Category Archives: Antivaccination

WDDTY on the anti-vaxx band-waggon

WHAT DOCTORS DON’T TELL YOU (WDDTY) is probably the most vile publication I know. It systematically misleads its readers by alarming news about this or that conventional treatment, while relentlessly promoting pseudoscientific non-sense. This article , entitled “MMR can cause skin problems and ulcers if your immune system is compromised” is a good example (one of a multitude)…

Source: WDDTY on the anti-vaxx band-waggon

Woman who died from measles had been vaccinated

WDDTY headline with obligatory scary needle shot.
WDDTY headline with obligatory scary needle shot.

The Holy Trinity of anti-vaccinationists runs thus:

  1. Vaccines are dangerous.
  2. Vaccines don’t work.
  3. Vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t serious anyway.

And when one is rebutted they move to another, frequently in rotation, perennially moving the goalposts.

What WDDTY Don't Tell You about infectious disease.
What WDDTY Don’t Tell You about infectious disease when there is no vaccination.

Still, deaths from preventable disease are the anti-vaccinationist’s worst nightmare. Their narrative can only succeed in an atmosphere where the realities and consequences of preventable disease are a distant memory. We do recommend you watch The Vaccination Chronicles by Australian skeptic and all round good egg Richard Saunders.

Provable deaths in the newspapers are the ultimate heresy to the antivax cult. You need only look at the torrent of vile abuse heaped on the parents of Dana McCaffery by Australian antivax whackaloon Meryl Dorey. Your child died of vaccine preventable disease? Off-message. STFU.

So it is with the recent death of an American woman from measles.

The first death in 12 years from measles was reported last week from the USA, which had doctors emphasising the important of vaccination. However, what doctors didn’t tell you was that the woman who died had been given the MMR vaccine.

What they did tell you, however, was that she was immunocompromised, and thus in the high risk group for exposure to measles, a highly contagious disease. Hilariously, WDDTY try to spin this as an anti-pharma angle:

It’s believed the woman caught measles when she was in hospital, and she died because her immune system had been seriously compromised from too many pharmaceuticals.

Let’s get this straight, Lynne: you have no fucking clue why she was immunocompromised. She was on immunosuppressant drugs, there are a number of reasons for using these including transplants, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, control of severe allergic asthma.

The immune system is a complex beast and when it works against you, as it does in autoimmune disorders, you can suffer dramatic and life threatening symptoms.

All in all it’s just as well that all those products you pimp for “boosting your immune system” do no such thing. If they could, they would be dangerous.

Doctors at the hospital in Washington state, where she died, confirmed she had had the MMR vaccine when she was a child. One, Dr Jeanette Stehr-Green, also said on local TV that the woman had been taking medication that had interfered with her immune system, and made her more vulnerable to the measles virus.

Right, so you assumed that she was actually taking “too many pharmaceuticals” when actually you (and we) have no idea at all of her health history or the reason she was on immunosuppressant therapy. But you assume… What? That the doctors put her on it on a whim? Fatuous.

The hospital has refused to reveal the age of the victim, but have said she was not elderly.

Indeed. Measles kills indiscriminately, including years after the event due to subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Odd that something as natural as measles turns out to be a real bastard. And don’t pretend you don’t know about SSPE: in October 2007, WDDTY said:

Latent infections also lie at the root of a number of serious chronic diseases that are dependent upon the immunological response, including progressive multifocal leucoencephalopathy, a rapidly progressing neuromuscular disease, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a rare progressive brain disorder caused by an abnormal immune response to the measles virus. In fact, the latter is thought to be triggered, in some cases, by the MMR vaccine.

You cited this source: Latent Virus Infections. See where it mentions immunisation as a source of SSPE? Me neither. Of course nobody has ever checked this, have they? Oh, wait, yes they have:

For situations where cases of SSPE occur in vaccinated individuals who have no previous history of natural measles infection, the available evidence points to natural measles infection as the cause of SSPE, not vaccine.

