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Is It Really A “National Emergency,” Mr. President?

If it is, then how come your own daughters — the young being at highest risk for contracting the H1N1 virus, according to the epidemiology so far — haven’t been vaccinated?

It’s "not available to them?" Come now, Barack. You don’t really expect anyone to swallow the notion that two doses of H1N1 vaccine can’t be made available to the children of the President of the United States, do you? …There’s more at Karen’s place, including a videe of the prez.

On the other hand, perhaps you would be wise to forego the risk of vaccination for yourself and children, which of course raises the question of why whip up all the hysteria? Well, I’m sure I know the answer to that; but alas, it’s not the subject of this post, merely an entrée.

I have stayed mostly away from this topic until now, except to point out in past posts that adequate vitamin D levels seem to be very protective against influenza, and perhaps specifically to H1N1.

Over the past few months I’ve been reading things here and there, not just about H1N1, but also concerning the effectiveness of flu shots in general. And, I have to ask:

Are Flu Shots An Enormous Scam?

I don’t see how anyone can conclude differently, once you dig into the data. One of the most interesting things I saw in my informal research was a chart of infection rates going back a very long time, prior to the advent of flu vaccination. Guess what? Little to no difference. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten where I saw that. If anyone else saw it can can point it out in comments, please do.

But before we dig into flu vaccinations in general, what can we say about H1N1? Well, what about the southern hemisphere that’s just coming out of the winter flu season, into spring and onto summer? According to the Junkfood Science blog:

Three months ago, public health experts and even the President of the Australian Medical Association were warning that one-third of the population would get swine flu. As late as last month, the Australian government had ordered 21 million doses of swine flu vaccine, enough to vaccinate the entire population.

In reality, as of noon today, the Australian Department of Health and Ageing reports that Australia has had 35,775 confirmed cases of pandemic H1N1. The experts had overstated the numbers who would get sick by 203-fold. There have been 162 deaths — a fraction (5.4%) of the 3,000 Australians who typically die from the seasonal flu each year. [emphasis added]

Moreover, it seems that a blog specifically dedicated to the swine flue in Australia lost interest around September 28, 2009, the date of the most recent post. And this is a "National Emergency?" I’ll tell you what’s a national emergency: stupid, ignorant, and/or gullible people waiting to be collectively led around by the nose.

There’s an article of amazing scope in the November, 2009 issue of The Atlantic: Does the Vaccine Matter? It’s authored by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer. This is one you might want to get in dead tree version for easier reading.

Let’s dive right in.

But what if everything we think we know about fighting influenza is wrong? What if flu vaccines do not protect people from dying—particularly the elderly, who account for 90 percent of deaths from seasonal flu? And what if the expensive antiviral drugs that the government has stockpiled over the past few years also have little, if any, power to reduce the number of people who die or are hospitalized? The U.S. government—with the support of leaders in the public-health and medical communities—has put its faith in the power of vaccines and antiviral drugs to limit the spread and lethality of swine flu. Other plans to contain the pandemic seem anemic by comparison. Yet some top flu researchers are deeply skeptical of both flu vaccines and antivirals.

Did you know that? Were you aware that even some top influenza researchers are skeptical of flu shots? Bet many of you didn’t.

Yet the flu, in many important respects, remains mysterious. Determining how many deaths it really causes, or even who has it, is no simple matter. We think we have the flu anytime we fall ill with an ailment that brings on headache, malaise, fever, coughing, sneezing, and that achy feeling as if we’ve been sleeping on a bed of rocks, but researchers have found that at most half, and perhaps as few as 7 or 8 percent, of such cases are actually caused by an influenza virus in any given year. More than 200 known viruses and other pathogens can cause the suite of symptoms known as “influenza-like illness”; respiratory syncytial virus, bocavirus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus are just a few of the bugs that can make a person feel rotten. And depending on the season, in up to two-thirds of the cases of flu-like illness, no cause at all can be found.

Yep, "the flu" has become ubiquitous in the language. I recall Dr. Dean Edell once mentioning on his show that most illnesses people ignorantly attribute to the flu are actually food-born maladies that come & go in a few days.

Here’s Australia, again.

In August, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology projected that this fall and winter, the swine flu, H1N1, could infect anywhere between one-third and one-half of the U.S. population and could kill as many as 90,000 Americans, two and a half times the number killed in a typical flu season. But precisely how deadly, or even how infectious, this year’s H1N1 pandemic will turn out to be won’t be known until it’s over. Most reports coming from the Southern Hemisphere in late August (the end of winter there) suggested that the swine flu is highly infectious, but not particularly lethal. For example, Australian officials estimated they would finish winter with under 1,000 swine flu deaths—fewer than the usual 1,500 to 3,000 from seasonal flu. Among those who have died in the U.S., about 70 percent were already suffering from congenital conditions like cerebral palsy or underlying illnesses such as cancer, asthma, or AIDS, which make people more vulnerable.

And there’s the rub — that unhealthful, sick people are more susceptible — that we’ll now get into.

But while vaccines for, say, whooping cough and polio clearly and dramatically reduced death rates from those diseases, the impact of flu vaccine has been harder to determine. Flu comes and goes with the seasons, and often it does not kill people directly, but rather contributes to death by making the body more susceptible to secondary infections like pneumonia or bronchitis. For this reason, researchers studying the impact of flu vaccination typically look at deaths from all causes during flu season, and compare the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.

Such comparisons have shown a dramatic difference in mortality between these two groups: study after study has found that people who get a flu shot in the fall are about half as likely to die that winter—from any cause—as people who do not. Get your flu shot each year, the literature suggests, and you will dramatically reduce your chance of dying during flu season.

In all my informal research, this aspect seems to be the chief crux of the matter; the one everyone hangs their hat on, and it’s true: if you compare the group of people who get vaccinated against those who don’t, those who do die half as much within the year as those who don’t.

Case closed, right? But, ah, as we’ve talked about many times: confounding variables. Let’s dig deeper.

Suppose someone were to track all-cause mortality against people who get annual checkups with their doctor vs. those who don’t. I have no doubt that the group who does get annual checkups will have a statistically significant reduction in all-cause mortality over those who don’t get checkups. So, getting annual checkups contributes to longevity? Maybe it does, but I doubt the actual contribution is anywhere near as profound as I’d expect the statistics to reveal.

Maybe you give yourself too little credit. Think about it. Is it the fact that you go to a white-coated doctor for 30-60 minutes per year that’s causing your better general health, or, is it more likely that you’re health conscious (which is why you bother with the checkups) that works for you the other 364 days of the year? Don’t be dumb, or gullible.

I know, understand, and agree that being a physician is a high calling. But the most honest among them will tell you point blank: they are no substitute for healthy living.

Yet in the view of several vaccine skeptics, this claim is suspicious on its face. Influenza causes only a small minority of all deaths in the U.S., even among senior citizens, and even after adding in the deaths to which flu might have contributed indirectly. When researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases included all deaths from illnesses that flu aggravates, like lung disease or chronic heart failure, they found that flu accounts for, at most, 10 percent of winter deaths among the elderly. So how could flu vaccine possibly reduce total deaths by half? Tom Jefferson, a physician based in Rome and the head of the Vaccines Field at the Cochrane Collaboration, a highly respected international network of researchers who appraise medical evidence, says: “For a vaccine to reduce mortality by 50 percent and up to 90 percent in some studies means it has to prevent deaths not just from influenza, but also from falls, fires, heart disease, strokes, and car accidents. That’s not a vaccine, that’s a miracle.”

Did you get that? He smells a rat. So, why the push for vaccination when the stats don’t work out right? Alright, lets get to an explanation of what I’ve already alluded to.

The estimate of 50 percent mortality reduction is based on “cohort studies,” which compare death rates in large groups, or cohorts, of people who choose to be vaccinated, against death rates in groups who don’t. But people who choose to be vaccinated may differ in many important respects from people who go unvaccinated—and those differences can influence the chance of death during flu season. Education, lifestyle, income, and many other “confounding” factors can come into play, and as a result, cohort studies are notoriously prone to bias. When researchers crunch the numbers, they typically try to factor out variables that could bias the results, but, as Jefferson remarks, “you can adjust for the confounders you know about, not for the ones you don’t,” and researchers can’t always anticipate what factors are likely to be important to whether a patient dies from flu. There is always the chance that they might miss some critical confounder that renders their results entirely wrong.

One must wonder. See, I think, intuitively, I’d have little problem listing a whole slew of variables likely to be more important than a flu vaccination. A good paleo diet — high in natural fats — would be one strong association, I’d guess (the strongest? probably). Any data to see how such people fared against death by flu, or all-cause mortality? Nope. Never’ll happen in this life. It’s the hugest blind spot ever; human evolution: as a principle, it does not exist hardly anywhere in the science as a driving force. We’re pre-Copernican. We’re in many ways far more primitive in perceptual understanding than primitives who lived 100,000 years ago. They lacked our methods and technology; so, they just resorted to what they could observe and logically deduce.

And while they were mostly helpless against the most ravishing of what mother nature could unleash, they at least knew how to eat and be as healthy as their environment would allow.

Nonetheless, in 2004, Jackson and three colleagues set out to determine whether the mortality difference between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated might be caused by a phenomenon known as the “healthy user effect.” They hypothesized that on average, people who get vaccinated are simply healthier than those who don’t, and thus less liable to die over the short term. People who don’t get vaccinated may be bedridden or otherwise too sick to go get a shot. They may also be more likely to succumb to flu or any other illness, because they are generally older and sicker. To test their thesis, Jackson and her colleagues combed through eight years of medical data on more than 72,000 people 65 and older. They looked at who got flu shots and who didn’t. Then they examined which group’s members were more likely to die of any cause when it was not flu season. […]

[…] In fact, the healthy-user effect explained the entire benefit that other researchers were attributing to flu vaccine, suggesting that the vaccine itself might not reduce mortality at all.

