Vaccines for public good or private profit?

March 7, 2008 by
Filed under: WHO Watch 


Those of us used to trawling medical literature have long since come to the view that disease prevalence rates used to justify a vaccine’s introduction, have about as much credibility as a self-combusted crystal ball. The numbers quoted are usually imaginatively inflated, or a result of appallingly badly designed studies. This has been a provable pattern since statistical sculpturing tactics, which were used to inflate polio infection data during the 1950’s, were first revealed in 1960 (PMID 13857182). With previous jury-rigging in mind, the recent announcement that the number of AIDS cases in India, is only half of the earlier estimates, came as no surprise. Neither were we surprised to find that when the formula which the CDC used to over-inflate the numbers of hepatitis B cases in India was asked for, the CDC had to admit that it had gone “missing”. (PMID 15547938) Also, while the WHO used to advise mass vaccination for hepatitis B if the prevalence was more than 2 per 100, that advice has been dropped in favour of mass vaccination everywhere, regardless of disease incidence.

Nowhere is the stupidity of this seen more than in India, where according to WHO surveys, India does not have, and is unlikely to have a problem with haemophilus type B. Yet a 2006 WHO position paper on Hib (PMID: 17124755) states that because Hib vaccine is safe and effective, it must be included in ALL routine infant immunization programmes. “Lack of local surveillance data should not delay introduction of the vaccine.” Yet the same paper also demands that AFTER the introduction of the vaccine, surveillance should be done to measure the impact of the vaccine!

It’s nothing unusual for the WHO to demand universal vaccination with vaccines other than Hib, irrespective of an individual country’s disease burden or lack of; not taking into account the rights of sovereign states to decide what to spend their money on. To make it worse, pharmaceutical companies drive their agendas hidden from within agencies like GAVI.

Furthermore, the number of companies making basic EPI vaccines has plummeted and these are being replaced by “value-added cocktail vaccines” at exorbitant prices. For example, the addition of Hepatitis B not only raises the price of DPT immunization 17 fold, the relative safety and efficacy of these cocktail vaccines are much lower than their individual counterparts.

Developing countries can no longer expect the WHO to be an honest broker between themselves and private for profit vaccine manufacturers.

Angry with us yet? Well you shouldn’t be. Because apart from the sentence including the 1960 PMID number and a self-combusting crystal ball, none of the other sentiments are ours. If Inside Vaccines had penned these realistic comments we would have been accused of touting conspiracy theories–but we didn’t pen them.

That honour belongs to the writers of a medical journal 2008 editorial. PMID 18316845.

Little wonder there is no abstract!


17 Comments on Vaccines for public good or private profit?

  1. Jupiter on Fri, 7th Mar 2008 12:20 pm
  2. From the 2008 editorial mentioned at the bottom of the article:

    “There are lessons from this, both for the public and Governments of developing countries. Developing countries cannot expect international agencies like WHO to be an honest broker between themselves and private for-profit vaccine manufacturers.

    The public need to maintain a healthy skepticism of the ‘facts and figures’ provided by vested interests and of the international agencies that are influenced by such vested interests.”


    Anything but that! The public is woefully unskilled at understanding the complexities of things like disease incidence! We need to just accept that if the CDC says we had 33,000 cases of Hep B in children under 10 born to HBSa neg mothers prevaccine, that’s what it was!

    Questioning and fact-checking is not “healthy skepticism”!

    It’s typical antivaccinationist paranoia!

  3. jdc on Fri, 28th Mar 2008 2:40 pm
  4. “Little wonder there is no abstract!”
    Would you care to elaborate on that?

  5. Marconi on Fri, 28th Mar 2008 7:39 pm
  6. Would you like to elaborate on why you primarily take issue with opinion, rather than deal with the substance of the matter?

  7. Jupiter on Sat, 29th Mar 2008 12:16 am
  8. I’m trying to imagine what the author would have written up for the abstract…

    “The WHO has been corrupted. Something fishy is definitely going on. The CDC’s probably in on it. Big Pharma probably controls GAVI, too. Evidence is presented. Watch out, India!”

  9. jdc325 on Tue, 1st Apr 2008 3:16 am
  10. Can I ask – why do you make that statement about there being no abstract? The free full text is available for all to read – so why would the lack of an abstract matter?

    Also – why would you expect this editorial to have an abstract when, in fact, most editorials don’t routinely have an abstract?

  11. Oresme on Tue, 1st Apr 2008 11:22 am
  12. jdc, what did you think of everything written before that last sentence?

    Are vaccines for public good or private profit?

  13. jdc325 on Wed, 2nd Apr 2008 4:44 am
  14. Oresme – I don’t mean to be impolite and ignore your questions, but do you think it would be possible for someone to respond to my unanswered questions? Thanks.

    My views on this blog post are available here:

  15. MinorityView on Wed, 2nd Apr 2008 9:47 am
  16. jdc,
    We’ll be happy to discuss your thoughts here on the blog where the original article was published. It is cumbersome to expect readers to leap back and forth between blogs in order to follow an argument. Please paste your views into a comment, here, and we will consider whatever points you raise. On the matter of the abstract, frankly, IMO, you are nitpicking. I look forward to reviewing substantive criticisms.