WHO, Jan 2006.  And while it might be charitable to attribute your ignorance of the falsity of your claim, it would also be incredibly naive.

Mind you, that’s pretty tame. In September 1994 you said:

Besides causing dangerous mutations like atypical measles, the measles portion of the [measles] vaccine has been associated with numerous side effects, including nerve deafness, encephalitis, epilepsy, febrile convulsions, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a paralysis) and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a fatal wasting disease rarely associated with measles .

That was characteristically inaccurate, in that these things have “been associated” primarily by anti-vax cranks.

What does the reality-based community say? Two thirds of people with Guillain–Barré syndrome have experienced an infection before the onset of the condition, usually gastroenteritis or a respiratory tract infection. Vaccines can prevent some causes of these. In many cases the exact nature of the infection can be confirmed: approximately 30% of cases are provoked by Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, which cause diarrhea. A further 10% cases are attributable to cytomegalovirus (CMV, HHV-5). Despite this, only very few people with Campylobacter or CMV infections develop Guillain–Barré syndrome (0.25–0.65 per 1000 and 0.6–2.2 per 1000 episodes, respectively).[1] The strain of Campylobacter involved may determine the risk of GBS; different forms of the bacteria have different lipopolysaccharides on their surface, and some may induce illness while others will not.

While rare cases of GBS have been reported following flu vaccination, a link with measles virus is explicitly ruled out in “Pediatric Guillain-Barré syndrome”. Current Opinion in Pediatrics 25 (6): 689–693. doi:10.1097/MOP.0b013e328365ad3f

On we go:

She was receiving hospital treatment for several health problems when she caught measles from another patient. As her symptoms worsened, she was taken to the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle, where she died from pneumonia due to measles last spring.
Doctors did not establish the cause of death until the autopsy was carried out, as the woman did not display any of the usual symptoms associated with measles, such as a rash.

Yup. Rare, but not unheard of especially in the immunocompromised. It’s quite likely that there have been other deaths that were never identified as being due to measles, because these patients are by definition very sick anyway.

No other patient developed the disease, and the hospital is confident the outbreak has been contained.

Good, but it should never have had to be contained.

Measles cases showing uptick due to antivaccinaitonists.
Measles cases showing uptick due to anti-vaccinationists.

Measles vaccination rates declined due to anti-vaccination activists and especially the fraudulent work of Andrew Wakefield. As rates dropped below the levels required for herd immunity, measles infection rates rose.

Antivaxers are responsible for the greater prevalence of measles. Antivaxers are responsible for its return from near-eradicated status in the 1990. Antivaxers are responsible for the fact that the virus can circulate among a larger pool of people who are not immune. The unvaccinated are much more likely to contract measles than the vaccinated.

Doctors who question vaccination are being ‘forced out of medicine’

Thanks to the editors of WDDTY for a rare bit of good news:

English doctors who may be ambivalent about vaccines are being weeded out of the profession by the ‘revalidation’ process, where they have to renew their licence to practice.

Being “ambivalent about vaccines” is a great litmus test I agree. Any doctor who can read the literature and still remain “ambivalent” about one of the most important public health measures clearly has seriously deficient judgment.

Around 8,500 doctors have already left the profession after failing to meet the requirements of the process, and this includes doctors specialising in environmental medicine and others who may hold any ‘alternative’ views.

Again, great news. If you haven’t heard of environmental medicine, read this article in Science Based Medicine and this on Quackwatch. In the UK it was formerly branded clinical ecology and has nothing to do with the reality-based practice of environmental medicineW.

Remember Minchin’s Law: alternative medicine, by definition, either hasn’t been proven to work, or has been proven not to work. Doctors who employ alternative medicine in clinical practice will definitely need watching and those who advocate for it are often engaged in pathological scienceW at patients’ expense.

In particular, if the execrable Saatchi Bill is passed, it will be extremely important to weed out the mavericks because they will be protected from the consequences of capricious and ill-judged actions.