Suppose it was believed that some talisman protected people from death in the next year. Every spring, those who could would embark on a trek; say, a climb up Mt. Fuji (I picked that ’cause I’ve done it!). Over the next year, we tabulate the all-cause deaths and compare the stats for those who made the trek vs. those who didn’t. Any guesses as to who would have the lowest mortality? You would completely understand that the difference is a function of those healthy enough to make the trek, vs. those who aren’t — and that those who aren’t will doubtless have far higher general mortality in the year to come.

But suppose we were able to make the epidemiology better. How would one do that? Well, the easiest and surest way would be to not vaccinate at all for a year, and then compare the death rates to the years when many were vaccinated.

THE HISTORY OF FLU VACCINATION suggests other reasons to doubt claims that it dramatically reduces mortality. In 2004, for example, vaccine production fell behind, causing a 40 percent drop in immunization rates. […]

And how did that work out? It wasn’t a total moratorium on vaccination, but maybe it’ll lend a clue. But let’s wait. Maybe we can get even more data.

[…] In addition, vaccine “mismatches” occurred in 1968 and 1997: in both years, the vaccine that had been produced in the summer protected against one set of viruses, but come winter, a different set was circulating. In effect, nobody was vaccinated. […]

There we go…and, the punchline:

[…] Yet death rates from all causes, including flu and the various illnesses it can exacerbate, did not budge. Sumit Majumdar, a physician and researcher at the University of Alberta, in Canada, offers another historical observation: rising rates of vaccination of the elderly over the past two decades have not coincided with a lower overall mortality rate. In 1989, only 15 percent of people over age 65 in the U.S. and Canada were vaccinated against flu. Today, more than 65 percent are immunized. Yet death rates among the elderly during flu season have increased rather than decreased.

OMG!

And by the way, for the 2004 partial vaccination case mentioned first: "…Yet mortality did not rise."

Felling gullible and duped, yet? But, after all, I’m just a blogger who’s lost some weight — I had a "stint" of weight loss…

“Tom Jefferson has taken a lot of heat just for saying, ‘Here’s the evidence: it’s not very good,’” says Majumdar. “The reaction has been so dogmatic and even hysterical that you’d think he was advocating stealing babies.” Yet while other flu researchers may not like what Jefferson has to say, they cannot ignore the fact that he knows the flu-vaccine literature better than anyone else on the planet. He leads an international team of researchers who have combed through hundreds of flu-vaccine studies. The vast majority of the studies were deeply flawed, says Jefferson. “Rubbish is not a scientific term, but I think it’s the term that applies.” Only four studies were properly designed to pin down the effectiveness of flu vaccine, he says, and two of those showed that it might be effective in certain groups of patients, such as school-age children with no underlying health issues like asthma. The other two showed equivocal results or no benefit.

So take that!

Jefferson has a logical approach on principles, which is that the theory of vaccination is sound. It’s based on our immune systems. You never get the same cold virus twice in your life. Every time you get a cold, you are henceforth immune to that specific virus for the remainder of your days. But viruses, having short lifespans, succumb to evolution fast faster then we do, such that their rapid mutation ensures their survival within human hosts. Think about it.

So, if you take such a principled approach, to where will reason lead you? How about: healthy people have robust immune systems, and thus, healthy people — those who will fight off the virus normally — respond predictably well to the vaccine, produce the expected antibodies very efficiently?

There’s some merit to this reasoning. Unfortunately, the very people who most need protection from the flu also have immune systems that are least likely to respond to vaccine. Studies show that young, healthy people mount a glorious immune response to seasonal flu vaccine, and their response reduces their chances of getting the flu and may lessen the severity of symptoms if they do get it. But they aren’t the people who die from seasonal flu. By contrast, the elderly, particularly those over age70, don’t have a good immune response to vaccine—and they’re the ones who account for most flu deaths. […]

Yet both "National Emergencies" and associated corporate profits persist. In the end, patients die anyway, paid for by those who wouldn’t have, anyway.

Had enough? Well, much of the remainder of the piece is about resistance over controlled trials, which, if you read regularly: observational epidemiology only gets you to the hypothesis stage. You need to control variables to tease out real causes. So, let’s explore.

The annals of medicine are littered with treatments and tests that became medical doctrine on the slimmest of evidence, and were then declared sacrosanct and beyond scientific investigation. In the 1980s and ’90s, for example, cancer specialists were convinced that high-dose chemotherapy followed by a bone-marrow transplant was the best hope for women with advanced breast cancer, and many refused to enroll their patients in randomized clinical trials that were designed to test transplants against the standard—and far less toxic—therapy. The trials, they said, were unethical, because they knew transplants worked. When the studies were concluded, in 1999 and 2000, it turned out that bone-marrow transplants were killing patients. Another recent example involves drugs related to the analgesic lidocaine. In the 1970s, doctors noticed that the drugs seemed to make the heart beat rhythmically, and they began prescribing them to patients suffering from irregular heartbeats, assuming that restoring a proper rhythm would reduce the patient’s risk of dying. Prominent cardiologists for years opposed clinical trials of the drugs, saying it would be medical malpractice to withhold them from patients in a control group. The drugs were widely used for two decades, until a government-sponsored study showed in 1989 that patients who were prescribed the medicine were three and a half times as likely to die as those given a placebo.

Don’t have a short memory and don’t be dumb. Realize that those who are in power are in power because they like to be in power (Duh!); they don’t really give a damn about you or your family, and You. Are. On. Your. Own.

Personally, I would never have it any other way.

In the end, the myth of flu vaccination (I assume, but have not looked into the seeming clear benefit of polio, smallpox and other vaccines) efficacy may do us more harm than good.

In the U.S., by contrast, our reliance on vaccination may have the opposite effect: breeding feelings of invulnerability, and leading some people to ignore simple measures like better-than-normal hygiene, staying away from those who are sick, and staying home when they feel ill. Likewise, our encouragement of early treatment with antiviral drugs will likely lead many people to show up at the hospital at first sniffle. “There’s no worse place to go than the hospital during flu season,” says Majumdar. Those who don’t have the flu are more likely to catch it there, and those who do will spread it around, he says. “But we don’t tell people this.”

If you want to get sick, hang around hospitals.

Note: I’m really grateful to the authors of The Atlantic article who permitted me to put something coherent — perhaps entertaining — together in a few hours, based mostly on their work of weeks, or months.

10/27/09: Check out this CBS News investigative report.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

94 Comments

  1. Monica Hughes on October 25, 2009 at 18:16

    Good one.

    I have a lot of relevant links I could share with you from the actual medical literature. What is worse is that these vaccines have NOT been tested adequately for safety, particularly in children. I’ll email them, as I’m afraid putting them all in here would mean the comment would get rejected as spam. One of them is a peer-reviewed paper that has the flu mortality decline graph you refer to: practically all the mortality decreased before the advent of flu vaccines in the 1960s. Just like the rest of the infectious diseases, reductions have been largely from sanitation and (hello) modern plumbing, which wasn’t really complete in this country until the 1950s.

  2. Monica Hughes on October 25, 2009 at 18:29

    Oh, and nothing bothers me more right now than this hype around flu. It’s just good job security for the folks at CDC and NIH. And a great way for our new wicked president to consolidate his power. Airports have already been given quarantine powers for the hiney (H1N1) flu.

  3. Trish on October 25, 2009 at 18:30

    The local media around here (Richmond VA) is flailing over a six-year-old who died last week allegedly of H1N1. She was diagnosed with the flu and taken to the hospital, where she got pneumonia and a staph infection (hospitals!). Since then her family members have competed with each other for the most airtime on the local stations. Gah.

  4. […] Original post by Free The Animal […]

  5. […] Here is the original post:  Is It Really A "National Emergency," Mr. President? […]

  6. Michael on October 25, 2009 at 19:49

    Good stuff Richard. I have been commenting on this for awhile and I do think others should do so who write in the “traditional” food blogosphere. Of course you write from a voluntaryist point of view which makes this more educational (and entertaining) than perhaps many others so I’m glad you tackled it.

    A very good website on the subject is which is constantly updated is Swine Flu Shots.

    Michael
    Nutrition and Physical Regeneration

  7. Alcinda Moore on October 25, 2009 at 19:54

    And then there’s this: CBS News Exclusive: Study Of State Results Finds H1N1 Not As Prevalent As Feared

    Early on the CDC said for states to stop testing for H1N1 as it was a given that if someone had “flu like symptoms” it was most assured to be H1N1 as it was so contagious and prevalent. (I remember reading this at the time and questioning the wisdom of it) Well, some of the states continued to test and some of their findings were surprising….In Florida, of 8843 specimens, 17% showed positive for H1N1; in CA 13704 specimens, 2% H1N1, 12% other flu and 86% negative for all flu; Georgia 3117 specimens, only 2% H1N1, 97% negative for H1N1 and in Alaska 722 specimens only 1% positive for H1N1, 5% positive for seasonal and 93% negative for all flu!!!

    I have a friend that works for the Mass Department of Public Health, which is under the supervision of the CDC and Department of Homeland Security. I have tried to get information, but all I get is the party line. If you had the flu and were not tested, you are still advised to get the vaccination….and if you had the flu and were tested, you are still advised to get the vaccination! There is no danger of getting the vaccination if you are already immune, the seasonal vaccine is not effective against H1N1, etc etc etc. The big reason for concern, although not stated outright, is that if they don’t “control” this it will financially impact companies! If too many people get sick and don’t go to work, the companies will suffer!! It’s not about protecting people….it’s about protecting companies!

