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Bill Gates Donation Turns Respected Independent Research Company Into HPV Vaccine Supporter

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Cochrane Collaboration recieved a $1.15 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and lo and behold, a little over a year later, Cochrane was busy putting out a review that sang the praises of the HPV vaccine.

  • Reflect On:

    If we know that our healthcare industry is nothing more than a business that is only concerned about profit, can this knowledge be more that a source of frustration and actually contribute to our awakening?

Anyone who has looked into the inner workings of the Western healthcare system–especially with regards to the relentless promotion of vaccines–can see that it is primarily a ‘business’, where ‘health’ is secondary at best. Following the money shows that vaccine research is primarily funded (or pseudo-funded through shell companies) by the pharmaceutical industry.

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Such industry-funded research is demonstrably structured in ways that ensure that vaccines can be said to be safe and are not causally linked to serious conditions like autism. As this Health Impact News article points out,

ALL industry funded studies are designed to protect the company’s financial investment. That is THE overriding primary bias. In vaccine clinical trials in particular, there is a built-in bias; namely, the comparator arm. The so-called “placebo-controlled” comparative vaccine studies do not use a genuine placebo. They include an adjuvant such as aluminum or mercury in the so-called “placebo” comparators both of which generate serious adverse effects. They use these adjuvants precisely in order to mask the serious risks posed by vaccines.

CDC Complicity

But even this strategy is not fool-proof, and when things don’t work according to plan, more direct means are employed. As we saw in the case of CDC researcher William Thompson, deliberately deleting or fudging data is often in play if causal links with serious conditions like autism are indeed established in their studies. And the fraudulent behavior that we actually hear about is probably just the tip of the iceberg. For every brave whistleblower like Thompson who risks his livelihood, reputation, and possibly even his life to bring this information to the public, the vast majority of people privy to this knowledge have likely been kept silent by the carrot (continued employment and funding, promotions, outright bribes) or the stick (fear of loss of employment, damage to reputation, physical harm, or murder).

A supposedly neutral government agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry to give the official government stamp of approval on vaccine safety. Furthermore, the CDC is a business partner of the pharmaceutical industry, acting as a wholesaler and distributor of vaccines with an annual purchasing budget of $4 billion. Conflict of interest? Nothing to see here, right?

Probably the only hope for people who want the objective truth about vaccine safety is with independent research companies. Sadly, it looks like one of the biggest and most respected companies of this kind have fallen under the control of corporate big money.

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The Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration, now known simply as Cochrane, is an international and independent non-profit organization established in 1993 aimed at providing up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare available worldwide. Cochrane produces and disseminates systematic reviews of healthcare interventions and diagnostic tests, and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other interventional studies.

Up until recently, the Cochrane Collaboration had been considered the “gold standard” in scientific integrity. That is, until it started making the move a few years ago from being a principled, proudly independent research company to one that started to come under the influence of certain sponsors based on ‘donations’ like this one proudly announced on their website:

Once again, we are starkly confronted with what seems to be the underlying reality of the world we live in. Do we see any conflict of interest in the Cochrane Collaboration accepting over a million dollars from HPV vaccine-pusher Bill Gates? Do we have any reason to believe that this donation is designed to ‘support the development of Cochrane’s next generational evidence system,’ or do we suspect that this is just a bribe to garner Cochrane’s support and seal of approval for the HPV vaccine?

Well, fortunately, we didn’t have to wait very long for the answer to that question. A Cochrane Systematic Review from May 2018 entitled ‘Prophylactic vaccination against human papillomaviruses to prevent cervical cancer and its precursors‘ appears as the perfect payback for Gates’ ‘donation’ a mere year and a half earlier. In it, the reviewers came to conclusions that were sure to have pleased Gates:

There is high‐certainty evidence that HPV vaccines protect against cervical precancer in adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 26…We did not find an increased risk of serious adverse effects. Although the number of deaths is low overall, there were more deaths among women older than 25 years who received the vaccine. The deaths reported in the studies have been judged not to be related to the vaccine. Increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes after HPV vaccination cannot be excluded, although the risk of miscarriage and termination are similar between trial arms.

