For those paying attention, CBC’s Marketplace recently aired an unethical and ineffectual hidden camera ‘hit piece’ on the vaccine-risk-aware community assembled in an after-party in Washington, DC. We suspect many of CBC’s viewers were dismayed by the treatment of the professionals they targeted and the misinformation propagated by their reporters and the show’s guest.
One such viewer, Dr. Anaheed Jackson, wrote to CBC, and when their response deepened her concerns, she forwarded the communication to Dr. Lyons-Weiler. After consideration, we decided to co-author this blog article.
The CBC’s reply to Dr. Jackson contains gravely misleading and potentially dangerous misinformation on aluminum toxicity. We are taking the opportunity to share their misleading and misinformed response and to enumerate the errors they have made, in interpretation of the scientific literature on aluminum, important misinterpretations of published research, and a clear misunderstanding of the dynamics of aluminum clearance from the human body.
Here is the CBC’s response:
From: PAUL HAMBLETON email@example.com
Date: Fri, Feb 7, 2020 at 5:53 AM
Subject: CBC Response
Cc: Jennifer McGuire firstname.lastname@example.org, CBC Ombudsman email@example.com
Dear Dr. Ana Jackson:
CBC: I am writing in reply to your email of January 17 addressed to CBC Ombudsman, Jack Nagler, about what you see as inaccurate information in a CBCNews.ca story posted earlier that day under the headline, “Nearly half of Canadians are concerned about vaccine safety. Here’s why.” Specifically, you wrote, the story says aluminum adjuvants used in vaccines “’completely flush out of the body.’” You cited two studies suggesting that they do not.
As the Director of Journalistic Standards, Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, asked me to reply to you directly.
I appreciate hearing your views and I sincerely regret that you are disappointed in CBC in this instance. However, and I say this with respect, your view of the story is not one I share. I’ll explain why, but first I want to be clear about the story.
It focuses on how the anti-vaccination movement has convinced consumers – often the parents of young children – that vaccines are dangerous. Vaccination is widely accepted by medical science and government health authorities as a safe and beneficial way to protect children from the potentially serious consequences of a range of sometimes deadly childhood diseases. Yet, in the face of what is commonly described as overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, the anti-vaccination movement argues the risk is not in the disease, but in the vaccine given to prevent it. It would appear to be an unsustainable position, yet the influence of those worried about vaccination is growing along with their numbers.
Here, CBC misrepresents the position of the vaccine risk aware community, which hold that, contra the US CDC’s claims, vaccines are not “safe and effective” for everyone; i.e., they are not safe for some; i.e., they are, in fact, dangerous for some.
What they cite as “overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary” is actually observational science, i.e., retrospective correlational/ecological studies which fall far short of the gold standard of long-term, randomized, inert-placebo controlled studies. In such studies, individuals are randomly assigned to a group to either receive the vaccine in question, or to receive an inert (biologically inactive) injection of saline. Neither CBC nor anyone can produce any such studies for long-term safety; the CDC and Pharma (vaccine manufacturers) rely exclusively on “post-market surveillance” studies that are incapable of testing the hypothesis of causality. When placebos have been used, they are not true placebos; they are either another vaccine, or, as is the case for the HPV vaccine, the aluminum adjuvant, neither of which are biologically inert. Thus, not a single vaccine on the childhood vaccination schedule has ever gone through proper double-blind, placebo controlled testing that is a requirement for all other drugs on the market.
CBC: This online story, along with the accompanying broadcast story on CBC Marketplace (January 17), looked at how the anti-vaccination messaging is effective at encouraging doubt because of the way it manipulates emotions and biases. The story also sets out some of the common concerns Canadians have expressed about the dangers of vaccines and explains why experts say they should not be worried.
The primary message of the vaccine risk aware community is that given that the safety science falls short of testing causality, using only short periods of time in the initial safety trials, and relying only upon correlation studies, the medical community is misinformed on the true risk profiles of many vaccines. When parents or adults try to report a vaccine injury or even death to their doctors, they are met with denialism. Some doctors have told parents with infants who are experiencing seizures that it could not be the vaccine. If this sounds as if it is a message designed to evoke emotions, then perhaps doubters of mothers and fathers should ask themselves how they would feel if their own child was injured or killed by a vaccine and the doctors and the government denied it to their face.