Under the requirements, doctors must “protect your patients, your colleagues and yourself by being vaccinated against common serious communicable diseases where vaccines are available.” Doctors who are unable to demonstrate that they have been fully vaccinated are being forced to leave medicine.

Absolutely reasonable. In daily practice doctors are very likely to meet both immunocompromised patients and those suffering from vaccine-preventable disease, especially if some of their patients read vile anti-vaccine propaganda sheets like WDDTY. It’s vitally important that doctors do not become a vector for these diseases, and no responsible doctor would wish to take the risk.

The important thing to remember is that in the well-documented absence of any rational grounds for refusal of vaccination, a doctor who refuses is placing ideology above evidence. Placing evidence above ideology is one of the signatures of modern medical practice. Sir Lancelot Spratt is no more, and good riddance to him.

One doctor, who wishes to remain anonymous, told WDDTY: “I fear this will drive many doctors who are not sure about the benefits of vaccines undercover or out of the profession. This will also not serve patients’ rights to a balanced opinion of vaccines, as the doctor, whatever their opinion, will be now forced to be only positive about vaccines if they want to keep their licence to practice as a doctor and keep working.”

Anonymous sources are so convenient, aren’t they? One must assume that if this is not Jayne Donegan, as she would very likely have kicked up a stink publicly.

For the avoidance of doubt, a “balanced view” on vaccines is that they are very safe and prevent serious diseases. Adverse effects are rare, almost invariably minor, and even at their worst, are significantly less than the worst case outcomes for the diseases they prevent. More to the point, doctors are completely open about the real (tiny) risks of vaccines, contrary to antivaxers’ claims.

To assert that a balanced view falls somewhere between the scientific consensus as presented by responsible doctors, and the alarmist bullshit presented by antivaxers, is the fallacy of false balance. The scientific consensus view incorporates all known evidence weighted according to quality. You can’t “balance” that by also presenting long-refuted antivax tropes.

“What Doctors Don’t Tell You” – Dangerous advice

Reblogged from Swift at the James Randi Educational Foundation

If you want an alternative to reputable health magazines, look no further than What Doctors Dont Tell You (WDDTY) – the winner, once again, thanks to assiduous astroturfing, of a “people’s choice” award for most popular website in the Health category.

Continue reading “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” – Dangerous advice

WDDTY misrepresents antivaxer

Last year we reported a grossly irresponsible article in WDDTY: “Jayne Donegan on the MMR (measles–mumps–rubella) jab” (see also “Hygiene, Not Vaccine“). These refer to a WDDTY article retailing the discredited antivax trope that hygiene improvements, not vaccines, are responsible for the decline in vaccine preventable diseases.

What we did not spot was that Jayne Donegan, quacktivist though she be, is no happier with this festering pile of bullshit than we are!

1) I have never been interviewed by WDDTY.

2) In order for parents and the general public not to be mislead by statements purported to be quotes made by me in the October edition of ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ and subsequent statements by them in various media, I am publishing the letter below on my website as WDDTY have refused to publish either this letter or any other form of correction/ clarification.

Now, it is just possible that the November article is a response to this. Possible, but very unlikely, as (a) the November edition must have gone to press before the page is dated and (b) the WDDTY article includes the very claims of which Donegan complains.

So it turns out that WDDTY can’t even honestly report the views of a homeopath, anti-vaxer and dissembler to the courts.

The old saying says: when you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.

Swine flu vaccine does save lives, researchers confirm

WDDTY are, to quote Ben Goldacre, “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine”. So when a news story popped up with the headline “Swine flu vaccine does cause narcolepsy, researchers confirm”, we thought it was worth checking out.

Swine flu vaccine does cause narcolepsy, researchers confirm

The swine flu (H1N1) vaccine definitely causes narcolepsy, the sleeping sickness, researchers have confirmed this week. Young adults up to the age of 30 are especially susceptible.

