Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics

No, the rush for a COVID-19 vaccine is not turning provaccine advocates into antivaxxers

There is already widespread distrust of a COVID-19 vaccine, even before a vaccine is approved. Contrary to claims from antivaxxers, that doesn’t mean provaxxers are becoming antivax.

So the first of three grants was submitted on Tuesday, and, I must confess, I was so tired that I let things slide a couple of days before dipping my toe back into social media and the news to see what’s been going while I was distracted that piques my interest sufficiently, and it wasn’t long before I found it. By way of background, I’ll take a backseat to no one when it comes to being provaccine, not even Paul Offit or Peter Hotez. yet, over the last four months I’ve written four posts expressing concern about a potential COVID-19 vaccine. It started when I became concerned about Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program to break all vaccine development speed records to produce a COVID-19 vaccine. In August, I pushed back against Russia’s approval of its Sputnik-V vaccine with barely even a phase I clinical trial and suggestions that we should approve a vaccine without necessarily completing phase 3 clinical trials. Just before I took my brief hiatus to attend to the first of three grant deadlines, I even wrote a post entitled Can we trust the CDC and FDA any more?, which was partially about whether the politicization of these agencies by the Trump administration would lead the FDA to approve a COVID-19 vaccine without sufficient safety evidence. (The rest was about how the Department of Health and Human Services was actively interfering with the CDC’s messaging on the coronavirus pandemic.)

I’m not alone, either. Heavyweight vaccine advocate Paul Offit has repeatedly expressed concern about rushing a COVID-19 vaccine to market without adequate safety testing, referring to the name “Operation Warp speed” as “terrible” and warning that it’s not realistic to expect a vaccine before 2021. So have other vaccine experts ranging from Peter Hotez, who urged against “overpromising,” to Natalie Dean to others. Even our pseudonymous reptilian friend Skeptical Raptor has warned that Operation Warp Speed could be a disaster, often using more Star Trek metaphors. Meanwhile, the Black doctors’ group National Medical Association, acting on the longstanding mistrust the African-American community has for medicine, has set up a task force to vet COVID-19 vaccines in order to assuage distrust and, it is hoped, increase vaccine uptake in underserved communities.

Antivaxxers are now trying to portray this justified and understandable caution on the part of tried-and-true, died-in-the-wool vaccine advocates in one of two ways, either as evidence that we’ve somehow come over to their side or as a pretext for some serious whataboutism. I came across an example of the latter yesterday while perusing the usual wretched hives of scum and antivaccine villainy that I monitor in order to be up on the latest antivaccine talking points, on the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism (AoA) where the whataboutism was baked right into the title, National Medical Association Members Question CoVax But What About MMR? Regular readers of the blog who’ve followed my writings about VAXXED and the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory about CDC investigator William Thompson will know right where this is going, and go there it does…right away:

We can’t help but wonder if the members of the National Medical Association, a group formed in 1895 by and for Doctors of Color, are aware of William Thompson’s information regarding the CDC and their willful altering of data to mask the autism rate among African American toddlers based on age at which MMR was administered? Perhaps this is a good time to reach out to them.

In June, we posted an article about Melinda Gates’ announcement that African Americans should be among the first to receive the Covid vaccine, and traced her Southern, white experience in a high school that retained “slave day” as a jovial fundraiser 100 years after slavery was abolished. Read The One In Which Melinda Gates Bestows COVID Vaccines

“The slave trade became legal for one last time … as the Senior class members sold themselves along with thirteen brave and courageous teachers,” the caption read in the yearbook, titled Acres. Two white students who darkened their skin appear in photos on the page.” NBC Dallas on Melinda Gates High School Yearbook from 1979. She was a Freshman that year.

The CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theory that emerged in 2014 after biochemical engineer turned incompetent epidemiologist Brian Hooker befriended a troubled CDC researcher named William Thompson. Hooker had several long telephone conversations with Thompson and, unbeknownst to Thompson, recorded these conversations. (Ultimately, an antivax lawyer named Kevin Barry published transcripts of four of these phone conversations.) In them, Thompson complained that a 2003 study by Frank DeStefano and colleagues (including him) that found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism left out raw data showing a 3.4-fold increase in autism risk in African-American boys. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, as I’ve explained the conspiracy more times than I can remember in the last six years, but suffice to say that it didn’t. It is, however, true that an unadjusted analysis in this small subgroup did yield this number. As I like to say, that’s why epidemiologists and statisticians apply appropriate adjustments to the raw numbers.

