By Helen Petousis Harris 15/09/2017 68


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]


68 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.

        • Hi Mel. Skeptical Raptor is a scientist with a background in medical sciences who blogs under that pseudonym. The professional background of Skeptical Raptor is on his/her website.

          • Hi Helen, so Skeptical Raptor is hiding behind a façade… why would you belittle someone who wishes to remain anonymous (Vaccine Papers), and call them dishonest for hiding behind a façade, when throughout your blogs, you post links to the anonymous Skeptical Raptor? Funny.
            Placebo doesn’t have to mean placebo?
            Safe doesn’t have to mean safe?
            And being anonymous is only dishonest if the person is questioning vaccines?
            Funny.

          • Mel. No, I think I explained that the Raptor is a pseudonym. Raptor provides their background and credentials, Vaccine Papers do not. Your additional comments are straw man arguments.

  • 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.

  • Absorption of ingested aluminum is about 0.3%. In other words, about 99.7% of ingested aluminum not does enter into body tissues and is eliminated in feces.

    The absorption of ingested Al must be factored into the comparison between injected Al adjuvants and ingested Al. Vaccine promoters ignore this fact, and thats why the direct comparison between ingested Al and injected Al adjuvant is erroneous.

    From this textbook:
    Food Additives
    Edited by Prof. Yehia El-Samragy
    ISBN 978-953-51-0067-6
    Hard cover, 256 pages
    Publisher InTech
    Published online 22, February, 2012 Published in print edition February, 2012

    Oral bioavailability (fractional absorption, a.k.a. uptake) is the amount absorbed compared to the amount administered. For Al, systemic bioavailability, the fraction that reaches systemic circulation (blood) from which it has access to the target organs of its toxicity, is most relevant.

    Oral 27Al bioavailability from water from a municipal water treatment facility was estimated to be 0.36% in a study of 21 humans (Stauber et al. 1999). Two studies that had only two human subjects each estimated oral Al bioavailability to be 0.1 and 0.22% (Hohl et al. 1994; Priest et al. 1998). The bioavailability of hydrophilic substances that are not well absorbed can be determined by comparing the area under the curve (AUC) × time for the test substance given orally and intravenously (Rowland and Tozer 1995). Using a modification of this approach the oral Al bioavailability in the rat averaged 0.28% and 0.29% (Yokel et al.2001a; Zhou, Harris, and Yokel 2008). These studies indicate oral Al bioavailability from water is ∼ 0.1 – 0.3%.
    Oral Al bioavailability from food has been estimated to be ~ 0.1 to 0.15% based on average daily urinary Al excretion compared to average daily Al intake from food (Powell and Thompson 1993; Priest 1993; Nieboer et al. 1995; Ganrot 1986; Priest 2004). Using the AUC × time method, oral Al bioavailability in rats that ate ~ 1 gm of biscuit containing [26Al]- labeled acidic SALP averaged ~ 0.12% (Yokel and Florence 2006) and 0.1% to 0.3% from basic SALP incorporated into cheese (Yokel, Hicks, and Florence 2008). Concurrent consumption of citrate, and to a lesser extent other carboxylic acids, can increase oral Al absorption, as can increased solubility of the Al, a more acidic environment, uremia, and perhaps fluoride (Krewski et al. 2007).

    From ATSDR:
    “Yokel and McNamara (2001) and Powell and Thompson (1993) suggest that the bioavailability of aluminum from the typical U.S. diet was 0.1%; the bioavailability of aluminum from drinking water ranges from 0.07 to 0.39% (Hohl et al. 1994; Priest et al. 1998; Stauber et al. 1999; Steinhausen et al. 2004).”

  • @Vaccine Papers – and yet, at cohorts that number into the millions and span the globe, no one has ever shown a link between aluminum in vaccines and negative outcomes at a population level.

    What could this be telling us… what indeed could this be telling us… so confusing… hard to understand… hmmmmn, lets consider this, what could the answer be?

  • Hi Helen

    You state: “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.”

    Can you PLEASE provide scientific citations for this claim? Human epi studies, animal studies or anything else. Because all I can find is Mitkus 2011 and Jefferson 2004, both of which are garbage and cannot support safety claims, especially with respect to neurological damage.

    Vaccine safety studies cannot be used to support claims about long term or neurological safety of Al adjuvants, especially in infants. To be useful as evidence for Al adjuvant safety, such studies would need to have these criteria:

    1) long term follow-up (i.e. years).
    2) screening for neurological outcomes at long term follow up.
    3) comparison to control group receiving no Al adjuvant.
    4) exposure group receives multiple Al-containing vaccines, preferably the 10+ received by infants in the first year.

    No such studies exist. For example, the commonly cited Jefferson 2004 paper (a review of 8 studies of Al adjuvant) does not meet these criteria because none of the 8 included studies meet the criteria.

    CDC researchers stated in a 2015 paper (Glanz 2015): “…no large epidemiological studies have specifically examined associations between health outcomes and vaccine ingredients, other than thimerosal.”

    So, the CDC researchers acknowledge that Al adjuvant toxicity in humans has not been investigated in epi studies of vaccines.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26518400

    • Vaccine papers,
      I think Ashton has answered this extremely well. I have nothing to add.

  • “…cohorts that number into the millions and span the globe, no one has ever shown a link between aluminum in vaccines and negative outcomes at a population level.”

    Its never been studied. For example, studies of vaccines and autism look only at MMR or thimerosal. They dont look at Al-containing vaccines, or Al adjuvant exposures.

    You are talking about an ecological study? Such studies are the weakest type of evidence. There are a couple such ecological studies, and they DO show an correlation between adverse outcomes and vaccine exposure, or Al adjuvant exposure.

    Here is one:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22099159

    Here is another:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170075/

    Of course, these are ECOLOGICAL studies and therefore should be considered the weakest type of evidence. They cannot be used to argue causation.

  • Helen:

    You are referring to this statement from Ashton?