The vaccine, Pandemrix, was widely used from 2009, when the threat of a swine flu global pandemic was at its peak. Millions of people were vaccinated, but within months there were reports of cases of narcolepsy. WDDTY featured one victim, Lucas Carlton, 9, who sleeps 20 hours a day after he was given the Pandemrix vaccine in January, 2011.

Now researchers at the Karolinksa Institute in Stockholm have confirmed that Lucas’s case was not an isolated one. They have found a link between the vaccine and narcolepsy after that analysed vaccine records that covered 61 per cent of the Swedish population.

Adolescents under the age of 20 and young adults up to the age of 30 were more susceptible, the researchers said. They couldn’t find any other neurological or immune-system problems with the vaccine.

(Source: Journal of Internal Medicine, 2014; 275: 172-90)

Vaccines are an important public health measure so the study has full text available online: Risks of neurological and immune-related diseases, including narcolepsy, after vaccination with Pandemrix: a population- and registry-based cohort study with over 2 years of follow-up.

A few things leap out from this.

  1. There is indeed an increased risk of narcolepsy: about 4 additional cases per 100,000 person years.
  2. The duration of adverse effects appears to be around 6 weeks, after which there is no detectable difference from the unvaccinated population.
  3. Numerous claimed adverse reactions promoted by the anti-vax community are not supported, including Crohn’s.
  4. When stratified by age, the mortality rate was more than 30% lower amongst young vaccinated individuals (10–29 years) and reduced by 10–15% in older age groups.

It’s also notable (and highlighted n the study) that the people most likely to have full data are those who were in hospital already when the vaccine was administered, i.e. the very high risk population that gets the earliest immunisation. This population may skew the results towards greater prevalence of adverse reactions.

So which would you rather have, a small temporary increase in risk of narcolepsy, or flu and potentially death?

Whooping cough vaccine can make disease worse

Pertussis. It's natural. (Source: CDC)
Pertussis. It’s natural. (Source: CDC)

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a deadly disease. After a period of reducing incidence, it’s resurfacing thanks to anti-vaccination cranks like the Australian Vaccination network and of course WDDTY.

Advising parents against pertussis vaccination is deadly dangerous stupidity.

Three guesses what WDDTY does?

Whooping cough vaccine can make disease worse

After 50 years of mass immunisation, cases of whooping-cough (pertussis) continue to rise. But why? It’s because the vaccine actually encourages the growth of one of the bacterium responsible for the disease, researchers have discovered.

Ooh, yes, look!

Pertussis epidemic! WDDTY vindicated!
Pertussis epidemic! WDDTY vindicated!

Oh, wait:

Oops. Busted. Again.
Oops. Busted. Again.

But, you say, those are ‘Merkin figures. So they are. Here are some UK figures with another handy piece of information added:

Source: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=729
Source: EuroSurveillance

But cases are increasing:

Provisional number of confirmed cases of pertussis in 2008 and 2012 by region: quarter 1 (January to March), England and Wales (source)

Region 2008 2012
East Midlands 19 72
East of England 15 33
London 20 53
North East 10 57
North West 18 50
South East 38 154
South West 29 131
Wales 5 16
West Midlands 13 25
Yorkshire and the Humber 8 74

Hmmm. Two regions stand out: South-East and South-West. South-East is densely populated (pop around 8.5m in 2009) and has a moderate population of vaccine refuseniks, South-West is very sparsely populated (pop. less than 5.5m in 2009) and has a high proportion of vaccine refuseniks.

I wonder if it might be that the vaccine is effective after all, as long as you use it. Yes, it seems that it is: in fact it is probably in excess of 95% effective.

So: it looks rather as if WDDTY are peddling yet another vicious anti-vaccination lie. But there is an increase, and it’s not solely due to anti-vaxers:

Whooping cough is caused by one of two forms of bacterium: the more common Bordetella pertussis—which the vaccine deals with successfully—and Bordetella parapertussis.

