By Helen Petousis Harris 15/09/2017 22


Vaccine scammers I call them. They prey on people with a sick kid. Perhaps they want to flog dietary supplements or bleach enemas but today I refer to the proponents of a variety of fake syndromes, which they claim have been induced by vaccines and/or vaccine adjuvants*. The most infamous vaccine scammer in this case is Andrew Wakefield, but this is not about him.

In Confessions of a Confidence Man (pub 1923) Edward H Smith laid out six steps in the confidence (aka con) game. I thought it would be fun to use these six steps to explore the history of “Autoimmune/Autoinflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA)” which is a sort of catch all for nebulous chronic illnesses that include fatigue. Of course behind any scam are the con men and women.

The idea of newly discovered syndromes seems to be a theme for people who seek to derail vaccination programmes. For example most infamously Andrew Wakefield invented a syndrome (the triad of Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder) and then went on to falsify data in order to ‘prove’ that MMR vaccine caused his fictitious condition.

More recently detractors dreamed up HPV vaccination syndrome to describe a vague constellation of symptoms and blame the vaccine. ASIA appears in the literature as a potential mechanism for this fake syndrome (fake because not only is there no evidence for it but there is overwhelming evidence against it .

The confidence game

Step 1. Foundation work. Preparations are made in advance of the game, including the hiring of any assistants required.

In the case of ASIA proponents began publishing hypothesis generating articles on the potential association between environmental exposures such as siliconosis, gulf war syndrome, and something called macrophagic myofasciitis. Morphing on from these seeding ideas came the proposition that vaccine adjuvants cause autoimmunity, and a run of articles in either low level journals or journals where the senior author/s were on the editorial board ensued. This does not mean they are not valid but it is something to note.

In 2011 ASIA as an entity was proposed in the absence of any reasonable epidemiological evidence, followed by a small group of researchers publishing self-citing articles en masse.  Just five authors cited the article a total of 150 times. This gains the work prominence.

 

Step 2. Approach: The victim is contacted.

After an adverse event following immunisation concerned parents can find their needs better met by anti-vaccination groups than the medical establishment. At this time they are vulnerable, worried sick about their kid. The hosts and other members of the organisation feed the concern that the child’s condition may have be caused by a vaccine, in fact they convince the parent that this is indeed the case and provide the evidence established in step 1.

What is particularly sad about this stage is that some of the self-serving narcissistic members of the groups hijack the parental anxiety about the decision to vaccinate their child. The parents now blame themselves for their child’s illness and carry a terrible burden of guilt.

Anyway, parents are recruited from these organisations .

 

Step 3. Build up: The victim is given an opportunity to profit from a scheme. The victim’s greed is encouraged, such that their rational judgment of the situation might be impaired.

In this case the victims are the parents of children who may or may not have suffered a vaccine injury but are non-the-less unwell. A sick child is a stressful and heart-breaking burden for any parent. In the US there is a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme where billions of dollars financed by 75 cents of every vaccine administered are available to compensate families where a vaccine may have caused damage. I say may because there is no “beyond reasonable doubt” required. The bar for evidence is very low. This is good because it enables more people to access support.

For personal injury lawyers this must present an opportunity? Apparently the average pay-out is over a million dollars. I cannot help but wonder if this also presents an opportunity for expert witnesses to profit in some way. Profiteering does not have to be financial but I can’t help noticing that there are several occasions were financial support from established vehemently anti vaccination funders are non-disclosed. Mmmm, I have to disclose mine.

 

Step 4. Pay-off or Convincer: The victim receives a small pay-out as a demonstration of the scheme’s effectiveness. This may be a real amount of money, or faked in some way. In a gambling con, the victim is allowed to win several small bets. In a stock market con, the victim is given fake dividends.

The way I see it, rather than money the victim receives support and reinforcement by the anti-vaccination lobby who gather around them like a warm fluffy blanket, offering sympathy and much needed support. This may be in contrast to the treatment they received from the health professionals who may well have brushed them off and offered nothing but a sterile consultation and flippant dismissal (shame on you). These parents feel disenfranchised and bitter, just talk to a parent with a child they believe was harmed by a vaccine and who felt they were unheard by the medical community. The con artists are buoyed by their own convictions and self-importance, feedback nurtures their egos, brings more funding, and more opportunity.

Now existing in an echo chamber the concept of the Syndrome (let’s say ASIA) becomes magnified, broadcast through not just academic channels now but through public forums such as social media. The Syndrome is firmly embedded in folklore.