Thompson also helped Hooker obtain the raw dataset, which Hooker promptly abused by doing and redoing his own incompetent “analysis,” fueled by his love of “simplicity.” As I also like to say, in epidemiology and statistics, “simple” analyses are often not correct analyses. How bad was Hooker’s “reanalysis” of DeStefano et al? Let’s just put it this way. After having been retracted, it ended up in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, a.k.a. JPANDS, the house organ of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) that John Birch Society masquerading as a medical professional society known for publishing antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience, among other quackery, and trafficking in conspiracy theory. I deemed JPANDS the appropriate place for Hooker’s incompetent analysis to be published. In any event, I liked to joke that Hooker’s reanalysis actually proved Andrew Wakefield wrong, because, other than in a small subgroup (African-American boys) using unadjusted data, there wasn’t even a hint of a whiff of a correlation between vaccination with MMR and a higher chance of being diagnosed with autism in any other group. No one ever accused antivaxxers of consistency. In any event, the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory soon replaced the Simpsonwood conspiracy theory as the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement, popularized by Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree’s antivaccine conspiracy film disguised as a documentary, VAXXED. It didn’t matter that there was no evidence of a coverup, even in all the documents that Thompson had taken from the CDC about the study.

So, whenever you see antivaxxers making comparisons to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in the context of the MMR vaccine, they’re almost certainly referencing the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory. Indeed, they’ve used this conspiracy theory to make an alliance with the Nation of Islam and to try to recruit African-Americans to their ranks. Indeed, just last year Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. appeared in Harlem using just this angle, while a few years ago Del Bigtree and Andrew Wakefield made an appearance in Compton.

The above is just one example that I’ve seen of “whataboutism.” It’s not hard to find others. More outrageous is the claim that those of us who have expressed alarm at Operation Warp Speed as potentially representing a rush to a produce a vaccine fast at the expense of safety have become antivaxxers. The most famous example of this hit the news a couple of weeks ago, when Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris said in an interview with CNN, quite reasonably, that she wouldn’t trust Donald Trump’s word on whether a COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective:

“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump” on the reliability of a vaccine, Harris said. The California senator, however, added that she would trust a “credible” source who could vouch that a vaccine was safe for Americans to receive.

Harris also expressed concern that Trump has continued to contradict his own health officials amid a pandemic and suggested Friday that a vaccine would “probably” be available in October for the virus, which has killed more than 188,000 people in the U.S. as of Saturday.

“If past is prologue … they’ll be muzzled. They’ll be suppressed,” Harris said of health experts and scientists. “They will be sidelined because he’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend he has been a leader on this issue when he has not.”

Yes, it’s not unreasonable to be worried that the fix is in to get a vaccine out before the election, regardless of safety.

Again, Harris wasn’t saying anything that people like Dr. Offit or Hotez hasn’t said before or that I haven’t said before. There is a general concern that the FDA has become politicized, and there is a more specific concern that the current FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn won’t be able to resist the pressure from the White House to approve a vaccine before the election using an emergency use authorization (EUA), the way it approved hydroxychloroquine (with the EUA later revoked) and convalescent plasma. This led Donald Trump (who was antivaccine before he perceived a need to have a COVID-19 vaccine to have any chance of being reelected) to accuse Joe Biden and Kamala Harris of “antivaccine rhetoric”:

Donald Trump accusing anyone of “undermining science” nuked yet another one of my irony meters, but none of that stoped his sycophants, toadies, and lackeys from penning articles like this one and this risibly ignorant and stupid article by Marc Thiessen. It’s so dumb that I can’t help but quote the most brain dead passage:

For Harris to undermine public confidence in a vaccine for political gain is shameful. Every candidate vaccine has already passed safety trials. They are now being studied for efficacy. To question their safety, without a shred of evidence, puts lives at risk.

Only someone utterly ignorant of how clinical trials work could conclude that the candidate vaccines are safe based on phase I trials, which are the primary safety trials done before larger phase 2 and 3 trials. The bottom line is that vaccines, because they are administered to people without disease in order to prevent disease, have the highest bar to pass for safety. One can’t decide if a vaccine is safe until after the phase 3 trials, at least. Indeed, postmarket surveillance is still carried out using one passive and three active surveillance systems. OK, I’ll stop.