The facts are that awards have been given for deaths and injury; in the US, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, in which Dr. Lyons-Weiler is an expert on some cases, has awarded >US$4.5 Billion for vaccine injury and deaths. Journalistic standards demand that these facts be brought forward to provide balanced reporting.
One of those concerns is that vaccines contain chemicals that can be toxic at high levels, among them aluminum. It’s the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and occurs naturally in soil, water and air. In fact it’s so prevalent in food that the CDC estimates that the average adult in the United States eats 7-9 mg of aluminum every day. Antacids contain 104-208 mg of aluminum, buffered aspirin 10-20 mg per tablet.
These statements betray another lack of effort for journalistic curiosity. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust – where it is bound to silica to form bauxite – and is thereby not available to organisms in the biosphere, including humans. Humans only began being exposed to aluminum after the 1850, when the processes to extract aluminum from bauxite was invented. The history is readily available in Wikipedia:
Aluminium was difficult to refine and thus uncommon in actual usage. Soon after its discovery, the price of aluminium exceeded that of gold. It was only reduced after the initiation of the first industrial production by French chemist Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville in 1856. Aluminium became much more available to the public with the Hall–Héroult process developed independently by French engineer Paul Héroult and American engineer Charles Martin Hall in 1886, and the Bayer process developed by Austrian chemist Carl Joseph Bayer in 1889. These processes have been used for aluminium production up to the present.
Regarding exposure from food and water, clearly CBC did not even bother to read the studies that were sent; according to Dr. Yokel of the University of Kentucky, we absorb only 0.3% of the aluminum we eat. So,
9000 mcg * 0.003 = 27 mcg of aluminum in an adult per day.
This is in comparison to the 850 to 1150 mcg found in vaccines that a child is directly exposed to through injection where a 100% absorption rate exists, and higher amounts if a doctor tries to inject the same child with more than one vaccine per day. CBC should have referred to the Appendix to the study sent to them by Dr. Jackson by Dr. Lyons-Weiler and colleagues. This peer-reviewed study by Dr. Lyons-Weiler and co-authors (McFarland et al, 2020) shows that when absorption in considered, as is appropriate for concerns of whole-body exposure and toxicity, for the first six months of life, infants receive far more aluminum from vaccines than from food, water, breastmilk, or formula.
It is also added in very small quantities to a few vaccines – chiefly those aimed at human papillomavirus (HPV), influenza, hepatitis and anthrax – but generally not to those given to children, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. For those few that do contain aluminum, they contain no more than 0.85 mg per dose – an amount 100 times smaller than in an antacid tablet – and in most cases they contain far less. 0.85 mg is about the same amount found in a litre of infant formula.
The CBC claims that “few” vaccines contain aluminum. Our understanding is that about 60% of vaccines on the US CDC schedule contain aluminum. Regarding 850 mcg per dose, CBC should have known, if they actually read the peer-reviewed and published reference material sent, that the expression
The expression “850 mcg per dose” itself is problematic: safe dosage limits would be expressed as “xx mcg/kg/day”, which was the reason why McFarland et al. bothered to use an estimated pediatric dose limit scaled to body weight.
Regarding an antacid tablet, 2000 mcg of aluminum with 0.3% absorbed would lead to 6 mcg of aluminum absorbed via the intestine, so an injected vaccine is about 140 times more aluminum than an antacid dose. Drinking 850 mcg of aluminum in a liter of water would result in absorption of only 2.55 mcg of aluminum. Thus, an 850 mcg vaccination will result in a dose that is 333 times that received from drinking a liter of water. Further, the aluminum in drinking water is not there naturally; it is added as a buffer to prevent the corrosion of water lines.
Since aluminum is, in fact, toxic, exposures from all sources is a cause for concern.
CBC: The segment went on to explain that adjuvants, such as aluminum, are added to some vaccines to enhance their effectiveness by “prompting the body to learn how to fight the disease instead of immediately flushing [the dead virus] out.” And it added that “all traces” of aluminum and everything else in the vaccine are “are flushed completely out of the body within a day or two.”