Cochrane Regional Members Revolt

For some of the researchers affiliated with one of Cochrane’s regional member centers (the Nordic Cochrane Centre), Cochrane’s HPV review was so biased that they felt compelled to write an exhaustive critique of  it, entitled ‘The Cochrane HPV vaccine review was incomplete and ignored important evidence of bias,’ published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Their conclusions demonstrate that they have taken notice of the change of policy at Cochrane and saw evidence of undue influence and conflicts of interest:

Part of the Cochrane Collaboration’s motto is ‘Trusted evidence’. We do not find the Cochrane HPV vaccine review to be ‘Trusted evidence’, as it was influenced by reporting bias and biased trial designs. We believe that the Cochrane review does not meet the standards for Cochrane reviews or the needs of the citizens or healthcare providers that consult Cochrane reviews to make ‘Informed decisions’, which also is part of Cochrane’s motto.

This review was co-written by one of the ‘old guards’ of the Cochrane Collaboration, Peter Gotzsche. Peter has published more than 70 papers in “the big five” (BMJ, Lancet, JAMA, Ann Intern Med and N Engl J Med) and his scientific works have been cited 30,000 times (source). With about 80 others, he helped start The Cochrane Collaboration in 1993 with the founder, Sir Iain Chalmers, and established The Nordic Cochrane Centre the same year.

Among other things, Peter has been an outspoken critic of the pharmaceutical industry, and saw his role in the Cochrane Collaboration as a counterbalance to their undue influence in the healthcare field. He is the author of the book Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How big pharma has corrupted healthcare. The video below will give you a taste of his stance on the pharmaceutical industry:

Cochrane Dumps Peter Gotzsche

As if the agenda could not be more obvious, the newly centralized Governing Board of this formerly serious ‘collaboration’ of researchers and reviewers suddenly removed Peter Gotzsche from Cochrane without any clear justification. Notably, this was the first action taken against any member of the Cochrane Collaboration in its entire 25-year history. In a letter to members of the collaboration, Peter eloquently describes the unfortunate direction that Cochrane is taking, which exemplifies the capacity of big money and big business to run roughshod over anyone that gets in the way of their profits.

Nordic Cochrane Centre
Rigshospitalet, Dept. 7811
Blegdamsvej 9
2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

Tel: +45 35 45 71 12
E-mail:general@cochrane.dk
www.nordic.cochrane.org

14 September 2018

A moral governance crisis: the growing lack of democratic collaboration and scientific pluralism in  Cochrane.

I regret to inform you that I have been expelled from membership in the Cochrane Collaboration by the favourable vote of  6 of the 13 members of the Governing Board. No clear reasoned justification has been given for my expulsion aside from accusing me of causing “disrepute” for the organization. This is the first time in 25 years that a member has been excluded from membership of Cochrane.

This unprecedented action taken by a minority of the Governing Board is disproportionate and damaging to Cochrane, as well as to public health interests.  As a result of this decision, and a number of broader issues concerning the inadequate governance of Cochrane, in accordance with its principles and objectives, four other members of the Board have resigned.

As a result, the Cochrane Collaboration has entered an unchartered territory of crisis and lack of strategic direction. A recovery from this dire situation would call for the dissolution of the present board, new elections and a broad based participatory debate about the future strategy and governance of the organization.

 In just 24 hours the Cochrane Governing Board of thirteen members has lost five of its members, four of which are centre directors and key members of the organization in different countries. Recently the central executive team of Cochrane has failed to activate adequate safeguards, not only technical ones (which are usually very good) to assure sufficient policies in the fields of epistemology, ethics and morality. Transparency, open debate, criticism and expanded participation are tools that guarantee the reduction of uncertainty of reviews and improve the public perception of the democratic scientific process. These are conditions and tools that cannot be eliminated, as has happened recently, without placing into serious doubt the rigorous scientific undertaking of Cochrane and eroding public confidence in Cochrane’s work. My expulsion should be seen in this context.

There has also been a serious democratic deficit. The role of the Governing Board has been radically diminished under the intense guidance of the current central executive team and the Board has increasingly become a testimonial body that rubber-stamps highly finalized proposals with practically no ongoing in-put and exchange of views to formulate new policies. On dozens of issues the Board can only vote yes or no with very little opportunity to amend or modify the executive team ́s proposals.