No, I won’t. Just as I was finishing this last night, this story appeared in the New York Times:

President Trump said Wednesday that the White House “may or may not” approve new Food and Drug Administration guidelines requiring outside experts to weigh in before the agency approves a coronavirus vaccine, and said the plan “sounds like a political move,” undercutting government scientists who had said the opposite just hours earlier.

The president’s comments to reporters in the White House briefing room came after four of the administration’s top health officials who are helping to steer the government’s coronavirus response appeared in front of a Senate panel in an effort to bolster public trust in the F.D.A.

The officials told the panel that they had complete faith in the agency and that science and data — not politics — were guiding its decisions.

Their testimony came as the F.D.A. prepared to issue stricter guidelines for the emergency authorization of any new coronavirus vaccine. That would add a new layer to the vetting process.

But Mr. Trump has insisted a vaccine may be ready as early as next month — and he sounded more than a little skeptical about the new guidelines.

“That has to be approved by the White House,” he said, adding, “We may or may not approve it.”

No, it’s not unreasonable, when President Trump says things like this, to worry that the White House might do its damnedest to put pressure on the FDA.

Of course, accusing those with justifiable concerns over Trump’s pressure on the FDA to approve a vaccine of being “antivaccine” is just political rhetoric. Moreover, the accusation actually assumes that being antivaccine is a bad thing, which is why Trump and his allies tried to portray Biden and Harris as antivaccine. Antivaxxers, however, don’t consider being antivaccine a bad thing (although they know that society does, which is why they lie or convince themselves that they “aren’t antivaccine”). That’s why AoA was gloating a couple of months ago:

Public Health and the media have long considered anyone who questions vaccine safety to be an “anti-vaxxer.” As the world has been turned inside out because of COVID-19, people who likely never questioned pediatric vaccines are beginning to wonder how a rushed COVID vaccine can be safe and effective. People in droves are asking hard questions about a rushed vaccine that has been touted as the one and only path to a “new COVID normal.” We’re going to need a much bigger tent for the anti-vaxxer holiday party….

Elsewhere, AoA proclaims that “58% of Americans are antivaxxers,” based on a poll showing that only 42% of Americans plan to get a new COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available.

There is, of course, a huge difference between being concerned about Operation Warp Speed and being antivaccine. Antivaxxers are deluded if they think that being concerned about Operation Warp Speed and Donald Trump’s track record of politicizing the FDA in his effort to be perceived as coming up with cures to or a vaccine against COVID-19 means that we are coming around to antivaccine views. We’re not. Their whataboutism asking why their conspiracy theories and pseudoscience demonizing vaccines with a long track record of safety (like the MMR) aren’t treated as seriously as concerns about a new COVID-19 vaccine is, of course, ridiculous. It is, however, rhetoric that might sound plausible to some people, though, which is why I’m pointing it out.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

142 replies on “No, the rush for a COVID-19 vaccine is not turning provaccine advocates into antivaxxers”

The real question is whether a vaccine is needed. The number of cases is increasing. But it is not clear if this is the number of positive tests or the number of symptomatic cases. In either case the percentage of hospitalization as a function of the number of tests/cases is declining; albeit the absolute number may be increasing. It is becoming increasingly clear that the virus is not a risk for the majority of the population.

There is a methodological problem if the number of positive tests is equated to the number of cases. This stems from two different considerations. If the PCR test used to detect the virus is overly sensitive, due to the number of amplification cycles, then people with insignificant amounts of virus or dead virus or viral fragments will be counted as a positive test. This directly relates to the need to distinguish an infection from a clinically significant disease, or the so called “likelihood of disease” for a positive test. The logic is “it is necessary but not sufficient to demonstrate infection by COVID-19 to indicate COVID-19 disease”. Disease also requires symptoms. This is a basic tenet of medicine.

The second is the nature of any test that produces false positives (and all tests do). The positive predictive value of a test (the likelihood of disease) is a function of true positives (those with the disease)/all positive tests. The negative predictive value of a test or the likelihood of not having the disease if the test is negative is true negatives/all negatives. For PCR, the test is so sensitive that the likelihood of a false negative test is essentially zero. This means that if a test for COVID-19 is negative, the likelihood of NOT having the disease is 100%.

However there is a different problem with a positive test. Let’s assume that the likelihood of having COVID-19 is 1/1000. (This is a good estimate). Let’s assume that PCR has a 1% false positive rate. This is very low. Most tests are closer to 5%. If there is 1% false positive rate, this means that for every 1000 randomly tested people, there will be 11 positive tests (10 false positive and 1 true positive). At the best, this means that if positive tests are equated cases, the real number of cases is 1/11th of the reported number.