As evidence to the contrary, you included a link to a French study by R.K. Gherardi, and others, on the biopersistence of aluminum adjuvants, and a recent article by James Lyons-Weiler, and others, about the comparative retention of aluminum in three vaccination schedules. As you may know, Dr. Lyons-Weiler, a popular speaker at anti-vaccination movement meetings, was featured in the Marketplace television story.
If CBC were interested, they would have learned that Dr. Lyons-Weiler routinely leads the crowds that assemble to hear him speak in chants such as “What do you want?” Crowd: “Science!” “When do you want it?” “NOW!” Dr. Lyons-Weiler defends the public trust in objective science. Your video “exposé” claimed that he would “like” to be “seen” as a scientist; you evidently now recognize the error of your insinuation; Dr. Lyons-Weiler has requested an apology, but expects none.
I realize that there are some studies, often cited by those opposed to vaccination, that link aluminum adjuvants and their “biopersistence” to a wide range of afflictions sometimes described as the autoimmune/ inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA), which is said to include macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF), the Gulf War syndrome (GWS), and “chronic toxicity” in infants, among other things.
The authors of the studies you cited raise many more questions than they offer answers. Both suggest multiple further avenues of study. Acknowledging the tentative nature of their work, Gherardi, for example, notes that the “imbalance between the huge number of vaccinated individuals and the relatively low number of MMF cases” suggests the involvement of other factors.
These “other factors” include genetics and as we have clarified, the concern for many in the vaccine risk aware community is not that vaccines are universally dangerous, as you have misstated the position, but that a subset of individuals appears to be at highest risk. Dr. Lyons-Weiler and others have provided you with links to videos in which the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the US National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (now a well-paid executive of Merck’s Vaccine Division Program) both told CNN News that a genetically susceptible subgroup likely exists that is higher risk of injury from vaccines. Dr. Andrew Zimmermann, a leading pro-vaccine pediatric neurologist and medical expert, claimed that “regressive encephalopathy” (brain swelling and damage) can occur after vaccination in certain children who have underlying mitochondrial disorders. He gave this testimony back in 2007 during a Federal Vaccine Court proceeding.
In the absence of convincing science of the dangers of “biopersistence,” there is overwhelming scientific and medical consensus on the safety and efficacy of vaccination. The story linked the section of aluminum adjuvants to a 2015 “Public Health Statement for Aluminum” issued by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, a division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that says “most” of the aluminum in food and “much of the small amount” that enters the bloodstream is “quickly” excreted.
It is odd that CBC would prefer a 2015 source to more updated, peer-reviewed sources. While directed by Dr. Gerberding, the ATSDR cherry-picked one mouse study out of dozens to justify a generous and extraordinary 1,000 mcg tolerable limit per day from oral exposures, when past limits had been either 1,000 or 2,000 mcg provisional tolerable limit per week. CBC has no scientific basis upon which to dismiss the studies showing chronic toxicity is expected, including studies by Dr. Lyons-Weiler and team and studies such as those by Dr. Gheradhi and Dr. Exeley in which aluminum content in humans was measured.
Further, the ATSDR is, you quote, references ingested, not injected, aluminum. Being a different form of aluminum with a different route of exposure, the toxicity profiles are completely different. CBC is clearly not in a position to evaluate the “convincingness” of the studies they have been sent, given their lack of understanding of the basics of the relative exposure from ingested (0.3%) vs. injected (100%) forms of aluminum.
That seems to reflect the findings of most studies of the subject reviewed by our journalists. Among many others, we asked epidemiologist Dr. Natasha Crowcroft about aluminum. Dr. Crowcroft, who has authored over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, is the co-chair of the Canadian Association for Immunization Research, Evaluation and Education (CAIRE) and a member of the Canadian Immunization Research Network. She assured us that “kids who are vaccinated don’t have any increase in the aluminum levels in their plasma following immunization.”