    “at cohorts that number into the millions and span the globe, no one has ever shown a link between aluminum in vaccines and negative outcomes at a population level.”

    If so, see my reply above. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Ashton didnt provide a citation, and neither did you. You ignore my repeated requests to provide citations for your claims. Citing evidence is a basic and essential element of making scientific claims. So, where are your citations showing that aluminum adjuvant is safe? That its safe for the brain? That it does not cause brain injuries or mental illnesses?

    Here is a recent paper showing that Al adjuvant safety claims are based on garbage science. You should read it.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28576261

    The ONLY study looking at Al adjuvant exposure and neurological outcomes is the first link above. Its an ecological study, and hence has limited value.

    But there is not a complete absence of evidence of harm from Al adjuvant. Animal studies show that Al adjuvant causes brain injury and chronic brain inflammation.

    This paper shows that the Hep B vaccine, given to animals, adversely impacts brain development and causes chronic brain inflammation. The type of inflammation (IL-6) is a proven cause of autism. In fact, IL-6 is likely a pathway that mediates all autism.

    http://vaccinepapers.org/two-vaccines-opposite-effects-brain/

    Immune activation during early development (including the first few years after birth) causes brain injuries, autism and mental illnesses. Early life immune activation causes schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety, depression, epilepsy and more. The brain impacts can manifest years or decades after the inflammatory event. Vaccines cause immune activation. Thats how they work. Al adjuvant causes immune activation in the brain, because it travels into the brain.

    • Paul,
      Indeed there is pretty profound absence of evidence and the obsession with this is called Argument from ignorance or appeal to ignorance. This is where a claim must be true because it has not been proven false (or visa versa). In doing this you have excluded the possibility of another possibility. While is it true that we do not know everything about aluminium adjuvants we also know that despite looking we cannot find any evidence for harm. You are trying to shift the burden of proof from yourself to others. Some true things can never be proven. This is why we don’t do the study you appear to demand.
      1. We do not give aluminium adjuvant on its own it is in a formulation with the antigen. This is the product we are interested in.
      2. If you did a study of the adjuvant what would it mean?
      3. Such a study would never get ethical approval because there is no benefit to participants.

      The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

      Your challenge is the same as you challenging me to prove there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster. I challenge you to prove there is. If you fail, according to your logic, there is indeed an almighty string pasta deity. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no one has actually met said idol.

  • @vaccine papers The last paragraph of your last post is a regurgitaiton of tired old anti-vaxx tropes unsupported by the actual evidence.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14871632 – “We found no evidence that aluminium salts in vaccines cause any serious or long-lasting adverse events. Despite a lack of good-quality evidence we do not recommend that any further research on this topic is undertaken.”

    However, a significant amount of further research HAS been done. A simple google scholar search turned up 21,000 articles.

    I got bored reading them – this happens with repetitive tasks. To paraphrase it in my laymans terms, the conclusions are invariably that aluminium salts work well, have very minor side effects, there’s some stuff we don’t know about them, but the rate of serious adverse reaction is buried in the background noise of the population data. Aluminium use is demonstrably safe in vaccines, the population level data shows it.

    In other words, the absence IS the evidence.

  • Helen:

    There are two problems with your argument:

    1) I do have evidence that Al adjuvants and aluminum in general are harmful. This evidence comes from animal experiments with Al adjuvant and aluminum, and experiments on immune activation animal models of human diseases.

    2) The burden of evidence to prove safety (i.e. the absence of harm) is on vaccine promoters and manufacturers. So, while it is generally true in science debates that an evidence burden lies with one making a claim, this is not the case when it comes to questions of safety of pharmaceutical products and medical procedures. I should not have to explain why. This concept is not novel. It is universally accepted and is the basis for the regulation of medical products around the world.

    So, once again, where is your evidence that Aluminum adjuvant is safe? That its safe for long term and/or neurological outcomes?

    You claim that safety of Al adjuvant can be inferred from studies of Al-containing vaccines. Thats a reasonable claim. But where is the evidence. Which vaccine studies are you relying on for this claim? I want to see them. I have looked at many vaccine safety studies, and I have not seen any that are designed in a way that supports any conclusions regarding Al adjuvant.

    Jefferson 2004 (quoted above by Ashton) agrees the evidence is lacking by stating “Despite a lack of good-quality evidence…”

    Note that Jefferson 2004 is a review of 8 studies of vaccines containing Al adjuvant. None of these studies have long term follow-up, or look for neurological outcomes. One of the 8 actually compared two different types of Al adjuvant. All 8 looked only for short term and acute reactions. Jefferson 2004 is completely fails to address concerns that Al adjuvant causes neurological damage.

    So, citations please!

  • Helen, Ashton:

    Have you read Jefferson 2004 in full?

    Its a meta-analysis/review of 8 studies. None of the 8 can be used to support claims of long term or neurological safety of Al adjuvant. All 8 studies have at least one of the following deficiencies:

    1) Inadequate dose. All 8 studies look at doses of Al adjuvant far lower than what infants receive today. Max dose studied was 3 DTP (about 750mcg Al maximum). And none of the 8 studies confirm that the controls received zero Al adjuvant.
    2) Use of older children subjects or adolescents, not infants.
    3) Short follow-up, of days or weeks. This is completely inadequiate for detecting neurlogical, immune or other long term harm.
    4) Failure to look for neurological effects.

    Below is a summary of the 8 included studies. Descriptions are copied verbatim from the Jefferson 2004 paper. So, Helen, which (if any) of these 8 papers would you use to support claims that Al adjuvant is safe? That Al adjuvant does not cause long term or neurological harm? Or would you cite other papers? Which ones?

    Jefferson 2004 QUOTE:
    “Overall, the methodological quality of included studies was low. Few reports gave details of the randomisation process, allocation concealment, reasons for withdrawals, or strategies to deal with them in analysis. Inconsistencies in reporting, lack of clarity on numerators and denominators, variability of outcome definitions, and lack of outcome definitions led to much loss of data.”

