Polio and Sanitation

KHAGARIA: On the sandy banks of Kosi river in north Bihar, a quiet crowd of several hundred people is waiting in the sizzling morning sun. A speck appears in the pale blue summer sky, rapidly growing in size — its a gleaming white helicopter. Within seconds it is hovering above the opposite bank, amidst the cornfields.

The crowd is awestruck at the monstrous machine as it settles down in billowing clouds of sand. Out comes the man everybody has been waiting to see — Bill Gates.

Bill Gates has come to find out why polio eradication is failing in Bihar. He asks questions about immunization strategies and tries to figure out what sort of technical problems are blocking universal vaccine delivery.

People complain of lack of basic health facilities…There are only 49 auxilliary nurse and midwives under the PHC, against a sanctioned strength of 76…So, the delivery of basic health services is itself a distant dream…The villagers hope against hope. Isn’t the spread of polio linked to lack of sanitation and basic health facilities? Gates acknowledges this fact but says that it is for the government to do the needful. “We are concentrating on the eradication of polio, which is achievable through vaccines,” he says. [1]

Polio epidemics first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century. Many doctors and scientists struggled with the mystery: why, as living conditions improved, did incidents of paralysis increase? Out of all the changes that came with modernity, improved sanitation was chosen as the change which caused polio to turn from a mild illness to one that left death and permanent damage in its wake.  Here is an excellent example  from a 2007 medical article which summarizes the concept:

Prior to the 20th century, virtually all children were infected with PV while still protected by maternal antibodies. In the 1900s, following the industrial revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, improved sanitation practices led to an increase in the age at which children first encountered the virus, such that at exposure children were no longer protected by maternal antibodies. Consequently, epidemics of poliomyelitis surfaced . [2] Read more

Vaccine Myths, Round Two

Introduction: A while back, we explored some common anti-vax myths.  Because in the great vaccine debates, the myths tend to outnumber the facts, we’ve decided to begin a multipart series dispelling some of the mythologies people argue over which preclude productive discussions over real issues. Below, you will find the facts behind two more common vaccine myths: herd immunity, and whether or not vaccines are profitable to pharmaceutical companies.

Myth: herd immunity isn’t real, and all the vaccine preventable diseases were declining in incidence prevaccine

Reality: vaccine induced herd immunity is a real phenomenon, and the incidences of the “diseases of childhood” (measles and mumps, for example)  averaged out to be constant in the prevaccine era.

Here’s a chart showing the incidence of measles from 1912 till 1960.

Although the “death rate per cases” dropped an amazing amount, the same number of cases were happening per year on average. Read more

Prevnar IS Safe – Have a Look at the Studies!

March 16, 2009 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Vaccine Science 

In November of 2008, a report was published about a halted vaccine trial in India. Here is an excerpt which can be found on Livemint :

New Delhi: Patient trials of an advanced pneumonia vaccine by the domestic unit of US drug giant Wyeth Inc. have been suspended by India’s drug quality regulator after the death of an infant on whom the vaccine was tested in a trial in Bangalore.
The child had a pre-existing cardiac disorder. Indian drug rules prohibit testing on human subjects with such conditions without the prior approval of the drugs controller general of India (DCGI), the drugs quality regulator.

Indian authorities said that the trial was stopped because:

“The baby was suffering from a cardiac abnormality and should not have been included in the trial at all. It seems that the ‘inclusion-exclusion’ criteria protocol has not been adhered to by the investigator,” said Surinder Singh, drugs controller general. “We have suspended all further trials across the country.”

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Does the Inactivated Influenza Vaccine Even Work In the Recommended Age Bracket?

It’s that time of year again!  Having spent last summer consulting the avian set on what’s hot in influenza, the pharmaceutical company has whipped up a fresh batch of flu vaccine, and now they need to move the merchandise!  Fortunately, the CDC is happy to help with sales, by expanding the recommendation to ever more age groups.  The Advisory Committee on Immunization Policy currently recommends the vaccine for all children aged 6 months to eighteen years.  There is just one slight issue that might concern some parents.  Peer-reviewed research in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 162 No. 10, October 2008,1 demonstrates that the vaccine is not effective under age 5!