The positive predictive value of a positive test is true positive/all positives. Using this equation, the positive predictive value of a positive test with a background population of 1/1000, is about 9%. In radio operator curve analysis where true positives are plotted against false positives, a meaningful result must be above 50%. This is barely above not testing at all.

Paradoxically as the virus spreads throughout the population, and more and more people are found to be positive without symptoms, the test loses more and more meaning. If, on the other hand, the number of symptomatic patients markedly increases, there will be value to the test.

Based on current experience, COVID-19 is not a significant problem and certainly not a significant problem to the majority of the population.

@ Pathcoin1

“The real question is whether a vaccine is needed.”

Even if the developed vaccine is not administered, it is 100% worthwhile to develop knowledge as to how create vaccines as fast as possible in the context of a pandemic. If only as a rehearsal for the next one.

Other than the 200K dead in the US (a count that’s still rising and could double in the next few months) and the many thousands with debilitating post-COVID syndromes, sure it’s “not significant.”???‍♂️

On the topic of post-COVID syndromes, has anyone run across any good papers wherein significant numbers of cases have been examined? I’ve seen lots of informal stuff but last time I looked, admittedly a couple of weeks back, I couldn’t find anything very satisfying in terms of formal research.

That’s not an argument against a vaccine: at most, it’s a reminder that the test positivity rate isn’t the whole story. I don’t know why you think the test rate is, or should be, the only or most important indicator. At least as important are the number of deaths, the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and hospital/health system readiness and capacity.

If we still had no test for coronavirus infection, people would still be getting sick and dying from this thing.

“COVID-19 is not a significant problem and certainly not a significant problem to the majority of the population.”

There are 200,000 people, plus their family, friends, coworkers and neighbors who would strongly disagree.

Your total lack of empathy horrifies me.

There are 200,000 people

Ah no. The figure seems to be just under a million (~987,000). The 200,000 is just the USA.

John Kane, thanks for the correction. Some times it feels like the rest of the world has figured this out, and it’s just the US messing up.

Don’t forget all those people who haven’t died. Even those lucky enough to be asymptomatic have scars in the lungs and heart. Long term effects are anyone’s guess.

@ Path

Let’s assume that PCR has a 1% false positive rate. This is very low. Most tests are closer to 5%

Citation needed on the figures.
It’s funny how you take real concerns and known limits to the scientific knowledge, but seem to systematically underestimate and overinflate the parts suiting your thesis.

By example, here, joyfully conflating “false positive” with “PCR detected bits of virus”.
It’s true that the PCR test will only tells you if you have been infected with the virus.
It’s true that this doesn’t tell you at which stade of the infection you are, or how serious the infection will be. Start, end, full-blown or asymptomatic?
It’s correct to insist on these limits.
It’s false to say it’s a “false positive” and meaningless. A positive does tell you you have been exposed, and that the virus is still circulating in your surroundings.

Practically, the tests are awful. We have one pt right now we could send back to assisted living but they won’t take him because the PCR keeps popping positive. He is one of our few success stories. Coming in, he was the picture of a pt who would have a bad prognosis. We think we caught it early in its course (Again, the tests are useless) and started him on the whole enchilada of treatments/supplements. He came out of the ICU and has been laying around here taking up a hospital bed and probably will even though there’s probably a very low chance he could spread it around even if he was still infectious, which he probably isn’t (Asymptomatic the entire time, bed-ridden at baseline, blah, blah.)

We had another one last week who was stuck around here because her SNF wouldn’t take her back until we had two negative PCRs 24 hours apart. She sat here for six weeks. Six weeks in the hospital where we were doing literally nothing for her. The PCR is just too d*mn sensitive.

Also, guidance is lacking.

A. Thank you for calling this out. What characterizes antivaccine activists is that their hostility to vaccines is based on misinformation and conspiracy theories – very different from actual concerns with evidence behind them. That’s why it’s so jarring when they call themselves safety advocates; they’re not. Real safety issues are discovered by real researchers. The antivaccine claims about safety issues that aren’t real just distracts – even undermines – the extensive work on vaccines safety.

B. I am concerned that these justified concern will be a gateway to some people into real antivaccine beliefs. Not for any of the people in your post, but generally.

C. Of interest, Trump’s comment about overturning fda guidelines touches on a debate in administrative law about presidential power. The short version is that under traditional administrative law he doesn’t have the power to directly overturn agency guidelines. Doesn’t mean he won’t try, but unless he goes about it in a clever manner it won’t hold in court.

