Unencumbered by facts: what upsets me most about the anti-vaccine movement

by Claire McCarthy on January 17, 2012

Recently I watched a clip of Andrew Wakefield being interviewed on Good Morning America, and it gave me the chills.

Andrew Wakefield, if you haven’t heard of him, is the guy who pretty much singlehandedly scared thousands of parents away from the MMR vaccine with a study he published in the Lancet linking the vaccine with autism. The study has since been retracted, something journals almost never do, after it was discovered that data in it was falsified. Not only that, Wakefield lost his medical license.

But is he backing down? No way. On the contrary: he is suing the British Medical Journal (from Texas) for defamation. And he is still defending his findings. 

It was stunning to watch. George Stephanopoulos, who was interviewing him, pointed out that his colleagues who worked with him had backed away from the study. Wakefield said they hadn’t. Stephanopoulos pointed out that no scientist had been able to replicate the study; Wakefield said it wasn’t true, that his study had been replicated. He sat there and said none of it was true.

How do you fight someone who feels free to ignore facts?

Not that I want to fight him. For me, this isn’t about fighting. I’m not on a pro-vaccine crusade. My only crusade as a pediatrician is to keep my patients healthy—and vaccines are part of what I use to do just that.

That’s what gets me angriest about the anti-vaccine rhetoric: those of us doctors who think vaccines are a good idea, if we aren’t portrayed as out to hurt children, are portrayed as brainwashed by pharmaceutical companies or the government. As if being anti-vaccine was somehow more free or enlightened.

In medical school, we are taught to make decisions based on evidence, on solid science. We are taught to be aware of the risks of anything we do (primum non nocere, first do no harm), and weigh those risks against the benefits. Well, the science abundantly shows that immunizations are both effective and safe. Yes, side effects are possible and sometimes vaccines don’t work—that’s true of any medical treatment. That’s why we have a whole system for collecting information about any problems with vaccines—it was that system that caught problems with the first rotavirus vaccine, and we stopped giving it and made a better one. We take immunizations as seriously as we take any other medical treatment, and work diligently to be sure we are doing the right thing, always.

“My only crusade as a pediatrician is to keep my patients healthy—and vaccines are part of what I use to do just that.”

We stick to the facts. But people like Andrew Wakefield don’t, and as Seth Mnookin writes about in his book Panic Virus, it doesn’t take much to scare parents. Some guy like Wakefield gets up and says authoritatively, as he did in the interview I watched, that the vaccine system in the United States isn’t safe, and what responsible parent wouldn’t be at least a little worried? And somehow, people like Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy keep getting airtime and headlines (I guess I’m contributing to that myself now), while the thoughtful people like Paul Offit get drowned out.

I have been at this doctoring stuff for more than 20 years, long enough to have seen kids with meningitis and epiglottitis from haemophilus influenzae—we don’t see that anymore. I’ve seen kids die of pneumococcal disease and chickenpox—we immunize against both now. I’m not quite old enough to have seen polio—but isn’t that amazing enough for people, that in the U.S. we have wiped out a disease that could paralyze you forever? It’s really clear that vaccines save lives.

As for the argument that getting the illness gives you stronger immunity—this comes up a lot with chickenpox—that may be true, but the illnesses we immunize against have real risks. Kids with chickenpox might have a mild case and be fine, but they could also end up with infected blisters (some of those infections are very serious), dehydration, pneumonia, or a brain infection. Is that a chance you’d really want to take with your child?

At the end of the interview, Wakefield encouraged parents to get educated, and to read about immunizations. He even suggested the CDC website. He said, emphatically, that there are two sides to the story.

I couldn’t agree more. But just one of them is grounded in facts.

 

 

 

145 comments

  • Beth

    Thought you might like to know you are not the only person who investigated that particular vaccine and also came to the same conclusion based on the same reasoning.

  • pvgv

    The type of study I’m suggesting is actually quite common in medical and social science research.  
    I assume you are familiar with research showing that smokers have higher rates of lung cancer than non-smokers.  Do you discount such research?  I ask because all of your mentioned concerns similarly apply to that research.

