Well, Well, Well: Bad is bad

Well, Well, Well: Bad is bad

I’m honoured, and not at all surprised, to hear from Dr Mansi (“Merck Frosst responds,” Letters, Feb 5 – Feb 11, 2009). He obviously cares a lot about Gardasil and has put out some highly sensitive radar for commentary on it, which is good—this is a conversation we need to be having. 
Cervical cancer and other HPV-linked diseases are horrible, on that he and I agree—but that’s probably where our agreement ends. And despite his authoritative tone, I offered no misinformation. 
Mansi cites a US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study that found no significant difference in adverse events between a Gardasil-vaccinated group and a non-Gardasil group. But a very recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found Gardasil to cause adverse reactions five to 26 times more often than other vaccines. That’s 500 per cent more, at the low end. The study was based on 114 000 young women who had received Gardasil compared to young women who had received other vaccines. 
But to bring in the perspective of someone with a little more credibility than I as a journalist might have, I spoke with neuroscientist and UBC professor Chris Shaw. Dr Shaw’s research has turned up some alarming links between aluminum hydroxide (used in vaccines) and neurological damage—something called neuro-inflammation, which is linked to autism, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and autoimmune disease.
Gardasil contains aluminum, and although aluminum adjuvants—the non-viral component of vaccines, designed to stimulate immune response—have been used in vaccines for decades, Shaw says they either haven’t ever been properly tested for safety, or the evidence has been tossed aside. 
“Attenuated microbes alone don’t give a sustained immune response, but aluminum does,” he explains. “Without an adjuvant that stimulates a long-lasting immune response, vaccines just don’t work all that well.” 
But aluminum generates molecules called tau proteins, which form the clumps in the brain that we see with neurological disease. “What I’ve seen in the lab is the reason my daughter’s never had a vaccine,” he tells me. “The way the aluminum danger is usually dismissed is that we ingest aluminum all the time, but digestive systems have ways to excrete it. When it is injected, it’s an entirely different thing.”
Which brings me back to Gardasil and double-blind trials. When we’re comparing two groups, and the control group has been given other vaccines or an aluminum-containing placebo, reactions between the two groups will be similar. And that’s exactly the kind of comparison that has mostly been made in clinical trials. What we need for an accurate picture is to compare vaccinated with completely unvaccinated groups over a long period of time. 
As to approval given by Health Canada and other health agencies, we need only to have a look at history, to read accounts like that of former Health Canada employee and whistleblower Dr Shiv Chopra to be reminded of how things work. 
“Vaccines are a business, like any other,” the Cochrane Library Review reminds us. “The only difference is that governments are co-sponsors with industry … overestimation of the threat by the target diseases, suppression of data on adverse events and exaggeration of effectiveness are frequent. In the case of population vaccination programs, both governments and industry have conflicts of interest.” 
And financial interests, as we all know, tend to trump safety. “Merck lobbied every opinion leader, women’s group, medical society, politician, and went directly to the people—it created a sense of panic that says you have to have this vaccine now,” Dr Diane Harper—cervical cancer researcher, vaccine developer and professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School—told the New York Times last August.
Mansi insists that the full burden of disease prevented by Gardasil is being overlooked, but we may in fact not be decreasing the burden of disease at all. By continually over-stimulating the immune systems of our children we may be trading one tragedy for another, much greater one. 

As to the comment encouraging readers to consult physicians—absolutely, but it is fair to remind the public where physicians get their information on drugs and vaccines.