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Measles Scare 2011 France/2013 Wales/2014 USA/ 2015 Germany
Are the Welsh/ American/ German outbreaks much different from the French?
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Threat to children
Scream the headlines. Unvaccinated children are being excluded from Swiss schools; private clinics are running out of single measles jabs……What are they panicking about? Heart attacks, strokes, paralysis? No, they are talking about measles – a regular childhood illness that most children sail through.
Yes, there are about 170 000 measles deaths per years world wide (2008 figures), but, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) states:
“The overwhelming majority (more than 95%)of measles deaths occur in countries with low per capita incomes and weak health infrastructures…Most measles deaths are caused by complications associated with the diseases” and
“Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases…. As high as 10% of measles cases result in death among populations with high levels of malnutrition and lack of adequate health care”1
Are children in Europe and the United States suffering from malnutrition?
Does your child have HIV/AIDS?
If not, why all the fuss?
In the UK, measles used to occur in epidemics about every two years starting in the autumn with the peak being in April and then waning for another two years.2a In the nineteenth century when social conditions – malnutrition, poor housing, drinking water contaminated with sewage – were similar to those in poorer countries today, it used to be a feared killer here also. But all that changed long ago.
Graph of measles deaths per million, all ages, of the population of England & Wales 1901-1999 (ref3)
Was this due to vaccination? No
99% of the reduction in deaths due to measles in England & Wales occurred before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1968 and has continued to fall since then. Fig3.
Dr David Miller, Deputy Director of the Epidemiological Research Laboratory in Colindale, Middlesex, stated in 1964
“In this country at least, measles is now usually regarded as a minor childhood illness through which we all must pass rather than as a public health problem.”4
In fact measles and other childhood infections were so much regarded as part of normal childhood development in the 1960s that mothers sent their children off to measles, mumps, chicken pox and rubella ‘parties’ so that they would get them at the best time – in childhood. They are now described as so likely to cause death or disability that the only sensible choice is to vaccinate.
The incidence of measles cases also declined. Great credit was given to the introduction of measles vaccine in 1968 for the lowering of measles notifications in the UK, however, the uptake was only 33% in that year. The level that did not get above 55% until 19805 when incidence was already well down.
What happens, then, when unvaccinated children get measles?
Measles outbreaks in unimmunised people tend to be mild in those who do not have underlying medical conditions. In communities which generally do not immunise, the attack rate in infants less than one year of age is low because of protection by the superior maternal antibodies derived from natural infection compared to those derived from vaccination 6. Almost without exception, deaths occur in those with underlying medical conditions or poor nutrition or in those religious groups who refuse timely medical care when complications occur. 7 Those most at risk of complications from the disease are also those least likely to produce a good antibody response from being given the vaccine.
What is happening now?
MMR vaccination started in the UK in 1988 with a second dose added in 1996. Nevertheless, in the first five months of 2011 almost 500 cases of measles have been notified.
In France, from having less than 50 reported cases of measles per year, there was an increase to 600 in 2008; 1500 in 2009; 5000 in 2010 and 10 000 cases up to the end of April 2011. Having measles is not a problem in itself. The problem is the cases of pneumonia and encephalitis with two deaths in 2010(1 death /2500 notified cases) and six deaths so far in 2011 (1 death / 1666 notified cases). There haven’t been case fatality levels like this in the UK since the 1950s! In terms of health outcomes, we seem to be going backwards!
The measles cases are not coming from abroad. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control states that less than 10% of European Union (EU) cases are imported and more than 60% of those, come from another EU country8. So we are talking about generally well fed and housed people with a clean water supply.
Then why are they suffering complications or dying?
When you meet a virus, whether you get infected at all, or have a mild, disabling or deadly episode depends on:
- The state of your immune system when you meet it and
- How you treat the illness.
Whatever the state of your immune system, you get complications from not treating infectious diseases correctly.
The first step in this process is to recognise that the infection is not your enemy but your friend. From an holistic point of view, diseases causing fever and rashes are regarded as detoxifying processes, enabling the body to clean itself out and go up a developmental step. Suppression of such processes is thought to lead eventually to long term, chronic illness.