Indeed. And as the figures clearly show, the vaccine is extremely effective against the first of these, with incidence dropping dramatically as vaccine coverage rises. Hurrah for vaccines! Oh, WDDTY don’t tell you that there’s also more than one type of pertussis vaccineW. But why would they give you honest information about a vaccine? That would violate their editorial policy after all.

Bordatella parapertussisW accounts for a minority of pertussis cases. It almost certainly evolved in b. pertussis resistant hosts, as a mutation of b. pertussis. There’s no good evidence at this stage that it is boosted by the vaccine, and whether or not that’s true there’s abundant evidence that the vaccine dramatically reduces the overall incidence of pertussis, because b. pertussis is still the dominant cause.

To use the rise in b. parapertussis as a reason to argue against vaccinating for a deadly disease is stupid, dangerous and wrong. So it’s exactly like every other piece of advice on vaccines in WDDTY.

Antivaxers. Pure evil.
There are no words to adequately describe how evil anti-vaccinationists are. They pretend to “care” about the children. They don’t. All they care about is their vicious, twisted, poisonous, denialist agenda. As the McCaffreys found out when their beloved daughter died of pertussis.
Would anyone like to guess how scientific medicine will respond to this? Gold star to the person who said “develop a vaccine for it“. Sorry, it’s not ready yet. Might take a year or two. In the mean time, don’t let the best be the enemy of the good: if you regularly come into contact with children, get a pertussis booster to restore your own immunity and protect them – infected adults can and do spread this deadly disease.

Not only are the antigens in the vaccine designed to exclusively eliminate the B.pertusiss bacteria, they create an environment that actively encourages and makes more potent the B.parapertussis bacteria.

Researchers from Sheffield University made the discovery when they measured the effectiveness of the acellular whooping-cough vaccine against the two bacteria; although it cleared the B.pertussis bacterium, there was a 40-fold increase in the B.parapertussis bacterium in the lungs. The vaccine also blocks the body’s own immune system from fighting the bacterium.

Reference: Proc Biol Sci, 2010; 277 (1690): 2017-25). Acellular pertussis vaccination facilitates Bordetella parapertussis infection in a rodent model of bordetellosis. Long GH, Karanikas AT, Harvill ET, Read AF, Hudson PJ.

Wait, did WDDTY just promote another study in an animal model as if it was clinching proof of vaccines causing harm in humans? Yes, it appears they did. I wonder where they got that highly unoriginal idea from?

What Doctors Don't Tell You
Why don’t doctors tell you that pertussis vaccine increases your risk of pertussis?

Because it’s a poisonous lie told by people who apparently don’t care about babies dying in agony.

VAERS reports

WDDTY’s campaign against Gardasil is reliant on accepting that al events in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database are caused by the vaccine. This particularly applies to adverse events.

Two reports from VAERS reported by Reuben at The Poxes Blog demonstrate the fallacy if this approach:

Information has been received from a licensed practical nurse concerning a 19 year old female patient with penicillin allergy who on 09-NOV-2010 was vaccinated with the first dose of GARDASIL without incident. At 09:00 on 01-MAR-2011 the patient received a dose of GARDASIL (Lot# 666597/0768Z, Expiration: 17-OCT-2011) (dose, strength and therapy route were unspecified). A lot check has been initiated. Concomitant therapy included SEASONIQUE and ZYRTEC. In January 2011, the patient experienced mononuceleosis. At 13:26 on 01-MAR-2011, the patient was involved in an automobile accident and suffered some bumps and bruises. The patient was not hospitalized. At the time of report, the patient was recovering. Therapy was not discontinued. There was no lab diagnostics. The patient sought medical attention. Bumps, bruises and automobile accident were considered to be life threatening by the reporter. Additional information has been requested.