An inherent assumption of expanded vaccination recommendations is that the vaccine is efficacious in preventing clinical influenza disease. Although studies have documented immune responses following 2 doses of inactivated influenza vaccine as well as vaccine efficacy for culture-confirmed disease in randomized clinical trials, surprisingly little information exists regarding influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) among young children receiving vaccine in routine health care settings.

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Where Do They Find These Scary Statistics III – Let’s Make a Few Assumptions – Hepatitis B

September 2, 2008 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: CDC Watch, Vaccine Science, Vaccine/Disease Analysis 

[Part I, Part II, ]

Parents have questions about the risk-benefit equation of the Hepatitis B vaccine. It is possible for a parent to be quite certain that their infant is not at risk of prenatal or birth exposure to this disease. The risk factors for exposure during infancy, early childhood, and the elementary school years can be reasonably well assessed on an individual basis. Read more

Where Do They Find These Scary Statistics? Part II: Gross Estimation–Diphtheria Statistics Defy Reality

Top graph from page 423 of The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century.
Lower graph from page 208 of  Trends in Diphtheria Mortality.

Series Links: Part I, Part III Read more

New vaccine

July 8, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Vaccine Science 
Eleven years ago, Professor Adrian Lee, head of the School of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of New South Wales commented on the failure of the first Helicobacter vaccine to work in a European trial. The Astra Research Center in Boston, USA collaborated with the New South Wales University on the project. Professor Lee believed that two or three recombinant antigens, and a much more potent adjuvant were required. Not only did the first vaccine, which had only one antigen, not work, but the e. coli and cholera toxin adjuvants caused diarrhoea in the vaccine recipients.

Read more

Where Do They Find These Scary Statistics?

Dr. Gerberding of the CDC

[Series Links: Part II, Part III]

Remember Hannah Poling? The head of the CDC, dressed in a very nice pink suit, appeared on TV and discussed Hannah’s case. In one of her appearances she said something like this: “Vaccines prevent 33,000 deaths a year in the United States.” Just to make sure I had the statement right, I searched for the phrase and found it again, from CNN, this time in print.

Today, through immunizations given in the first two years of life, we can protect children from 16 diseases, preventing 33,000 deaths and 14 million illnesses per year.

A few searches made it clear that this is a very popular statistic. A variety of news stories included the information that vaccines prevent 33,000 deaths a year in the United States. This is an interesting number to anyone who knows a bit about the history of infectious diseases. I decided to dig deeper.

My next find was this chart, which is on a the web-site of an organization called Every Child by Two. The chart provides morbidity (incidence) and mortality (deaths) for each disease. How in the world would someone be able to calculate (for example) the exact number of cases of diphtheria which would occur and the exact number of deaths which would follow? Amazing! There must be some truly extraordinary scientific research underlying these numbers, don’t you think? Read more

Common Anti-Vaccination Myths and Misconceptions

March 13, 2008 by · 19 Comments
Filed under: General, News, Vaccine Myths, Vaccine Science 


1. Antifreeze is an ingredient in vaccines: (False) Antifreeze is ethylene glycol. I have not seen ethylene glycol listed on one single vaccine ingredients list ever. What I have seen are:

Phenoxyethanol is in DTaP, Hep A and B,Td, IPV but is not the same chemical makeup as ethylene glycol and is an organic chemical compound. We found information pointing to phenoxyethanol as toxic. http://truthinaging.com/ingredient-spotlight/what-is-it-phenoxyethanol-and-is-it-safe

Here is the MSDS: http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-2_Phenoxyethanol-9926486

This isn’t antifreeze. Do you want it injected into your infant? Many thanks to Helen Tucker’s helpful comment below.

EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetraacetic-acid ) is an amino acid, also used as a preservative in the Rabies and Varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.
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