    1) Ref #11, Murphy 1983, Randomized Controlled Trial
    Design: DTwP vs DTaP with alum vs DtaP with aluminium phosphate
DT (aluminium hydroxide) vs DT (calcium phosphate).
    Subjects: 26 vs 27 vs 28 vs 22 (105) children aged 2–3 months
    Follow-up: 24 hours after each immunization
    Outcomes measured: Temperature >38.3C

    2) Ref #14, Aggerbeck 1995, Controlled Clinical Trial
    Design: DTP (aluminium hydroxide) vs DTP plain. Single dose.
    Subjects: 160 vs 153 (313) recruits (aged 18–24 years)
    Follow-up: 4 weeks
    Outcomes measured: Erythema/induration < 5 cm; severe local reaction; severe systemic reaction

    3) Ref # 15, Burland 1968, Controlled Clinical Trial
    Design: DTP with aluminium hydroxide) vs plain DTP
    Subjects: 261 vs 280 (541) children aged up to 18 months
    Follow-up: 7 days after each immunisation
    Outcomes Measured: Local or generalised reactions at
24 h or after inoculation; local reactions at 1 week; cry persistent or of high pitch; collapse or convulsion; bruising or severe local reaction; sterile cyst at site of injection

    Commentary by Jefferson 2004: “Reporting of this study was very poor, with inconsistencies in the reporting of denominators.”

    4) Ref #12, Butler 1969, Randomized Controlled Trial
    Design: DTP (aluminium hydroxide) vs DTP plain
    Subjects: 47 vs 56 vs 65 (168) children for primary immunisation
    Follow-up: 24 h after each immunisation
    Outcomes Measured: Crying; fretfulness; drowsiness; vomiting; anorexia; rash;
erythema; induration; swelling; tenderness; nodule


    5) Ref#16,Collier 1979, Controlled Clinical Trial
    Design: Tetanus vaccine (aluminium hydroxide)
vs tetanus vaccine (plain). Single dose.
    Subjects: 113 vs 120 vs (145) aged 15–16 years
    Follow-up: 2 and 7 days after immunisation
    Outcomes Measured: Temperature; pain; tenderness; erythema; swelling; lymphadenitis

    6) Ref#17, Feery 1985, Controlled Clinical Trial
    Design: DTP (aluminium hydroxide) vs DTP plain. 3 doses, at 2, 4, and 6 months.
    Subjects: 350 vs 355 (1075, many lost to follow-up) aged 7·5 cm); crying more
than usual; crying for >5 h; screaming attacks; feverishness; neurological disorders; myoclonic epilepsy at 1 month after first dose; epilepsy; febrile convulsions 3–6 weeks after vaccination; SIDS
within 6 weeks of vaccination; nodule at vaccination site; febrile convulsions at 8 h; respiratory infection at 5 days; convulsions at 5 days; antipyretics or analgesics;
GP consultation after immunisation; high-pitched crying/screaming within 48 h; twitching/jerking within 48 h; crying/ screaming within 12 h; feverishness within 12 h; upper-respiratory-tract infection between vaccination and first follow-up; vomiting/diarrhoea between vaccination and first follow-up; generalised rash between vaccination and first follow-up
    Commentary from Jefferson 2004: “The study was badly reported with inconsistencies in denominators and in withdrawals from the groups. “

  • A personal observation: The medical fraternity is presently in battle, for the hearts and minds of an increasing number of people, ranging from crazy right wingers, to intelligent parents – like me – who are unsettled by apparent contradictions of science, in medicine. We ‘trust our doctor’ for some things, yet are uneasy about others. I am not alone.

    The most worrying issue for me personally, is that of aluminium in vaccines (together with the unknown, cumulative, long term effects of an ever increasing number of vaccines on young, growing immune systems).

    Regarding aluminium; public statement from the MOH / Immunisation Advisory Centre state board, state ” That after more than 90 years use of aluminium containing vaccine and millions of doses given, there is no evidence that the aluminium in vaccines causes any long term health problems” and ” The potential benefits from disease prevention through immunisation with aluminium-containing vaccines are greater than an unproven, theoretical risk from intermittent exposure to aluminium in vaccines”.

    Asking: is this a fact?

  • re “an ever increasing number of vaccines on young, growing immune systems”, at least re ASD –

    Are too many vaccines too soon harmful? https://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2013/04/29/are-too-many-vaccines-too-soon-harmful/

    (An older post of mine. A heads-up: I have a habit of dropping some stuff into Footnotes.)

    You write “unknown”. Given you aren’t familiar with the field, how do you know it’s unknown? Taking that and loaded language together, I’d say you want to try choose your sources better. Is reads to me as if you’re echoing something you’ve read somewhere.

    A quick spot of time on Google throws up several easily-read articles that give the overview. I’d list them here, but my comment would get held up for moderation if I did so I’ll put some in following comments.

    These ‘apparent contradictions’ are usually not in science, but in what ‘anti-vaccine’ advocates keep pitching to parents. If there is a ‘battle’ it’s with those advocates, really. They’re a pain as they keep pitching things that are patently untrue, often things that a modicum of genuine research or honesty would reveal. (One problem is that a decent number of these advocates ‘want’ some way to point a finger of blame; they’re motivated by that, rather than science. The effect of that along with over-reading meanings into research they don’t understand results in excitable claims…)

    It’s worth remembering that only a small minority of parents are opposed to vaccines – i.e. that claims of a ‘battle’ should have a fair perspective about it.

  • David (and anyone else),

    More reading on vaccine here, which covers the things you raised and more. Just a few minutes on google – which I think shows trying to find good sources isn’t that hard!

    (I’ll try add this to my vaccine resources page, or do a new replacement with them sometime.)

    https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/tools/parents-guide/parents-guide-part4.html (Part 4 of a series. They could have mentioned that formaldehyde is in our bodies anyway, lots more than a vaccine adds – it’s a by-product from normal biochemical reactions.)