The most important part in this process is fever. There is a substantial body of evidence indicating that fever is a beneficial response to infection which improves the ability of the immune system to carry out its function and that reducing fevers can increase morbidity (complications) and mortality (death) in severe infection. Heinz Eichenwald, Professor of Paediatrics at the South Western Medical School, University of Texas, states in the Bulletin of the WHO:
“Fever represents a universal, ancient, and usually beneficial response to infection, and its suppression under most circumstances has few, if any demonstrable benefits. On the other hand, some harmful effects have been shown to occur as a result of suppressing fever. It is clear, therefore, that the widespread use of antipyretics should not be encouraged either in developing countries or in industrial society.” 9 (Eichenwald, 2003)
How are people with measles generally treated?
The World Health Organisation has some pretty good advice:
“Severe complications from measles can be avoided though supportive care that ensures good nutrition (beforehand?), adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration (through diarrhoea or vomiting) with WHO-recommended oral rehydration solution.”
“Antibiotics should be prescribed to treat eye and ear infections, and pneumonia.“
Is this what happens? No
The first thing that children are given is paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce their fever – despite the fact that the WHO don’t recommend it and the NHS NICE Guidelines 2007 state.
“Antipyretic agents should not routinely be used with the sole aim of reducing body temperature in children with fever who are otherwise well”. They should only be considered:
“in children with fever who appear distressed or unwell.” They also stress :
“Antipyretic agents do not prevent febrile convulsions and should not be used specifically for this purpose.“10
However the NHS Website NHS Choices recommends them as first line:
“If your child has measles, you may find the following advice useful: Use liquid baby paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve fever, aches and pains.”
GPs recommend it six hourly, in hospital it is given four hourly, alone or in combination (even though NICE advise against using paracetamol and ibuprofen together). Antihistamines are given for itches and coughs; antibiotics are given when there is no bacterial infection – just in case; children are fed, over heated and kept in stuffy rooms – is it any wonder that they get complications?
And this is just what is happened in France.
France has had the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine since 1986 with coverage of over 90% for the first does and 40-70% for the second dose11. So instead of children being able to get measles, mumps and rubella at a beneficial age there is now an epidemic of measles sweeping across the country where 8% of cases are under one year old and 34% are over 20 years12, when complications are more common. This is compared to 1963 (England & Wales) when less than 4% of cases were under one and 0.4% of cases over 20 years old.
Worse, it seems that no-one knows how to nurse a case of measles any more. In 2010, 30% of cases were hospitalised (38 % under one year, 47% over 20 years). In 1963, 1% of cases in the UK were sent to hospital and 13% of those were for ‘social’ reasons. Even more incredible, of the cases admitted to French hospitals, only 30% had complications! If they don’t have complications (and even if they do) why one earth would anyone in their right mind send someone with measles to hospital?
When you have measles the disease (or the vaccine) it lowers a part of your immune system, known as ‘cell-mediated’13. This makes you susceptible to infection by other organisms – so the very last place you should be if you have measles is in a hospital, full of sick people, infectious diseases and MRSA. Six out of ten deaths from measles are from pneumonia. The main complications of measles are infections. Is it any wonder that there have been six deaths already this year?
There is also the vitamin A factor.
Measles virus grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. Vitamin A is essential for the maintenance of this lining and others throughout the body. Vitamin A deficiency is a recognized risk factor for severe measles and since 1987 the WHO and UNICEF have recommended vitamin A treatment of children with measles; two doses of 200 000 IU for children over one year and 100 000 IU for infants, was found to reduce measles mortality by 62% 14 in poorer countries. Measles can also lower serum concentrations of vitamin A in well nourished children to less than those observed in non-infected malnourished children. When a child with marginal vitamin A stores gets measles, available vitamin A is quickly used up … reducing the ability to resist secondary infections or their consequences, or both. 15
How can you make sure your child has enough Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is found abundantly in dairy products: butterfat, cream and cheeses from cows eating green grass; eggs from free range hens; liver; fish, shellfish, cod liver oil. The best plant sources of beta-carotene are yellow/orange vegetables and fruits like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apricots, nectarines, peaches cantaloupes, papayas, mangoes, sour cherries, prunes, plums; and dark green leafy vegetables:spinach, broccoli, endive, kale, chicory, watercress and beet leaves, turnips, mustard, dandelion, asparagus and peas. In order to be absorbed, vegetable sources requires fat, so serve them with butter, coconut or olive oil. Chopping and pûréeing also enhance their bioavailability. 16
How contagious is measles?