    Other things I’ve learned…..you are “immune” (but not really) for just 1 year….but if you get H1N1 you are immune for life…..possibly. If you develop pneumonia or other respiratory problems during the flu season the assumption is that it is caused by the flu (either seasonal or H1N1 this year). Less than 50% of those with known exposure will become ill from H1N1. If you get the vaccines and still get sick it’s because you got some “other” flu…..but if you get the vaccine and don’t get sick it’s because the vaccine protected you!

    And….my favorite…..people that get the nasal vaccination can “shed” the virus for up to 2 weeks after getting it! That means that they are, in fact, a danger to anyone with a compromised immune system! Several years ago there were news articles that Walmart, among others, were going to give the nasal vaccine (FluMist) in the stores and the call went out to all those with HIV to avoid these stores as they could become infected simply by walking past someone that had just been vaccinated! Shortly after it hit the news the idea was dropped by Walmart and others.

    Personally I will not get vaccinated. I have advised my children (both healthy adults) to not get vaccinated. I do not agree with giving flu shots to everyone….and especially to pregnant women! The numbers just are not there…..the numbers of those infected aren’t there…..the numbers for contagiousness isn’t there and the numbers for who get sick if exposed aren’t there!

  8. Is It Really A "National Emergency," Mr. President? | H1N1DEATHS.US on October 25, 2009 at 20:00

    […] reports that Australia has had 35,775 confirmed cases of pandemic H1N1 Go here to read the rest: Is It Really A "National Emergency," Mr. President? Posted in h1n1 deaths. Tags: 775-confirmed, australian, australians, council, fall, […]

  9. Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 11:28
    • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 11:56

      Monica, I think we discovered the cause of your conspiracy theory nonsense!! You get information from misleading sources. The link you posted claimed the the US government gave airports the power to quarantine for H1N1, right? Well, it turns out, all the government annouced (at is that OTHER governments (i.e., non-US governments — as in NOT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

      • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 11:58

        Hit submit too soon —

        The site said other non-US governments can quarantine so be careful when traveling abroad!

        The US gov’t warned US people that their civil liberties may be threatened when traveling abroad and through misleading propaganda-type media sources you got the message that Obama instituted quarantines. Tell that to your next tea-party.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2009 at 12:03

        It’s the joy of being an anarchist, Mark.

        Both sides are liars, assholes, power grabbers. I haven’t use for any of ’em, ever.



      • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 12:28

        I guess, but I believe that the Repubs are far more dishonest than the Dems. that said, I suspect you and I have a lot of common ground



      • Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 12:45

        The article doesn’t claim that. It is misleading, but I’m the one that made that mistaken assumption.

        I do think the government is largely incompetent, but I don’t think the desire for control is some big conspiracy. That was sarcasm. Nevertheless, I do think this is an in-your-face politically expedient power grab, across all sectors of our economy and society (and in agreement with Richard, this didn’t start with Obama) that can easily be ignored because people think it can’t happen again in the western world. We’ll see where we end up in 50-100 years.

        I would agree, I don’t think the H1N1 vax could be that much more dangerous, even assuming danger, of the regular flu vaccine. I think the cases of danger are vastly overstated. More unjustified fear mongering from the opposite side.

        As for the flu vax in general, I honestly haven’t investigated the assertions of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Dr. Cannell of Vit. D council claims that flu and other infectious diseases can also increase risk of Guillain-Barre, so perhaps it’s a wash. But here’s the thing… seasonal flu or ILI generally runs around 10-15% of the population. So assuming the vax and the flu pose an equal risk of Guillain-barre, it makes sense that Guillain Barre incidence will rise in proportion the people vaccinated.

        I think honest people can and will come to different conclusions about this issue, i.e. whether H1N1 is really a serious threat. We’ll only know retrospectively. From what I’ve read from sources I trust (i.e. Dr. Cannell, most of the young people that are dying have some underling neurological or other health conditions. I just don’t think this is going to wind up being a huge concern for healthy people, even if they are young. I could be wrong, I’m just not taking my changes on yearly flu vaccinations. I don’t think that kind of load of thimerosal over time is going to end up being proven safe. (And yes, I have amalgams that I will eventualy get removed at some point when I can afford it.)

        No hard feelings. Internet conversations get out of hand in a way that face-to-face conversations witha stranger would not.



      • Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 12:47

        Whoa, excuse the enormous level of typos in that post.



  10. Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2009 at 12:07

    From Monica in email:

    Here are some more relevant links from the actual medical literature. Three of those links are Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews of all relevant studies going back to the 1960s dealing with flu vaccines in the elderly, children, and adults.

    http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab004879.html

    http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab001269.html

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7574/912

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/338/feb12_2/b354

    http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/98/5/939

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16198765?dopt=Abstract

  11. Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 12:57

    Hi Mark. See my post way above for H1N1, unless you are getting email alerts…

    I’m not convinced smallpox has been completely eradicated. It was announced eradicated (conveniently) in the late 70s, I believe. Imagine the liability government health officials (and WHO?) would have if they announced that smallpox was back.

    Almost identical viruses to smallpox, genetically, appear to still break out from time to time. Symptoms are very similar to smallpox.

    Now they just call it monkeypox:

  12. Kim on October 26, 2009 at 01:41

    The smallpox vaccine is the reason why smallpox no longer exists. The polio vaccine is the reason why the last occupant of an iron lung recently passed away with no new youngster to carry the torch. The post-exposure rabies vaccine series is the reason why we in the US have human rabies deaths in the single digits per year at worst. People may have their fears about vaccines but many of them have made quite tangible positive impacts on public health.

    I can’t argue the flu vaccine point on efficacy (I’m simply not informed; I’m not in a risk category that requires the flu shot so I largely ignore it), but calling it a “scam” implies a profit motive that isn’t there. At various times over the past few years there has been hand-wringing that manufacture of flu vaccines will stop because there’s too little profit in it (I believe the exit of one or more manufacturers was behind part of the 2004 shortage, although I’m not totally sure on that point and as it is after midnight I’m not going to go play librarian). These vaccines are manufactured and distributed for no more sinister reason than because policy-makers believe they will help.

    As far as vaccinating his own children goes, Obama can’t win. If he pulls rank and has them vaccinated before H1N1 vaccine is available to the majority of children in their same category of risk, he’s demonstrating that political pull is more important than public health policy. If he has them wait until their proper place in the queue he’s confirming vaccine-conspiracy beliefs.

    On a different point, one thing you have to keep in mind when looking at numbers of confirmed cases is that there is a lot of flu that isn’t getting typed anymore. It’s just a huge logistical effort for not much point now: when you have an elementary school in which 1/3 of the student body and 1/2 of the faculty are ill at the same time with the same symptoms — one current example here in the US — you would be sending several hundred swabs to the CDC and for what? I suppose the skeptical can claim it’s just seasonal flu or something else entirely but that doesn’t change the immediate problem that there is a fairly extraordinary number of sick kids and working-age adults.

    That’s a good example, too, of why the National Emergency thing makes some sense. I’m not sure if you’ve been in an ER lately but I was in one just this evening (I volunteer), and I can tell you the facilities are already pretty full most of the time. If there is suddenly a need for 1/3 of an elementary school to descend on the hospital en masse, giving the hospital freedom to erect temporary external treatment facilities will make a ton of sense. If it turns out to be unnecessary, no harm is done.

    I do agree that avoiding the hospital is the best tactic for anyone who is not seriously ill. Waiting for an hour or three at the ER just to be told to go home and take Tylenol and fluids isn’t going to make anyone feel any better.

    • Don Matesz on October 26, 2009 at 07:58

      Kim,

      I disagree, and don’t have time to post all links to substantiate, but if you take some time to research I think you will agree with me that smallpox and polio were eradicated by public health measures (sewers, water purification, etc), and the automobile (which eliminated horse manure from city streets), and the natural course of population adaptation to the viruses, not by vaccines. They were in rapid decline before the vaccines were introduced. As for profit motive, if you convince policy makers that your product is “mandatory” and then you get the policy makers to purchase all of your product with taxpayer money….need I say more?

      • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 11:44

        Don, I got in trouble with Richard because I mistook your comments for his, so I figured I might as well respond to you as well. You are dead-wrong re smallpox. Everything you read on the WAPF website is not correct. See my post to richard.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2009 at 11:59

        Mark:

        Don has this post up at his blog:



  13. jess on October 26, 2009 at 05:22

    I can think of another reason why a majority of a schools population would be out with something that might present like the flu… H1N1 based, media induced mass hysteria. And since it isn’t all being typed there is no way to know. Also kids will do anything to stay out of school, and with their parents in a tizzy about H1N1 the merest claim of malaise may get them out of school. Or some other kid coming down with something will have some parents keeping their own kids home just in case. Bottom line is, just because people claim sickness and stay home doesn’t mean they have swine flu.

    • Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 11:31

      Or maybe a much simpler explanation, like a student organized “sick-in”? These health officials — and the media — are morons.