  • pvgv

    Madsen et al was already addressed above, which leaves Mrozek-Budzyn et al. 2010Here is a fulltext version of that article: http://journals.lww.com/pidj/Documents/Lack_of_Association_Between_Measles_Mumps_Rubella.pdfIt’s hardly necessary to apply “vague but demanding standards” to see this is not an example of research which compares vaccinated children to unvaccinated children with respect to ASD rates.  All you need to do is bother to actually read it. 1 comment collapsed CThis study compares children who received the MMR combo shot to children who received the measles only vaccine. It also references a small group of nine children who received neither the MMR combo shot nor the measles only vaccine (it calls this group “nonvaccin­ated” but these children are only unvaccinat­ed with respect to measles, not unvaccinat­ed in general)  

  • Epinephrine

    Are you thinking of smallpox?  Smallpox is eradicated, polio isn’t.  We still get polio vaccinations as part of multivalent vaccines, it’s referred to as IPV.  Polio is still endemic in some countries, and the re-emergence of polio in China (from Pakistan) is a pretty big deal, as China had been free of polio for a dozen years.

  • pvgv

    The concern is in regards to the additives and preservatives, not the antigens. 

  • Jkanta

    Yes, you’re correct, I made a mistake.  Thank you for the polite correction.

  • pvgv
  • Antaeus Feldspar

    I’m afraid you’re mistaken about your history of science, though the mistake is understandable. Retrospective studies certainly showed a correlation between smoking and lung cancer, but those studies alone *were not* what led us to the conclusion that there was a causal relationship. Prospective studies on laboratory animals were required to substantiate the hypothesis; without those studies, it would have remained simply a hypothesis.

    So, I’m sure you’re asking, why can’t we do the same with vaccines? Why can’t we do retrospective studies with those children whose parents have chosen to deny them mainstream medical care, and then follow those up with prospective studies in animals?

    Well, two reasons, one of which you’re not going to like but remains true anyhow. The *other* reason is that most of the things that the anti-vaccine movement thinks are linked with vaccines are things we just can’t study in animals. Autism, attention-deficit disorder? We just don’t know enough about how animals think and communicate to think we can diagnose disorders that impair the same.

    The other thing – well, let’s put it this way. *Before* we knew about the link between smoking and lung cancer, both smoking and not smoking were pretty reasonable, normal options. But vaccinations? Vaccines eradicated smallpox, a disease that killed and maimed countless millions throughout centuries. They turned polio from something that every parent feared into something most people will now never see a case of. Schools for the blind and deaf are closing down; why? Because vaccines have so drastically reduced the diseases that blinded and deafened so many people in previous generations! Turning your back on that is not a rational decision, and the kind of parents who would make that irrational decision just cannot be treated as if they were identical to parents who actually give their children good medical care.

  • MTfromOH

    Actually, you can still get shingles from the vaccine.  My cousin has
    never had chicken pox, just the vaccine, and got shingles at age 12. 
    I’ve also seen medical reports where young children, 6 and 7 got
    shingles.  Never had the actual chicken pox, just the vaccine.  You
    think shingles is bad as an adult?  How about having them as a child!  The varicella vaccine is actually a live virus vaccine, so you ARE still exposed to the virus, just in a weakened form.  People can also still get the actual chicken pox, even after the vaccination and booster. 

  • Paige

    I don’t comprehend the level of arrogance that makes “doesn’t agree with me” = quacks. Actually I do, it is called fanaticism and it makes discourse impossible (that’s what we were supposed to be doing – discourse- not you “educating” me.)

  • Paige

    Because not every vaccine decreases the people that fall into group #1. Creating sub clinical infection, while desirable, does not stop infection or transmission. Get it? So herd immunity is not applicable to those diseases.

  • Paige

    My error doesn’t change the fact that the vaccine does not stop transmission.

  • Paige

    No one in this thread will address the fallacy of herd immunity in cases like pertussis and it has come up several times. I have never in all my years of vaccine debates ever have anyone respond. Sigh. This goalpost statement is familiar. Does offit teach a seminar on it?

  • Dr. Placebo

    perhaps you white coats, who know EVERYTHING there is to know, could address my one question and then I will believe all of your thorough “science.”  -What happened to the death rates from Scarlet Fever over the last century?  There is no vaccine for Scarlet Fever.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    The only one that’s legitimately not subject to herd immunity (according to real science, that is) is tetanus, which is the only vaccine-preventable disease that’s infectious but not contagious. I have no idea why Paige would think other diseases aren’t subject to herd immunity; I posted two days ago asking which of the mathematical facts underlying herd immunity she is disputing, but no reply has shown up yet.

  • Bryan

    Take a look at this fascinating case
    study, ‘Apparent Paradox of Measles Infections in Immunized Persons’
    (http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/154/16/1815):

    “Results

    We found 18 reports of measles outbreaks in very highly immunized school
    populations where 71% to 99.8% of students were immunized against
    measles. Despite these high rates of immunization, 30% to 100% (mean,
    77%) of all measles cases in these outbreaks occurred in previously
    immunized students. In our hypothetical school model, after more than
    95% of schoolchildren are immunized against measles, the majority of
    measles cases occur in appropriately immunized children.