Measles is transmitted by coughing and sneezing. The virus containing particles can remain in the air for several hours and remain infective on surfaces for up to two hours. People are contagious for five days before the rash appears to four days after. It is estimated that 90% of non-immune people exposed to an infective individual will contract the disease.17
I was contacted in May 2011 by an indignant parent living in Switzerland whose healthy child had been excluded from school as he a)was not vaccinated and b) had been in contact with a measles case at school. She received a letter from the Assistant Director of Health Services for Youth telling her:
“Taking into account the incubation period of measles, the risk of being contagious is from day 6-21 following contact with a case. As your son is not vaccinated against measles, we ask you to keep him at home for the period when he could be contagious.”
So the child was made to stay away from school for two and a half weeks. As a home educator I can only think what a lovely opportunity it was to have your child away from school without being hounded by the authorities for non-attendance, as well, hopefully, as the chance to contract measles and develop good quality, long lasting antibodies. Alas, it was not to be; despite measles being one of the most contagious of the childhood exanthems (red spotty rashes) he did not get it. Instead, as his Mum said:
“We passed a nice couple of weeks together, he was very tired at the end of the school year anyway. Sadly he did not get measles but I will try to find someone with it.”
So what about the single measles vaccine?
Everyone seems to think that this is the safe option. Well, it depends what you mean by safe. In my opinion it is safer than the MMR but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it safe
I was called in June 2011 by a distraught mother in the UK whose son had had a single measles shot. He had a history of milk protein intolerance from birth, reflux and inflammatory bowel problems.
“He was OK with the first set of baby vaccines but had a bad fever with the second and was worse with the third. He had settled down by the time he was due his 12 month vaccines (at that time, Hib and meningococcal C) so he had them, and he got really ill the next day. He had an encephalitic cry (high pitched screaming) and fever. It took seven days to settle and lots of paracetamol for the fever. After loads of research we decided not to give him the MMR.
He’s now two and a bit and is OK, apart from the medications for reflux and diarrhoea,but because of the measles epidemic that is happening around here, I got so scared that I decided to give him the single measles vaccine.
He was fine for the first week, then, on the eighth day he was playing on the floor when he looked up at me strangely, and then he started screaming and screaming with that high pitched cry– like before. He was beside himself. He felt really hot. I took him to the A&E Department where they gave him paracetamol. He had fever on and off for the next three days with screaming. We gave him lots of paracetamol. On the third night the fever stopped. We’re now many days after that and he’s still very different. Can you help?
Was it caused by the vaccine?
The onset of the symptoms is within the incubation period for measles, the vaccine is a live one. If a child has a vaccine and becomes unconscious or has a high fever with inconsolable crying, bowel changes, permanent disability or death, there will be one of two explanations given:
- A certain number of these cases happen every day/ year, it would have happened anyway but as it occurred near the time that the vaccine was given, the vaccine is unfairly blamed or
- Your child has an underlying condition and the vaccine just revealed the predisposition that was already there – it would have happened anyway.
However, if a child with an underlying condition suffers severe complications or dies during an episode of measles, it is always the measles that is blamed.
- In addition, there is no reliable systematic monitoring of vaccine adverse reactions in Europe. “Implementation of vaccine registers and monitoring systems for adverse events following immunisation are a priority for EU member states”18, meaning they aren’t implemented yet, nevertheless MMR is still said to be “the safest way to protect your child against measles”, though this is hard to believe when adverse reactions are not appropriately recorded.
Are there any benefits to having the measles?
- A study conducted by the Danish epidemiologist Tove Rønne and published in the Lancet in 1985, found that having measles with a typical rash was associated with a lower incidence of developing immunoreactive diseases, sebaceous skin diseases, diseases of bone, cartilage and certain tumours in adult life 19, unlike the ‘atypical’ variety with suppressed rash that occurs in people with immune disorders and after vaccination.
- Having measles was associated with a reduction in risk of skin testing positive to housedust mite at age 14-21 years20
- Early exposure to measles and family size may be associated with a lower risk of adult onset doctor diagnosed asthma21.