  17. jdc325 on Thu, 3rd Apr 2008 9:24 am
  18. The first thing I would like to point out to the good people at Inside Vaccines is that the editorial is broadly pro-vaccine. The authors argue that the Indian Government “must resuscitate the ability to manufacture EPI vaccines within the public sector so public health is not held to ransom by agencies overseas” and conclude the piece by stating that: “Within the emerging scenario where expensive vaccines swallow up the less expensive options, India could emerge as the ethical EPI vaccine supplier to the world.” Their arguments revolve around the economics of vaccine provision. They argue not against vaccination, but for the provision of affordable vaccinations – views that could hardly be said to be in line with those of an anti-vaccination blog. But then, these points didn’t make the Inside Vaccines post. They seem content to cherry-pick the quotes that suit them. I was a little surprised that they would decide to spin information that could be easily checked though.

    The second point I would like to make is that Inside Vaccines blog also has a curious statement: “Little wonder there is no abstract!” Inside Vaccines claim that they are looking at the science rather than dealing in propaganda, but this statement hints that there is some obvious reason why there is no abstract. They seem to be implying that this paper is somehow hidden or unavailable. The implication being that, because it’s critical of vaccine manufacturers, the piece is so unpopular with the powers-that-be that we are denied the opportunity to read an abstract. Well, we don’t need to read an abstract in order to find out what the authors wrote – the full text of the editorial is available. Free. This is the paper – see for yourself. So why didn’t Inside Vaccines give a link to the free full text? It could have easily been done.

    Could there be another reason why this paper did not have an abstract on Pubmed? Yes. Editorials do not routinely have abstracts. For an example of this, try searching Pubmed for ‘cholesterol’ (or trauma, or cancer, or vitamin or…). and limit your search to editorials. I tried this and the first page of results for cholesterol showed 20 hits, of which 3 had links to abstracts, 3 had links to full text and 14 had the ‘no abstract’ icon. The next page had four links to abstracts and only one link to to full text – leaving fifteen results showing the ‘no abstract’ icon. So twenty nine out of the forty results were ‘no abstract’, which comes to 72.5% and my point is that it’s not unusual for an editorial to not have an abstract. Which makes the closing statement of the Inside Vaccines blog post highly misleading. This is probably just another example of the spin that Inside Vaccines put on information. Either that, or they didn’t realise that they were able to see the free full text. Which would be rather surprising for such an educated and wise assemblage of persons (scientists, authors, engineers, librarians, researchers, parents and grandparents – About Inside Vaccines) and is all the more unlikely given that they actually gave the PMID number (but no link to the free full text – that only arrived in the course of a comment from ‘Jupiter’). I’m finding it difficult to imagine what their thought processes were.

  19. jdc325 on Thu, 3rd Apr 2008 9:26 am
  20. Sorry – missed out the link to the full text of the paper: “This is the paper…” –

  21. jules on Thu, 3rd Apr 2008 10:26 am
  22. Thank you for posting the full link.

  23. wallacesmum on Thu, 3rd Apr 2008 11:40 am
  24. jdc – two of your three paragraphs are about an editorial comment about an editorial? Let’s move on.

    Your first paragraph centers on the pro-vaccine nature of the editorial – is that a problem? The stated purpose of this blog is to discuss vaccination; pro-vaccination arguments are certainly a part of that discussion, no?

    So, you point out that the authors favor an economical alternative to the available vaccines. True enough. But a major question raised in the above post is “do they need the vaccine AT ALL?”, and what data are they using to demonstrate that need? Would you agree that no vaccine is even cheaper than a cheap vaccine?

  25. wallacesmum on Thu, 3rd Apr 2008 11:46 am
  26. You also imply that someone is playing hide-the-ball with the editorial, because it is not linked (even though it IS linked in the first comment), which is disingenuous. It is cited, and the link was easy enough to get.

    Can we move on to content now, please?

    BTW – I don’t know the reason for the abstract comment, so I can’t respond to the bulk of your post, but I fail to see how it invalidates the argument.

  27. Marconi on Thu, 3rd Apr 2008 5:58 pm
  28. JDC questions which are designed to needle, rather than address the content of the editorial, aren’t going to be answered.

    Jupiter put the URL of the full editorial in the first comment on 7 March, the day the comment/opinion went up.

    You put it up again, on April 3.

    How come you missed it the first time?

    You say ***They seem content to cherry-pick the quotes that suit them. I was a little surprised that they would decide to spin information that could be easily checked though.***

    In your post above, you cherry picked exactly the points that a provaccine would pick, and ignored the points which others might concentrate on.

    Presumably you don’t care about the non-existent or fraudulent data, or the fact that India doesn’t consider WHO neutral and has problems with vaccine manufacturers trying to get India to accept cocktails, because you’re provaccine, so all those things aren’t important to you.

    My biggest problem with you though, is why it took you nearly a month to see that the link to the full article was put up the same day.

    You talk about blindness, jdc, but perhaps you have a moat in front of the log in your right eye?

  29. jules on Fri, 4th Apr 2008 10:19 am
  30. ITA Marconi.

  31. MinorityView on Sun, 4th May 2008 7:36 am
  32. More great discussion on this topic in the BMJ Rapid Responses section:

    in response to this article:

    I’m glad to see the word getting out.

  33. MinorityView on Sun, 14th Feb 2010 10:59 am

    The struggle goes on against additional vaccines in India.

    “The Delhi High Court has admitted a public interest petition filed by a group of medical experts led by a former health secretary against the central government’s plans to introduce “irrational vaccines” into the national immunisation programme without proper epidemiological studies.”

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