Working Group on Avian Flu (H5N1) Vaccine is working on "evidence-based recommendations" for using up stockpiles of avian flu vaccine that are reaching their expiration date. From WHO's website:
"Facilitate a SAGE review and decision on potential evidence-based recommendations on the use during the current inter-pandemic period of:
    • H5N1 influenza vaccines in persons at high-risk of infection with H5N1 avian influenza virus and/or and in certain priority groups (as identified by country plans) or in the general population
    • WHO stockpiled H5N1 influenza vaccines reaching the end of their shelf life."
Could this be why WHO's Director General starting warning about Bird Flu two weeks ago? "The world is not ready for a pandemic to be caused by H5N1," she chirped.

Like her deputy Dr. Fukuda, Dr. Chan has personal experience responding to both bird flu and SARS while serving as Hong Kong's health director. This shared experience likely skewed their priority setting at WHO.

How can WHO's sages make any recommendations based on evidence when there never has been a bird flu pandemic and bird flu viruses have never caused an epidemic through person to person spread? Get real, WHO, and stop hiding a universe of uncertainty behind pretty verbiage and scare tactics.

The issue at hand is whether you are going to recommend using expiring vaccines in humans, whose safety and efficacy are unknown, for a disease epidemic that does not exist. And the advantage to doing so is the theoretical hope that if the disease ever surfaced, the vaccine might provide a soup├žon [French: a suspicion, hint or drop] of protection. Presumably the real reason to use it is to enable WHO and national health departments to purchase more, newer bird flu vaccines, thereby increasing Pharma profits while expanding the concept of appropriate vaccine uses.

Investing in snake oil (excuse me, bird oil) is great business, especially if the World Health Organization is behind you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CDC Conflicts of Interest

CDC does not just award grants, it also obtains research grants from other federal agencies and industry. Here is one grant CDC got from an Australian biotech company to advance research on the company's pandemic flu vaccine. How might such relationships affect CDC's impartiality in fulfilling its mission to recommend vaccines for general use in the US?

Furthermore, CDC created the CDC Foundation to enable it to accept corporate (and other) gifts. It appears that corporations can use CDC to advance their own interests by, for example, "creat[ing] health education campaigns" and "invest[ing] in specific programmatic areas." For example:

Businesses and Corporations

Restricted Support: Some corporations wish to invest in a specific programmatic area within CDC. These gifts typically help defray all or some of the costs of carrying out a scientific study, health education campaign, training program or other public health program. Often funding partners become engaged early on in a project to clearly understand its objectives or participate in the program design. Several partners may jointly fund a program to provide adequate resources to ensure its successful completion. Read more about CDC Foundation partnerships that help corporations and CDC achieve common goals. To find out about contributing to a particular program, call the Advancement Office at 404-653-0790 or e-mail jsmith@cdcfoundation.org.

Annual Alliance: The CDC Foundation's Annual Alliance campaign provides companies of all sizes the opportunity to align themselves with the public health objectives of CDC, while providing unrestricted support to the CDC Foundation. Learn More

Swine flu vaccine is safe, they say: but I am seeing nasty coincidences

Real data is important, and anecdotes are just anecdotal. Yet during the past 3 weeks I have been personally involved with 3 events that have me concerned. I am a doctor on an island of 13,000 people, where hundreds received swine flu vaccine.

Coincidence 1: several hours after getting the swine flu vaccine, a man "looked gray" to his wife and then had vague chest pain. I sent him for a cath, and he had a near-complete stenosis of a large coronary artery.

Coincidence 2: one week after the vaccine, a man I treated developed Bell's Palsy.

Coincidence 3: one day after receiving injected swine flu vaccine, a child I was consulted on had new onset of a facial tic.

The possibility that one or more of these cases may be adverse effects of the vaccine (and the second two probably are) means that detailed data on adverse events needs to be made public NOW. The epidemic is nearly over, but there is a big push to VACCINATE NOW, during National Influenza Vaccination Week (Jan 10-16).

The vaccines have been in use for 3 months. Sixty million Americans have used them, according to a small CDC poll. Enhanced electronic data collection is said to be a feature of the US vaccine program. While we continue to push the vaccine, let's have transparency about what the existing data show.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WHO, investigated for swine flu mismanagement, says it will investigate itself

The BBC today notes that:

The Council of Europe is planning an investigation, to begin later this month, into whether pharmaceutical companies influenced public health officials to spend money unnecessarily.

In Geneva, a WHO spokeswoman acknowledged there were questions to be answered.

She said the review of its management of the pandemic would be conducted with independent experts, and the results would be made public.