This growing top-down authoritarian culture and an increasingly commercial business model that have been manifested within the Cochrane leadership over the past few years threaten the scientific, moral and social objectives of the organization. Many Cochrane centres have sustained negative pressure and a lack of productive dialogue with the CEO of the central office. Upon alerting the Cochrane leadership of these worrisome tendencies that negatively affect the operability and social perception of our scientific work, the Nordic Cochrane Centre has received a number of threats to its existence and financing. Many of the directors or other key staff of the oldest Cochrane centres in the world have conveyed their dissatisfaction with the senior central staff’s interactions with them. While the declared aims of interactions with the central office is to improve the quality of our work, the heavy-handed approach of some of the central staff has sometimes created a negative environment for new scientific initiatives, open collaboration and academic freedom.

There has also been criticism in Cochrane concerning the over-promotion of favourable reviews and conflicts of interest and the biased nature of some scientific expert commentary used by the knowledge translation department of Cochrane.

At the same time, Cochrane has been giving less and less priority and importance to its civic and political commitment to promoting open access, open data, scientific transparency, avoiding conflicts of interest and, in general, not promoting a public interest innovation model. I feel that these issues are intricately related to providing “better evidence” as the Cochrane motto professes. Recently the Cochrane executive leadership has even refused to comment publicly on new health technology policies, open access policies and other key advocacy opportunities despite the fact that an auditing of Cochrane fulfilment of objectives has shown a total failure to comply with Cochrane advocacy objectives. There is stronger and stronger resistance to say anything that could bother pharmaceutical industry interests.

The excuse of lack of time and staff (around 50) is not credible.There has also been great resistance and stalling on the part of the central executive team to improving Cochrane’s conflict of interest policy. A year ago, I proposed that there should be no authors of Cochrane reviews to have financial conflicts of interests with companies related to the products considered in the reviews. This proposal was supported by other members of the Board, but the proposal has not progressed at all.

The Cochrane executive leadership almost always uses the commercial terms of “brand”, “products” and “business” but almost never describes what is really a collaborative network with the values of sharing, independence and openness. To the chagrin of many senior leaders in Cochrane, the word “Collaboration”, which is part of our registered charity name, was deleted from communications about Cochrane. Nevertheless, it is precisely “collaboration” that is the key to what distinguished Cochrane from other scientific organisations where competition is at the forefront. The collaborative aspect, social commitment, our independence from commercial interests and our mutual generosity are what people in Cochrane have always appreciated the most and have been our most cherished added-value.

Often it is forgotten that we are a scientific, grass-roots organisation whose survival depends entirely on unpaid contributions from tens of thousands of volunteers and substantial governmental support throughout the world. We make a substantial contribution to people’s understanding and interpretation of scientific evidence on the benefits and harms of medical interventions, devices and procedures that impact the population.

Our work informs government legislation globally, it influences medical guidelines and drug approval agencies. Therefore, the integrity of the Cochrane Collaboration is paramount. We pride ourselves on being global providers of “trusted evidence” on a foundation of values such as openness, transparency and collaboration.

However, in recent years Cochrane has significantly shifted more to a business -a profit-driven approach. Even though it is a not-for-profit charity, our “brand” and “product” strategies are taking priority over getting out independent, ethical and socially responsible scientific results. Despite our clear policies to the contrary, my centre, and others, have been confronted with attempts at scientific censorship, rather than the promotion of pluralistic, open scientific debate about the merits of concrete Cochrane reviews of the benefits and harms of health care interventions.

Because of this moral governance crisis of the Cochrane Collaboration, I decided to run for a seat on the Governing Board and was elected in early 2017, with the most votes of all 11 candidates. It was considered an achievement, especially since I was the only one who had questioned aspects of our leadership. Regrettably today, I have been expelled because of my “behaviour”, while the hidden agenda of my expulsion is a clear strategy for a Cochrane that moves it further and further away from its original objectives and principles. This is not a personal question. It is a highly political, scientific and moral issue about the future of Cochrane. As most people know, much of my work is not very favourable to the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Because of this Cochrane has faced pressure, criticism and complaints.