    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/Vaccine-Studies-Examine-the-Evidence.aspx (Esp. the section ‘Studies About General Safety & Number of Vaccines’.)

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/vaccinated-kids-show-no-long-term-i-13-09-03/

    This last is a little more technical, but cover adjuvants: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494348/

  • Grant. My apologies, for introducing several themes; should have been just one at a time.

    I take a couple of your points: I should have said, “.. battle for hearts and minds for (What Seems To Me) to be an increasing number of people. Fair point. I may have been a little subjective.

    I shall come to the “apparent contradictions” in a subsequent comment, if I may. And, I shall read your suggested posts.

    Back to my primary question Grant: Is it a fact ” That after more than 90 years use of aluminium containing vaccine and millions of doses given, there is no evidence that the aluminium in vaccines causes any long term health problems” (?)

    Quoted from http://www.immune.org.nz/vaccines/vaccine-development/vaccine-components

  • David,

    “Is it a fact ” That after more than 90 years use of aluminium containing vaccine and millions of doses given, there is no evidence that the aluminium in vaccines causes any long term health problems” (?)”

    Well, the scientific method rarely, if ever, states that anything is a fact, because questions can always be asked. So you are not going to get a simple “yes” or “no” to that question.

    You’ve quoted from the MoH / Immunisation Advisory Centre. Grant has referred you to blogs with plenty of references stating the same. He’s also referenced the CDC, Healthy Children, Scientific American and more technical papers, all saying the same. You could also read any text on vaccines or public health that would tell you the same (and give you plenty more references).

    The global scientific community, medical researchers, specialists in public health and vaccines, are all telling you the same thing.

    An occasional anonymous internet sites raises questions about the conclusions of the global scientific community, but, very carefully, never acknowledge anything they say is factual and even give you their version of the Miranda warning.

    Now, which do you think is giving you a more accurate representation of reality – the global scientific and medical community, or an anonymous internet site?

  • Grant. I read your linked blogs, and found the perspective both useful – and interesting. It ‘filled some gaps’ for me, and I now look forward to reading the book you suggested.

    I acknowledge Stuart stating: “the global scientific and medical community all telling us the same thing (apart from an anonymous internet site)” and, “ .. referenced the CDC, Healthy Children, Scientific American and more technical papers, all saying the same” ..

    Except that they don’t.

    I can (and would be delighted to) reference, literally, several dozen technical papers, from a diverse range of highly qualified professionals, from some of the most prestigious universities of the world, which point to the dangers of Aluminium adjuvants. You will surely be aware of many of these.

    My questions please Helen are these: In New Zealand:
    – To what extent is international vaccine related research collected and collated.
    – How is the quality of vaccine based research validated. And by whom
    – Who (or what body) determines the nature and wording of formal, vaccine related public statements.

    I am sure that I will not be alone, in seeking a greater understanding into these important processes
    Sincerely

  • Hi David – protocol and ettiquette is to actually GIVE the references when you refer to them. Thats part of doing science.

    Stuart may have been a little careless in the use of the word “All” but only in the same way I would be if I stated that all elephants are grey. OK, there is the occasional white one, but its statistically insignificant – effectively and to the extent required for noting the agreed colour of elephants, they are grey.

  • Hey Ashton, I think you’ve won the battle here. I just saw a post by David B on facebook’s ‘Anti-Vaccination Australia’ group with him asking members for links to papers. So expect a bunch of low quality papers from unreputable journals once he’s done crowdfunding an opinion from thousands of people with little to no background in science.

    Usually I would leave things like this be, but he made an argument stating ‘several dozen’ papers supporting his opinion, and then asked his support group to do the dirty work for him. Absolutely disgusting behaviour when trying to have a civil discussion.

    • Ah gee David!

      That is really disappointing to hear. It kind of indicates you were never interested in scientific evidence at all and were simply trolling. I really don’t think there is much point in you engaging any of the scientists (anyone who practices the scientific method) here.

      Thanks Emily.

  • Emily – no links to the Facebook post in question? I see several different groups with the same name, none of which are open & most that seem to want to act as an echo chamber (e.g. by removing anyone whose views don’t agree with the groups leaders’).

  • Hey David,

    You told you us you were just interested in trying to learn, to understand. If Emily is correct that’s not true it seems. It would seem that what you’re doing is trying to set up a “battle” from a particular viewpoint.

    I’ve put a fair bit of effort and time in, as have others. Personally, I think you owe everyone an apology for being misleading about your aims.

    That noted, quickly –

    – It occurs to me that you’ve called on other because you’ve found that the evidence doesn’t point the way you ‘want’ it to. Sorry, but the evidence is the evidence, right? Wishing it were some other way isn’t going to help you get to the truth.

    – Trying to dredge up a ‘count’ of papers from some Facebook group will prove nothing. For one thing it’s trying play tit-for-tat with head counts rather than understanding. Like in any endeavour there are always a small number of idiots, doing dumb things. A small number of research papers are, let’s be polite, ‘odd’. I see you’ve pinged at some bus drivers in the past some thing or other they did. Same deal. You seem to not to trust them; why would you trust the equivalent in vaccine research?

    – Trying to sort that out properly requires good research knowledge. With respect non-specialists are very unlikely to sort that out from the paper themselves as they’re not addressed to non-specialists. (That includes the people you’ve called on.) You’re better to just read the more reliable sources like those I’ve pointed you to.

    – Your reply to me has missed or walked around the articles I linked to that dealt with your ‘concerns’. You write that “Except that they don’t.”, but offer nothing at all supporting this. It reads as if you’ve dismissed them out-of-hand, and have circled around to repeating your question. Y’know there’s that old saying about a horse and water. Crossing my metaphors, I can’t force you to read the material that would help you, but if you don’t you can’t complain about dying of dehydration! Or you or a friend falling seriously ill to vaccine-preventable illness. On that note, more reading material!: https://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2013/01/19/vaccination-why-learn-the-hard-way/

    – re testing adjuvants. The whole vaccines have already been tested. We know the long-term safety of them, and that the vaccines are well justified. The safety of adjuvants cannot be worse than the vaccines they are part of. Think about it. (Note that it follows that the IMAC quote is correct.) What you can do is try work out what fraction of the very small number of serious side effects are due to what components of the vaccine. That’s not going to somehow make the vaccines unsafe, as those who oppose vaccine claim, but might point to ways to make what already has a high safety standard a little higher still.

