To the uninitiated, it must be nice to listen to so-called experts like CHOP’s Paul Offit discuss the science that supports the idea that vaccines are mostly safe – and by mostly they mean by far safe for everyone or nearly everyone. To hear such platitudes being described as “the strongest science shows the vaccines are perfectly safe” must be very reassuring indeed.
Unfortunately, the people who speak these phrases are fully aware that the epidemiological studies that are conducted to determine whether a vaccine has adverse events in the population are just about the weakest type of studies that can be conducted to detect adverse events that happen in a minority of patients. Ecological correlations (association tests) fall short of testing causality, so positive results can be rejected as “just correlations”. If that’s the case, negative results do not amount to a critical test of causality – not even close, especially when they are severely underpowered.
In reality, when adverse events happen in the population and weak and malleable and underpowered epidemiologic studies fail to detect an association the status of the inference is “No evidence”. The “no evidence” handle, however, has been conscripted at times: it has used to make the claim of no causality, when in fact, not even a single study to test even for a particular association has been conducted.
It is rather psychotic to see particular types of adverse events happening after vaccination and to deny absolutely that the vaccination was (even in part) responsible simply because no association can be detected in larger association studies is a bit psychotic. Here’s why:
First of all, the studies that have been conducted have never accounted for genetic differences that exist among the population that might put different individuals at risk of serious or moderate adverse events for vaccines. Not everyone can tolerate certain kinds of chemotherapy agents and therefore it would be a bit psychotic to say that a chemotherapy agent is perfectly safe even though we see people get sick and die rapidly on the chemo from the effects of chemo even though the know association has been found of those effects in an epidemiologic study because we know that we have not yet tested those individuals for their tolerance of, let’s say, metals in the chemotherapy agent.
More importantly, though is the question of how senseless and utterly self-defeating vaccine injury and vaccine death denial is. Imagine a farmer who, once a year, goes to his fields and purposively sows seeds – not of his crops, but of wildflowers. The next season, when he sees what to him appear to be weeds growing in number, he (1) denies they are caused by him sowing the seeds, and then (2) blames the wildflowers themselves for being there. His solution? To sow more wildflower seeds, and wait until “one day” when his genius solution will convince everyone, including the wildflowers, that they are, in fact, not growing.
The Hysterisis of Measles Mortality
In the pre-vaccine era, the population of the US was about 180 million. According to the best available data, the number of deaths due to measles infection was between 450-500 deaths per year. Simple math tells us that’s a whole-population mortality rate of 0.00000278 – hardly a cause for alarm. In fact, the rate is so low that a whole-population cohort study would have a difficult time detecting a significant association between measles infection (which was common) and mortality, especially if, as CDC insists for studying autism, other risk factors for death due to measles infection like poor nutrition or body weight had to be adjusted for as ‘confounders’.
This report from Harvard University in 2001 shows just how little impact the measles vaccination program had on mortality due to measles infection. In their graph, shown below, the relative contribution of measles – prior to any vaccination program – was negligible. The measles vaccine is seen here clearly to be a Johnny-come-lately factor in reducing mortality from measles infection. To act otherwise is a bit psychotic and irrational.
Cochrane and WHO recognize Vitamin A deficiency as a risk factor for measles infection; plenty of evidence exists to support that Vitamin A supplementation can alleviate the seriousness of measles infections.
Hysterisis is the permanent change in a system due to a shift in another part of the system. When corporate liability was removed for injuries and death in 1986, corporate influence on decision-making by the US CDC, HHS and ACIP become so strong and pervasive that today (1/20/2019), we saw the US Surgeon General getting defensive on whether he was “pro-vaccine” enough. This shift need not be permanent; indeed, regulatory recapture is very much on the mind for environmentalists (EPA), patients with loved ones killed by fast-tracked medicine (FDA), and, of course, the ever-increasing army of Vaccine Risk Aware Americans (CDC, FDA, NIAID).
Today, the New York Times ran and OpEd piece filled with the same, tired denialist tropes – deny, deny, deny (“full stop”) that vaccines are toxic or might contribute to autism. At this point in time, as far as trying to convince the public that vaccines do not cause autism, the New York Times might as well try to convince the citizens of the US that the moon is made of cheese. Their terminology is outdated – so-called antivaxxers recognize within their own ranks a diversity of phenotypes from absolute refuseniks (who most often have witnessed or experienced serious adverse events first-hand) to sometimes-vaxxers. Generally speaking, many (but not most) are ex-vaxxers, and all are vaccine risk aware. None are vaccine injury and death denialists. Americans find that type of treatment – especially of genetic minorities at highest risk – extremely offensive. Given the thousands and thousands of recorded eyewitness testimonies given to Polly Tommey and the rest of the Vaxxed crew, one might as well be a holocaust denier.