I think a key difference is we have some very concrete standards that we’re looking for, grounded in science and best practices, to tell us vaccines are safe. Antivaxxers either outright have no standard for proof of safety, or they set impossible standards, such as unethical vax vs. antivax studies, or wide-ranging, open-ended studies that are ripe for p-hacking, because there is nothing they won’t accept as a possible vaccine injury.

(C.) Yea, maybe; but I just heard Dr. Peter Hotez (CNN) state that he thinks HHS can override FDA and we all know what’s been going on up in there.

Trump doesn’t even have to command it; his peeps know what he wants, like with a mob boss.

Regarding (B), I hope that the vigorous discussion among researchers and clinicians is thoughtfully conveyed to show what vaccine safety testing really looks like, and can be used to show how thoroughly all vaccines are already tested.

I think the pharma companies publishing their protocols is an amazing step (and shows just how messed up everything is right now).

The administration already asked for submissions weeks ago {presumably for EUA to be given}. There were no takers — What is Cheeto-in-Chief gonna do?? Use DPA to order them onto market?? (of course he will) /s /s

Q. Can vaccine continuous improvement playout during a pandemic.

I’m expecting “Not Manufactured with Natural Rubber Latex.” If there are latex warnings associated with COVID-19 vaccine(s), I’d like to write a few non-moderated words and phrases in the spirit of respectful insolence.

@ Orac,

Can you temporarily release MJD from auto-moderation if latex warnings are associated with COVID-19 vaccines?

A few things…

–Although I support most vaccines for most people based on data, I wouldn’t take a vaccine that was rushed to production and distribution without adequate testing. AS usual, anti-vaxxers see everything in black and white without any nuance whatsoever..

–Anti-vaxxers’ attempts to manipulate Black people – who are justifiably concerned based upon their history- have recently involved RFK jr and other well-known activists raising money for a young NJ Assemblyman, Jamel Holley, who has spoken at events for them in other states. It is unfortunate but how they operate: target vulnerable people because of their personal experiences ( parents of kids with ASDs) or knowledge of racist history.

— I am increasingly disturbed by the anti-vaxxer/ woo/ libertarian/ Trumpite cavalier attitude – herd mentality?- amongst those I survey concerning Covid and the need to re-open and conduct business-as-usual. I was so glad to see Dr Fauci** educate Rand Paul about his unreasonable figure of 22% as herd immunity..
They want to re-start the economy because they fear more business closures, deeper recession and unemployment BUT they fail to realise that their very actions- disregarding masks and social distancing,- are only dragging the pandemic out so that it will last longer and do MORE economic damage. I’ve heard estimates that if the entire US went along in March, for 6-8 weeks ,the situation, including the number of deaths- would be much better now. My area doesn’t have hundreds of deaths everyday as they did early on, they are in the single figures now

— Does anyone figure out the aftermath- infection spread- following Trump campaign events where many followers are unmasked and not distanced?

** the funniest comment at AoA, Fauci and Gates were roommates at university! They are 16 years apart in age, Fauci was pre-med and classics! Different universities.


Yes, Orac, please respectfully insolate Rand Paul, over his spat with Fauci.
(What is interesting is that technically Orac has no greater expertise in these matters, both being doctors. So why is Rand Paul such a tool?)

The true test of any good tool is how many disparate uses it’s good for in which it was otherwise not designed to be. But, in Rand’s case, it’s mostly a dirty bathroom with a touch of cold floors.

1) Rand Paul is an ophthalmologist, and unlike our gracious host, is not a researcher and does not also have a PhD.

2) Rand Paul chooses to not educate himself on things that would interfere with his chosen worldview. Maybe if this were some hyper infectious form of pinkeye (oh gag gag gag) then his training and education would come to the fore over his political positions, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

Training and education can only take you so far in any field. You also have to apply yourself. Senator Paul does not apply himself to infectious disease research.

Most radiologists are not idiots either, like the Atlas “herd immunity” dude. People are tools because they don’t take their medical training seriously, due to various personality defects.

I’m not going to take any sort of drug or treatment until there are responsible and knowledgeable authorities giving their opinion that, having studied all available data, it is safe and effective.

I’m not antivaccine, I’m pro-safe vaccine, don’t you know.:):) This, actually, is the perfect time to turn the antivaxxer’s favority slogan against them.

