Sunday, 21 March 2010

Herd Immunity Myth (cont)

My labelling of the “herd immunity” from vaccination concept as a MYTH has been noticed by the opposition. A blogger has written in asserting

“The concept of herd immunity makes perfect sense. If enough people get vaccinated in a community, the less chance the virus spreads to those who are not immunized.

There is also the benefit that higher rates of immunization mean less chance that the virus will mutate.”

This perfectly illustrates the mentality of the “denialists”, the give-a-vaccine-for-everything brigade. Even where they have had their noses rubbed in the facts (vaccinated communities can still contract the disease - see my last post), they continue on auto assertion mode. In fact in relation, for example, to measles according to the World Health Organisation the odds are about 15 times greater that measles will strike those vaccinated against the disease than those who are left alone [1].

It’s for this reason that I heavily moderate comments to my blog because I didn’t start it to give the oxygen of publicity to those who will argue black is white till the cows come home, regardless of the counter-evidence given them, or who just want to propagate pernicious views that, for example, the health of the nation is dependent on everyone being forcefed, or injected, with xyz vaccine or that all drinking water should be fluoridated “for your own good” (as if they knew!). Many of them clearly delight in wasting the good guys’ (holistic therapists) time requesting “explanations” though they are not interested in the answer, and they seem to come in one of two categories: either “useful idiots” doing Big Pharma’s job for them, or criminals (in my book) who are intentionally spreading misinformation, and maybe getting paid for it.

As for the second assertion, “higher rates of immunization mean less chance that the virus will mutate”, that is not, I’m afraid, true. It is known now that when vaccines attack only some strains of a disease, other strains gain prominence. The disease becomes more virulent and people who are not normally susceptible to the ailment are infected. Thus a pneumococcal vaccine designed to protect against several strains of the disease has resulted in more dangerous non-vaccine strains of pneumococcal disease replacing strains targeted by the vaccine. Over-use of any vaccine, or drug as even lay people are aware in the case of antibiotics, tends to have a significant and unforeseen downside.

Finally, let’s remind ourselves again

1. no vaccination ever achieves immunisation, by which I mean 100% protection, forever. Instead, it may result in an unknown level of what we might call semi-protection ranging from 0% to, maybe, 50 % (there’s no way of measuring the latter figure) for just a limited time [2].
2. Whatever limited semi-protection the vaccine may give against a particular virus strain you may never even meet in the rest of your life has to be weighed against the potential for possibly severe adverse effects which may appear many years down the road in a compromised immune system. Your vaccine virus will have been incubated in an “unnatural” medium, often a chicken’s embryo (which itself can never be guaranteed sterile), then supposedly inactivated (100%? You can never be sure [3]) with a poison, formaldehyde, then preserved with Thimerosal, a derivative of mercury (a neurological toxin), and finally has further poisons or “nasties” added – possibly polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, hydrocortisone, neomycin, polymyxin (antibiotics), etc. If millions of such artificially doctored pathogens, which may or may not be totally inactive, are produced and shot into people, you are going by that very process to increase significantly the risk of creating additional mutations which would never have occurred in nature.

The much safer alternative is to work on boosting your immune system by natural means and not run risks you don’t have to. Google Vitamin D and C especially, which have a very important role to play here. And homeopathic remedies taken as prophylactics will probably give you as good a level of protection as you should need without risking filling your body up with poisons.

[1] Vaccine Safety Manual, Neil Miller p.120
[2] Between 0- 5 years possibly, which depends on the vaccine and the reaction of the particular patient: sometimes antibodies produced in response to the vaccination disappear very rapidly from the body. The pharmaceutical companies' only answer to this is to repeat the vaccination ie “booster” jabs.
[3] See, for example, Jonas Salk’s supposedly “inactivated” polio vaccine which was actually quite virulent. It paralysed and killed many children. Many viruses are incubated in mediums eg monkey parts which already have other infectious agents in them which simply cannot all be detected by currently available scientific methods.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Herd Immunity from vaccination? A myth

Last year I heard Liam Donaldson, England’s Chief Medical Officer (though, thank goodness, retiring soon) using this phony theory to pressurise the public to have the swine flu vaccine, and he also said it was irresponsible for hospital staff not to volunteer for the vaccine because they were thereby putting the public at risk. Subsequently, I heard a doctor parroting the same herd immunity myth. What happens to these people after medical school? Do they just carry on believing everything they were told by an ancient professor? Don’t they read any books or use the search facilities on their computers?

“The herd immunity theory was originally coined in 1933 by a researcher called Hedrich. He had been studying measles patterns in the US between 1900-1931 (years before any vaccine was ever invented for measles) and he observed that epidemics of the illness only occurred when less than 68% of children had developed a natural immunity to it. This was based upon the principle that children build their own immunity after suffering with or being exposed to the disease. So the herd immunity theory was, in fact, about natural disease processes and nothing to do with vaccination. If 68% of the population were allowed to build their own natural defences, there would be no raging epidemic.

Later on, vaccinologists adopted the phrase and increased the figure from 68% to 95% with no scientific justification as to why, and then stated that there had to be 95% vaccine coverage to achieve immunity. Essentially, they took Hedrich’s study and manipulated it to promote their vaccination programmes.” [I am indebted to this website for that historical detail].