My expulsion is one of the results of these campaigns.

What is at stake is the ability of producing credible and trustworthy medical evidence that our society values and needs.

Peter C Gøtzsche,

Professor, Director, MD, DrMedSci, MSc, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, Dept 7811

Peter has recently written a book about the whole affair entitled ‘Death of a whistleblower and Cochrane’s moral collapse.’ He will be hosting an important symposium in Copenhagen on March 9th, 2019 where he will be announcing the opening of the ‘Institute for Scientific Freedom.’ He explains his reasons for the need to create such an institute here.

The Takeaway

As disheartening as this story is, it also contributes to our growing awareness of the world around us and the true levers of power in the healthcare field. The days are gone when we had a naive trust that the pledge to ‘do no harm’ was the backbone of Western healthcare. When we reach a critical mass of people who see our system for what it is, as revealed by stories like these, we will have the power to simply step away from it.

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Prince Harry: “I Will Not Be Bullied Into Playing A Game That Killed My Mom”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Last week Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle announced that they would be stepping down from their royal duties, and ultimately their life as royals.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do so many view powerful figures like the Royal's as gods? Is it time to end this type of perception?

Last week Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle announced that they would be stepping down from their royal duties, and ultimately their life as royals. This is pretty huge news. In regards to what prompted this decision there is certainly a lot we could speculate over, perhaps they want to distance themselves from the royal family because of the recent scandal involving Uncle Prince Andrew and the allegations against him being involved in child sex trafficking, maybe they simply want to get out of the public eye, or perhaps they see how the monarchy has already started to crumble and want to get out while they can.

Whatever the reason may be, it certainly seems to validate the massive shift in consciousness that is currently taking place on our planet and perhaps throughout the entire Universe. Some people have already been calling for the abolishment of the British monarchy after the Queen passes away, as many feel this system is very archaic in this day and age.

On The Surface

It was reported that the Queen had no idea of Harry and Meaghan’s decision before it was announced, and inside sources have told reporters that the “monarchy has never been seen in such a bad state.” (source)

Longtime friend of Prince Harry, JJ Chalmers, made an insightful comment during an interview on BBC’s The One on January 10th, stating that he feels Harry likely made this decision in order to “protect his family” and was simply attempting to put his family first and do what was right for them. The details regarding what Harry might be wanting to “protect his family” from weren’t disclosed.

A video that has gained a lot of popularity on social media over the past week or so, being retweeted over 70,000 times since being posted on January 8th, is an interview of Harry himself discussing the need to protect his family.

In another clip from that same interview we can clearly hear Harry saying that, “I will not be bullied into playing the same game that killed my mom.”

How’s The Queen Taking The News?

This past Monday, January 13th a meeting took place to address Harry’s decision. According to CNN.com,

The highly unusual meeting was called after the couple’s bombshell announcement last week that they wished to step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family. The Queen was joined at the summit by Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry, while Meghan was due to have dialed in from Canada.

After a crisis meeting of senior royals at the Queen’s Sandringham estate north of London, the Queen said she had agreed that Prince Harry and Meghan could split their time between the UK and Canada but that “complex matters” would have to be resolved. The monarch said she had ordered final plans to be drawn up in the next few days.

In a statement after the meeting, the Queen said the family would have preferred the couple to “remain full-time working members of the royal family,” but that they “respect and understand” Prince Harry and Meghan’s “wish to live a more independent life.”

The Queen said the family had “very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family” during the meeting, adding that they are “entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family.”

There were “complex matters for my family to resolve,” and no final agreement had been reached, particularly over Harry and Meghan’s desire to become “financially independent.”

“There is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days,” the Queen said in the statement.

Going A Bit Deeper

When we look at what happened to “the game that killed William and Harry’s mum,” she was harassed relentlessly by the media, and ultimately ended in a fatal car crash. However, there is a lot of controversy behind this official story. Many believe that Princess Diana was against the monarchy in some ways and was attempting to break free from it’s clutches and even potentially expose some of their secrets, and thus believe that her death was no accident, but rather that she was silenced by being taken out by the Royal family.