  14. Mark on October 26, 2009 at 10:18

    Richard,
    I’m a little disappointed by this post.
    1. The part about Obama is misleading. By labeling the swine flue epidemic a national emergency, the feds can ease red-tape relating to hospital admissions and response, allowing hospitals to react more appropriately if there is a huge wave of sick people. This labelling has to be done in advance to allow contingency plans to be made. Thus, Obama’s declaration was not hysterical posturing as you make it seem but rather prudent planning.
    2. You present a decent summary of the arguments against flu vaccination, but do not present the other side of the argument. Just because the AHA got the lipid hypothesis wrong, does not mean that all mainstream medical thought is wrong. Indeed, you are dead wrong about small pox. Small pox was eradicated form the planet, not because of sewers and cars in the 1st world, but because of forced vaccinations in the entire world. The link you alluded to is likely the unsubstantiated statements to this effect on the Weston Price website. Just because the WAPF got saturated fat right when everybody else got it wrong doesn’t mean everything they say now is correct. They are for instance dead wrong about vaccines. In addition, they are likely wrong about retinol and about fish oil (they think the only benefit of fish oil is its retinol– probably it’s backwards — i.e., the benefit of fish oil is omega 3s and the detriment is too much retinol). Your talisman of medical accuracy should not be who happened to get the lipid hypothesis right.
    3. The unique risk of swine flu is that it kills young people much more than does the regular flu. Nobody has pinned down the proper case fatality rate for H1N1, but it’s likely between 1:200 and 1:2000. Most of those deaths are people under 65 — that’s what alarming about H1N1. Then there is the vaccines — very safe, despite what some say. This is not 1976 (where the vaccine lead to a few dozen deaths from GBS). By comparison, vaccinations for H1N1 in 2009 may save thousands of lives.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2009 at 11:09

      Mark:

      Re Obama: fuck him and his “prudence.” I have no interest in thieves being “prudent” with other people’s money. Fuck Obama, and his bitch, too. (And yes, said the same thing about GWB)

      Re smallpox, how about you read the damn post, _who_ said what, and _where_?

      Re #3, fine. Go get yourself a vaccination, if you like.

      “I’m a little disappointed by this post.”

      Gosh, I just don’t know how I’m gonna get through the day. Thanks so much for sharing.

      • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 11:41

        Yes, you are right re smallpox- I mistook somebody else’s response to Kim as yours.

        As for the rest of your response, wow dude — not classy to say the least.

        If you want to seriously debate the merits of flu vaccinations, that’s cool. But, you started out with misleading nonsense about the Obama’s and their kids. That’s not cool. Moreover, it is by no means obvious that influenza vaccines are ineffective and the Atlantic article was a piece of trash in my opinion. It reminded me of Mercola’s and Natural new’s position on vaccines- goodheadlines but very little substance and serious scientific debate.

        I agree with you that it is unfortunate that there is opposition to placebo trials on account of biases because that’s the only way we’re really going to find the truth. In the meantime, I am very definitely going to get a H1N1 vaccine when available. I would rather trade a 1:1,000,000 chance of GBS for a 1:000 chance of flu death. By the way, people can get GBS from the actual flu, not just vaccines.

        Lastly, one of Mercola’s main arguments against H1N1 vaccines was the potential use of squalene as an adjuvant. Well, it looks like that never happened so we can all rest assured.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2009 at 11:52

        “not classy to say the least”

        Cool.

        Things are proceeding right on track and on schedule, then.

        BTW, I have ignored every single one of Mercola’s H1N1 warnings, as I ignore most of his stuff.



  15. rachel on October 26, 2009 at 10:41

    I had horrible cases of strep thoat every year until the my 24th year. That was the first time I had no insurance, and no money and couldn’t get to a doctor to get my shot. I suffered through four days of hell with over the counter stuff. Low and behold, that was the very last time I got the strep.

    At this point I never take flu shots and I never get the flu, even though I’ve worked extensively with patients and am considered “at risk”. I truly believe that one bout of strep strengthened me tremendously. I developed an immune strength I would have never gotten if I had continued to get medical treatment. Maybe the immune system is like another system, use it, or lose it.

  16. John Campbell on October 26, 2009 at 10:57

    Excellent post Michael – I have never got a flu shot and am not about to start.

    What bureaucracies – both governmental and medical – do is justify their existence. To do this, they must “do something – anything” but preferably something on a huge scale, something dramatic, and something new and modern. Mass inoculation with an unproven vaccine to hit a moving target of viral mutations fills the bill. They conveniently ignore the law of unintended consequences – everything has a price and one has to balance costs and benefits.

    Even more so, they ignore the proven, time-tested advice such as eat healthy, get plenty of sunshine and sleep to avoid infections. That would be too boring – who needs a giant bureaucracy to tell us that? Exactly – we don’t – our grandmothers could give us this wisdom. We need more science, more thinking, more human ingenuity and less government, with fewer directives and bandwagons. Vaccines have their place, but as part of a rational strategy, not a mass hysterical reaction to a threat that appears to be moderate, if that.

    Live healthy and free. Keep up the good fight Michael.

  17. Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 11:19

    Mmm hmmm. Just trust the government, Michael, they’re here to help.

    Swine flu! What a great excuse to instate martial law — a quarantine! Let’s see, you go from taking over 15% of the economy to 30% of the economy with nationalizations in just a few months, and then you try to take control of healthcare et al. which would give you around 70% control over the economy, including the previous nationalizations. H1N1 (hiney) flu pops up and you give the airports quarantine powers.

    Are these public servants or people who just want power over others? But I’m just a conspiracy theorist.

    The CDC is reporting that there are 1,000 laboratory confirmed deaths from hiney flu in the USA since April of 2009. Yet WHO reports that the worldwide deaths are at 4,999. Think about it. If there are 1,000 deaths in the USA which has 5% of the world population and a reasonably good health care system then worldwide there should be 20,000 to 90,000 deaths. And then there’s the Australia experience.

    It doesn’t add up.

    Oh, by the way, the NY Times recently reported that the government stopped confirming individual cases of swine flu. They have zero clue whether people have swine flu or regular flu.

    • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 11:48

      Monica, don’t you think it is inconsistent that conspiracy theorists think both (i) that the government is totally incompetent and (ii) that the government is capable of executing complex conspiracies? Grow up.

  18. Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 11:20

    I meant Mark, not Michael.

  19. Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2009 at 11:21

    For the goddam record: I am not “anti-vaccine,” just in the case of influenza. If one is healthy enough to produce antibodies for things like polio, smallpox, measles and whatever else we commonly vaccinate for, I generally think it’s not a bad idea.

  20. Mark on October 26, 2009 at 11:21

    Monica,
    I think you said it best: “But I’m just a conspiracy theorist.”

  21. Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 12:09

    The only way to know is to look at incidence and mortality rates for infectious diseases over the past century.

    Mark, despite my opinion that I think you’re being a little hysterical over a disease that is going to probably turn out to be not much more lethal than the regular flu (just not that big of a deal when you look at the exaggerated death numbers and the underlying neurological and other health conditions of the young people that are dying)… I agree with some of the objections to the “data” WAPF presents… they never provide the source information for those mortality data for infectious disease and the curves are too smooth. Notice I was very careful in my statement above. I did not say vaccines had no role in infectious disease decline. I implied that their role has been greatly overstated, and I think the data will show that to be the case. I have actual statistics for incidence and death for these disease, which I’ll post at some point and link back here.

    I don’t think the actual govt. data matches the curves provided in papers like this (http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/98/5/939) very well. It matches the high points on the curve. That’s it.

    Any real disease incidence and mortality curve I have seen (for example, measles) has enormous dips and rises from year to decade, like big toothmarks. However, those big tooths get to be smaller tooths in the decades that lead up to the vaccines, indicating a large role for sanitation. (And then there are things like scarlet fever, which are largely gone now and were even largely gone before antibiotic treatments, for which there is no vaccine.)

    This makes determining whether the vaccines were responsible for mortality decline much more difficult, and it weakens the “strict anti-vaxers'” (i.e. the people who say vaccines never work or are always dangerous) case. But it also doesn’t exactly strengthen the pro-vaxers’ case. Which is why you’ll never find the actual disease incidence curves on the internet or on a CDC website. They aren’t conducive to either group’s case. You have to plot the data yourself. Have you done that?

    The pro-vaxers like CDC conveniently ignore pre-vax declines in disease and present extremely lopsided information, showing data from only a few years before the vaccine introductions. This vastly overstates the efficacy and safety of vaccines in a way that is not warranted by the actual studies. And the anti-vaxers also dishonestly “smooth” the pre-vax disease decline curves out, using only the high points, to make it look like vaccines had absolutely NO role.

    Neither of these are honest techniques. I think both groups are dishonest and without a lot of independent research, it’s tough to determine who is telling the truth. But Don M. is right… anytime there is collusion b/w govt. and business, watch out.

    You mention squalene in the flu vax. That’s an adjuvant. There is still thimerosal in the intramuscular H1N1 vaccine. We can argue about how much of a problem that is. We cannot argue that it is not there. Sorry, I’ll take an injection of toxins for something serious like tetanus. I won’t risk that for a disease I rarely get and that I’m not going to die from (no matter what the government officials are saying… they vastly overstated the swine flu last time, they’re doing it this time, too.)

    Getting back to the flu… I would publish links to abstracts of Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews of flu vaccines, but it’s getting rejected as spam. I suggest all those who think flu vaccines actually work look at the reviews of all relevant and good studies on flu vaccines going back to 1969… by googling for these abstracts. I think most people are unaware that there is ONE study in children under 2, 36 participants in this study, looking at efficacy of flu vaccines over this entire time period. It showed that the vaccine was no more effective than placebo. Yet we have national recommendations to vaccinate all children above age 6 months based on this study. Sound science?

    As for flu mortality over time,

    http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/98/5/939

    As for H1N1, there are no long term studies on efficacy or safety, there never are for a flu vaccine when it’s released for obvious reasons. All you have in the first two studies published in NEJM are short-term studies looking at antibody production and monitoring “local and systemic events” over a matter of a week or two. (BTW, approx. 45% of H1N1 vaccine recipients in both these studies had malaise, headache, and muscle ache… the very symptoms they are trying to avoid by not getting the flu. Again, I can’t include links to these studies because of hte spam factor, but they are free online as PDFs.)

    And interestingly, another study published in NEJM showed that 30% of individuals were already expressing antibodies to H1N1 before vaccination. But because they deem vaccines safe (just like they deem them effective — ha!) then everyone should get a vaccine whether they already have antibodies or not.

    None of this is something you’ll hear from the CDC, because of the collusion Don M. mentioned, above.