Hedrich found that if enough of a population developed a NATURAL immunity through having had a disease like measles and having recovered from it, then that virus didn’t subsequently return to cause an epidemic. However, this is NOT the case with the supposed immunisation of vaccinated populations.

In fact to use the word “immunisation” in connection with vaccines is totally wrong. There are lists and lists of documented instances in medical literature showing that fully vaccinated populations DO contract the disease they were vaccinated against. And with measles this actually seems to be the result of high vaccination rates (1). In relation to the Hib vaccine a Minnesota state immunologist concluded that the vaccine increases the risk of illness when a study revealed that vaccinated children were five times more likely to contract meningitis than unvaccinated children. Again, if you look at the statistics for flu death, in 1999, before flu vaccines were recommended and administered in the US to small children, just 25 children under 5 years old died that year from influenza. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, there were just 19, 13 and 12 flu deaths in this age group. However, in late 2002 the Centre for Disease Control began advocating that all young children receive flu vaccines and doctors responded to that recommendation. The result:? In 2003 flu deaths in children under 5 years rocketed to 90 cases.

Doctors who are prepared to confront the facts understand that vaccination does not confer lifetime protection from a disease in the comprehensive way that happens when a person contracts the disease and recovers from it naturally after the body’s immune system has dealt with it. [This is not to say that there isn’t a valuable role for the medical profession to play when intervention is warranted to help a patient where their immune system isn’t strong enough to enable them to recover without assistance]. Furthermore, they are bound to admit that if one measures supposed protection by the number of antibodies in a person, many vaccinations only confer a degree of protection for a short period which may be 1 to 5 years or even less. This is the reason why vaccine manufacturers advocate booster vaccines for many of their products.

Without the mantra of “herd immunity”, public-health officials would not be able to justify forced mass vaccinations. As one website (2) states, “I usually give the physicians who question my statement that herd immunity is a myth a simple example. When I was a medical student almost 40 years ago, it was taught that the tetanus vaccine would last a lifetime. Then 30 years after it had been mandated, we discovered that its protection lasted no more than 10 years. Then, I ask my doubting physician if he or she has ever seen a case of tetanus? Most have not. I then tell them to look at the yearly data on tetanus infections – one sees no rise in tetanus cases. The same can be said for measles, mumps, and other childhood infections. It was, and still is, all a myth”.

1 Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, May 1996; 79(2):163-170. Eg during a 1984 outbreak in an Illinois high school, 100% of the cases occurred in previously vaccinated students.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

House of Commons Committee Report on Homeopathy a Sham

What an excellent dissection of this sorry saga is given on the blogsite referenced below.

Committee members Phil Willis (Chairman), Evan Harris and their fellow travellers in the Anti Homeopathy Brigade on the Committee ought to be required to pay back the taxpayers money they wasted in this exercise, and the HoC should either disband this Committee or reconstitute it with some members who can demonstrate impartiality.

Here is the text of the Early Day Motion set down by David Tredinick MP following their biased Report


Tredinnick, David
That this House expresses concern at the conclusions of the Science and Technology Committee's Report, Evidence Check on Homeopathy; notes that the Committee took only oral evidence from a limited number of witnesses, including known critics of homeopathy Tracy Brown, the Managing Director of Sense About Science, and journalist Dr Ben Goldacre, who have no expertise in the subject; believes that evidence should have been heard from primary care trusts that commission homeopathy, doctors who use it in a primary care setting, and other relevant organisations, such as the Society of Homeopaths, to provide balance; observes that the Committee did not consider evidence from abroad from countries such as France and Germany, where provision of homeopathy is far more widespread than in the UK, or from India, where it is part of the health service; regrets that the Committee ignored the 74 randomised controlled trials comparing homeopathy with placebo, of which 63 showed homeopathic treatments were effective, and that the Committee recommends no further research; further notes that 206 hon. Members signed Early Day Motion No. 1240 in support of NHS homeopathic hospitals in Session 2006-07; and calls on the Government to maintain its policy of allowing decision-making on individual clinical interventions, including homeopathy, to remain in the hands of local NHS service providers and practitioners who are best placed to know their community's needs."


A wizard article on goes into the "murky" background:

“Stop funding NHS Homeopathy, MPs urge”. But who are these MPs?

As predicted the media produced the expected snow – every national paper, every TV channel ran the story along similar lines: “Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS, say MPs”. The Mail and Telegraph ran stories on Sunday night, which was interesting since the Science and Technology Committee were adamant that details of the report should not be released to the public until after 11am Monday. Bloggers had already written detailed posts directly quoting the report and published them at precisely 11am. Leaked? Surely not,

The Guardian at least waited till Monday to report: “Stop funding homeopathy, MPs urge”.

And so it went on. Anyone reading the news might have imagined that there had been an in depth investigation of the matter in parliament.

But who are these MPs doing the urging, and how does the Science and Technology Committee work?