Are Harry and Meaghan stepping away because they refuse to continue to be harassed by paparazzi, or are they making a bold statement and declaring their values by taking a stance that shows that they no longer wish to be affiliated with or support the Royal family? Could this signify the beginning of the end for the British monarchy? Only time will tell.

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The US Navy Says Sharing UFO Footage & Documents Could ‘Cause Grave Damage to National Security’

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The US Navy recently released a statement claiming that more disclosure regarding a 2004 UFO incident in the form of video footage and documentation would be a big threat to national security.

  • Reflect On:

    The mainstream media has long used false information, or real information, and shaped the narrative to suit a particular agenda that serves the interests of their funders. Are we seeing the same thing here?

There is perhaps no other topic that used to be considered a ‘conspiracy theory’ that’s now taken extremely seriously within the mainstream, like the topic of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), also sometimes referred to Unidentified Ariel Phenomenon (UAP’s). This is in large part due to the fact that official, declassified documents and footage have been released from a number of intelligence agencies and military organizations, on a global scale. Furthermore, all of it’s complimented by statements from high ranking military personnel, ex-astronauts, and many more.

An incident that really blew this subject open in the United States occurred in 2004, where several Navy pilots that were stationed aboard the USS Nimitz encountered a “Tic-Tac-Shaped” UFO. To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA) headed by Tom Delonge alongside several ex-high ranking intelligence personnell, like Christopher Mellon who served 30 years in the federal government and was Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Intelligence from 1997  to 2002, obtained the video from the United States Navy, which the Navy later verified was real.  He has published detailed articles for outlets like The Hill as well as The Washington Post emphasizing the reality and seriousness of this subject. He is one of several to do so

Here’s one of the videos of the object, here’s another, and here’s one more of other instances that they’ve obtained.

The 2004 incident was beamed by the New York times, and high ranking people, like Louis Elizondo who headed a an “Ariel Threat Identification Program” at the Pentagon (he’s also part of the TTSA) stated that he believed these objects are extraterrestrial. He also made the point to emphasize that we should not get caught up in this particular 2004 incident, as there are many. He told VICE that “people should not be surprised by the revelation that other videos exist and at greater length.”

More news has come out regarding the 2004 incident, at it’s in response to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that was filed for more video footage and documents regarding the incident. The footage and documents that were released of the incident don’t show the entire video, and don’t make up all of the documents. A spokesperson from the Navy’s Office of Intelligence (ONI) confirmed that the agency posses at least one classified video pertaining to this incident.

According to an ONI  spokesperson, sharing the information with the public “would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.”

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The ONI also admitted to possessing at least one video of unknown length, classified as “secret” by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). ONI didn’t reveal whether this footage is the same 1-minute video that was leaked online in 2007 and widely released by The New York Times in 2017. However, in November 2019, several naval officers who witnessed the incident aboard the Nimitz told Popular Mechanics that they had seen a much longer video of the encounter that was between 8 and 10 minutes long. These original recordings were promptly collected and erased by “unknown individuals” who arrived on the ship by helicopter shortly after the incident, one officer said. (source)

In the 2004 incident, the object in question was performing maneuvers and flying at speeds that no known air craft on Earth can perform.

Grave Damage To National Security?? Seriously??

One thing that seems to rub me the wrong way about mainstream UFO disclosure is what seems to be a constant ‘threat narrative.’ This is a phenomenon that dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years. Cases have ben documented for a very, very long time. If there was some sort of ‘extraterrestrial threat’ or a threat to national security by these objects, wouldn’t some type of ‘event’ have already taken place by now?

Based on my research, and the research of many other UFO researchers around the world, the majority of documented UFO incidents around the world have shown no sign of a threat. Sure, they may be intrusive, but there these objects have not behaved in any way that has been indicative of threat. That being said, this does not mean that footage of these objets performing in a way that represents a threat doesn’t exist, but based on what we have now, 99.99 percent of these cases, in my opinion, do not display behaviour that is at all indicative of a threat.