 

Step 5. The Hurrah: A sudden crisis or change of events forces the victim to act immediately. This is the point at which the con succeeds or fails.

The victim becomes a megaphone for the Syndrome, disseminating the idea throughout their networks. The con has succeeded.

 

Step 6. The In-and-In: A conspirator (in on the con, but assumes the role of an interested bystander) puts an amount of money into the same scheme as the victim, to add an appearance of legitimacy to the scheme. This can reassure the victim, and give the con man greater control when the deal has been completed.

Entre the pseudoscientist with Doctor or Professor in front of their name (Appeal to Authority). Like knights in shining armour they stand up and defend the victim. On the internet, in the courts.


What proponents of these syndromes disregard are the inconvenient facts. There is no scientific data to support the existence of ASIA let alone a role of adjuvants in any of the associated symptoms. In contrast what does exist is a very large Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme that requires a petitioner to provide evidence of at least a possible connection between a vaccine and their ‘injury. The inventor of the syndrome (who I will not give air to here but you can investigate him yourself) regularly testifies for vaccine injury cases.

Sadly while attention is given to implicating vaccines in illness or disability, for which the vast majority are demonstrably not caused by vaccines, the eye is off investigating the real cause of said conditions and finding better ways to help those affected.

Aluminium adjuvants

*Vaccine adjuvants are substances included in the formulation of some types of vaccine to improve the immune response to the vaccine. Most vaccine adjuvants are based on the most common metallic element on earth, aluminium. Generally referred to aluminium salts they have a track record extending over 80-years. Yes they are remarkably safe.

Aluminium is ubiquitous in our environment. When babies are born they have aluminium in their bodies. When they breast feed they swallow aluminium, when they bottle feed they swallow more, our food contains aluminium. To escape aluminium you will need to leave earth and find another M-class planet that has no aluminium.

Some people claim that aluminium used in vaccine adjuvants causes all manner of ills, in particular an invention given the fancy name Autoimmune/Autoinflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA). Recently a considered review on the matter was published by experts in immunology, allergic disease, vaccines, aluminium adjuvants and epidemiology including colleagues from the University of Auckland

The conclusion?

Current data do not support the causation of ASIA by vaccine adjuvants containing aluminum, which should be of reassurance to patients undergoing routine immunizations as well as to those undergoing allergen-specific IT.

[click here to read full text]


22 Responses to “Aluminium adjuvants, immune dysfunction, and the AV syndrome scammers”

  • Very good read. Always appreciated 😀

    Also, broken link to skeptical raptor article. Looks like an html encoded space character…

  • “When babies are born they have aluminium in their bodies. ”

    Response: babies are also born with lead, mercury, arsenic, pesticides and a wide variety of other toxic substances. Hopefully these are at trace levels, too small to cause harm. The presence of these substances does not imply they are healthful or harmless.

    “Generally referred to aluminium salts they have a track record extending over 80-years. Yes they are remarkably safe.”

    CITATION NEEDED. Long history of use per se is not evidence of safety. To assume that “somebody would have noticed something if there was a problem” is preposterous and unscientific. Safety can only be established through proper scientific research. Please cite safety studies, in infants, for dosages received from the full vaccine schedule, and that show safety for long term neurological disorders (e.g. autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety etc). I claim such studies do not exist. You wont be able to cite anything. And BTW, I am aware of the Jefferson 2004 and Mitkus 2011 papers. They do not meet these criteria and are fatally flawed in numerous ways.

    “When they breast feed they swallow aluminium, when they bottle feed they swallow more, our food contains aluminium.”

    Here are the numbers, for the US CDC vaccine schedule:

    Birth (Hep B): 74 mcg/kg (250 mcg for 3.4 kg infant)
    2 month: 245 mcg/kg (1225 mcg for 5 kg infant)
    4 month: 150 mcg/kg (975 mcg for 6.5 kg infant)
    6 month: 153 mcg/kg (1225 mcg for 8 kg infant)

    Total: 3675 mcg

    Oral absorption of aluminum is 0.3%.

    Over the first 6 months, a baby will absorb (these number are from CHOP):
    From milk: 7mg x 0.3% = 21 micrograms (0.021 mg)
    From formula: 38mg x 0.3% = 114 micrograms (0.114 mg)
    From soy formula: 117mg x 0.3% = 351 micrograms (0.351mg)

    Vaccines give 3675/21 = 175 times more aluminum than human milk in the first 6 months.