    – Remember again my points raised earlier (in another thread), in particular that that the comparison is are we better off with the vaccine or not? It’s not against an ‘ideal’ of absolutely no harm – that’s misleading comparison as absolutely nothing has no risk. Even pure, clean water can kill. (Google water intoxication, water poisoning, hyperhydration, or water toxemia.) If you were to banish everything that had any risk at all, you’d literally ban everything, including all the food we eat, all our gadgets, etc. What you do is work out acceptable risk levels for most cases, and try mitigate against (reduce, lessen) the exceptions that remain.

  • Here’s a link to the screenshot of the initial post and some comments made. I was surprised to see that Helen is on the government’s payroll and that it’s the reason she won’t back down – not the fact that she has a PhD in vaccinology. David has also made a promise to post a link to this blog once he’s ready to validate his argument. I highly doubt he will be doing any such thing now that we know he’s incapable of substantiating his own words.

    https://imgur.com/a/TbhW3

  • Thanks Emily. Looks like my comment stands. The two links offered there won’t help him either.

    The claim they don’t have URLs seems weird. (Perhaps s/he don’t know how to cite the literature?)

    Excuse the typos in my previous comment, BTW. Written quickly as I was saying…

  • Before I am cast into the netherworld ..

    Yes, I posted on Vaccination Australia
    Why? I was seeking two particularly good research papers which came out of John Hopkins University, late last year. They were previously posted on VA facebook group, which is why I was asking for lists. So that I could (re) find them.
    .
    My post was somewhat dramatic; unnecessarily so in hindsight. Frankly – I used a lousy choice of words as I raced out the door to a shareholder meeting (and I should have known better). But, hey, it wasn’t actually that bad either. I wont ask why you are in that group Emily, but you will know that I am not an active participant. Not sure quite what you sought to achieve by, supposedly ‘outing’ me either, but there you go.

    Cards on the table: My father is a retired doctor, and was in the same class at Cantebury as Fred Hollows. His last public service was as Clinical director at the Mental Health and Addiction services at Tauranga Hospital, following which he was instrumental in setting up the Bay of Plenty Maori Health clinics.

    Me? I am, actually, whom I purport to be.

    My interest in vaccines started when I was a senior manager in the Ministry of Health, and had a (minor) project management role in the MensB rollout, under Dr. Nikki Turner. I wanted to know more about the risks to my two daughters, but could not any meaningful information out of the project Comms team. Only (what I term) high level ‘scare material’. Which, I found surprising, and disturbing (and which is also why I support both Dr. Helens blog, and the Immunisation Advisory Centre in principle).

    The lack of information caused me to think.

    Much later, I came across a Cochrane report on flu http://www.cochrane.org/CD004876/ARI_vaccines-preventing-seasonal-influenza-and-its-complications-people-aged-65-or-older

    This bothered me. I had always assumed that everything about vaccines was clear-cut, and that there were no risks or uncertainties.

    I now understand, that there are far more in the way of issues, agendas, and politics and personalities than I ever imagined, which I find intellectually intriguing. I still believe that there should be more publically available information on the ‘downside risks’ of vaccines – but you know that already.

    So, there you go.
    I am grateful to Grant – in particular – for his insight and wisdom.
    Thank you for allowing me – a non scientist – to partake in the blog. There is much to learn, and all is not always what it seems is it.

    I reckon the questions I asked recently about the validation processes would make thoroughly good reading Helen and would, I suggest, assist public understanding.

    Helen and / or Grant, would you like me to withdraw from engaging with the blog? I respect that it is your personal blog Helen. I am happy to withdraw, though I would, at some point, value insight into some of the specific research, of what seem (to me) to be growing volumes of peer reviewed material which contradict New Zealand’s official statements, as to the long term safety of aluminium, as an adjuvant.

    Sincerely

  • I was seeking two particularly good research papers which came out of John Hopkins University, late last year.

    But that’s not what you asked for. You asked for, “lists of peer-reviewed studies” [etc].

    It’s Johns Hopkins, by the way.

    30 seconds on Google was enough to bring up what you need re the ‘Johns Hopkins study‘:

    https://thepoxesblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/peter-doshi-is-at-it-again-with-the-anti-vaccine-stuff/

    https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/vaccine-deniers-abuse-appeal-authority/

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/flu-vaccine-fake-news-that-goes-viral-during-the-flu_us_59e59068e4b04e9111a3e49d

    If you’d put in a little effort, you’d see how unsound these things are.

    Here’s Johns Hopkins’ formal statements on this: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/johns_hopkins_flu_facts.html

    The author of the ‘Johns Hopkins’ “paper” is an anthropologist (someone who studies human societies, cultures, and their development), not an immunologist or similar.

    Not sure quite what you sought to achieve by, supposedly ‘outing’ me either, but there you go.

    It wasn’t about ‘outing’ you, it was about your actions and your words revealing what you are doing, as opposed to what you said here that you were doing. (I wrote, “You told you us you were just interested in trying to learn, to understand. If Emily is correct that’s not true it seems. It would seem that what you’re doing is trying to set up a “battle” from a particular viewpoint.”)

    Me? I am, actually, whom I purport to be.

    Again not the point; see my quote above – it was not about who you say you are, but what you said you were doing. Verbs, actions, not nouns.

    My interest in vaccines started when I was a senior manager in the Ministry of Health, and had a (minor) project management role in the MensB rollout, under Dr. Nikki Turner.

    It’s MeNZB, by the way. I imagine your role was in IT, not the science.

    I wanted to know more about the risks to my two daughters,

    Risks for what?