Even if the FDA approves a vaccine, it’s not as if they’re great authorities on vaccine effectiveness or what sort of safety the various phases of testing provide. They can stamp anything new as “generally recognized as safe”. I would usually have followed the CDC’s guidance, but conclusive proof that they are being politically influenced means that I will wait for the judgment of outside reputable authorities.

Trump is certainly not one of those! If he was, I’d be injecting bleach and Lysol right now, which you can see I am not, since I am able to type this.

As for the idea that a vaccine isn’t needed!!?! I want more vaccines, vaccines for everything. I’d get vaccinated for the common cold if a good and effective one came out. I’m the opposite of an antivaxxer: I want all vaccines, all the time, for every known virus. (OK, that’s asking a lot, but I still want them.)

I am not an anti-vaxxer (I am currently undergoing phase 3 of the Covid trial so I am up to date on all my vaccines. I am big fan of Warrant Buffett, I purchased 50 shares of his company in 1976 at 89 dollars a share after a chance encounter).

I come to this site to read the comments of supposed well educated people.
The most fascinating ones are those who rail against the anti vaxxers, the
people who post the vitriolic words claim the anti vaxxers are anti-science.

Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The modern anti vaxxers are a product of science, they were basically started in 1974 when two scientist (Wilson & Kulenkampff) wrote a scientific paper in the Archive of Diseases in Childhood which claimed some serious side effects to modern vaccines. The paper was peer reviewed and has never been retracted.

The anti vaxxers got a boost in 1982 from NBC news who aired a documentary called “DPT Vaccine Roulette” In the documentary several well know doctors talked of the dangers of modern vaccines.

Then in 1998 Andrew Wakefield put the anti vaxxers on steroids which was published in the peer reviewed, distinguished “Lancet” which linked autism to vaccines. (It took the Lancet 12 LONG years to realize they were had by lawyers and reporters and admitted their mistake before they retracted the paper.)

So the anti vaxxers were just following the science, the anti vaxxers were told by the best science and news media that vaccinations might be bad and so they “believed the science”.

The next science the anti vaxxers followed was an ABC news 20/20 special report called “Who’s Calling the Shots” and how the big 7 pharmaceutical companies held an unbreakable monopoly on new drugs and research.

If you were to read Mary Buffett’s book , “Warren Buffett Stock Portfolio”(daughter in law, of Warren Buffett). She outlines one of the more profitable areas of Warren investing is in GSK (GlaxoSmithKline). Two of the main points in the book (I have an autographed copy).

The first is just how profitable vaccines are to pharmaceutical companies. A normal shot/dose cost the company about 1.50 they charge the buyers 9 dollars. These companies spend millions to lobby WHO, CDC and others to make vaccines mandatory in all countries.
The second and probably the scariest one is that the government passed a law in 1988 that makes the industry immune from civil action should anyone be injured or harmed from their vaccines, the companies are even held harmless if the vaccines is not effective (even if there were errors in the manufacturing process. 42 U.S. code 300aa-22) (they are the ONLY manufacturing sector that has this protected class status). Even the EU passed a similar law.
So the pharmaceutical companies can make vaccines and sell them at 7 times the cost of production and never have to face civil liability. Would you buy any other product that the government holds the company harmless in a civil liability case, let alone one that the government mandates you purchase?

And how about that chip reader to confirm if you have had the vaccine, conspiracy theory or only loonies would believe something like that. Well if you read Scientific American (you know that right wing crazy magazine) announced in the December 18 2019 “Invisible Ink could Reveal whether Kids Have Been Vaccinated.”

Who would not believe in a conspiracy after those things. The posters here, politicians and news reporters have created this “we must believe all science” monster and it will be very hard to put that genie back in the bottle

Following only specific and highly problematic articles that fit one’s biases is not “following the science.” And note that some of what you shared (an ABC report? Or the show Vaccine Roulette) is not science. Conspiracy theories about Pharma are not science either.

Anti-vaccine activists us conspiracy theories to reject the science. For example, they use them to reject the many studies from all around the world that show that vaccines do not cause autism.

Neither WHO nor CDC can or do mandate vaccines. Liability protections are not absolute in U.S. – they are limited – and the EU does not have a parallel law.

You may have been given some incorrect information.