    • Dear person who comments using an anonymous identity.
      I think you may have missed the key point that I labour over repeatedly in my blogs, and have instead elected to cherry pick a range of papers, both scientific and non-scientific, to make red herring arguments. In other words you have ignored the main argument – that vaccines are very safe, and instead pulled in selected statements of mine then attempted to rebut them in isolation of the main argument leading to you to draw irrelevant conclusions. You write about aluminium in complete isolation of the actual vaccines. The blog you comment on is “was the Gardasil vaccine ever compared to a placebo. The answer is yes.
      Do vaccines cause neurological events?
      Here is the answer again. When you look at the vast number of well-designed scientific studies that compare the health outcomes in vaccinated people with the health outcomes in unvaccinated people you consistently find that vaccinated people have no more adverse outcomes than unvaccinated people, except for the fact that unvaccinated people are more likely to suffer and/or die from the vaccine preventable disease. We look at the totality of of evidence. One study does not make a fact.
      Here are the committee reports from the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety on adjuvants, reviewed periodically as new information emerges. http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/adjuvants/en/
      Please, if you wish to have an argument present some well-designed studies that show more neurological events in vaccinated people and offer an explanation as to why the huge population studies published have failed to find this phenomena.

      • Dr. Helen, I pick up on your comment that “some people claim that aluminium used in vaccine adjuvants causes all manner of ills”. Indeed they do – and some of the people you refer to are from some of the worlds most reputable institutions.

        In good spirit, I also pick up on your comment “to present some well-designed studies that show more neurological events in vaccinated people” . Here then, is a starter – which references numerous peer-reviewed studies.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596046/

        Would the good Dr. cast scorn on this body of research ?
        I sincerely trust, that the steadily growing volumes of research into the adverse, cumulative effects of synergistic toxicities of adjuvants, are being thoroughly, analysed and assessed with scientific integrity.

        What assurances can be given please.

        Sincerely: David Bernard

        • David, I will totally cast scorn upon this paper, for the very reasons presented in this blog. Just becuase an author selects publications from the literature to make an argument it does not make the argument true. Garbage in and garbage out. The section on ASAI is but one example. There is no scientific evidence for this, only pseudo science – I refer you back to the article I have blogged about. The article you link to relies on the claims by known purveyors of woo and cites material so flawed that even the most gutter dwelling journals retract it. Brian Hooker’s efforts are an example. Chris Exley is also no stranger to having garbage retracted http://retractionwatch.com/?s=vaccine

          • Thank you Helen. I shall relookat the paper, with your comments in mind. I too, think it is vital to stick with the key matters of valid science, transparency and highest integrity .. Sincerely

      • Such a well thought out presentation of vaccines, Ms. Harris. Bravo. Could you help me with one part of your article? You state, “*Vaccine adjuvants are substances included in the formulation of some types of vaccine to improve the immune response to the vaccine.” My question is; How do adjuvants improve the immune response to the vaccine? By improve do you mean make better, or build the immune system? Or actually improve the normal response of the immune system to the vaccine? How do adjuvants improve our immune systems response to vaccines? Could you explain that so I can reply to those crazy anti-vaxxer parents? Thank you so much for your work.

        • Hi Benjamin. Vaccine adjuvants will act differently, depending on the type of adjuvant. The most widely used adjuvants are based on aluminium salts. These work through several different channels to get the body to take notice of the vaccine antigen. Without an antigen larger amounts of antigen would be required (very expensive) and the quality of the response may not be great. Generally speaking they first induce localised inflammation (desirable) which recruits specialised immune cells to the injection site. These cells are vital for the next stage of the immune response. The next thing they do is to trigger certain receptors on the immune cells. These are called toll-like receptors and they send messages to the cell machinery directing the type of immune response to start generating. The other thing they do is to facilitate the uptake of the vaccine antigen by these cells. This is important because the cells need to transport their cargo to the local lymph node in order for a specific immune response (the generation of antibodies and immune memory etc).

          The choice of adjuvant will depend on a number of factors including the charge on the antigen (positive or negative) and the type of immune response desired. The main ‘action’ occurs in the muscle where the vaccine was injected then later in the local lymph node where the antigen is presented to other cell types. After that it’s business is done.