    The lack of information caused me to think.

    You can apply that rubric about a lack of evidence not being evidence of a lack to personal research too. There’s plenty out there on vaccines, as we’ve already shown you.

    Much later, I came across a Cochrane report on flu http://www.cochrane.org/CD004876/ARI_vaccines-preventing-seasonal-influenza-and-its-complications-people-aged-65-or-older

    And your perceived concern is? (You don’t say. Note the summary said there was no evidence of hospitalisations from the vaccine; they didn’t report any concern from deaths either, just noted that the data was sparse, i.e. less than ideal.)

    This bothered me. I had always assumed that everything about vaccines was clear-cut, and that there were no risks or uncertainties.

    re ‘no risks or uncertainties’, I have repeatedly pointed out to you the correct comparison is not against some ideal absolutely-no-risk, and explained why. The correct comparison is if the vaccine are better than no vaccine. Everything last thing in life has at least some risk. This thing of pointing at any-risk-at-all sets up a distraction from the meaningful comparison: are people better off with the vaccine than without it. (Yes, they are.)

    re ‘everything about vaccines was clear-cut’, nothing about biology is ‘clearcut’ in the way that some physics or most computer logic is. I’ve long suspected it’s a reason a decent number of physicists and IT/computing people go badly awry with biology. (I’m tempted to add economists, but let’s leave that for now; it’s a long story.)

    Biological systems are the consequence of evolution, not design. They don’t work to rules in the same way as physics or computer programming. Biology is also hard in a way that people from these fields often do not seem to appreciate.

    All of this does not mean you can’t work out risks, odds. The odds favour you much more strongly with a vaccine than without. That is clear-cut.

    (Yes, you can find some small subsets where the difference in odds is smaller, but these are public health initiatives. If overall there is benefit, you’re still winning.)

    (See also my previous explanation of looking at adjuvants v. whole vaccines.)

    It’s easy to miss the poor logic that these ‘concerns’ offer, but with a little effort they’re not that hard to see.

    I now understand, that there are far more in the way of issues, agendas, and politics and personalities than I ever imagined, which I find intellectually intriguing. I still believe that there should be more publically available information on the ‘downside risks’ of vaccines – but you know that already

    You’re making a lot of insinuations there, none of which I believe come from this discussion. Looks to be trying to erect a straw man.

    I reckon the questions I asked recently about the validation processes would make thoroughly good reading Helen and would, I suggest, assist public understanding.

    Questions asked where? (Also, I don’t recall you saying anything that was important about “the validation processes” on Sciblogs that would warrant attention.)

    Helen and / or Grant, would you like me to withdraw from engaging with the blog? I respect that it is your personal blog Helen. I am happy to withdraw, though I would, at some point, value insight into some of the specific research, of what seem (to me) to be growing volumes of peer reviewed material which contradict New Zealand’s official statements, as to the long term safety of aluminium, as an adjuvant.

    This is Helen’s blog not mine, I can’t possibly speak for her.

    No-one has asked you to leave. They have wondered if you’d present a list of papers. (You haven’t. I’d guess that either because didn’t find something to offer, or that you realised what you have presented kept proving to be unsound. Wouldn’t it be better to perhaps realise that all of the things offered by anti-vaccine groups are badly unsound?)

    Sciblogs is a collection of blogs, around 30-odd. (Click on ‘Our blogs’ at the top of the page.) Mine is ‘Code for life’. As far as I know you haven’t written on my blog at all.

    By the way, they’re not quite personal blogs in the sense that phrase usually means. They’re outreach efforts by a number of people, hosted by the Science Media Centre.

    As for the “growing volumes of peer reviewed material which contradict New Zealand’s official statements”. Really now? Each thing you’ve shown has been unsound. If material from one viewpoint constantly proves to be unsound, a better conclusion would be that viewpoint itself is likely to be unsound. You seem to be willing to be critical of established vaccine research, but not what those opposed to it offer. There might be some perfectly human reasons behind the ‘concerns’ (and the politics of those groups — something you’ve left out), but you have to critique what they offer too!

  • David,

    “I still believe that there should be more publically available information on the ‘downside risks’ of vaccines”

    The information is out there, and it’s freely available from many sources. Try the websites of the NZ Ministry of Health, the CDC, UK DHSC, the Australian Department of Health, for example. Or even the information supplied in the box with every dose of vaccine. You needn’t limit yourself to English, either.

    Have you ever considered that there isn’t much information available on the ‘downside risks’ of vaccines because there are actually very few ‘downside risks’ to vaccines? It’s not easy to provide lots of information about something that rarely happens, at least not without getting extremely repetitive.

    Nevertheless, it’s still easy to find anonymously authored anti-vaccine sites on the web that discuss purported ‘downside risks’ of vaccines that have never actually been seen or documented. Are you using these anonymous web sites and believing their nonsense without testing their veracity?

  • Slightly off topic…

    Influenza vaccinations are now available from GPs all around the country. I would recommend getting them before the ‘flu season starts – and I’ve already had to do PCR swabs on symptomatic patients!

    Side effects? Mine stung for a minute or so.

  • I’m hoping to get mine soon.

    On the subject of announcing the availability of the ‘flu vaccine, David Clark’s Facebook post of him getting the ‘flu jab ~3 days ago has been targeted by anti-vaccine “protest” comments. (You get the impression someone has shared the post in one of the anti-vaccine groups.)

    I posted a comment pointing to a guest post on Sciblogs that summarised the flu vaccine, and replied to a few comments. Not much point in adding more as there’s too much silliness there, and besides I haven’t that much time! (In any event, for whatever reason, Facebook isn’t notifying me of new replies in threads I’ve commented in. Perhaps a blessing in disguise!)

    To give one rather striking example someone has replied to my pointing out that all approved vaccines generate an immune response with, “Actually vaccines generate titers, not immunity.” Not a lot surprises me these days, but that one got a reflexive face-palm.