The reason, vaccine proponents say, that we need to deny that vaccines cause autism (per NY Times, CDC, and other sources) is that people might stop vaccinating, leading to a surge in outbreaks due to vaccine hestitancy. They never factor in the loss of immunogenicity of the vaccines due to mutations that occur, year after year (now over 30 years) in both the wild-type pathogens and the vaccine-type. Like the farmer, the solution is more vaccination – spreading more vaccine injury as they go. They do not factor in the reality that live attenuated vaccines lead to subclinical asymptomatic infections – that is, children sitting in the classroom, with no symptoms, spreading mumps, pertussis and yes, measles – and the only thing that unvaccinated kids do is reveal a circulating infection. These realities are well known, but denied by public health policy experts, who act as though every person carrying measles is the disease – when in reality, measles was universally recognized as a mild infection before the corporate liability was removed.
Clearly, there is an end point to the measles mortality hysteresis, and clearly, these actualizations thus far are insufficient to reconcile public health public policies with reality. However, it seems the financial cost of denialism will be its own undoing.
Minnesota, USA: Vaccine Risk Denial Comes Home to Roost
The type of denial that has taken place is now coming back to bite states in their pocketbook. Anne Dachel, of Age of Autism, has been chronicling the soaring costs of special education programs in the website Loss of Brain Trust (https://www.lossofbraintrust.com) which now has thousands of media stories showing that society cannot keep up with the burgeoning cost of caring for kids with developmental disorders – and that States are turning their back on the families who need the assistance, after telling them that vaccines do not cause autism, ADHD, dyslexia, language delay and other forms of developmental disorders.
Anne Dachel’s Message
Anne sent a message focused on Minnesota. She recalled that ten years ago, the statistic of 1 in 32 Somali children with autism in Minnesota shocked the world. The state had assured the public that vaccines were not a cause of autism.
Now, in January 2019, Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Minnesota schools are facing ‘crisis level’ in special education funding. From the Star Tribune article:
“School administrators say the mandate’s growing financial burden is threatening their ability to provide the same for all students.
Soaring special education costs are squeezing the budgets of Minnesota schools — and quickly becoming school districts’ top priority for the new legislative session.
While public schools are required to provide special education services, federal and state governments cover only a portion of the cost. That means Minnesota districts must dig in their budgets, pull out money they would otherwise spend paying teachers or remodeling aging buildings, and collectively fill in a gap that this year is expected to balloon to $724 million.
For many districts, that exercise has become increasingly painful, resulting in teacher layoffs, program cuts and swelling class sizes. School administrators are quick to note that they cannot — and would not — deny special education students their right to an education that meets their needs, no matter the cost. But they say the mandate’s growing financial burden is threatening their ability to provide the same for all students.
“Districts are taking ever-increasing amounts of money out of their general education funds to pay for special education costs,” said Brad Lundell, executive director of Schools for Equity in Education, a group that represents nearly 60 districts across the state. “And that, I think, is reaching a crisis level in the state.”
Many school administrators and advocates say the problem begins with the federal government, which has never followed through on its decades-old pledge to cover 40 percent of special education costs. Currently, the federal government pays for about 8 percent of Minnesota’s $2.2 billion annual special education expenses.
The share of the cost picked up by the state has ticked up in the last decade, rising to about 63 percent this year. But it’s not enough: more Minnesota students are requiring special education services, including a growing number with particularly complex medical, mental health or behavioral needs. The cost to serve them is rising at a faster rate than the overall costs of education, and the federal government isn’t responding in kind. …
“I would say this is probably the No. 1 issue for us from a budgetary standpoint,” said superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak. “From a standpoint of what financially keeps us awake at night, it certainly keeps us awake.” …
All told, Minneapolis has the state’s largest special education funding gap: $55.3 million, or about $1,400 for every student in the district.
“I was in Minneapolis when Somali leaders met with health/school officials for a public forum in 2008. Parents wanted answers. Education officials assured them that vaccines weren’t at fault AND THAT THE SCHOOLS WOULD PROVIDE FOR THEIR KIDS’ NEEDS.
NOW ….SPED costs are just too much to handle. Notice the photo on the story…….lovely little (I’m assuming Somali) girl, BUT NOT ONE WORD OF EXPLANATION AS TO WHY THERE IS THIS ‘GROWING NUMBER’ of disabled students more complex needs.
STILL…….they have to pretend the only problem is covering the cost–not why it’s happening. It’s something that just can’t continue.”