By Helen Petousis Harris 06/11/2015

Following on from extensive hysteria and bad press in many countries, including Denmark and Japan, the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigated the issue that’s been dubbed “HPV vaccination syndrome”.

They have concluded that scientific evidence DOES NOT support that HPV vaccines cause complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

So what did the review committee do?

They (experts in the fields) carefully studied the published data including that from the clinical trials, reports made by the public and patient groups, from health professionals and information from the European Member States. No stone unturned. Given that the safety of the vaccine has been monitored passively in over 63 million girls and women and actively studied (comparing vaccinated with unvaccinated in carefully designed studies) in over a million of these recipients you would think if there was a link between the vaccine and these diseases something would have shown up. But it didn’t.

So why are we seeing cases of girls with pain and fatigue after the vaccine?

The reality is that the symptoms of CRPS and POTS exist on a spectrum and correspond with many other conditions so assigning a diagnosis is often very difficult. It is estimated that every year about 30 women in every 100,000 between the ages of 10 and 19 may develop one of these conditions. Put another way, in NZ that is 180 new cases of CRPS or POTS in girls and women aged 10-19 every year by chance. Obviously, given we are offering the HPV vaccine to all our girls and women in this age group some cases will occur after the vaccine by coincidence.

What is HPV vaccination syndrome?

HPV vaccination syndrome is a recently invented term to describe the list of vague symptoms reported by vaccinated girls and/or their mothers (such as pains, fatigue, dizziness…). There is no diagnosis for this ‘syndrome’ and no known plausible way the vaccine could cause such a disorder. (See here my discussion on this in Clinical Rheumatology).

I know the anti-vaccination lobby will be bitterly disappointed about this finding, as the fact the EMA were looking at the issue appeared to add some sort of credibility to their claims. The fact there is no evidence for their assertions will do nothing to dissuade the believers, as belief does not require any evidence, only faith. Neither will evidence get in the way of a good scare story.

0 Responses to “HPV “vaccination syndrome” – latest investigation”

  • Not read the Nordic Cochrane Complaint then? Not read the additional leaked document?

  • Hi Fiona – some observations.

    This post is dated November 2015. The “Cochrane Complaint” you allude to (more on this below) is dated May 2016. I know Helen is pretty insightful and has great foresight as well from what I can see, but I would be disturbed is she started making claims that she could see into the future.

    Its likely then that no, she hadn’t seen the Cochrane Complaint prior to writing this post.

    On the issue of exactly which Cochrane Complaint you allude to – good manners and posting etiquette would suggest that, where you refer to a document or article, you provide a link so there is no confusion what you are referring to. I tracked down this one which appears to cover the ground I suspect you are thinking about, feel free to put us right if I have made a wild and incorrect assumption.


    • Yes indeed I must apologise for my lack of precognition, it is a character flaw. Have now got around to posting my thoughts on the Whingey letter. I foresee trolls.

      • An old Norse poem from the 9th century comes to mind where an unnamed troll woman in a 9th century encounter with poet riding through the forest:
        Troll kalla mik
        trungl sjǫtrungnis,
        auðsug jǫtuns,
        élsólar bǫl,
        vilsinn vǫlu,
        vǫrð nafjarðar,
        hvélsveg himins –
        hvat’s troll nema þat?

        (They call me a troll,
        moon of the earth-Hrungnir
        wealth sucker of the giant,
        destroyer of the storm-sun
        beloved follower of the seeress,
        guardian of the “nafjord”
        swallower of the wheel of heaven [the sun].
        What’s a troll if not that?)
        Lindow, John (2007). “Narrative Worlds, Human Environments, and Poets: The Case of Bragi” as published in Andrén, Anders. Jennbert, Kristina. Raudvere, Catharina. Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives. Nordic Academic Press. ISBN 978-91-89116-81-8
        Thank you to Wikipedia.

        • I believe Helen was well aware of the concerns about Gardasil from members of the public and has been for some time now. These concerns are referred to in the Nordic Cochrane Complaint. It is surprising that she has only just decided to post on the Nordic Cochrane Complaint. I would have imagined that she would have maintained her blog site more regularly, but for some reason has not for some time. This blog “HPV Vaccine Syndrome,” specifically related to the EMA and therefore that is why I have posted my comment to her on this posting, so yes chronologically confusing. Interestingly the EMA evaluation was not actually due for completion until May 2016.. that’s foresight for you?

          • Helen has a full time job so is quite busy doing science. She does not actually consider a letter of complaint written by a few volunteers a particularly valid form of science. Said letter does not contain any actual science. Just because it conforms to the belief systems of some people it does not mean that this letter makes any useful contribution to the body of scientific knowledge. Not really much to comment on. As I have said until blue in the face, case reports do not constitute scientific evidence.

  • hello Helen. You do not hold the Cochrane Library in very high regard then? May I ask, why not ?

  • Phew, I smell a sealion.

    Sorry, but this is such obvious trolling.

    Very noticeable how you focus on Helen, too. For months on end. When you’ve erred enough on one post, you wait a few days, then move to another post of Helen’s and start up again.

    PPS: since you care about Cochrane reviews, you’d like to know that I summarised their latest review of the HPV vaccine at the end of a post I wrote a few days ago: (See the section, A better paper.)

  • Thank you for your response. Grant. I am sorry sir, but you do, actually, mistake my motives. Believe it (or not) ..

    I asked Helen, as I have only recently discovered the Cochrane Library – and wanted (still do) to know what Helen thought of them (Not Grant)

    Thank you for the link. It would certainly appear that this paper was set up fraudulently and with odious intent. Not to be condoned whatsoever. Cheers

  • David,

    As is obvious, I was referring to you. Both of your replies are obvious trolling. You are sealioning, have been for a very long time, many months.

    Grow up?

  • It’s a shame there isn’t a ‘neutral venue’ where open discussion / learning is encouraged ..

  • If anyone else is reading and would like to ask questions I’d encourage them to ignore David’s attempts to derail, and go ahead.

    It’s rare to find a forum that has the expertise, and have some of their time free. Make the most of it!

    It’s unfortunate that a small number of people who oppose vaccines think it’s heroic to be obstructive, sealion, troll, make accusations, etc., and make it their “mission” to make a nuisance of themselves. (As a practical matter abusing this forum’s openness tends come back at them eventually—as David is learning!)

    Just ignore the odd troll who tries to be disruptive, and go ahead and ask; we’ll be around 🙂



    You’re being a bit obvious.

    Of course, you say this: trolling this in the hope of creating space to carry on trolling…

    It’s a reason it’d be good for you to move on, so that there is space for discussion.

    That this place has open discussion is why you’ve been able to write here.

    You’ve had months of opportunities for learning and discussion given to you, but you’ve kept abusing it. Not very surprisingly that is now coming back at you.

    Like a horse led to water that won’t drink, you won’t learn. And you troll. Both are your problems, not ours.

  • Whomsoever you puport to be Grant, I know not. Notwithstanding, I thank you for your time, and what I have learnt whilst on your blog ..