In fact, not only do these objects not display characteristics of hostility, they are documented performing predominantly evasive manures, making multiple efforts to avoid our air-craft. For example, Canadian defense minister Paul Hellyer said that these objects commonly take “corrective measures to avoid our aircraft,” and that our military tends to “shoot first and ask questions after.” (source)  Don’t forget four star General Nathan Twinning, who stated in a declassified intelligence document decades ago that,

“The phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious. The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and motion which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly air-craft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically, or remotely.” (source)

With all of this being said, it’s understandable how, from our current level of consciousness that these objects would be seen as a threat, especially from a military and intelligence perspective. For example, when a UFO is tracked on radar, military air-craft are usually sent out to take a closer look. There are many documented cases that show electronic systems within the military jet go down, they don’t work.  For example, here’s an interesting case from Iran via a declassified NSA document:

As the F-4 approached a range of 25 nautical miles it lost all instrumentation and communications. When the F-4 turned away from the object and apparently was no longer a threat to it, the aircraft regained all instrumentation and communications. Another brightly lighted object came out of the original object. The second object headed straight toward the F4.

 UFOs in close proximity to nuclear missile facilities have also been associated with the complete shut-down and deactivation of nuclear missiles. So that’s interesting.

The issue is, is the threat narrative being pushed by the mainstream for some sort of ulterior motive, the same way we’ve seen the mainstream push the war on terror ? Are we being lied to again? To be honest, it’s hard to believe anything that comes from mainstream media these days, and many people have lost their trust in these networks. Truth is not synonymous with mainstream media, so what makes the UFO topic any different? Are they trying to control the narrative?

What’s curious to me is why all of a sudden do a select group of people get to publish serious pieces on the subject in mainstream media outlets while a number of ‘credible’ people as well as UFO researchers have been doing this for years, yet continue to go largely ignored by the mainstream media? These are all important questions to ask?

I go deeper in an article I recently published, which you can read below if you’re interested:

Do UFOs Represent Some Sort of Threat? Or Is This Just Government Propaganda? 

The Takeaway

This is a subject that’s full of truth, but also full of disinformation. At the end of the day, it’s curious as to why mainstream media has control over the narrative and never addresses incidents and facts that’ve been uncovered by academics and researchers for decades. And why now? This is a topic that truly leaves no aspect of humanity untouched, it has large implications, especially for human consciousness. That being said, we have a lot of work to do down here on planet Earth to get our ‘stuff’ together, but this topic is no doubt always interesting to explore, and can assist one in expanding their consciousness.

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Scientists Share Facts About Vaccines At World Health Organization Conference For Vaccine Safety

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many scientists presented facts about vaccines and vaccine safety at the recent Global Health Vaccine Safety summit hosted by the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are so many people fighting against each other? Why are there "pro-vax" and "anti-vax" groups? Are these terms not useless? Do they prevent us from having discussions that need to be had and moving forward appropriately?

According to organizations like the American Medical Association as well as the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy among people, parents, and, as mentioned by scientists at the World Health Organization’s recent Global Vaccine Safety Summit, health professionals and scientists continues to increase. This is no secret, as vaccines have become a very popular topic over the past few years alone. In fact, the World Health Organization has listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the biggest threats to global health security.

The issue of vaccine hesitancy is no secret, for example, one study (of many) published in the journal EbioMedicine outlines this point, stating in the introduction:

Over the past two decades several vaccine controversies have emerged in various countries, including France, inducing worries about severe adverse effects and eroding confidence in health authorities, experts, and science (Larson et al., 2011). These two dimensions are at the core of the vaccine hesitancy (VH) observed in the general population. VH is defined as delay in acceptance of vaccination, or refusal, or even acceptance with doubts about its safety and benefits, with all these behaviors and attitudes varying according to context, vaccine, and personal profile, despite the availability of vaccine services (Group, 2014,Larson et al., 2014Dubé et al., 2013). VH presents a challenge to physicians who must address their patients’ concerns about vaccines and ensure satisfactory vaccination coverage.

At the conference, this fact was emphasized by Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project. She is referenced, as you can see, by the authors in the study above. At the conference, she emphasized that safety concerns among people and health professionals seem to be the biggest issue regarding vaccine hesitancy.

She also stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider, and if we lose that, we’re in trouble.