I was just pointing out that the anti vaxxers are using “science” to back up their claims.Those people chose to pick which science to believe, just as you have done or I have done. Again they believed the “Lancet” .
As to your point on the WHO and CDC, you are technically correct however they do make recommendations to states and countries which do make vaccines mandatory (for children to attend school some parents have even been prosecuted for failure to vaccinate their children).
As far as pharmaceutical companies I used Mary Buffett’s book as to investments, she is Warrens daughter in law, so I would bet she knows Warrens “take” on making money. But I don’t think Mary is a conspiracy buff.
As to your point on immunity, if you had even had a brief look at the law it is almost absolute (National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986) any claims are paid by a tax on all vaccines (they have only paid 1.8 billion over the 35 years of the law). so the companies are exempt from paying for or defense of their products, it is the governments job to conduct and pay for defense and resulting claims.
All I am doing is pointing out how our modern life with internet speed of “news???” and the magical belief that all science is to be believed, has actually damaged science.

Precisely. Antivaxxers are following cherry picked bad science and fraud that reinforce their prior beliefs that vaccines cause autism, other neurodevelopmental conditions, and a whole host of diseases (including killing babies through SIDS), while they weave conspiracy theories to explain to themselves why their “science” isn’t accepted by mainstream medicine and vaccine science. I suppose that’s “following science,” but it’s definitely not in a good way.

@ Scott Allen

any claims are paid by a tax on all vaccines […] so the companies are exempt from paying for or defense of their products

Again with this silly stuff.
Actually, levying this tax on vaccines is forcing the pharma business to pay for defending their product.
Now explain to me how a private business could be forced into “paying for or defense of their products” without them including the costs of these taxes or actions into the final price of their products.

IOW, be it by a tax or trials, at the end, it’s always the customer who is funding the private business’ actions.

I just peruse this site to watch Gorski and Dorit make fools of themselves pushing their paid pro-Big Pharma nonsense.

Gorski, Offit and Pan have made many excuses when invited to debate Robert Scott Bell, Del Bigtree, Dr Tenpenny and others…..on a live moderated forum.

Debates are useless when one side (guess which one!) has no compunction against lying. Your heroes can get off their butts and present their evidence in peer-reviewed papers. Otherwise, they can GTFO,

@ Pat

“I just peruse this site to watch Gorski and Dorit make fools of themselves pushing their paid pro-Big Pharma nonsense.”

Why are there so many anti-business commies like Pat in the US? Beats me… (Irony…)

You should know something about science and how it is used in decision making before you go off on a rant. Policy should be based on weight of evidence – any one study can be right or wrong, it is the body of the results of many studies that will be most correct.
What you have done is motivated reasoning not science – take a position and then find info to defend it. Not to worry, this is a common form of reasoning in the non-science population. But try to overcome it if you want to be scientific…

JDK-motivated reasoning or cognitive bias is common to all persons not just non-scientists. The beauty of science and other rational enterprises is the mandatory scrutiny and corrections by peer review

@Leonard Sugarman: Yes, even scientists fall prey to cognitive biases just like everyone else, even if they are trained to be aware of and try to overcome them. They’re only human too. Heck, even our host fell to that once, with the Surgisphere debacle a few months ago. However, the entire process of science, from experimental design all the way down to peer reviewed publication, exists largely to combat these cognitive biases that are part of the human condition. Because of this, scientists need to be humble enough to admit they’re wrong from time to time.

“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” — Carl Sagan

For the most part, though, that’s not following science… that’s following science news reporting. And there’s little news reporters love more than controversy and ‘everything you know is wrong!’.

Which means that those who follow news reporting rather than back-checking with the actual science often get a view of things that is far more in flux and in doubt than things actually are, and makes cherry picking much easier when the ‘surprising’ reports are big news and the corrections that those reports were later found to be wrong is relegated to a back page somewhere.

This isn’t helped by the fact that science is always at least somewhat in flux, with the best ideas changing over time. But unless you’re at the bleeding edge, most ideas in science are fairly stable because they’ve had to survive generations of people trying to poke holes in them. We’ve long since passed the point where a gentleman scientist working in his garage can overturn centuries of thought. (Einstein may have been a patent clerk, but he was a patent clerk who had studied physics at the Zurich Polytechnic and graduated with top marks.)

So if you’re complaining that anti-vaxxers are getting the wrong ideas, don’t complain about the science, complain about how it’s being reported. Not to mention blatantly politicized.

Scott Allen “A normal shot/dose cost the company about 1.50 they charge the buyers 9 dollars. ”

So that’s a profit of $7.50. On a treatment that is given somewhere between one and three times, for most childhood vaccines. Yes, the flu shot is yearly, and you should get a tetanus/pertussis shot every 10 years.