The Science and Technology Committee is a parliamentary Select Committee charged with looking into what informs government policy in a number of areas – it’s a relatively recent enterprise and homeopathy is only their second investigation in this form. One might ask why – of all the government policy the committee could have chosen to investigate, it chose homeopathy – which uses just 0.004% of the NHS budget and has been part of the NHS since 1948. We can only surmise.

Phil Willis, Chair of the committee was at pains to put on record that it was NOT to be an investigation into whether homeopathy worked or not – and then he chaired a committee which did exactly that, but restricted the investigation to the narrow remit of RCTs (Random Controlled Trials). Surely not?

Let’s look at this committee in more detail:
At the first meeting on 25th November 5 MPs were present plus the Chair: Phil Willis: a history teacher and associate of the Pharma lobby group Sense About Science; Tim Boswell, a farmer; Brian Iddon, Professor of Chemistry; Graham Stringer, Analytical Chemist; Evan Harris, medical doctor and associate of Sense About Science and Ian Stewart, chemical plant operator and open mind.
It can be said categorically that NONE of the MPS present at the hearings have any expertise or even understanding of the homeopathic method. It could be said that those steeped in chemistry might find it particularly challenging.
The committee spent a total of 4 and half hours questioning 12 witnesses – 7 of whom also have NO expertise or understanding of the homeopathic method – 5 of the 9 non-governmental witnesses had previously publicly declared they were vehemently opposed to homeopathy. Only 1 witness is in clinical practice. Biased? Surely not?

The procedure called for written submissions – closing date was Nov 6th 2009. Based on these submissions witnesses would be selected to give oral submissions at the committee’s meetings.

Almost 50 written submissions were received by the closing date and invitations for witnesses were apparently sent out 48 hours later. It would be interesting to know which devoted MPs stayed up all night reading the submissions and selecting witnesses. Unless of course they had already been pre-selected. Surely not?

Anyone who has watched the archived meetings on the parliamentary website will know that at least two members of the committee had a clear agenda they were determined to push through. Evan Harris and Chair of the committee Phil Willis, Sense About Science associates, made no attempt to hide their disdain for the witnesses speaking on behalf of homeopathy. Denialist bloggers and newspapers like the Guardian had a field day with sound bites and helped set the scene for the foregone conclusions of the report itself.

All claims of bias were ignored by the committee and the draft report was written.

This is where it gets even more interesting….

At the meeting of Feb 8th 2010 the S and T committee met to ratify the report.
Present was: Phil Willis in the Chair, Evan Harris, Tim Boswell, Ian Cawsey, Doug Naysmith and Ian Stewart.

Ian Stewart put forward an amendment not to ratify the report as it stood but to call upon government to “fund a rigorous research programme into homeopathy”
Voting was: Ayes: Ian Stewart Noes: Evan Harris, Ian Cawsey, Doug Naysmith. Presumably Tim Boswell abstained though his vote was not recorded.

A second vote was taken on the specific paragraph relating to research – to retain as written and not insert Stewart’s amendment: paragraph 77. “There has been enough testing of homeopathy and plenty of evidence showing that it is not efficacious. Competition for research funding is fierce and we cannot see how further research on the efficacy of homeopathy is justified in the face of competing priorities.”

Voting was: Ayes: Evan Harris, Ian Cawsey, Doug Naysmith Noes: Ian Stewart Paragraph was agreed to as was. Tim Boswell abstained? Vote not recorded.

The vote to accept the report and its recommendations to stop funding NHS homeopathy on the basis that the evidence did not support government policy was: Ayes: Evan Harris, Ian Cawsey, Doug Naysmith Noes: Ian Stewart. Tim Boswell abstained again? We’ll never know.

SO this report was ratified by just THREE MPs:

Evan Harris, associate of Sense About Science and it’s fair to say rabid anti-homeopathy campaigner, 1023 participant and ’senior counsel for the prosecution’.

Ian Cawsey – IT expert, who joined the S and T committee in October 2009, just a month before the meetings and yet chose not to attend the committee’s investigation – in fact was nowhere to be seen until the ratification meeting.

Doug Naysmith – an immunologist – did not join the S and T committee until January 2010 – so was not even on the committee until after all the hearings – yet was present for the ratification of the report. And he is standing down at the next election.

A committee would invite a new member to join knowing that in a matter of a few months he would be leaving again? Surely not?

So let’s get this straight – the report and its recommendations that led to the media snow this week, and the dramatic assertion that the public have been duped since 1948 by NHS placebos masquerading as medicine, is the result of a report ratified by THREE MPs: TWO of whom were NOT EVEN PRESENT AT THE COMMITTEE MEETINGS – and ONE of the two was NOT EVEN A MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE when the hearings were held, and is due to stand down at the election in May this year.

This Science and Technology Committee investigation into homeopathy was a set up and a sham from its inception to the final meeting and delivery of the report to the UK press. And there’s no “surely not” about it.


And if anyone wants to read the Evidence to the Committee it can be found here

It bears mentioning that the Committee called for evidence only on 20th October 2009 and wanted submissions by 6th November. Many in the pro-homeopathy group heard of this only days before the 6th November so if you wondered why more evidence was not put in by them, that's the reason. Convenient for the antis, Huh?