    (For any readers wondering, saying ‘vaccines generate titers’ is like saying heavy rainfalls don’t give floodwaters, they give cubic metres per second. Antibody titers are a measure of the strength of immune response—the amount of antibody produced for a particular epitope, using the greatest serial dilution that still gives a result.)

  • One thing I wonder. If the poor pharmaceutical companies need to be protected from unscrupulous lawyers why is there a vaccine injury court but no medical device or prescription drug court?

    I have rarely heard a pharmaceutical company being threatened by a lawsuit related to a drug despite having a lot of questionable drugs on the market.

    Something does not add up here. When the first swine flu vaccine came out in 1976 Merck would refuse to produce a vaccine unless the government promised to shield them from liability lawsuits. Almost 40 years later when we had a swine flu epidemic again the same thing happened and it was revealed that the manufacturer of the vaccine had agreements with governments that would protect the drug maker. The people making the vaccines are really afraid it seems. They have a lot of toxic drugs on the market and get sued all the time but it seems that they really fear they could go bankrupt from vaccine related lawsuits.

    Why is a vaccine related lawsuit such a threat and why is there no prescription drug court?

    I think we can imagine why. If the product were safe they would not need this level of protection.

  • Another thing regarding adjuvant safety. Grant Jacobs said that vaccines have been shown to be safe therefore adjuvants do not need scientific studies that show them to be safe.

    I know of a person contacting an expert in this field asking them for scientific evidence that alum adjuvants were safe.
    Their reply was: we do not have any studies but we are using it for eighty years therefore it is safe.

    I find this to be a problematic statement for several reasons.

    1. First it means there has never been a controlled trial studying the effects of alum adjuvants. At least one would wonder why?

    2. If it is unethical then one could reason it is equally unethical to use untested substances in medicine.

    3. If it is unethical giving it to humans where are the animal safety studies? I do not know them either.

    4. If it is supposed to be so harmless why would it be unethical to do a trial with it? Vaccines studies use it as a control group all the time.

    5. Vaccines have always either been compared to another alum adjuvant vaccine or alum adjuvants which means there is no human trial that has shown the safety of an alum adjuvant.

    6. If alum adjuvants are so safe and equal to saline placebos why have they been known to cause cancer in cats?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine-associated_sarcoma

    7. If they have been shown to be potentially harmful in mammals why do we still refuse to do controlled trials with humans?

    The way I interpret the situation is there is no science that directly supports the safety of alum adjuvants in humans. We do have epidemiological studies with vaccines but these are not equal to controlled trials.

    The problem with epidemiological studies is that we usually compare one vaccine with another group that did not get the vaccine but usually many others.

    This would be like comparing lung cancer rates in smokers, one group smoking 20 cigarettes a day and the other 25 cigarettes a day. Then we conclude the differences are mininal and therefore all cigarettes must not cause cancer.

  • Skeptic,

    You said “…why is there a vaccine injury court but no medical device or prescription drug court?”

    You are obviously unaware that there is a “medical device” and “prescription drug court” in New Zealand. It’s called ACC.

    Perhaps a better question for you to ask would be why does the USA have the NVICP but most countries do not have an equivalent, whether as part of a larger program (such as ACC) or dedicated solely to vaccines (such as the NVICP)? http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/5/10-081901/en/
    The answers to that question are freely available; Wikipedia would be a good place to start. Hint: it’s related to unfounded claims of vaccine side effects being awarded massive jury awards in the USA, resulting in pharmaceutical companies ceasing production of vaccines for that country.

    “I have rarely heard a pharmaceutical company being threatened by a lawsuit related to a drug despite having a lot of questionable drugs on the market.”

    Perhaps because you haven’t searched for them? The top result of a Google search (About 858,000 results (0.67 seconds) ): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_pharmaceutical_settlements
    Note how the single top payout (related to the drugs Avandia, Welbutrin, Paxil, Advair, Lamictal, Zofran, Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent and Valtrex) exceeds the compensation paid out by the NVICP over its entire lifetime. It seems that the pharmaceutical companies in the USA have paid much more in the settlement of lawsuits related to drugs than the NVICP has in its settlements related to vaccines …and that’s in spite of the NVICP design being rigged in favour of the petitioners.

    “Something does not add up here.”

    Why would you think that? Vaccines have a much lower rate of side effects and “injury” than other drugs. The side effects and “injury” from vaccines are generally much less severe than those from other drugs. Lower incidence and lower severity in any area of activity usually add up to lower reparation and compensation.

  • Grant Jacobs said that vaccines have been shown to be safe therefore adjuvants do not need scientific studies that show them to be safe.

    While it may come to that, that’s not quite what I wrote. If you’re going to quote or paraphrase someone, can you please try be accurate? You’re putting words in someone else’s mouth otherwise.

    I pointed out that testing adjuvants cannot make vaccines have a worse safety record than the vaccines have – it’d be a contradiction in terms; yet we see those opposing vaccines presenting adjuvant ‘concerns’ as if somehow they going to make the vaccines unsafer than they are.

    Serious side effects in vaccines are typically in single-figure per million injections.

    You can’t point at any one component, and somehow make the vaccines have frequent serious side effects than they’ve observed to have.

    What you might do is learn “out what fraction of [that] very small number of serious side effects are due to what components of the vaccine.” (As I wrote earlier, emphasis added.)

    If the cause of the few serious side effects prove to be mostly due to an adjuvant, then that can be a focus of efforts to raise the safety level higher still, but it cannot make the vaccines have a worse safety record than they have.

    While I’m writing (and a separate issue) there’s this thing of asking researchers to consider ‘unknown unknowns’ — hypothetical ideas that ‘might’ happen.

    Sometimes I think of these as spurious, or unsubstantiated, ‘what-ifs’. They’re time-wasters unless there is some reason to look at them, as you can make the same type of requests of perfectly safe things too, like the apples on my table. It’s unlikely to be productive unless there’s first a reason to look into them. It quickly becomes a circular argument of unwarranted speculation otherwise.