- Sensitivity to housedust mite was less frequent in children with a history of measles than in those without. A history of nebulized salbutamol use in A&E in the previous 12 months was less frequent in the measles group. Inhaled corticosteroid use was more common in the group without measles (these all indicate lower incidence of asthma in the measles group)22.
- A statistically significant inverse association between measles vaccination and atopic (allergic) sensitization was found in relation to allergen-specific serum IgE level of 3.5 kU/L.23 (meaning those with measles had less allergy)
There were 1131 deaths from asthma in the UK in 2009 (12 were children aged 14 years or under)24. There haven’t been that many deaths from measles since 1941.
Paracetamol use is also associated with increased wheeze and diagnosed asthma in the countries with the highest sales25
Are we trading a generally benign childhood illness for a chronic disease with a higher death rate when we try to eradicate measles and suppress fevers?
What should you do if your child develops measles?
Put them to bed, open the window (preferably nurse them in the garden), give then plenty of clear fluids and NO FOOD unless STARVING.26 You might want to give them some homeopathic remedies or keep them in a darkened room. I remember lying in a boiling hot room in the dark, many years ago when I had measles as a child in Bahrain. It was horrible. But at the end of it I had good quality antibodies which have kept me immune from measles ever since, I was able to pass them on to my children when they were babies – and I don’t have asthma either.
A study of a measles outbreak in 1997-8 in a Steiner community in Gloucester, England, reported that there were no severe cases. Moreover, 62% of the respondents to a questionnaire reported a strengthening and maturing of their child both mentally and physically after the measles infection. Dr Duffell from Gloucestershire Health Authority remarked,
“The findings of low levels of morbidity (complications) associated with measles are similar to previous studies in the United Kingdom,and support the notion that measles is not a severe illness in most children. These cases were, however, in fit, well nourished children from a community that advocates a healthy lifestyle and there were insufficient numbers of cases to observe many of the rarer sequelae.”
However, advocating a healthy lifestyle is not an option that the Department of Health or GPs offer to parents who ask what they can use as a viable alternative to measles vaccination.
Which will you choose?
This article first appeared in The Informed Parent in 2011 http://www.informedparent.co.uk/
© 2011 Dr JLM Donegan MBBS DRCOG DCH DFFP MRCGP MFHom
Please note that almost every reference referring to measles quoted in this paper recommends that children are vaccinated against measles. All references for which there is a link were last accessed in June 2011.
For more detailed information on management of children with measles or any acute infection, please see:
Nursing Children Supportively Through Acute Illness http://www.jayne-donegan.co.uk/articles
More detailed information on measles and other vaccinatable diseases can be obtained from: Donegan JLM, Childhood Vaccinatable Diseases and their Vaccines, a Review http://www.jayne-donegan.co.uk/articles
1 WHO Measles Fact sheet N°286 December 2009 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/
2a Brincker JA A Historical, Epidemiological and AEtiological Study of Measles (Morbilli; Rubeola): (Section of Epidemiology and State Medicine) Proc R Soc Med. 1938 May;31(7):807-28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2076936/?tool=pubmed.