    • Mark on October 26, 2009 at 12:26

      Monica, well-reasoned post, not deserving of ad hominem attacks that I have been dishing out, so sorry. I agree with you that there is no proof either way yet, especially for influenza vaccines (I believe that the case is close re small pox — a billion years of viral survival that ended the decade mass forced vaccination occurred, in an era where “primitive conditions” still existed in much of the world – and chickenpox didn’t die, measles didn’t die, molluscum contagiosum didn’t die).

      Re H1Ni, since squalene is out of the picture, I don’t see how the H1N1 vaccine poses unique risks that the seasonal flu doesn’t? Isn’t thimerosal used in those too? Since 90% of the deaths so far are in the 0-65 age group, for me the H1N1 virus does represent a unique risk.

  22. Sally T on October 26, 2009 at 12:55

    Great post.

    More info for the discussion: Interview with Epidemiologist Tom Jefferson, of the Cochrane Collaboration. “Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur” (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,637119,00.html). (Note, as you read, the unfortunate degree of scientific-field-compartmentalization in his probable cluelessness about Vit D. And, I would argue, his knee-jerk support of non-influenza vaccines.)

    In addition to Dr. Jefferson’s speculations about the motives behind the big push for influenza vaccinations, there is more: they BECAME enormously profitable – when ALL injury liablity claims were “outlawed” – as of last year (?) or the year before.

  23. Monica Hughes on October 26, 2009 at 13:05

    By the way, I used to work in a lab about 10 years ago where we were doing PCR-based assays for smallpox in ancient ice cores. (A huge waste of taxpayer money, but hey… researchers will study anything given the funds.)

    We never found evidence smallpox in ancient ice and I’ve since lost touch with that research group. However, I’d not be surprised if all sorts of microorganisms aren’t encased in ancient ice, including smallpox. Since I’m not a virologist or microbiologist, I have no idea whether the amounts that are in ice, if they are there, could serve as enough of an inoculum to actually pose a danger to humans presuming that they get released someday. My guess is not… my point is, I just find the claim that these diseases have been “eradicated” as specious and a bit premature.

  24. Michael on October 26, 2009 at 14:34

    Uh oh. Looks like this is going the way of the health care debate. 🙂

    I couldn’t resist the last time but I will hold my fingers this time, largely because work calls.

    Just remember everyone, this Michael is a voluntaryist and doesn’t trust the government at all. If you have any doubts just check out Richard’s post on Heath Care Through Force 🙂

    Michael
    Nutrition and Physical Regeneration

  25. Don Matesz on October 26, 2009 at 14:55

    If you think there’s no profit in swine flu or other vaccines, I’ve got news from you just in from Reuters:

    Companies reap the swine flu windfall

    http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-SwineFlu/idUSTRE59M3TZ20091023

    Some excerpts:

    ____

    “Pretty much everyone who does something in influenza in has gained from it,” said Hedwig Kresse, an infectious diseases analyst at Datamonitor in London.

    “From a sales perspective, the big players certainly will see a very significant windfall of this pandemic this year,” Kresse said in a telephone interview.”

    “Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said this week it expects the H1N1 flu vaccine to contribute about $400 million to $700 million of sales in the fourth quarter.”

    “David Kagi, a healthcare analyst at Swiss-based Bank Sarasin & Co estimates pandemic vaccine sales will be worth a total of $7.6 billion, even with a mild pandemic. A severe pandemic would result in total vaccine sales of $18 billion.”

    ——

    End of excerpts.

    Think for yourself.

    • Mark on October 27, 2009 at 09:39

      Don,
      After thinking for yourself, why have you concluded that the existence of profits in private companies somehow provides any evidence that the vaccines they manufacture don’t work?

  26. Bryce on October 26, 2009 at 15:58

    Epic post Richard. And epic fail to the american health community at large! Thank you so much for all this great information (and thanks to the Atlantic as well).

    I posted about the direct effect this is going to have on myself, attempting to keep my frustrations in check and betray as little bias as possible.

    Just remember, we aren’t really alone. There is an amazing “tribeosphere” of paleo bloggers, including yourself, who serve as beacons of hope to those who don’t know where to get started in their journey of healthful self knowledge.

    • Mark on October 27, 2009 at 09:41

      Bryce, I would like to hear your guess as to the #1 cause of death for people in the paleolithic period! Might it be, perhaps, infectious disease?

  27. Paleo Newbie on October 26, 2009 at 19:34

    If swine flu attacks in force, sell your stocks, buy gold.

  28. Monica Hughes on October 27, 2009 at 10:46

    Mark, it’s common knowledge, just read practically ANY study on ANY vaccine, that these vaccines don’t stimulate humoral immunity in 100% of recipients, even with boosters. It usually ranges between 80-90%. Additionally, there are reports on the medical literature, I think most notably for measles, that there have been outbreaks among the vaccinated. It’s not well understood why, but this good resource by Dr. Cannell might give some indication linking lack of antibody production to vit. D status, at least for flu:

    Anyway, it’s called the idea of “herd immunity”, the collectivist idea that we ALL have to be vaccinated to protect the weak, by supposedly reducing disease incidence. Here’s the general idea: http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2009/01/please-keep-your-babies-safe-new.html

    (Click on the links she provides, and note that some of the kids that got Hib that she refers to were vaccinated! Yet she’s blaming all those irresponsible non-vaxing parents. It’s very typical.)

    Also note this line of propaganda, “There are so many claims out there trying to scare parents about vaccines. I was going to address some of them, but there isn’t any science to address. They are not grounded in any good science. “Vaccines are among the most tested drugs we have,” said Dr. Chilton. Nothing is risk-free in life, but the risks of not vaccinating our babies are so much greater. ”

    Got that? “They are tested for safety. There is no science to address.” Guess what, I guess she hasn’t visited PubMed lately. Search PubMed for “thimerosal.” There is a ton of science to address. We can argue whether it’s good science or not, we cannot argue that the papers aren’t there. Adequately tested for safety? Bullshit. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews says there is one study, of 36 participants, for flu vaccines in children under 2. That is not what I call “among the most tested drugs we have”. Might it be reasonable to assume there are few studies on safety of the other childhood vaccines, as well?

    Mark, I think you may also be unfamiliar with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, established by the Feds in 1986 which provides complete immunity to vaccine makers for the damage they cause to vaccine recipients. So far it has doled out billions.

    • Mark on October 27, 2009 at 11:09

      Monica, your comments fails to address the main issues: 1.) 80% effectiveness is better than 0%. 2) What’s wrong with the concept of herd immunity?

      Re herd immunity: Isn’t that why smallpox was eradicated? The vaccine itself was not 100% effective, but by vaccinating the whole herd, there just weren’t enough susceptible people left to keep the virus alive, especially in light of sanitary and quarantine protocols in place. You referenced this point, but didn’t rebut it, as far as I could tell.

      I am familiar with the limitations of liability for vaccine manufacturers. It protects them from thousands of lawsuits so that they can do the job the government asked them to do.

      Did you know that every year NYC expects 18 8 year-olds to die of unexpected causes and, by those numbers, the country can expect many hundred of unexplained 8 year old deaths each year. The fact that one of those kids dies within proximity to a flu shot is not proof of a cause; indeed, it is expected.

  29. Monica Hughes on October 27, 2009 at 11:27

    Mark,

    I’m not going to get into the fundamental role that vaccines or sanitation may have played, as I don’t know those answers myself. (And I don’t think anyone does at this point.) But neither do you, even though you think you do. Smallpox has been eradicate? Even though monkeypox is still floating around, with the same exact goddamn symptoms, and smallpox vaccinations are recommended by the CDC for that… I could pepper you with questions, too. Why haven’t vaccines eliminated polio? Do you know the countries and the environmental conditions in which polio still exists despite massive vaccination protocols? Do you know how polio is spread? Do you know why we don’t have polio in this country anymore even though up to 50 million people aren’t producing antibodies to polio anymore? Rhetorical, I don’t expect you to answer nor do I need you to because I know.

    More fundamentally, you seem to not understand how a free market works to improve quality and safety of a product. We haven’t had a free market in vaccines for a long time. That the government mandates something is proof enough to you that it is safe and that it works. Have you read any of the links in the peer reviewed literature provided by Richard, via me, above? INADEQUATE SAFETY testing of flu vaccine in children, according to a review of ALL STUDIES going back to 1969….

    Here are many examples of how govt. is the problem in this regard, not the solution:

    It’s about political pull… not protecting the public.

    As I expected, we disagree fundamentally on philosophy and the role of government, and that is the *primary* problem here — it has become an issue, not of individual choices, not of whether vaccines protect individuals, not of the historical and scientific facts surrounding mortality declines and when vaccines were introduced, but this sole question: “What is our duty to the collective?”

    Thanks for finally admitting that you think Big Brother should make our health decisions for us for The Collective Good. The needs of the many outweigh the rights of the few, the strong must be sacrificed for the weak, the people in charge (not the scientists who do the studies or what they find, but the CDC) have all the answers, etc.

    Oh by the way, I AM a scientist. I have a PhD in biology. But I haven’t thrown that around until now because it’s called an invalid argument from authority.

    I’m done here.

    • John Campbell on October 27, 2009 at 15:21

      Monica, your input is certainly appreciated here. I am one who happens to agree with you on many levels including the philosophical basis for the role of government in our lives.

      I do believe, however, that the government and authorities are generally sincere in their belief that the flu vaccine is a good idea for everyone. This may be a distinction without a difference, but I believe that it is easier to make the argument that many in government are well-meaning if not totally mistaken. I am not excusing their ignorance nor their wish to run our lives. Fish are unaware of water and most government officials, and most involved in large bureaucracies, are so resistant to the ideas outside of their world that they are incapable of considering those outside ideas. Sincerity is no substitute for honesty, but I think that one’s arguments are more likely to persuade the uncommitted by acknowledging that no direct malice is intended. Governments by and large care about their citizens – sort of – although they never stop to examine their own axioms and often do more harm than good.

