Saturday, January 07, 2017

Cracked vaccine science - measles edition

If you happen to listen to NPR's Morning Edition (I generally don't - I found this article as it came through my Facebook feed as a post by a friend) you may have heard this puff piece: 

Here's a link to the study the NPR spot is referring to:

It is paywalled (I have no problem with this - it is the product of a private company) so my comments are based on how it is described in the NPR article. I have not read the study. 

#1 - "results" are extrapolated based on computer modeling ... even for SCIENCE (ie: the idol) this is weak sauce.

#2 - "results" are also attributed to the healthy user effect (ahem, frequently posited as why the flu vaccine "works"! Ha!!) What's all the more bizarre is they attribute this even to poor children in less developed nations (I would say poverty, especially of the degree experienced in less developed nations is a reasonable marker for poor nutritional status and may also serve as a marker for not having easy access to potable water or basic sanitation, including management of human waste - how could people living in these types of conditions be considered "healthy users"?). They equate an observation from developed nations as also occurring in less developed nations - this isn't science, it is assumption.

#3 - They acknowledge their analysis/conclusions is nothing more than a theory ... in order to test it there would have to be some actual science - you know, take two similar groups, give one the vaccine and the other a true placebo (as opposed to the fake placebo that is ordinarily used in vaccine research these days) and compare the results. Is this "immune amnesia" actually seen in the group that did not get the vaccine (and also got spontaneous/natural/wild measles)? Don't hold your breath for this to happen. 
#4 -  The article fails to acknowledge that vaccination is a medical intervention with known risks. 
It is unknown what the actual, true risk/benefit ratio is for vaccination in general let alone for a specific disease. In order to know the risk/benefit ratio there would need to be an experiment called a double-blind (those giving the intervention would not know if the participant was receiving the vaccine or a placebo) randomized controlled trial (the intervention group and the comparison group would be otherwise similar, and who got the intervention or who got the placebo would be randomized). 
Please note - in order for this to generate meaningful results the placebo would have to be an actual placebo - in other words, the substance of the placebo would need to be biologically inert. Most vaccine research does not use a placebo, but rather a "nocebo" or a fake placebo, usually testing one vaccine against another or using the excipient of a vaccine (the solution which carries the antigen of the infection but also has all of the other ingredients of the vaccine and many of the other ingredients are also biologically active, like adjuvants such as aluminum). 

In not acknowledging that vaccination also carries risks NPR does the reading/listening public a great disservice. 

#5 - The authors of the study (and the epidemiologist, William Moss, the article cites) posit the theory that infection with measles (as a spontaneous infection, or "wild" measles) causes an immunomodulation that is a type of immune amnesia. They inaccurately describe the results as "compelling evidence" of measles effect upon the immune system. What isn't theoretical but is known is that recovering from measles confers lifelong immunity to it (those born prior to 1957 are assumed to be immune and the vaccine is not "indicated" for this group of people). However, any risk reduction conferred by a vaccine is known to be temporary (at best) requiring repeated vaccination throughout life in order to suppress symptoms of disease (though the vaccinated can harbor and spread disease to others). 
Measles does effect the immune system for more than two or three years - it effects it for life (in a good way) - whether or not it effects the immune system in an undesirable way (by causing an type of amnesia to other infections) is completely unknown - but why would recovery from measles provide lifelong immunity to measles while wiping out immunity to other infections? Lifelong immunity is a desirable form of "immunomodulation". The article would have been more accurate if it had acknowledged this fact.
#6 -  Vaccines are known "immunomodulators" of the worst kind - they are implicated in auto-immunity where our bodies produce anti-bodies against our own tissue, causing health problems. This, obviously, is an undesired form of "immunomodulation". 

#7 - The final sentence reveals such hubris. It assumes nothing but good comes from eliminating disease. I know, what I just wrote sounds counter-intuitive. However, in a worldview that places man at the center and does not acknowledge a Creator, we become God and proceed as though we are. Our ability to control various elements of our lives (including suppression of disease through vaccination) gives us a false sense of control. We are not God. We live in a sin-sick world (and this through our own doing - see Genesis, chapters 1-3) and illness is one consequence of that. But God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and made provision for it (see the rest of the Bible). Even acts intended for good (ie: vaccination to suppress infection) can have unintended bad effects. Our current state of knowledge does not give us enough information to extrapolate what might be the unintended effect of elimination of various diseases through vaccination. It is complete arrogance to assume the only possible effect would be beneficial (see point #6). The Lord designed this world for discovery - including discovery about how our bodies work and how they interact with bacteria and virus in good and bad ways. We need to do the kind of science that will reveal what are the short and long term effects of vaccination - either good or bad. We may find that there is more to the story than vaccines are only good and infection is only bad. Reality is complex and science is almost never "settled". And humans are designed to live in freedom (see Genesis 1-3), with The Lord as our personal and collective leader. We keep proving that man cannot rule man (at least not very well) - perhaps we should "read the instructions" so to speak. 

#8 - The final sentence is written as though the theory has been proven. Fake science, fake science reporting. But true SCIENCE reporting! 
I refer to this as a puff-piece as it seems that everything is always sunshine and roses in a world with vaccines - never an adverse reaction ... only good things happen as a result of vaccination. Reality is seldom that simple. The reality is that we have lots of pseudo-science around vaccination but not much available as facts - either for or against vaccination. We could do the kind of science that would provide this information so people could make a more informed decision, and hopefully, would freely consent to vaccination, or freely decline as well. But in the current environment this is not very likely, as SCIENCE is agenda-driven. The primary agenda being money - getting grants and keeping them ... and this requires conforming to the expectation of the grantor (regardless of whether this is government money or private money). The other money-driven agenda around vaccines is that they are also huge business, and the love of money is the root of all manner of evil - including the evil of loving lies more than the truth. May God help us have the integrity to want truth in all things, including vaccine science (not SCIENCE). 


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