2b McKeown T, The Role of Medicine, 1979, Princeton University Press, Fig 8.14, p 105 (Thomas McKeown was Professor of Social Medicine Emeritus at the Birmingham University and past chairman of the WHO advisory group on health research strategies)
3 Source of information for graphs: Deaths/Population 1901-1999 Twentieth Century Mortality CDROM Office for National Statistics. Measles mortality . From: Donegan JLM, Childhood Vaccinatable Diseases and their Vaccines, a Review http://www.jayne-donegan.co.uk/articles
4 Miller DL Frequency of complications of measles, 1963. Report on a National Inquiry by the public health laboratory service in collaboration with the society of medical officers of health. Br Med J. 1964 Jul 11;2(5401):75-8
5 Immunisation Uptake Rates – completed primary course: two year rate England and Wales 1966-77, England only 1978-195/6. Department of Health Statistics Division, Communicable Diseases surveillance Centre, UK
6 Sutter RW, Markowitz LE, Bennetch JM, Morris W et al, Measles among the Amish: a comparative study of measles severity in primary and secondary cases in households, J Infectious Diseases 1991;163:12-16
Outbreak of measles in a religious group – Montreal, Quebec, Canada Communicable Disease. Report 1995 ;1:1-5
Lennon JL, Black FL, Maternally derived measles immunity in era of vaccine-protected mothers, J Pediatrics 1986;671-6
7 Novotny T, Jennings CE, Doran M, March RC et al, Measles outbreaks in religious groups exempt from immunization laws, Public Health Reports 1988;103:49-54
Rodgers DV, Gindler JS, Atkinson WL, Markowitz LE, High attack rate and case fatality during a measles outbreak in groups with religious exemption to vaccination, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 1993;12:288-92
8 Annual Epidemiological Report on Communicable Diseases in Europe 2009 ECDC p25p172
9 Eichenwald HF Fever and antipyresis Bull World Health Organ [online]2003;81(5)2003:372-74http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0042-96862003000500012&lng=en&nrm=is
10 NICE Guidelines 2007 Feverish illness in childrenAssessment and initial management in children younger than 5 years pp 8 & 27 http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/11010/30523/30523.pdf
11 Parent du Châtelet I et al Spotlight on measles 2010: update on the ongoing measles outbreak in France, 2008-2010
Euro Surveill. 2010 Sep 9;15(36). pii: 19656 http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=19656
12 Epidémie de Rougeole en France, Donées de déclaration obligatoire en 2010 et donées provisoire pour début 2011 Tableau 2, p5
13 Shaheen SO, Aaby P, Hall AJ, Barker DJP et al, Cell mediated immunity after measles in Guinea-Bissau: historical cohort study, BMJ 1996; 313:969-74 (6a) Aaby P et al ‘Long-term survival after Edmonston-Zagreb measles vaccination in Guinea-Bissau: Increased female mortality rate’ The Journal of Pediatrics 1993;122:904-8.
14 Sudfeld CR, Navar AM, Halsey NA.Effectiveness of measles vaccination and vitamin A treatment.
Int J Epidemiol. 2010 Apr;39 Suppl 1:i48-55. Review. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845860/pdf/dyq021.pdf
15 Barclay AJ, Foster A, Sommer A. Vitamin A supplements and mortality related to measles: a randomised clinical trial. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1987 Jan 31;294(6567):294-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1245303/pdf/bmjcred00005-0036.pdf
16 Vitamin Basics: The facts about vitamins in nutrition http://www.vitamin-basics.com/index.php?id=35, Fallon S, Vitamin A Vagary http://www.realmilk.com/vita.html, Enig MG & Fallon S, Vitamin A – Safety and Clarification, 2010, http://www.puresante.com/1/post/2010/10/vitamin-a-safety-and-clarification.html
17 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
18 Annual Epidemiological Report on Communicable Diseases in Europe 2009 ECDC p25p172
19 Rønne T, Measles virus infection without rash in childhood is related to disease in adult life, Lancet 1985 Jan 5;1(8419):1-5
20Shaheen SO, Aaby P, Hall AJ, Barker DJ, Heyes CB, Shiell AW, Goudiaby A. Measles and atopy in Guinea-Bissau. Lancet. 1996 Jun 29;347(9018):1792-6.
21 Bodner C, Anderson WJ, Reid TS, Godden DJ. Childhood exposure to infection and risk of adult onset wheeze and atopy. Thorax. 2000 May;55(5):383-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1745751/pdf/v055p00383.pdf
22 Kucukosmanoglu E, Cetinkaya F, Akcay F, Pekun F. Allergol Frequency of allergic diseases following measles. Immunopathol (Madr). 2006 Jul-Aug;34(4):146-9. http://apps.elsevier.es/watermark/ctl_servlet?_f=10&pident_articulo=13091040&pident_usuario=0&pcontactid=&pident_revista=105&ty=135&accion=L&origen=elsevier&web=www.elsevier.es&lan=en&fichero=105v34n04a13091040pdf001.pdf
23 Rosenlund H et al,.Allergic disease and atopic sensitization in children in relation to measles vaccination and measles infection. Pediatrics. 2009 Mar;123(3):771-8. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/123/3/771.full.pdf+html
24 Key Facts & Statistics,Asthma UK. http://www.asthma.org.uk/news_media/media_resources/for_journalists_key.html
25 Newson RB, Shaheen SO, Chinn S, Burney PG. Paracetamol sales and atopic disease in children and adults: an ecological analysis. Eur Respir J. 2000 Nov;16(5):817-23. http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/16/5/817.long
2013 Real Life Experience of a Parent whose Twin Boys contracted Measles
Monday, June 24, 2013, 2:55 PM
Hi, I just wanted to write to thank you for the very clear, concise information you offer regarding measles and the vaccinations on your website. It gave me the courage and information I needed to stand up for myself when the medical profession challenged my choice about not having the MMR for my twin boys and now they have contracted measles it has given me the information I need to treat them.