      The more I read on the web and the more time I spend with my fellow humans, the more I am struck by the greatness of which we are capable and the monkey-like stupidity, often contributed to by our strong social nature. We look too much to our neighbors and follow them, without critical thinking.

      Further, when someone wrongs us, it is tempting to ascribe a vicious nature to that person or entity. There are vicious people in government, but most are sheep who follow the vicious philosophy of collectivism, unknowingly and with good intentions. Truth will win… eventually. Climbing down off my soapbox… I do very much appreciate this discussion – good work to one and all.

  30. Nancy on October 27, 2009 at 13:23

    exerpt from pgs 64-65:
    Furthermore, since the artificially induced immune stimulation in vaccination continues to act over a prolonged period of time, the immune adjuvants in the tissues, constantly stimulate immune-activating cells.
    With most natural infections the immune activation occurs rapidly, and once the
    infection is under control, it drops precipitously. This, as we shall see, is to
    prevent excessive damage to normal cells in the body… For a long time no one
    considered the effect of repeated vaccinations on the brain. This was based on a
    mistaken conclusion that the brain was protected from immune activation by its
    special protective gateway called the blood-brain barrier. More recent studies
    have shown that immune cells can enter the brain directly.
    For our discussion, activation of the body’s immune system by vaccination is a
    most important stimuli for activation of brain microglia… The more powerfully
    the body’s immune system is stimulated the more intense is the brain’s reaction…
    Therein lies the danger of our present vaccine policy. The brain’s immune system
    cells, once activated, begin to move about the nervous system, secreting numerous
    immune chemicals (called cytokines and chemokines) and pouring out an
    enormous amount of free radicals in an effort to kill invading organisms. The
    problem is, there are no invading organisms. It has been tricked by the vaccine…
    His article goes on to point out that cytokines cause:
     Confusion
     Language difficulties
     Disorientation
     Seizures
     Memory problems
     Somnolence and Low-grade fevers
     Irritability
     Mood alterations
     Combativeness
     Difficulty concentrating
     A host of other behavioral
     problems
    65
    …Unlike the body’s immune system, the microglia also secrete two other
    chemicals that are very destructive of brain cells and their connecting processes.
    These chemicals, glutamate and quinolinic acid, are called excitotoxins. They
    also dramatically increase free radical generation in the brain. These destructive
    chemicals, as well as the free radicals they generate, are diffused throughout the
    nervous system doing damage, a process called bystander injury. It’s sort of like
    throwing a bomb in a crowd… Normally, the brain’s immune system, like the
    body’s, activates quickly and then promptly shuts off to minimize the bystander
    damage. Vaccination won’t let the microglia shut down. In the developing brain,
    this can lead to language problems, behavioral dysfunction and even dementia.
    Blaylock refers to a recent study by the world-renowned immunologist Dr. H. Hugh Fudenberg
    who has found that adults vaccinated yearly for five years in a row with the flu vaccine “had a
    10-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.” Fudenberg attributes this to the
    mercury and aluminum in the vaccine. “Interestingly, both of these metals have been shown to
    activate microglia and increase excitotoxicity in the brain.”
    In the child, brain immune over-activation has been shown to be particularly
    damaging to the amygdala and other limbic structures of
    the brain. This can lead to unusual syndromes such as the
    loss of “theory of mind”… It has also been shown to
    damage the executive functions of the frontal lobes. In
    essence, what is lost is that which makes us social human
    beings, able to function in a complex world of ideas and
    interactions… Several studies have indeed shown
    elevated levels of cytokines in autistic children… what we
    see is a viscious cycle of immune activation, excitotoxin
    and cytokine excretion, and free radical production. The
    latter starts the cycle all over again.
    With reference to vaccines using attenuated viruses Blaylock expresses concern that “in far too
    many cases these viruses escape the immune system and take up residence in the body for a
    lifetime.” Most of these viruses were found to be “highly mutated.” In fact, different mutations
    have found among viruses in various organs in the same individual.
    These attenuated viruses undergo mutation brought on

  31. Monica Hughes on October 27, 2009 at 13:32

    Dave, RN:

    Here is what you tell her: that it’s probably *wrong*.

    I calculate your LDL, via the more accurate Iranian formula, as being only 117. Surprise, surprise. Of course, you still have no idea what your LDL actually is, and neither does your cardiologist, until is *measured*. 🙂

    See this page to calculate it yourself:

  32. Monica Hughes on October 27, 2009 at 13:35

    Or you can order a particle size test to prove it to her once and for all, at:

    http://www.atherotech.com/

    Or you could point her to the numerous posts Richard has written on this, in addition to that fabulous Dr. BG over at the animalpharm blog who writes about particle size all the time.

  33. Matt R. on October 27, 2009 at 10:20

    “Don,
    After thinking for yourself, why have you concluded that the existence of profits in private companies somehow provides any evidence that the vaccines they manufacture don’t work?”

    Gee, let’s also consider the fact that these companies are shielded from wrongdoing.

    • Mark on October 27, 2009 at 11:02

      Matt, a scientist you are not. Why does the fact that the companies are shielded from liability present any scientific evidence that the vaccines they manufacture are faulty?

  34. Matt R. on October 27, 2009 at 11:45

    It’s nice to see that Mark is anti-freedom and a full supporter of corporate socialism. Should my young daughter have received a hepatits B shot at birth, Mark? Let me know since you seem to have the answers for everyone.

    • Mark on October 27, 2009 at 12:22

      No. It’s best done much later.

    • Ross on October 29, 2009 at 12:46

      Your wife was almost certainly tested for Hep B antigen. As long as that test was done and came back negative, there is no reason for Hep B vaccination immediately following birth, though it’s probably a good idea to get the first Hep B shot in the series before the first day care or group care environment.

      Also, the ocular antibiotic gel is not necessary or helpful unless your wife failed the STD tests.

  35. Matt R. on October 27, 2009 at 11:49

    Why is Mark even on this site? Shouldn’t he be following the USDA Pyramid for all his eating guidelines.?

  36. Mark on October 27, 2009 at 12:32

    Matt R. and Monica,

    I disregard the the USDA pyramid entirely because there is evidence it is wrong. Lots. I eat substantial amounts of carbs too, but only starchy ones generally. No sugar ever. Not afraid of fat one iota – in fact eat loads of saturated fat. So, you see, I’m not just a defender of the mainstream.

    Monica, your comments are very good and I don’t doubt you have a great background in this stuff. That said, all anybody can say now is that the effectiveness of vaccines, especially influenza vaccines, hasn’t been proven. I just don’t see how you jump from their to suspecting that they are bad for us unless you are relying on anti-government biases.

    A dispassionate review of the evidence suggests that, on balance, flu vaccines are effective. although there is plenty of room to disagree, I don’t see why you would exercise that disagreement with respect to H1N1, the one flu in recent memory that seems to be killing young people, including young healthy people. Monica even admitted that there’s nothing more dangerous about the H1N1 vaccines than any other flu vaccine. Ok, look for the single-use ones if you don’t want the mercury…

    • Matt R. on October 27, 2009 at 12:55

      I’m glad you disregard the USDA guidelines, but I disagree about the effectiveness of flu vaccines. You need to step back a bit and look at the numbers, how they’re counted, etc.

  37. dave, RN on October 27, 2009 at 13:27

    The flu shot is all hype, butI’ve been told not to say anything that would lead anyone to not take the shot…
    In other news, I just had my cholesterol done. The total was 213. Trigs were 44. HDL was 52. VLDL was 9. The problem is that the LDL calc was 152, and the “non-HDL Cholesterol” was 161. I’m sure the cardiologist, who graduated from school 8 years ago, will try to put me on statins, which I will prompty refuse. What do I tell her about the LDL calc and non-hdl in my defense?

  38. dave, RN on October 27, 2009 at 13:45

    Thanks for that quick response. I did try to get her to order the particle size test, but she said that the lab couldn’t do that! I’m sure that LabCorp could manage that. I’m starting to wonder if she knew what I was talking about when I asked for it.
    That test is LDL a and LDL b, right?
    And isn’t 119 still high form someone who’s been primal for a year.

  39. Mrs. M on October 28, 2009 at 02:30

    I’m an RN at a huge urban hospital, we get our share of flu cases, most are people who have another condition that puts them at risk. I can say this much, since I went almost-paleo (dairy, still indulge in a sugary treat once a week, no grains though) I’ve not been sick in over a year, dispite sick people literally in my face 40 hours a week, some with serious MDRO’s.
    I am careful not to eat sugar the days I work, and I use a neti pot to clear out my nasal passageways after work, that and careful, constant hand hygene (also cough into your sleeve, Elmo is right on that one). I even sailed through my husband having the flu last month, if sharing pillows with a flu-sick person didn’t get me sick, I think there is something to this paleo stuff.
    No flu shot for me thanks.

  40. Ross on October 28, 2009 at 12:59

    The president’s daughters did get the H1N1 shot when it became available to their school. If they had gotten the shots earlier than other children, there would have been calls of favoritism. If they still didn’t have the shot, something like this post would be justified. But they got their shots in the same priority groups as availability permitted in their community.

    There’s plenty to get upset with Obama about. This detail was done just right.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 28, 2009 at 13:54

      Ross:

      The principle point is at the time he declared the “National Emergency,” the news was that the vaccine “was not available” to his daughters. That presrel didn’t go up on the WH website until yesterday.

      Had his daughters been vaccinated when the vaccine first became available, I couldn’t think of anything more petty than to complain about it. If he truly thought it was an “emergency” and kids are the most at risk, then why would he not use every available means to get his daughters vaccinated?

      For the sake of politics? And, see, there’s my rub right there. It tells me what kind of man I’m dealing with: not much of a man at all.