VAERS report for an HPV vaccine (ID 418957-1)

We received on 12 FEB 2008 from a healthcare professional the following information: A 7-year-old male patient, born on 21 JUN 2000 was vaccinated with FLUVIRIN (batch no. unknown) on 19 NOV 2007. The patient was killed in an automobile traffic accident on 01 FEB 2008. The subject had participated in a clinical trial sponsored by MedImmune. FLUVIRIN was used in that trial as a control, and Novartis Vaccine & Diagnostics (NVD) has donated the FLUVIRIN, but other than that has not been involved. Although the event did not occur during the duration of the trial, and the investigator did not see any causal relationship to the vaccination with FLUVIRIN, he reported the event to the IRB and NVD because the child had died.

VAERS report  ID 308661-1

A consumer reported that her 36 year old husband received a dose of FluMist on an unspecified date in 2003. On 12/13/03, he experienced dizziness and was subsequently involved in a car accident. The reporter indicated that the event was life-threatening. No additional information was available at the time of this report.

VAERS report ID 214473-1

Information has been received from a study concerning a patient (age and gender not reported) who was vaccinated with a dose of PROQUAD (date, dose, route not reported). It was reported that the patient died due to drowning (date not reported). This is one of several reports from the same source. Additional information has been requested.

VAERS report ID 331195-1

No data obtained. Parents are awaiting final autopsy report and the death certificate. These will not be produced until a final toxicology report is obtained. All of this is per the coroner. Autopsy states cause of death as undetermined. Death certificate states cause of death due to cerebral laceration w/open skull fracture due to an automobile accident.

VAERS report ID 168749-1

VAERS is an excellent system. It exists to document and analyse problems with vaccines, and its mere existence is proof that SCAM proponents are wrong when they claim that medical science is in denial about vaccine risks. No, it really isn’t – vaccine risks are tiny, but they are taken entirely seriously because very large numbers of patients are involved and the treatment is prophylactic – it is rightly considered important to be extra careful when treating people who are not actually ill at the time.

Polio in WDDTY

WDDTY on polio and polio vaccination
According to WDDTY, polio isn’t that dangerous, it’s mainly caused by the oral polio vaccine, the vaccine doesn’t work and it causes other things besides just polio including AIDS, M.E. and autism. Doctors have a safe vaccine but don’t want you to have it because of lobbying from Big Pharma, the prevalence is much lower than governments would have you believe, a baby that’s just been vaccinated should be treated like a biohazard, and polio was dying out anyway before the vaccine was invented.

As an encapsulation of all the things that are wrong with WDDTY, its relentless barrage of polio and polio vaccine disinformation spanning over two decades is a superb study in how to be wrong, and remain wrong in the face of new data.

Cranks and charlatans are accorded equal time with “experts” who aren’t, but whose past employment allows them to be presented as brave whistleblowers. The authority of an anti-vaxer is never questioned. The authority of a scientist defending vaccines is never admitted. Studies showing that vaccination works are presented as evidence that it doesn’t, and that it causes damage. Honesty about the risks of vaccines, openly published, is presented as if it has had to be wrung from the hands of a reluctant establishment.

WDDTY are “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine”. And here we see that this agenda takes precedence over concern for one of the most dreaded of all vaccine-preventable diseases.

Continue reading Polio in WDDTY

Candida overgrowth

Candida overgrowth
Alternative therapists love nothing more than an alternative disease. “Mainstream” medicine can’t detect it, so can’t cure it. The more nebulous the symptoms the better! Many quacks specialise in diseases of the worried well, but some seek out those whose symptoms are debilitating and medically unexplained. While medicine seeks a cause and a cure (often focusing on possible autoimmune disorders and cognitive behavioural therapyW to help patients manage the symptoms in the mean time), quacks are absolutely sure they have the One True Cause and therefore the One True Cure.

Naturally patients will seek help when their symptoms are at their worst. Naturally, regression toward the meanW and the natural history of the condition mean that they will improve anyway. Naturally the quacks claim to be responsible for this improvement. Naturally the lack of empirical validity of their treatment is proof positive of medicine suppressing “natural” cures.

Continue reading Candida overgrowth