Despite the horror stories that the Department of Health and the doctor’s surgery has tried to fill me with, it has been easy to nurse them and they have not been unduly affected by having measles and seem to be very quickly on the road to recovery. Another example of how the medical profession’s propaganda fills you with fear over an illness that in most cases is extremely manageable.
Thank you so much for offering this information free of charge.
The Informed Parent: descriptions of GP experiences of measles in 1959 (less sensational than today
Excerpts from BMJ, Feb 7 1959
“These writers agree that measles is nowadays normally a mild infection, and they rarely have occasion to give prophylactic gamma globulin.”
“Dr. JOHN FRY (Beckenham,Kent) writes
many mothers have remarked ” how much good the attack has done their children,” as they seem so much better after the measles
In this practice measles is considered as a relatively mild and inevitable childhood ailment that is best encountered any time from 3 to 7 years of age. Over the past 10 years there have been few serious complications at any age, and all children have made complete recoveries. As a result of this reasoning no special attempts have been made at prevention even in young infants in whom the disease has not been found to be especially serious.”
See more at http://www.informedparent.co.uk/mmr
This is a website of personal stories of why people chose not to vaccinate or why they wish they hadn’t… http://thisiswhytestimonies.wordpress.com/
You may find it informative to read of other people’s experiences while making a decision about what to do for yourself or your children. These are, of course, only one side of the debate, but you can easily access other opinions by listening to the radio, watching TV, reading the newspapers or the Government/ Department of Health’s advice, or visiting your GP/ Paediatrician/ Practice Nurse or Health Visitor.
Dr Andrew Wakefield speaks about MMR, measles vaccine and the recent measles outbreak
The transcript is below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7kbWfsygG4&feature=player_embedded
Good morning. The first thing that I want to say is that I did not seek out this latest media maelstrom. It came about because of an outbreak of measles in South Wales in the United Kingdom for which I have been blamed by her Majesty’s government. So I did not seek this out but now it seems I have been denied the opportunity to redress the allegations that have been made against me by members of the government; by members of public health and that is clearly unacceptable.
So legitimate debate about the safety of MMR vaccine and the origin of the measles epidemic in Wales have now been effectively blocked by the government insisting that the British media do not give me air time; do not allow me to respond. And that is the purpose of this. So I did not start this current fight.
The important thing to say is that back in 1996 — 1997 I was made aware of children developing autism, regressive autism, following exposure in many cases to the measles mumps rubella vaccine. Such was my concern about the safety of that vaccine that I went back and reviewed every safety study, every pre-licensing study of the MMR vaccine and other measles containing vaccines before they were put into children and after. And I was appalled with the quality of that science. It really was totally below par and that has been reiterated by other authoritative sources since.
I compiled my observations into a 200 page report which I am seeking to put online once I get permission from my lawyers. And that report was the basis of my impression that the MMR vaccine was inadequately tested for safety certainly compared with the single vaccines and therefore that was the basis of my recommendation in 1998 at the press conference that parents should have the option of the single vaccines.
All I could do as a parent was to say what would I do for my child. That was the only honest answer I could give. My position on that has not changed.
So, what happened subsequently. At that time the single measles vaccine, the single vaccines were available freely on the National Health Service. Otherwise, I would not have suggested that option. So parents, if they were legitimately concerned about the safety of MMR could go and get the single vaccines. Six months later the British government unilaterally withdrew the importation licence for the single vaccines therefore depriving parents of having these on the NHS; depriving parents who had legitimate concerns about the safety of MMR from a choice; denying them the opportunity to protect their children in the way that they saw fit.