      • Mark on October 28, 2009 at 15:11

        Richard, I still don’t get your beef with Obama on this. The term “state of emergency” is simply an term of administrative-law art, and by declaring the H1N1 epidemic an “state of emergency,” Obama enabled various administrative actions to take place that are necessary to prepare for the uncertain toll that H1N1 may, or may not, bring. Would it make it easier to understand if it was called declaring a state of “preparedness?” If so, just think of it that way. As for his daughters, I though Ross did a good job of explaining that to you. They got vaccinated as soon as the vaccines became available to people like them in their particular community. Is your point really that Obama should have pulled strings to get them vaccinated before other like people in their community just because he saw fit to declare a “state or emergency?” For this you call him not much of a man? I liked you much better when you posted recipes.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 28, 2009 at 16:07

        administrative-law art

        Yea, I know…there’s no end of euphemisms for collective domination carried out to make theft look like care and protection.



      • Mark on October 28, 2009 at 16:40

        I said “term of administrative law art” — meaning by declaring the sate of emergency, Obama was signaling that he thinks there is an emergency in the colloquial sense but rather just that he is authorizing various administrative agencies to cut the red tape that currently restricts certain things hospitals can do. The reason they are preparing to cut the red tape is to prepare for situations where that red tape is not longer appropriate, like if there are lots of dying people… Not sure how many ways I can explain this.



      • Mark on October 28, 2009 at 16:41

        * was NOT signalling

        damn typos…



      • Richard Nikoley on October 28, 2009 at 20:15

        Come on, Mark.

        WORDS MEAN THINGS.

        War is NOT peace.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 28, 2009 at 20:27

        …Also, you might stop to ponder why things like “National Emergency” and “Disaster Area” are declared when in fact there may be no emergency or disaster.

        Why not just plainly say “[I’m] authorizing various administrative agencies to cut the red tape that currently restricts certain things hospitals can do.” Et cetera.

        Now, I know exactly why it’s done that way. But, then again, I took the Red Pill years ago.



    • KDC on October 28, 2009 at 15:14

      “The president’s daughters did get the H1N1 shot when it became available to their school.”

      Ahhh, believe thy leaders and their media machine.

      Do you really believe this B.S., Ross? I mean, you believe it just like that? If this is true (and it is not), why wait a whole week to announce it, when there was so much question/controversy about it? Of course they didn’t get the shots!

      • Mark on October 28, 2009 at 15:18

        Because there really isn’t much controversy about it except in your tea-bagging fox news nonsense world. Most normal people just don’t’ give a shit about stuff like this. Or, maybe I’m wrong and you’re right, and there is a government conspiracy to pretend that Obama’s daughters got their flu shots. In your world, any seems possible. Wonder why they don’t just plan a conspiracy to say accomplish something useful…



      • KDC on October 28, 2009 at 15:25

        “FOX”? “Tea-Bagging”? LOL! Oh dear Mark, if you your clueless, trained-monkey ass knew a dang thing. I make good money attacking neocons and Republicrats. And this is from a guy who admits that he “prefers” recipes to something that makes him think.

        We call people like you Useful Idiots. Hey, Lenin said that…..



      • KDC on October 28, 2009 at 15:40

        Newsflash to everyone concerned about their health and body and future good health: there is nothing “controversial” about having the government spend months telling people they must get the swine flu vaccination, all while *trying* to make that mandatory, and then switching to telling people they must get seasonal flu shots, too, because that’s the only responsible action to follow. Nothing controversial about this, or putting that dope in your healthy veins to make Big Pharma rich. And there’s been nothing “controversial” about this issue, at all, in the media.

        Thanks to Mark letting me know it’s all ok. I feel much better now!

        Oh Markie – another thing. The dipshits at FOX believe and spread this government propaganda and fearmongering. They are pro-disease mongering, pro-fearmongering, and proponents of the Pharmaceutical-Medical-Congressional complex.



      • Mark on October 28, 2009 at 15:56

        Please provide your source for your statement that the US government tried to make the vaccine mandatory for normal citizens. (I just want to laugh when I see where you get your information.)



      • Mark on October 28, 2009 at 15:41

        Please tell, why would somebody who claims to have a job attacking neocons and Republicrats, also be here on this blog propagating rumors about Obama’s kids? And, no, I don’t think unsubstantiated conspiracy theories are thought-provoking.



      • Ross on October 28, 2009 at 17:18

        I’ve got plenty to complain about Obama. On this topic, the criticism is manufactured anger. His kids get it early, it’s unfair use of influence. His kids don’t get it, he’s deceptive. His kids get it on time, he’s… (we don’t know, but we really hate Obama!!!)

        He backs up the CDC who says the shots are important (so does my sister (an ER doctor), my brother-in-law (a family practice doctor), and my good friend (an ER nurse)). Pregnant women who come into the hospital with H1N1 have a 10% fatality rate. Obama’s kids get shots when it comes up. Except now you’re saying that the POTUS is deceiving the world by telling everyone his kids got the flu shot when he’s really not giving them the shot because… (and this is the spot where all of the anti-immunization tin foil hattery really gets silly).

        At this point, it has become clear that your tin foil has slipped. Re-tighten, please.

        See, I have too many family members in medicine (going back generations) who actually saw the end of whooping cough, mumps, smallpox, and told me about it. Those miracles of medicine didn’t happen because of random chance. They happened because of vaccinations. Is the flu vaccination pretty weak? Flu is a moving target, so yeah. It’s a guess about the common strain for the coming year. If they get it right, it’s only about 40-80% effective at reducing symptoms or completely preventing infection from flu. If they get it wrong, it’s a complete waste of time. Further, it does nothing for the other seasonal viruses that often cause “influenza-like illness”. It’s easy to make studies that show about 10% effectiveness or 90% effectiveness depending on where you set the goalposts.

        Two things about H1N1. First, it doesn’t just kill the young and old. It kills the healthy and especially pregnant women (like my wife). Second, the vaccination is exactly targeted because there isn’t more than one strain, there’s just the one. My wife is pregnant, our daughter is 14 months old. With everything that my wife and I have read and learned, she and my daughter are getting the shots once they’re available here (next Wednesday morning 9:00am). I get the vaccination as a part of the next risk group.

        So like I said. I’ve got a list of policy complaints about Obama as long as my arm from health care to not rolling back the PATRIOT ACT (I throw up in my mouth every time I write that name) to continuing the foreign policy disasters of the last eight years, to putting weak, short-term and incredibly expensive crutches under the economy as if we should ever get back to the credit-card fueled levels of economic activity of the recent past. But flu vaccinations and declaring an “emergency” to eliminate red tape? You’re wasting everyone’s time on issues that simply don’t matter.



  41. pjnoir on October 28, 2009 at 14:52

    It’s a true Lose-Lose for the President. If he down plays this Flu and it claims a few lives across the country, his head would be handed to him, especially from Fox like media organizations. And if he actively works to get a vaccine out there (hopefully from contractors that have some integrity) and it is less then expected – he looks like an alarmist. I error on the side of caution and hope everyone involved works for the public’s safety, not some bank account. Hopefully one day (and its a big swallow of hope) a Primal/Paleo America needs less sick care. Imagine the savings (or investment in other worthwhile ventures), Imagine the health and security. You are your menu.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 28, 2009 at 16:03

      It’s a true Lose-Lose for the President.

      Wow, if only that were true.

      • pjnoir on October 29, 2009 at 04:56

        Pity – kind of negative.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 29, 2009 at 07:25

        kind of negative

        Kind of? No, it’s wholly negative — top to bottom & wall to wall.

        In the context of human evolution, how they evolved to eat and to socialize, I make no meaningless distinctions between the havoc wreaked by modern foods and the havoc wreaked by modern politics and socialism. Both are equally unfit for human consumption.

        Both are equally irredeemable, and so, I will applaud any and all failures and “losses” by all politicians, just as I would applaud the bankruptcy and liquidation of General Mills.

        You just need to apply your evolutionary thinking across the board.

        It can be a very positive experience. Take the Red Pill.



      • pjnoir on October 29, 2009 at 10:05

        oops- didn’t know the socialism word gets you so worked up- Ii guess caveman were our first to count profit and ownership over the survival of the group. And nothing modern about it, Jesus was a pro-active socialist.

        Athletes and low carb bloggers should never paint themselves in politics- bad for blog.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 29, 2009 at 10:38

        Jesus?

        I’ve been an atheist for 20 yeas (Red Pill there, too). Do you see a common thread? I don’t allow fake & bogus “authorities” to paint a picture of reality/fantasy for me that serves only to paint the illusion that they are needed in some way.

        It’s a simple formula: create a problem where no problems exist, then “solve” it. I ditched that fraud long ago.

        I guess caveman were our first to count profit and ownership over the survival of the group.

        Well, beyond the observation that you’re conflating social animal with socialism, the former being an attribute of the INDIVIDUAL and the latter being a construct backed by force (guns, clubs, jails, fines, seizures, levies, taxes, state murder — see “Death by Government” http://tinyurl.com/yf5a7eg — 170 million and counting), the essential question is whether a “caveman” could have decided to take his own chances and go his own way, or whether he’d be pursued and compelled to contribute to the group.

        When someone uses the word “society,” I always have the question: WHO’S society?

        Now you can go ahead, as in the natural course of these sorts of discussions and go Spiro Agnew on me (“Love it or leave it”), in which I’ll point out you’re hypocrisy, to wit: you place collective socialism above property rights and then proceed to act as though you own the whole place.