    “Conclusions

    The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high
    levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons.
    Because of the failure rate of the vaccine and the unique
    transmissibility of the measles virus, the currently available measles
    vaccine, used in a single-dose strategy, is unlikely to completely
    eliminate measles. The longterm success of a two-dose strategy to
    eliminate measles remains to be determined.”
    Why haven’t we been beaten over the head with
    this information? Why is reporting always so skewed towards scare
    tactics that one-sidedly tout the purported necessity of vaccination?
    Why do the authors conclude that the solution might be a ‘two-dose
    strategy’, and fail to consider that the children would be better off
    not getting vaccinated at all, as their data suggest?
    “Unencumbered by facts”, indeed.

  • Bryan

    Nice condescenscion. Weak argument.

    It goes without saying that, whether parents choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children, they will be doing so with their child’s best interests at heart. So either group would be about as likely to pursue other healthy lifestyle choices, or what have you.

    It’s impossible to totally adjust for every confounder in a comparative study. Nonetheless, a study comparing totally unvaccinated children to vaccinated ones would be able to determine the validity of your assertion, for instance:  “It would also be unethical because with near-certainty – almost by
    definition – we would be inflicting disease, with its attendant risks of
    maiming and death, on randomly selected children to whom we had denied
    adequate preventative care.”

    The above is a fully faith-based statement; you admit it freely. Yet there is evidence it is not true. For example:

    ‘Hepatitis B triple series vaccine and developmental disability in US children aged 1-9 years’ [available @- http://sanevax.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Gallagher-HepB-ASD-study121.pdf,
    states: “This study found statistically significant evidence to
    suggest that boys in United States who were vaccinated with the triple
    series Hepatitis B vaccine, during the time period in which vaccines
    were manufactured with thimerosal, were more susceptible to
    developmental disability than were unvaccinated boys.”

  • Penny

    ..The study done by Danish researcher  Thorsen, P., as in the Paul Thorsen who stole taxpayer dollars intended for medical research? Thttp://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/natural-news-takes-on-the-growing-poul-thorsen-autism-vaccine-research-scandal.html  

  • Penney

     ”If you were vaccinated against chicken pox, you wouldn’t get shingles later in life.”….NOT true.
     ”A vaccine for shingles was licensed in 2006. In clinical trials, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by 50%. It can also reduce pain in people who STILL GET shingles AFTER BEING VACCINATED”.  (my emphasis) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-shingles.pdf  So it’s basically a coin toss. ”The chicken pox vaccine is good for life,…” …NOT true.  Vaccinated children are still contracting this generally mild childhood disease. “….. including some who get moderate or severe infections, AFTER GETTING VACCINATED with Varivax”http://pediatrics.about.com/od/immunizations/a/06_cpox_update.htm There are new recommendations for booster shots  because the vaccine does NOT work and does NOT provide life time immunity. When will they begin recommending the 3rd shot?  

  • Jkanta

    And the Offit comment shows you’re nothing more than a denialist that hangs out on anti-vax blogs.  You aren’t a scientist, unlike myself and many other commenters here.

  • Jkanta

    It was addressed above and you apparentlydon’t recognize that you are not credible on the subject.  Herd immunity is important in reducing the spread of pertussis. You are not a scientist, paige, stop pretending.

  • Beth

    Actually, it may well be an entirely rational decision.   I am bothered by this common, yet  provable wrong 
    (see Paige’s posts) assumption about the reasoning that led to that decision.  

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    Your second-paragraph argument rests on a premise so weak that it boggles me anyone would attempt to argue it to be true: that as long as two different groups of parents share a similar vague *intent*, namely, “give our children the best health,” the actions that they actually choose as the best means to accomplish that goal will be so close to identical as to make no difference – even if the very factor that separates the parents into distinct groups to begin with is that one group makes good use of one of the highest-benefit-for-risk interventions that has ever come from medical science and the other chooses to reject that intervention entirely. One might as well say, “Just because one group puts all their paychecks into the bank, and the other puts all their paychecks into lottery tickets, doesn’t mean they handle money differently. They both want *more* money and that makes them scientifically the same.”