And I was astonished by this and I said to Dr Elizabeth Miller of the Health Protection Agency why would you do this, if your principal concern is to protect children from serious infectious disease. Why would you remove an option from parents who are legitimately concerned about the safety of MMR. And her answer was extraordinary. She said to me if we allow parents the option of single vaccines it would destroy our MMR programme. In other words her concern, her principal concern seemed to be for protection of the MMR programme and not for protection of children.
Now, were parents concerns about the safety of MMR legitimate? Did they have a reason to be concerned? The answer is unequivocably yes.
When the MMR was introduced in the UK in the late 1980s there were three brands that were introduced. Two of those three brands had to be withdrawn hurriedly four years later because they were causing meningitis in children at an unacceptable rate. In other words two thirds of the licensed vaccines in the UK had to be removed from circulation because they were dangerous.
And what is very disturbing about this and this was brought to my attention by a government whistleblower, Dr Alistair Thores, who was working at that time for the Joint Committee On Vaccination And Immunisation, the regulatory body in the UK. He made it clear to the British government that they should not use those dangerous vaccines. He made it clear to the committee prior to the licensing of the MMR in 1987. Why? Because he was brought in from Canada where they were already having problems with this vaccine under the name Trivirix, the identical vaccine to the vaccine which was introduced into the UK under the name Pluserix. And there they had noticed that there were cases of meningitis which were far in excess of those which they had previously seen. This meningitis was being caused by the mumps strain; Urabe AM-9.
And so he advised the Joint Committee not to touch this vaccine: it was dangerous. They ignored his pleas and they went ahead and introduced it anyway. Four years later it had to be hurriedly withdrawn because it was causing precisely the complication that he had warned them of. Moreover, they were asked, David Salisbury specifically, was asked to allocate funds to active surveillance of adverse events. For the government to go out there and to look and ask doctors if they had seen cases of this meningitis. He said no. That was denied and they relied on passive surveillance: in other words the spontaneous reports coming in from doctors and hospitals. That is known to pick up perhaps 1 to 2% of true adverse reactions. In other words it was going to inevitably underestimate the true numbers of this reaction. Hence, the delay of four years for the removal of a vaccine that should never have been licensed in the first place.
It was with that background and with that insight into the practices of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation that I took the stand that I did on MMR. I was deeply and justifiably concerned. So the next question is beyond the fact that MMR vaccine is not safe and has not been adequately tested; not just my opinion but the opinion of many; is does MMR vaccine cause autism?
Now this question has been answered not by me but by the courts, by the vaccine courts in Italy and in the United States of America where it appears that many children over the last 30 years have been awarded millions of dollars for the fact that they have been brain-damaged by MMR vaccine and other vaccines and that brain-damage has led to autism. That is a fact.
Now it has been argued by the government that some poor judge has been forced into making this decision that on balance the vaccine caused the autism in the face and in contradiction to the evidence that is available, the scientific evidence. No. That is grossly misleading. Three of these cases at least least; Poling, the Italian case, and more recently the Mojabi case, have been conceded by the government experts. In other words the government experts, the government themselves have conceded that the vaccine cause the autism. They didn’t fight the case. They conceded it based upon the evidence available to them – all of the evidence – that the MMR vaccine caused the child’s autism.
So this isn’t some poor judge being forced into a position in the absence of the evidence or in contradiction to the evidence. This is the government’s own experts conceding that the MMR vaccine caused the autism, or caused brain damage in this case that led to be autism. And what we have are millions of dollars being paid out to these children to fund their autism treatment so when the government says it is not settled cases of autism, please bear in mind that what they’re paying for the costs of the autism treatments. The government if it says that is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.
So let me turn now specifically to the measles outbreak in South Wales. The outbreak that the government is alleging is my responsibility, which is clearly in the face of the evidence from Lord Howe in Parliament and for which originally I suggested protection against measles with a single vaccines.
Now it is very important for people to bear in mind that MMR doesn’t protect against measles. Measles vaccine protects against measles. The mumps and rubella components are irrelevant. So, if single vaccines were available; if the government had not withdrawn the availability of a vaccine, then there would be no outbreak of measles in Wales, there would be no discussion of measles cases and potential measles deaths. So, the blame for this must lie on the shoulders on those who withdrew the option of the single vaccine from the parents who were legitimately concerned about the safety of the MMR. Not because of me but what had happened because of that vaccine long before I came on the scene.