          While some of the adjuvant dissolves after injection in the muscle and is generally eventually excreted, some is taken up by the cells by cell drinking (pinocytosis) and cell eating (phagocytosis). It is this process that assists the immune response.

          So, adjuvants not only enhance the magnitude but also the quality of the response.

          Does that answer your question?

    • They seem high because the common trick of using big numbers and very small units is being used. Basically dishonest representation.

      Total: 3675 mcg

      1 000 mcg = 1 mg
      1 000 000 = 1g

      3675 mcg = 3.675 mg = 0.003675 g.

      Then there is an inconsistent and confusing use of units.

      “Over the first 6 months, a baby will absorb (these number are from CHOP):”

      A citation! Wow! Do you mean the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia? Or the small city in the Ukraine?

      Lets assume the hospital.

      “During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. That’s not very much: a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water. During the same period, babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula.”
      http://media.chop.edu/data/files/pdfs/vaccine-education-center-aluminum.pdf

      “The aluminum contained in vaccines is similar to that found in a liter (about 1 quart or 32 fluid ounces) of infant formula. While infants receive about 4.4 milligrams* of aluminum in the first six months of life from vaccines, they receive more than that in their diet. Breast-fed infants ingest about 7 milligrams, formula-fed infants ingest about 38 milligrams, and infants who are fed soy formula ingest almost 117 milligrams of aluminum during the first six months of life.”
      http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-ingredients/aluminum

      “So the level of aluminum contained in vaccines, however, is trivial. And you frankly ingest much more aluminum either in the water that you drink or anything made from water on this planet, and many of the foods that we eat contain quantities of aluminum far greater than you’re ever going to get in vaccines.”
      http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/video/aluminum-vaccines-safe

  • VP, your comment informs us that you neglected to read the entire of Helen’s article. Try reading her attachment and it’s associated references as a starting point: http://www.jaci-inpractice.org/article/S2213-2198(17)30517-2/abstract

    Then maybe you could undertake a few tens of thousands of hours study and research further and actually become an immunologist and understand the knowledge Helen has shared.

    The few minutes or hours you spent with Dr Google before raising your “questions” only tends to emphasise the knowledge you are missing because you have not performed the appropriate studies and research over many years in order to develop expertise.

    Helen, as always, a great comment. Many thanks for sharing your expertise with us.

    • Thank you Stuart
      I note that VP is proudly anonymous. On his/her/them’s website there is a statement:
      Vaccine Papers Is Anonymous

      This blog is anonymous for these reasons:
      1) To avoid nasty “ad hominem” personal attacks and internet harassment.
      2) To focus attention where it belongs: the science. Our goal is to encourage people to look at the scientific evidence for themselves, and anonymity furthers that goal.
      3) “Argument by authority” is not respected here. What matters is the science, and nothing else.

      I do find the irony amusing. While conducting good scientific enquiry does not require any degree’s or flash appointments, science is a method and is true no matter what you believe. However, credibility as a scientist is earned by ones peers not given. VP, ignorance and the illusion of knowledge is dangerous and hiding behind a façade is dishonest. If you are going to discourage people from vaccinating their kids and challenge the collective knowledge and experience of the entire scientific community while ignoring the vast body of evidence to the contrary then I think you need to own your claims.

      • Hello Helen. From an earlier response in this post: Please could you tell me: are there any peer reviewed studies, which can provide assurance that these intake levels of aluminium are safe? They do seem rather high. Sincerely ..

        ” Here are the numbers, for the US CDC vaccine schedule:

        Birth (Hep B): 74 mcg/kg (250 mcg for 3.4 kg infant)
        2 month: 245 mcg/kg (1225 mcg for 5 kg infant)
        4 month: 150 mcg/kg (975 mcg for 6.5 kg infant)
        6 month: 153 mcg/kg (1225 mcg for 8 kg infant)

        Total: 3675 mcg

        • David, yes, the vast scientific literature on vaccine safety provides robust assurance that the aluminium in vaccines is very safe. I have regularly presented and discussed it.

          How do you conclude that the amount of aluminium in childhood vaccines is high? It seems to me you are starting with a false premise. If the science suggested that neurological outcomes were higher in vaccinated children then this may garner support. However, this is not the case.

  • Adjuvants do improve the immune response. Thank you Dr. Harris for this insightful opinion piece. However, let me clear up some minor details for parents who would like to understand the reactions of their children’s immune systems.