    You claim that somewhere I “admitted” to something being a “faith-based statement.” Since you do not write clearly I can only guess which statement you mean, and which other statements of mine you misconstrued as somehow feeding into your belief that viewpoints that do not agree with yours are “faith-based.”

    I will have to guess that it has something to do with the quoted statement about a prospective vacc. vs. unvacc. unethically subjecting children to disease, to whom we’d denied adequate medical care; that statement is based not in faith, but elementary logic which even you should be able to follow. No vacc. vs. unvacc. study could even pretend it was giving us useful information unless it employed such a large group of children over such a long period of time *that some children were sure to be exposed to the disease.* By the nature of a prospective study some of those children exposed to disease would be those we had denied their best protection against the disease.

    Finally, you attempt to counter the argument about the weaknesses inherent in a retrospective study, by posting a link to … a retrospective study. What of it? If you tell me a perpetual motion machine violates the laws of thermodynamics, I can’t refute you simply by posting the schematics for a perpetual motion machine; I have to show you a perpetual motion machine that *works.* Your link comes from SaneVax, which is not exactly a source known for its scientific rigor.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    Ah, now I understand where your misunderstanding is.  You think that herd immunity cannot kick in until the chances of an individual catching a disease they’ve been vaccinated against goes down to zero.

    I’m not sure where your misunderstanding comes from, but again, it’s wrong simply  as a matter of mathematics.  When X% of the population gets a vaccination which Y% of the time will let their immune systems fight off an infective agent instead of catching and transmitting it, neither X nor Y has to be 100 for the spread of the infection to be massively slowed; they just have to be sufficiently high.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    No, I’m afraid you wouldn’t believe science, since the answer it gives isn’t the one you want. The scarlet fever vaccine was in fact developed in 1924; the reason it isn’t in general use today is because antibiotics such as penicillin, developed in the 1940s, turned out to be a better way to control the spread of the disease.

    This is the problem with getting your talking points from antivax sites: they phrase things in a deliberately deceptive way so that what you *think* you read is not actually what the facts support, and then when you try to enlighten other people with your “information” you get embarrassed because it’s misinformation that you could have realized was untrue if you’d taken two minutes with a search engine to check it yourself.

  • Dr. Placebo

    perhaps you might save me from misusing my internet again and tell me what caused the death rates to drop before 1940?  Also, any information on why Measles death rates dropped to baseline before the vaccine came into use would be most educational.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    Bryan, I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood the basic implications of the study; it does not at all support the idea that “the children would be better off not getting vaccinated at all.”

    If we checked the handedness of students who came down with measles, we’d surely find that right-handed students outnumbered left-handed students. Does this imply that right-handedness causes especial vulnerability to measles? That if we could somehow change the right-handed students to left-handedness, they’d be less likely to catch or develop measles? Clearly not; right-handed people predominate in the population of measles cases simply because they predominate in the general population.

    The same is true of immunization: when the number of immunized people greatly outnumbers the number of unimmunized people, even a small percentage out of that immunized population may outnumber a larger percentage of that small unimmunized population. Suppose we had a school with 1000 students, and 99% of those students were immunized. If 10 out of the 10 unimmunized students all get the disease and only 20 out of the 990 immunized students get it, does that imply that students are “better off getting not vaccinated at all”? When the *rate* of disease of the immunized students is about 2% of that of the unimmunized? Surely you can see how ludicrous that is.

  • Insanitea

    People wearing seatbelts sometimesdie in car crashes, too.  That doesn’t mean they don’t help.   Are you seriously trying to maintain that a subclinical infection is going to be as transmissible as full-blown whooping cough?  You are gambling with other children’s lives, not just you own.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    See, all these parents keep *saying* it’s a rational decision, but when it comes time to weigh the risks and benefits of vaccinating vs. not vaccinating, we’re still waiting to see a rational, fact-based assessment that doesn’t come out in favor of vaccination. Fears of Big Pharma conspiracies are not a rational thing to let drive your decision-making.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    Let me save you some time. You are pretty clearly trying to put together a syllogism in the following form:

    1) There are medical triumphs, such as lowering the death rates of many VPDs, that were not accomplished by vaccines.
    2) (premise that never gets explicitly stated because then it can be seen clearly as nonsensical)
    3) Therefore, there are *no* situations for which we *do* need vaccines.

    That’s where you’re going with that, isn’t it? Ah, wait a minute – perhaps I’ve been too hasty. We already know that you like to repeat antivax talking points, without necessarily being aware of how carefully they were crafted to give a false impression while remaining TECHNICALLY true.

    So, let me ask you: are you okay with people being blinded?