      • John Campbell on October 29, 2009 at 10:40

        Wow – things are still pretty hot over here.

        pj, consider our cave ancestors. Do you really think a successful hunter would hang around the rest of his tribe if they were taking their “fair” share of his hunting at the pointy end of a spear?
        That successful hunter would leave his mooching tribe so fast – he does not need them – they need him and his hunting success.
        Voluntary exchange must have been the rule rather than the exception in our primitive past. A fair exchange of assets and skills would lead to success in the tribe. That would include kindness and generosity, as well as profit and ownership.

        Call socialism whatever you want, voluntary doesn’t enter into it – it is all predicated on force.

        And I don’t like to see politics here any more than you do – but it is the socialist bent of governments that bring the realms of food and medicine into the world of politics. If we had a rational government based on the legitimate rights of the individual, food and medicine would be free of politics, and a lot healthier for us. Richard is reminding us of this fact.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 29, 2009 at 10:46

        Yes, John. There are some aspects of politics that are just impossible to stay away from because of the inexorable link between agriculture and the state (and Death Care).



      • John Campbell on October 29, 2009 at 13:36

        I understand Richard – it is a shame that food and medicine is mixed up with politics – we did not start this – they (government collectivists) did.

        I am reminded of Fawlty Towers with the German tourists – please do not be offended – I am one quarter German myself.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfl6Lu3xQW0

        Just trying to lighten up the discussion here…



      • Ross on October 29, 2009 at 11:28

        Actually, almost all hunter-gatherer groups were not just “socialist” but completely communal. If someone wasn’t putting in their fair share of hunting or failing to carry their weight while traveling, it was a serious issue that was resolved by public shaming and more severe penalties up to death or exile (which in more severe weather meant death unless they could find another group). The results of hunting were willingly given up so that you could rest when the next hunt went out and still eat from their returns or so that multiple hunting groups could go out and if anyone did well, everyone could still eat well.

        When groups got large (above about 100 people), it becomes impossible for everyone to know everyone else and social enforcement of the communal contract was guaranteed to break down. Long before that point, hunter-gatherer groups would split up into more than one group.

        The situation where the tribal elders would take away your kill at the point of a spear simply never came up. If you were a part of the tribe, you shared with the tribe. The alternative is that you weren’t a part of the tribe. Your scenario is as inconceivable as a father taking away his child’s gathered blackberries at the point of a gun (family is the modern remaining communal social group).

        It took fixed-location resources (agriculture) before larger communities and the social issues they create became practical. It’s at this point the possibility of a hunter trading his kill for milk or other resources and all of the risks that occur when such a person enters into commerce with groups that may have dedicated security/military.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 29, 2009 at 11:56

        When groups got large (above about 100 people), it becomes impossible for everyone to know everyone else and social enforcement of the communal contract was guaranteed to break down. Long before that point, hunter-gatherer groups would split up into more than one group.

        Yea, so what in the hell are you doing defending a collective state that counts millions and billions as its subjects? How come you understand the health ramifications of ignoring a proper diet, but not of ignoring proper social interaction.

        At least I’m consistent. I have written many times that we evolved to account for the values and actions of about 30 people or so. And, everyone had a real feeling of being integral to the group, valuable, and even persuasive if need be.

        Contrast that to getting your 1 in 200 millionth say in your own affairs at the ballot box (something I haven’t participated in in over a decade, and never, ever will).



      • Ross on October 30, 2009 at 11:02

        Richard wrote: Yea, so what in the hell are you doing defending a collective state that counts millions and billions as its subjects? How come you understand the health ramifications of ignoring a proper diet, but not of ignoring proper social interaction.

        I do not defend the collective state. I am pointing out that pre-agricultural humans historically lived in communal groups, which directly contradicts John Campbell’s assertion “That successful hunter would leave his mooching tribe so fast – he does not need them – they need him and his hunting success.”.

        As an evolutionary implication of the social groups we lived in for the 2.5 million years before agriculture, we’re adapted to cooperate in social groups, we have altruistic impulses, we would usually care for other people’s children instead of seeing them as a threat, and arguments towards social responsibility ring true for most people. The “every man is an island” experiment of the modern western world is as new as canola oil and should be treated with the same degree of skepticism.

        Does this mean I support communist goals for the state? No, I do not. I think that the only sustainable communal systems are voluntary and communist states are inevitably also reach towards totalitarianism and central control. I do try to build interdependent communities around me. I’m one of those weirdos who knows my neighbors and most of them only know each other because I organize block parties and set up a kid-watching co-op. I’m also on the board of the HOA and spend plenty of time making sure that the HOA mostly leaves people alone and lets people do what they want to their property as long as they aren’t taking away from someone else (I encourage people break moronic HOA rules all the time).

        I do defend Obama’s children getting the vaccine at the same time as their peers, I also argue for the utility of vaccines in general and for the value of the H1N1 vaccine specifically to protect my pregnant wife. But that’s about as far as I go in defending Obama or any of his policies.



      • Richard Nikoley on November 1, 2009 at 12:27

        I think that the only sustainable communal systems are voluntary…

        Me too. That’s why I oppose the US Government (and every other government) in totality, from soup to nuts, in every way possible. It, as an institution of domination and force is wholly irredeemable.

        But that’s why we have it, because people don’t value freedom and voluntarism as much as they value socialism and force-backed means of producing values they can access at no cost or less than they would pay if their only alternative was to pay themselves or organize cooperatives to pay.

        And the parasites in government are only too happy to oblige, given the tens and hundreds of millions of baa baa sheeple subjects they still have singing their praises.



  42. dave, RN on October 29, 2009 at 12:00

    Is everyone interpreting this like I am?

    I ran across this article. Here’s the link:

    And here’s the really pertinent part: the bold type is mine.

    “We’re giving the virus more wiggle room, more evolutionary space, by having some naive individuals,” explained lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Yewdell of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. To scientists, “naive” means the previously unexposed. (that is, not vaccinated – Dave)

    Yewdell’s team took an old strain of seasonal H1N1 flu that circulated decades ago and infected groups of mice. After each infection, they culled virus from mouse lungs and used that to infect more sets of mice. After nine such cycles, they checked the hemagglutinin gene for mutations. Unvaccinated mice had none. In vaccinated mice, the virus had mutated to become stickier — it changed the way it binds to cells to clamp on more tightly, which helps it evade an attack from immune cells called antibodies.

    But that’s a big trade off: A stickier virus doesn’t spread as easily, Yewdell said.

    Then the team took the new sticky mutant and infected more unvaccinated mice with it — and here’s the surprise: The virus mutated back into a less sticky, easier-to-spread version. (and easier to naturally fight off – Dave)

    That’s why there are implications for people, because children who haven’t yet caught or been vaccinated against many flu strains would offer a similar opportunity for mutation to easier-to-spread versions. (But easier to naturally fight off – Dave)

    OK, so If I’m reading this right, and I think I am, those who get vaccinated may not spread the flu as easily, but in those individuals the virus gets “stickier” and is thus more able to evade attacks from our own antibodies. Now, call me crazy, but I don’t want to get an immunization that allows the virus to evade my own natural defenses. And if I do spread it, it’s of a type that is more “sticky” and harder for the infected person to fight off. So it seems that by vaccinating everyone, we are creating viruses that, while harder to spread, if they do spread, are more difficult for the body to defend itself against! To me there is something wrong with that picture.

    Are you interpreting this article that same way I am?

    • Mark on October 29, 2009 at 12:31

      It’s a reasonable interpretation, but I think it’s a bit more complicated. My read is that because, on average, viruses have a harder time staying alive in inoculated people, there is evolutionary pressure to become “stickier” in order to evade the antibodies that those people have. Stickier viruses don’t spread as much. That’s the benefit to the collective – less spreading. Your interpretation is that the trade off is lowered immunity in the inoculated hosts. However, there are two things that happen within inoculated hosts. 1) The virus becomes stickier (as I just mentioned) and 2) the hosts develop antibodies. Your interpretation ignored #2. The article just doesn’t say whether the scientists found that the benefit that the inoculated mice enjoyed from having antibodies outweighed the detriment of having to deal with stickier virus. Outside of the context of this particular experiment, the answer is that mice are more resistant to flu virus when vaccinated. Indeed, successful animal models is one important bit of evidence in favor of the effectiveness of flu vaccines.

  43. Ann on October 29, 2009 at 16:17

    I’m going to apologize up front for not having the studies to link to, maybe another reader bookmarked it in their travels?
    But when I was doing research into vaccination for my daughter I came across 2 related studies that were key in determining whether or not I would continue to vaccinate my daughter. The first one was a population study done in India on the incidence of hib in children in preparation for determining how much vaccines they would need to cover the region and to establish a disease baseline. The researchers had trouble finding hib in these children despite the lack of sanitation & crowded living conditions. When tested many of the children responded with antibodies to the disease without ever having reported as actually having the disease.

    Second study was built off of the first. In a lab they took rabbits and tested their blood for antibodies to different strains of hib, the rabbit’s immune systems responded to all strains equally well (or nearly so). Then they vaccinated half of them with a single strain hib vaccine and re-tested. In the non-vaccinated group the results were the same (as expected) but the vaccinated group would only respond with antibodies to the strain of hib they had been vaccinated against. When exposed to other strains of hib their immune system would not respond as before.
    This makes me wonder (not just about the hib vaccine) if it is something similar with the flu. Perhaps exposure to the real flu in a non vaccinated person is generally protective of all cases of the flu, since the person is getting exposed to all components of the flu virus and anything that the virus ‘makes’ while inside the host and uses ALL of these things to mount a very general immune response. This is admittedly all conjecture at this point, obviously. Perhaps getting vaccinated each year generally makes you less able to fight off other strains?

    I know this all sort of up-in-the-air but I’m wondering if anybody else has any input on this?

  44. Monica Hughes on October 29, 2009 at 16:43

    Ann,

    You may find this report interesting. I haven’t followed up on the original research:

    Obviously, immunity is a whole lot more complex than whether you’ve been vaccinated for something.

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