    Aluminum phosphate and aluminum hydroxide are traditionally used as adjuvants in vaccination, but the proprietary adjuvant for Merck is, Amorphous aluminum hydroxide sulfate, because it creates a bigger immune effect creating more antibodies.

    For instance, let’s use Gardasil as an example. Early Gardasil shots contained 100 mcg of Amorphous aluminum hydroxide sulfate. In 2017 Gardasil shots increased Amorphous aluminum hydroxide sulfate to 250mcg to get an even better—or improved—reaction of the immune system. Of all the vaccines parents report Gardasil to be the most reactive vaccine to adolescence. The vaccine is doing it’s job well, but for many adolescence boys and girls, it viciously attacks the immune system producing a violent reaction. Therefore, Amorphous aluminum hydroxide sulfate causes strong reactions to our immune systems as pointed out by Dr. Helen Petousis Harris. Thank you for your honesty, Dr.

    • Hi Purvesh. You state that “Gardasil viciously attacks the immune system producing a violent action.” Vaccines do not attack the immune system in any way shape or form. Could you substantiate what you mean? Also, Gardasil is not a particularly reactogenic vaccine. It’s profile for reactions is similar to other routinely administered vaccines. I know this not just from the extensive literature on the topic but also because I personally conducted a clinical trial using Gardasil and closely examined common reactions. This is published if you are interested but The pivotal Gardasil studies that were published in 2006-7 report on this extensively.

      • As I’ve stated, ” In 2017 Gardasil shots increased Amorphous aluminum hydroxide sulfate to 250mcg to get an even better—or improved—reaction of the immune system. ” With all due respect, Madam, you are being intellectually dishonest.

        • Purvesh, I have made comment on the ingredients in Gardasil 4 because that is the vaccine that has been the centre of my discussion on this blog for several years, and until a few months ago the only vaccine available in NZ. Because Gardasil 9 has additional antigens it has more adjuvant. This is because each of the antigens is adsorbed to the adjuvant before being combined into the multi-valent vaccine. The amount of adjuvant is comparable to other vaccines. You comment that the company increased the amount of adjuvant last year. This is grossly misleading when what they actually did was spend years formulating a higher valent vaccine to cover more types of HPV infection then testing it in an extensive clinical programme prior to gaining licensure. The Gardasil 9 formulation has more adjuvant because it has 9 rather than 4 types of viral-like particles each independently adsorbed. Also, the quantity of adjuvant went from 225mcg to 500mcg so you are mistaken about the original amount.

    • Purvesh,

      You wrote,

      Therefore, Amorphous aluminum hydroxide sulfate causes strong reactions to our immune systems as pointed out by Dr. Helen Petousis Harris. Thank you for your honesty, Dr.

      Whatever the facts may or may not be, do you realise that this reads as trying to put words in someone else’s mouth, or trying play on someone else’s words? (Either is a poor form of argument, esp. coming from your academic position.)

      Of all the vaccines parents report Gardasil to be the most reactive vaccine to adolescence.

      You will (I hope) be aware that parents’ reports are anecdotal, and that VAERS reports have a related problem. (i.e. they’re not substantiative for a conclusion as they stand.) You should also be aware that there is a problem with reporting being “encouraged” by law firms involved in claims cases.

      The vaccine is doing it’s job well, but for many adolescence boys and girls, it viciously attacks the immune system producing a violent reaction.

      The latter portion reads as a hearsay claim – you might want to substantiate it. Wouldn’t it be better to back it up?

      PS: I’d suggest dropping the ‘madam’ stuff — I believe you’ve been in the USA long enough to know that’s patronising. (Personally I’d drop the ‘, PhD’ after your name bit too.)

  • Another thing I’ve noticed is the vested interest of many people pushing this vaccination agenda. For instance, Julie L. Gerberding received 45,338 shares of Merck stock on May 1, 2017, and 38,655 shares the year before. How does the ex-CDC head, who now works for Merck, or anyone for that matter, have an unbiased position to protect our children, not only from normal childhood disease, but from the vaccinations themselves? What is your vested interest, Madam? How many shares do you own, whether personal, mutual, or institutional? No need to answer. We already know.

    Good day to you, Madam.

  • Purvesh, a ‘vaccination agenda’ is a public health agenda. Your accusations of vested interest are despicable. I’ve been accused of vested interests when I’ve argued for the benefits of community water fluoridation on another forum, and it’s just laughably incorrect as well as being a lazy argument of last resort.