    Are you okay with people going deaf?

    Are you okay with people being left sterile?

    Are you okay with people suffering severe brain damage?

    If you *aren’t* okay with all those things, then instead of asking what brought down the *death* rate, you should be asking what brought down the rates of *all* those negative outcomes. And – you should be looking carefully at those who encouraged you to look at *only* the death rates as if that was the full story.

  • yankeegirl1

    antivax?? Calling parent who complied and had their kids vaccinated “anti-vax” makes no sense. My son received all his recommended shots. afteer his MMR and flu shot he became very ill and deteriorated. To this day I think his system was overloaded. Too many parents are coming and saying something happened after shot. You can’t ignore what many paretns ha

  • yankeegirl1

    antivax?? Calling parent who complied and had their kids vaccinated “anti-vax” makes no sense. My son received all his recommended shots. afteer his MMR and flu shot he became very ill and deteriorated. To this day I think his system was overloaded. Too many parents are coming and saying something happened after shot. You can’t ignore what many paretns ha

  • enkidu

    “I do not believe my child will spread disease.”

    Are you kidding me?

  • enkidu

    “Are you seriously trying to maintain that a subclinical infection is going to be as transmissible as full-blown whooping cough? ”
    EXACTLY. This is what I don’t understand about the anti-vaxers’ position on pertussis.  They seriously believe that the viral load and transmission will be the same.

  • Private

    Dr. M-  Just a quick note to say thanks and keep up the good work.  Relentless good information is the vaccine against anti-vaxism.  

    BTW, in the past I never bothered to get a flu shot, thinking that it was better to not use something “just for my own benefit” that someone else might need.  But once I understood herd immunity I started getting them: not for my sake, but for the sake of contributing to herd immunity that protects others.  I suspect there are a lot of people out there who mistakenly forego flu shots for more or less altruistic reasons, for whom an understanding of herd immunity would be a good motivator to get their shots.    

  • Dr. Placebo

    Can you hear me from inside that glass house, man? WHAT CAUSED THE RATES TO FALL BEFORE THE 1940′s? You see, you are looking at an outcome and deciding what caused it. You might be right- except for the fact that GERM THEORY came out around 1900. Have you seen the studies indicating how much disease was spread by doctors alone, before then?I am very happy there is less blindness in the world. Just don’t tell me it was the automobile that caused it because it came out at roughly the same time, was forced on us, and it is “unethical” to do the studies that would prove otherwise. That is a joke. THIS IS SCIENCE, MAN!You lab coats use the “double-blind placebo testing” crap to worm your way out of looking at things that contradict your textbooks. Yet the things you force on us with such righteous necessity don’t even have to meet this standard? That sounds alot like faith, to me, doc.

  • Dr. Placebo

    Chickenpox?  It’s true many children will grow up with automobiles.  And driving cars might well serve that child in the future, but undoubtedly some of those children will die of severe trauma, decapitation, and blood loss in crashes.  So we must immunize all people against the automobile.  Straight science, baby!  Boy, it really is so simple when you highly paid scrubs spell it all out for us.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    Your reply, “Doc,” is full of sound and fury, but almost completely lacking in accuracy (as well as coherence.)  Just as you confidently asserted that there is no scarlet fever vaccine (which is untrue) and that measles death rates “dropped to baseline” before measles vaccine (also untrue) you are completely wrong in your claim that the vaccines we use today were not put through double-blind placebo testing, and also wrong in your claim that the only evidence of the success of vaccines is crude temporal correlation.

    I have to ask, how can you with a straight face hurl accusations that mainstream medicine doesn’t do or hasn’t done enough to verify the tenet that vaccines protect against disease - when you don’t take two minutes with a search engine to check your own claims??

  • Dr. Placebo

    I apologize for the disrespect I’ve shown.  I was reacting to the insinuation that I was unencumbered by facts.
    Can you tell me if The Cochrane Library is an anti-vax site?
    http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004407/using-the-combined-vaccine-for-protection-of-children-against-measles-mumps-and-rubella
    “No credible evidence of an involvement of MMR with either autism or Crohn’s disease was found. No field studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness were found but the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been demonstrated worldwide.”

    How scientific does that last statement sound?  Not 1 “real world” study?

  • Dr. Placebo

    Please cite 2 randomized double-blind placebo studies of the efficacy of the MMR.