But there is one problem. There is one contradiction. That is as Lord Howe has said in Parliament, MMR vaccine uptake is at an all-time high. So why are we now seeing measles outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations. It would be very interesting to find out how many of those children in the current outbreak have actually been vaccinated. I suspect many. And this has been seen before.
One of the problems I think we are encountering is that of vaccine failure; primary and secondary vaccine failure. Primary failure – not enough children respond by developing immunity to the vaccine in the first place and secondary vaccine failure – those that do develop immunity that immunity disappears very quickly over time. And this has been seen with mumps vaccine. The mumps vaccine does not work and we are seeing similar outbreaks of measles (mumps) in vaccinated populations. And this is one of the long-term problems of using live viral vaccines over time, taking seed stock virus and repeatedly using it and using it and using it over time that it seems for some reason to lose its potency. And what we’re seeing now is what I believe is unintended, unexpected consequence of long-term use of these live viral vaccines; and that is vaccine failure.
And that is something that is really really concerning. It is not theoretical. It has been seen unequivocally with the mumps vaccine.
And I believe we are now seeing it with measles. If that is the case then 1) blaming me for the outbreak of this measles case come measles cases in South Wales, is totally inappropriate. It is not addressing the core issue of what you do about live viral vaccine failure, because if the viruses is then infecting people at an older age than the outcome may be more serious and there are no therapeutic interventions for protecting those people from measles.
So the government has in effect put all its eggs in one basket and now we’re seeing measles come back. That is my belief.
What we face unambiguously is an epidemic of autism; an environmentally driven epidemic of autism now alarmingly affecting one in 31 boys in the United States of America and I saw data from Yale just the other day from South Korea showing that one in 36 children in South Korea are affected by this lifelong severe neurodevelopmental disorder. There is the true epidemic. Do we see attention being paid to that in anything like the same way that the media are applying attention to the measles outbreak in South Wales. No we do not. That is the true epidemic. And that is the one that we really have to deal with as a matter of urgency.
Now what I would like to do, I have been, Dr David Elliman has said that this was my fault and I understand that this morning he went on the news and he was saying that the media were responsible for the latest sort of debate, the latest argument, by giving me some kind of voice. So he is able to make this very very serious allegation against me and then deprive me of the opportunity of responding in the media. That is an extraordinary situation in what is supposedly a free country.
What I’m suggesting is a formal scientific debate in public in front of an audience that is televised. And specifically Dr David Salisbury I would like to debate you because I believe you are at the heart of this matter. I believe the decisions taken by you and by your committee, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, lie at the heart of this matter.
There are many things to debate with you.
I’d like to debate with you specifically why you have denied repeatedly that there was any form of indemnity for the manufacturer of the Urabe containing vaccine Pluserix when it was originally introduced; why you have denied that.
And I have here Dr Salisbury are the unredacted minutes of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation held on 7 May 1993 and here in these minutes it says “once SKB” that is SmithKline Beecham “continued to sell the Urabe strain vaccine without liability”. How Dr Salisbury do you explain the term “without liability” in that context. It seems to me that this was something that was disclosed to me by your whistleblower from the government, from your own committee, who said the deal was done with the manufacturer to exempt them from liability for introducing the vaccine that they had concerns about because they were already having problems with it in Canada where it was then withdrawn.
I would also like to put it to you, I would like to ask you why you felt it necessary to contact the General Medical Council and urge them in the strongest terms to prosecute me more vigorously; indeed to admonish them for not prosecuting me more vigorously. Do you feel that was an abuse of your governmental position introducing inevitable bias into the General Medical Council. And since you are at the heart of this matter and have been according to your curriculum vitae from the very beginning, the introduction of MMR into this country, it would seem to me that you are the perfect person to debate this in public with me. And if we can exonerate MMR vaccine from causing the problems which I believe and many parents believe it is causing them that is all well and good. But that will only be resolved in an open scientific debate. And therefore I think that the time has come for you and I to have that discussion.
Posted by Age of Autism at April 17, 2013 at 7:13 AM