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She also brought up her belief that safety studies are incomplete, and that to continue to refer people to the same old science on safety is not adequately addressing their new concerns because better studies need to be done. Furthermore, she recommended that doctors and professionals forego name-calling with ‘hostile language’ such as “anti-vax”. She recommended encouraging people to ask questions about vaccine safety. After all, it makes sense–in order to make our vaccines safer and more effective, you would think everybody would be on board with constant questioning and examination. After all, that’s just good science, and it’s in everyone’s best interest.

Another interesting point that caught my attention was brought up by Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator of Initiative For Vaccine Research at the World Health Organization. He brought up the topic of vaccine adjuvants like thimerosal or aluminum, for example. In certain vaccines, without these adjuvants the vaccine simply doesn’t work. Dr. Friede mentioned that there are clinical studies that blame adjuvants for adverse events seen as a result of administering vaccines, and how people in general often blame adverse reactions to vaccines being the result of the vaccine adjuvant. He mentioned aluminum specifically.

He showed concern given the fact that “without adjuvants, we are not going to have the next generation of vaccines.”

He also stated that,

When we add an adjuvant, it’s because it is essential. We do not add adjuvants to vaccines because we want to do so, but when we add them it adds to the complexity. And I give courses every year on ‘how do you develop vaccines’ and ‘how do you make vaccines’ and the first lesson is, while you are making your vaccine, if you can avoid using an adjuvant, please do so. Lesson two is, if you’re going to use an adjuvant, use one that has a history of safety, and lesson three is, if you’re not going to do that, think very carefully.

Furthermore, he criticized the assumption that if an adjuvant like aluminum appears to be safe for one vaccine, that it should be not be presumed to be safe for other vaccines. Dr. Friede said that current safety surveillance is quite effective at determining immediate effects (such as immediate injury to the arm at the injection site), but not as effective in identifying “systemic” long term adverse events.

When I heard him mention lesson two, that “if you’re going to use an adjuvant, use one that has a history of safety,” it instantly reminded me of aluminum because it’s an adjuvant used in multiple vaccines like the HPV vaccine, for example, but has no history of safety.

A study published as far back as 2011 in Current Medical Chemistry makes this quite clear, emphasizing that,

Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted. Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. (source)

The key sentence here is that “their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor.” Based on what Dr. Friede said at the conference, it really makes you think.

A study published in BMC Med in 2015 found that “Evidence that aluminum-coated particles phagocytozed in the injected muscle and its draining lymph nodes can disseminate within phagocytes throughout the body and slowly accumulate in the brain further suggests that alum safety should be evaluated in the long term.”

This brings me to another point made at the conference by many scientists in attendance, which was that according to some of them, vaccines seem to lack the appropriate safety testing. This is another big reason why people are so confused and have voiced their concerns about safety, as mentioned above by Professor Larson.

Marion Gruber, PhD and Director of the FDA Office of Vaccines Research and Review, questioned the scope of vaccine safety surveillance and monitoring during pre-licensing vaccine trials as well during the conference.

One source of confusion might be that ‘high-ranking’ health authorities sometimes making conflicting statements. For example, Soumya Swaminathan, MD and Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, stated at the conference,

I don’t think we can overemphasize the fact that we really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear cut answers when people ask questions about deaths that have occurred due to particular vaccines… One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly is happening, what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases there’s some obfuscation at that level and therefore there’s less and less trust then in the system.

Prior to this statement, in a promotional video released just days before the conference began, she stated that “we have vaccine safety systems, robust vaccine safety systems.”

She completely contradicted herself.

If you’d like access to the entire conference, you can do so at the World Health Organization’s website.

The Takeaway

The scientific community should never stop questioning, especially when it comes to medication. Based on the information that’s come out at this conference, it’s quite clear that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the development of vaccines and vaccine safety overall. Discussion is always encouraging, as long as it’s peaceful and facts are presented like they were at this conference. It’s better to understand the reasons why a lot of people are hesitant about vaccination and appropriately respond, instead of simply using ridicule and hatred because that’s never effective and both parties cannot move forward that way. At the end of the day, scientists should never cease to question.

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