  • Martin

    antivax?? Calling parents who complied and had their kids vaccinated “anti-vax” makes no sense. My son received all his recommended shots by age 2. After his MMR and flu shot he became very ill and his development deteriorated and he was diagnsoed with autism at age 3. To this day I think his immature immune system was overstimulated and that impacted his neurodevelopment. Too many parents are reporting something happened after shot. You can’t ignore what many parents have experienced first hand. This is not about Wakefield its about the kids. The CDC reports that 1 in 70 boys in the US has an autism diagnosis. Estimated cost for lifetime care $3.2.milllion per child.

    When researchers look deeper it’s been diiscovered that many of our children have an underlying mitochondrial problem, GI imbalance and brain inflammation. Some children even have denovo mutations in their DNA not present in either parent. So what is triggering all this? Aren’t doctors curious as to why? Isn’t that what’s most important? To get to the bottom of all this?

    Calling autism parents “anti vax” simply because we question the wisdom of all these shots to a baby is unfair and shows extreme bias the medical community has for pushing immunization over parental concerns that perhaps all these shots are just too much for some children. We may have a sensitive population that is being ignored. Keep the focus on the kids!

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine, made by combining three other vaccines that have been individually proved through double-blind placebo testing. If you mean (as I suspect you do) a study that tests the MMR vaccine against a placebo that does not provide ANY protection against mumps or measles or rubella, I have to remind you that such a study would be unethical. You DO grasp that NOT protecting your children against diseases that can kill them is a BAD thing, right? And that “some guy on the Internet, who posts things he’d know were BS if he took two minutes to search for himself, doubts the efficacy of vaccines” is NOT a compelling reason to put children at risk for such a study?

    But frankly, even if you were asking for something reasonable, like a placebo-controlled RCT study that tests whether the “adverse reactions” reported to the MMR vaccine actually come from the vaccine (fun question: how do you think that study was designed, so that the protection of the children was NOT sacrificed?) there’s little point in digging up such citations for you. There might be some point in doing it for someone who wasn’t too lazy to even try searching for himself… or someone who was at least honest enough to learn from their mistakes when they discovered that something they declared as fact was completely false. But for you? You’ve made it clear that time spent trying to reach your closed mind is time wasted.

  • Dr. Placebo

    Auntie Feldspar, I think if those studies were available to the common schmuck, like myself, it might go along way toward educating people, no? If you have to do battle with every idiot who comes down the pike, why would you not use the Big Guns?You keep telling us that it would be unethical to do the studies I ask for, yet they’ve already been done. If nothing else, it would be fair sport to see a study which we would now call “unethical” but so much of our modern medical health is derived from.I surrender, I am an idiot. I cannot use my internet properly. Please fire off the Big Guns and dispose of me. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, “prospective” studies proving the efficacy of the mumps vaccine. Or measles, or rubella.

  • Antaeus Feldspar

    Well, here are three citations for you. They weren’t hard to find through PubMed, which is a tool freely available to ordinary schmucks like you and me. Because I limited my search to only those articles where the complete text was available free online, I couldn’t find the early studies I’d been looking for – I’d really been hoping for the first trials of Edmonston B, for example. Nevertheless, there’s certainly enough to debunk the claim that vaccines somehow bypassed randomized clinical trials.

    Bull World Health Organ. 1965; 32(6): 779–789.  Comparative trial of live measles vaccines in Czechoslovakia.  L. Syrůček, J. Helcl, J. Šejda, E. Švandová, M. Staninec, H. Grantová, J. Mertenová, E. Mílek, J. Mirovský, J. Procházka, J. Strauss, and J. Zdražílek

    Bull World Health Organ. 1975; 52(1): 81–85.  Clinical evaluation of a new measles-mumps-rubella combined live virus vaccine in the Dominican Republic.  N. Joel Ehrenkranz, Arnoldo K. Ventura, Edward M. Medler, Joseph E. Jackson, and Michael T. Kenny

    Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1967 August; 57(8): 1333–1340.  Edmonston B and a further attenuated measles vaccine–a placebo controlled double blind comparison.  G Miller, J Gale, V Villarejos, W James, C G Arteaga, H Casey, and D A Henderson

    To say it would be unethical to do these studies now is completely correct, but also misses completely the point of WHY it would be unethical: because they won’t tell us anything we don’t already know! If a vaccine was developed for a dangerous disease we never had a vaccine for before, would it be ethical to test it for efficacy? Yes, it would, because we’d need to know whether it really worked. But would it then be ethical, AFTER we knew that it worked, to do a trial that involved withholding its protection from some subjects, just because some people didn’t want to believe that it worked? Of course not!

  • Dr. Placebo

    Thk you!

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