There has only been one study that showed that plasma levels of aluminum in newborns did not change before and after vaccination with aluminum-containing Hepatitis B vaccine. That fact is not at all reassuring; we are concerned not only with acute toxicity but with long-term (chronic) whole-body toxicity. The presence of aluminum released over long periods of time following vaccine in studies cited by Dr. Lyons-Weiler and colleagues and by the US FDA show that only about 5% of aluminum is excreted from the body form a rational basis of concern. In one study, rabbits cleared only 5.6% of the injected aluminum hydroxide in urine after 28 days. Adults require multiple thousands of days to excrete a single injected dose. Infants’ kidneys are only 20% efficient compared to toddlers. These facts were all provided to CBC in the studies provided. Their journalistic integrity would compel them to understand these facts.
She also notes that that (sic) although high levels of aluminum in the blood can pose health risks, vaccines generally bypass the bloodstream altogether. “You’re giving it into (sic) a muscle,” she said. “You’re not injecting a vaccine into a vein; you’re giving it into usually a muscle, sometimes subcutaneously.” She notes that because of this, “it doesn’t go straight into the bloodstream, it doesn’t accumulate in tissues, it stays in the site where the immune system can package it up and get rid of it and then if it gets into any other compartment it gets cleared through the kidneys. And it gets cleared quite quickly; it’s gone very quickly.”
This doctor clearly does not understand how aluminum from vaccines is transported throughout the body. It mains mechanism of action is both apoptotic and necrotic cell death. Macrophages, which move in and out of the circulatory system, pick up the cellular debris (to which aluminum is adhered) and thus move it about the body. Aluminum also binds to transferrin, which is supposed to be available to relocate dietary iron to bone for the production of red blood cells. A reasonable estimate of a ½ life of injected aluminum from is numerous studies, already sent to you, have found that aluminum is found in the brains of people with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. Why you have chosen to ignore the materials and links sent to you by Dr. Lyons-Weiler, Del Bigtree, and others betray a lack of journalistic objectivity and an utter contempt of the integrity that real journalism requires.
She adds that the studies supporting “biopersistence” work off “an assumption that aluminum just stays there and builds up with each dose and all of that is just wrong. It doesn’t enter the bloodstream, so it doesn’t ‘go up’ in levels the way that drugs do.”
Here their expert is at odds with herself. If aluminum does not enter the circulatory system (which it does, adhered to cells and in macrophages), then why would we be reassured that there is no difference in plasma levels of aluminum in infants following vaccination with aluminum hydroxide? No study – none – shows that the reason is that it clears from the body immediately. Instead, it goes into various compartments of the body, including the brain, where the chronic toxicity sets in. Since the science conducted by Dr. Lyons-Weiler focuses on whole body clearance, their experts’ position is a misrepresentation of our concerns. Getting the basics of reporting right is imperative for “reporting”.
Thank you again for bringing your views to our attention, and for giving me an opportunity to respond. I hope my reply has assured you of the continuing integrity of Marketplace and CBC News.
If you do not find this answer satisfactory, you may wish to ask CBC Ombudsman, Jack Nagler, to review the matter. The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent and impartial body reporting directly to the President, is responsible for evaluating program compliance with the CBC’s journalistic policies. The Ombudsman may be reached by telephone at 416-205-2978, or by mail at Box 500, Terminal A, Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6, or by fax at (416) 205-2825, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Journalistic Standards
Cc. Jack Nagler, CBC Ombudsman
Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News
In spite of these reassurances, the facts remain: You reported incorrectly that aluminum is flushed completely from the body, and we, and others, have provided ample evidence that this is an incorrect statement, and as a reporting agency, you should issue a correction and a retraction. Dr. Lyons-Weiler does not expect an apology that is due under the present circumstances.
It would behoove you to actually read the studies sent and the citations in those studies. Your organization shows a contempt for journalistic integrity and for objectivity in science. Millions of children and adults are suffering from conditions that may be related to vaccines; unknown numbers have died. The world needs a new form of objective journalism; for that, we refer readers to Del Bigtree (The Highwire ) and to Sharyl Attkisson (Full Measure) and Ben Swann (Truth in Media). Just as Dr. Lyons-Weiler represents objectivity in Science, these outlets represent refreshing objectivity in Journalism.
We wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
Dr. Anaheed Jackson, ND
James Lyons-Weiler, PhD