However, the review will not begin until the pandemic itself is declared over - and that could still be months away.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reported Jan 14 on statements by Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General for the World Health Organization, who denied WHO had changed the pandemic flu definition in anything but its usual manner of modifying definitions, and said that all conflicts of interest at WHO had to be disclosed and were taken very seriously. [See earlier blogs for discussion of how 80% of WHO's budget does not come from member states, and how the WHO pandemic definition was changed. Here is a 2004 WHO definition:

An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.

and here (May 26, 2009 at Science blogs) you can see that the definition was a moving target last spring, which ultimately did not change, after a 2006 change that extracted disease severity from the pandemic definition:

WHO earlier had defined phase 6 as sustained community spread of the virus in two regions of the world but last week put that definition on ice, following pressure from member countries that criticized the phasing system for not taking into account disease severity. Fukuda said in the next few weeks that WHO hopes to hold a videoconference with prominent scientists and public health specialists who have “a wide range of opinions” about how to define phases in influenza outbreaks. “We’re trying to see what kind of adjustments might be made to make sure that the definitions really meet the situation,” said Fukuda.

Fukuda himself is a former US CDC official who has worked on avian flu for the past 12 years, and participated in responses to small avian flu outbreaks in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

How the world's response to swine flu came to mirror the planned response to a future, widespread avian flu epidemic could be related to Fukuda's experience and expertise. I wonder what he can tell us about this aspect of WHO's swine flu actions?

Keiji Fukuda is assistant director general of the WHO.

Keiji Fukuda is assistant director general of the WHO. (Anja Niedringhaus - AP)

Meanwhile, the Guardian discusses the Council of Europe investigation:

European health chiefs are to hold emergency talks about whether pharmaceutical giants have unduly influenced governments into squandering public money on vast stockpiles of unnecessary swine flu drugs...

The text of the resolution proposed by Wodarg (who is Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Council of Europe) calling for an inquiry states that "in order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies influenced scientists and official agencies responsible for public health standards to alarm governments worldwide and make them squander tight health resources for inefficient vaccine strategies, and needlessly expose millions of healthy people to the risk of an unknown amount of side-effects of insufficiently-tested vaccines."

The total bill for fighting swine flu in the UK was put at £1bn in a parliamentary question back in September. It is expected to have risen since then.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Seasonal Flu Vaccine or Else! Workers Fired/W Va Gazette

Let's draw a stupid line in the sand. Let's fire employees who refuse a seasonal flu vaccine made up of antigens for 3 strains of flu that do not happen to be circulating in the US right now, and may never circulate. Check out the CDC's graph detailing the flu strains found in the US every week, below. The seasonal flu vaccine contains antigens for the red, blue and a green strain. No one seems to be testing positive for any of them.


INFLUENZA Virus Isolated

Why impose vaccinations? Because it is "better for patients and everyone else."

Everyone else surely includes the vaccine manufacturers, who (in citations from previous posts) are including efforts to push mandatory vaccinations in their business plans. Merck did this with its Gardasil marketing. In 2007 Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an Executive Order mandating Gardasil vaccinations for Texas' young girls. His decree was later overturned by the legislature, when it was revealed his former chief of staff was a Merck lobbyist and Merck had funded his campaign and that of other Texas legislators.

Presumably one reason to hire ex-CDC director Gerberding as president of Merck Vaccines is to marshall CDC's help expanding vaccine mandates. According to Reuters:
She [Gerberding] may be charged with reigniting flagging sales of Merck's Gardasil vaccine to prevent cervical cancer by protecting against human papillomavirus or HPV. After an encouraging launch Gardasil sales have been falling and were down 22 percent in the third quarter at $311 million.
One result of vaccine mandates will be more disabled employees. The January 10 Express (U.K.) discussed the plight of
up to 200 [disabled] frontline health workers, social workers, prison officers and binmen, who have to be vaccinated against hepatitis B as a condition of their employment.

This is to protect them from contracting potentially fatal conditions from infected blood through needle injuries or physical assaults. Although they are not legally forced to have the vaccinations, without them they are not allowed to work. [Is that an oxymoron, or what?--Nass]

Experts believe the injections caused the health problems, which include chronic fatigue, muscle pain, weakness and cognitive problems, because illnesses developed soon after vaccination.
It's never been made clear whether more people are saved from chronic illness from hepatitis B through vaccination, or whether more people are made chronically ill by the vaccinations in a country like the US, where the disease is not rampant. [Yes, I know this is a bad disease--my grandfather died from a rare case of fulminant Hep B, and I have had my shots--but I have also treated people whose health and vitality disappeared after vaccination. We need to be able to weigh risk and benefit.]