    What you might instead do is look at the longer-term demographic trends in illnesses, and check if changes any would be consistent with vaccines. That’s part of what the on-going monitoring of vaccines does. (Unsurprisingly how this is done is studied, too.)

    Most things have no associations with vaccines. Some are inverse associations, where the vaccine is contributing to the reduction of an illness or diseases it’s not targeted to. And when you do find a possible association, you still have to work out if it’s actually due to the vaccine. Some associations will be spurious owing to the nature of statistical tests, some will prove to be indirect correlations (i.e. in reality linked to something else that just happens to occur at the same age, etc.)

    Autism gets fingered this way by those opposing vaccines, but it’s been thoroughly checked out.

    (Incidentally there is recent work indicating that prenatal infections might cause or contribute to some autism-like conditions, with the implication that vaccines would prevent or reducing the these instances of autism. If I can find time, I may write about this.)

    FWIW, the better [sic!] side effects I know of that seem substantive are rare cases of allergy associated with the yellow fever vaccine, and sleep narcolepsy in a subgroup of people with a particular genetics taking one particular flu vaccine.

    The review I suggested earlier covers safety concerns with adjuvanted vaccines (see section 6): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494348/

    All of this also comes back to the false premise of ‘demanding’ a ‘perfect’ safety record — a literal impossibility, and a line of objection offered by protestors to a variety of things, including GMOs, which I also write about. In the case of vaccines, the meaningful comparison is to look to if you’re doing better with the vaccine than without – i.e. comparing with the effects of the disease the vaccine prevents.

    There is an ideal that we want no side effects at all – but not at the expense of worse effects of the illness.

    (The trial concerns have already been dealt with earlier; re-introducing them seems to be travelling in a circle to me. For the cat thing you have to know the details before drawing parallels. Veterinary vaccines are not subjected to the same regulatory controls as human vaccines. There are studies indicating the the adjuvant is NOT linked to the sarcomas – which wikipedia has left out. (This is an example of why I recommend that Wikipedia be a starting point for looking further, never an end point.) e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14621215 And so on. Notice, though, how they say it’s particularly in cats, and give a reason why that might be. Things from other species often don’t ‘map’ to humans – it’s a core reasons why animal studies on can go so far in showing if something happens in humans or not. For all of these reasons you can’t just point at something in cats and make out it must be true in humans also.)

  • Skeptic said

    “The problem with epidemiological studies is that we usually compare one vaccine with another group that did not get the vaccine but usually many others.

    This would be like comparing lung cancer rates in smokers, one group smoking 20 cigarettes a day and the other 25 cigarettes a day. Then we conclude the differences are mininal and therefore all cigarettes must not cause cancer.”

    Yeah, that’s exactly what has been happening. Right up until you pointed this out, epidemiologists were operating under the mistaken belief that they didn’t have to account for confounding factors…

    *slaps forehead and resets Sarcasm button*

  • @Ashton Dempsey

    We compare people that had previously received 50 vaccines+ 50 times adjuvants + 1 new vaccine + adjuvant to a group that had received 50 vaccines + adjuvants so what I said applies.

    @Stuart

    The manufacturers want that they are protected not the government. This makes it doubtful that the concern is protection of the population instead of their bank account. There is no vaccine court in other countries but it has been known that in some cases there are have been agreements with governments that shield the manufacturer from liability lawsuits.

    I am not aware of Accident Compensation Corporation(ACC) but I believe this is related to worker injuries and accidents not drugs or medical devices?

    @Grant jacobs

    I may have misinterpreted what you said. If that was the case I am sorry.

    Regarding sarcomas. It is believed that they are linked to aluminum adjuvants. Not everyone agrees but it is not a minority view, I think? I do not say this applies to human but it shows that they are not safe in some mammals, the rate in cats is 1/10000 for some vaccines.

    You wrote: Serious side effects in vaccines are typically in single-figure per million injections.

    How has this been determined? Not with controlled trials, (RCT)?
    With epidemiological studies I assume. Epidemiological studies are weaker evidence than RCTs, they are not bullet-proof and they can fail to detect rare effects.

    How has it been determined that smoking causes cancer? We compare a group of non-smokers to a group of smokers for a period of many years and try to find a difference between these groups.

    How did we find out that aluminum adjuvants are linked to cancer in cats? We compared cats that had recently received a vaccine with cats that did not receive the vaccine and followed them for a period of 3,6 or 12 months. In human years that would be 21 months, 42 months or 7 years.

    Now if we made these studies like human vaccine trials see what happens.

    The RCT for cigarettes would look like this:

    We compare a group of people smoking cigarettes with chemical additives to a group inhaling burned additives and follow them for a period of a few weeks. We do not find different rates of cancer and declare cigarettes to be safe. (It is believed chemicals in cigarettes cause cancer not the tobacco)

    We compare a group of cats that receive a vaccine to a group of cats that receive a placebo aluminum adjuvant injection or another vaccine and follow them for a few days. We declare the vaccine and the adjuvant to be safe.

    The epidemiological studies would look like this:

    We have a group of people that had smoked for years at some point in the past and have them smoke again for 6 months and we compare them to another group of people that had smoked in the past and do not smoke at the time of the study.
    When we do not find different rates of cancer we declare cigarettes to be safe.

    So if we designed the sarcoma and the tobacco studies like the human vaccine studies we would find that:

    Smoking does not cause cancer.
    Vaccination does not cause cancer in cats.

  • @Grant jacobs

    You wrote: (Incidentally there is recent work indicating that prenatal infections might cause or contribute to some autism-like conditions, with the implication that vaccines would prevent or reducing the these instances of autism. If I can find time, I may write about this.)

    Yes and do you know why this is believed to happen? Not directly because of the virus but because of maternal immune activation. What do vaccines and adjuvants do? They activate the immune system.

    So I would not be so sure that vaccines in pregnancy would be such a good idea. Who knows perhaps they could even be responsible for some Autism or Schizophrenia like conditions?