However, if you pretend almost nobody gets sick from vaccines, it appears entirely reasonable to force an increasing number of vaccinations on the public, using mandates based on school enrollment, place of employment, type of employment, place of residence... or some other arbitrary category identified as susceptible to a mandate.

It seems reasonable to force kids to be vaccinated, then to force healthcare workers, social workers, garbagemen, etc. But the ultimate goal of some public health leaders is required vaccinations for everyone, regardless of individual need and individual risk.

And because no institution performs active surveillance in a large enough population for long enough after vaccinations are given, we may never know how the net benefit and net harm of each vaccine compare.

What we do know, however, is that there appears to be a hereditary component in the risk of vaccine injuries, and some families are more prone to this problem than others. (See story on mitochondrial disorders and vaccine injury in Scientific American.) So potential harms from vaccine mandates are not shared proportionately.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vaccines enjoy renaissance in pharma industry/ SwissInfo

I told readers in November that I would be discussing the expanding vaccine industry at more length. Fortunately, the media have obliged with excellent articles explaining the financial forces driving development of increasing types and numbers of vaccines. Articles like the one below also hint at why physicians are being pressured to vaccinate more and more people. Here are snippets from SwissInfo:
“The market has almost tripled over the last eight to ten years,” Carsten Mantel, a medical officer in the World Health Organization’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation, told swissinfo.ch... Growth is probably more than twice as fast as the therapeutic drugs market.

“There are five players in the world, including [Switzerland’s] Novartis that have jumped on the train to make vaccines because it also fits well into modern thinking about health care reforms,” explained Zurich Cantonal Bank senior analyst Michael Nawrath.

The thinking goes that if you can prevent a disease, you are saving exponential costs such as going to a doctor or a hospital stay. Nawrath also believes that more and more doctors will be urged by health authorities to carry out vaccinations based on the cost reduction, even though prices for vaccines might be considered high at present...

Europe seeks to offload flu vaccines

From SwissInfo:
... Western European countries, including Switzerland, are queuing up to shift surplus stocks of the H1N1 flu vaccine after low public demand.

... Sales of H1N1 vaccines have been a windfall for pharmaceutical companies. GSK is expected to be the single biggest beneficiary with anticipated sales of SFr3.7 billion by the end of the first quarter of 2010, according to analysts. Sanofi and Novartis have been forecast to earn an estimated SFr1.1 billion and SFr628 million, respectively...

"Extravant Fiasco"

The French government move came after intense criticism from politicians and scientists. The French opposition Socialist Party described the national campaign as an “extravagant fiasco” and demanded a parliamentary investigation.

Elsewhere, Council of Europe member states are considering whether to launch an inquiry into pharmaceutical companies’ influence on the global swine flu campaign.

The WHO's "false pandemic" flu campaign was "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century," said German doctor Wolfgang Wodarg, chairman of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (Pace) Health Committee, who tabled the motion to be debated on January 25.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Was Swine Flu A False Pandemic?/ Pharmalot

From the famous Pharmalot blog by Ed Silverman (formerly a reporter at the Newark Star Ledger):

That’s the contention by more than a dozen members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which reportedly plans to conduct an inquiry into the influence that drugmakers may have had on the World Health Organization, scientists and governments. A resolution was introduced last month by Wolfgang Wodarg, a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party who chairs the PACE health committee, and it reads:

“In order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies have influenced scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health standards, to alarm governments worldwide. They have made them squander tight health care resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions of healthy people to the risk of unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines. The birds flu campaign (2005-06) combined with the swine flu campaign seem to have caused a great deal of damage not only to some vaccinated patients and to public health budgets, but also to the credibility and accountability of important international health agencies. The definition of an alarming pandemic must not be under the influence of drugsellers.”

Wodarg contends that WHO standards forced governments to react by signing contracts and, consequently, taking almost all responsibility thereafter. “In this way, the producers of vaccines are sure of enormous gains without having any financial risks. So they just wait until WHO says ‘pandemic’ and activate the contracts,” Wodarg, who intends to hold an emergency debate this month, tells PharmaTimes. “The victims among millions of needlessly vaccinated people must be protected by their states, and independent scientific clarification should provide evidence and transparency for national and, if necessary, European courts.”

Sunday, January 3, 2010

France sells off surplus swine flu vaccine/ BBC

from the BBC:

Germany and The Netherlands announced similar sales late last year...

The government bought 94 million swine flu vaccine doses - more than one for every French person - and started vaccinating in October.

Only about five million people are recorded as having been vaccinated in France so far, AFP reports...