Even if we include every single possible vaccine, the whole childhood schedule, annual flu shots, tetanus/pertussis boosters and heck, all the travel vaccines, that’s not the tiniest drop in the bucket of profits compared to any medication that’s taken daily.

Even the most overblown, over-counted version of the modern vaccine schedule is less than 100. Even if we double that to 200 shots (maybe you lost your vaccine records and then traveled the world), that’s still fewer shots than the number of cholesterol-lowering pills a person might take in a year.

Or blood pressure.
Or birth control.
Or medication for mental health.
Or allergy medicines.

Vaccines are a great public health investment because they last and you don’t have to take them every day or week or month.

It also makes them terrible profit centers.

Seriously, this is basic math.

Scott Allen “These companies spend millions to lobby WHO, CDC and others to make vaccines mandatory in all countries.”

Every country in the world chooses their own vaccine schedule, based on what their population needs, and what they can afford. Many of the largest vaccine markets (India, for example) rely on domestic vaccine production.

Vaccines distributed by the WHO are often either free or sold for pennies on the dollar.

And again, where is the money, a one-and-done malaria vaccine, or anti-malaria pills you have to take forever (or until the malaria becomes resistant)?

Your economic arguments are rather lacking.

How do you know vaccine production costs ? This kind of thing is usually a trade secret. Besides of that, sales minus production cost is gross profit. A company would have any number of overheads on a top of that.
How do you know amount of money pharma uses for lobbying for mandatory vaccinations ? Nobody have suggested something like that.
There are many papers about DTP and DTAP. Antivaxxers pick old ones they do like. You actually should read all papers
Fraud and tv show are not science . And antivaxxers still believe that Wakefield is a Galileo hit by a great pharma conspiracy. Not scientific thinking this.
So you actually kinda believe that microchip thing. Invisible ink is not same thing than a microchip. A science based thinking would not confuse these two things

For a brief moment the ‘invisible ink’ thing took me back to my childhood.

Doctor: What vaccinations have you had?
Patient: Can’t remember…
Doctor: Not a problem. Nurse, bring the hot air gun, we’ll have to heat up this guys back to bring up the lemon juice vaccine list.

“So the anti vaxxers were just following the science, the anti vaxxers were told by the best science and news media that vaccinations might be bad and so they “believed the science”.

News media used sound bites. Especially with the power of motivated reasoning and the quest for TV ratings. Most people do not understand real risks. I say this as someone who was told that we should only eat organic food by a coworker who was sucking on a cigarette.

That is all in the past, but what I really want to know is what “science” is being presented by Natalie White and Christine Kincaid. Just quote and link to their statements made on this blog where they point to any kind of scientific finding that found vaccines on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the diseases. Or that autism is caused by vaccines. Make sure to repeat the PubMed indexed articles by reputable qualified researchers that they cited.

I have been asking those two for this kind of evidence for years, but have not seen anything. Perhaps I missed it and you have actually noticed it. So help me out by pointing out when they were correct in their assertions.

We at RI** are shown many examples of people being misled by anti-vaccine leaders who perpetuate the same misinformation, misattributions and outright lies about vaccines.
Supplement sellers, television producers, environmental lawyers and internet salesmen portray themselves as experts and mis-educate masses of concerned parents who are, unfortunately, not well schooled enough in basic life science or critical thinking to know the difference and who then increase the damage by spreading the same mistruths through social media.

Anti-vax mothers ( and it’s usually women although not 100%) take on the role of crusader against the “evils” of vaccines by posting stories about vaccine “injury”, “educating” younger women in person by lecturing strangers in public places, leaving written diatribes in doctors’ offices, attending protests and supporting anti-vax “charities” sponsored by leading activists’ organisations. Some even aspire to leadership roles themselves by writing books, speaking at rallies or becoming influencers .I am not sure where I differentiate followers from leaders but I imagine that earning money rather than spending money has something to do with it.

** I have neither the patience nor calm of Prof Dorit with anti-vax followers but then, hardly anyone else does; my main issue is with the originators of the lies…

. . .

After listening to a friend’s experience with someone on social media she found through a parents of kids with [specific medical condition] support group I have to wonder if some of these people (in this case a woman) aren’t spreading the anti-vax stuff as a form of bullying.

My friend was told by a respected member of this support group that it was her fault that her kid has [specific medical condition] because my friend got a flu shot while she was pregnant.

What a horrible, unkind, unhelpful thing to say, even if it was true. And of course it isn’t, but for a while my friend wasn’t sure and was overcome with guilt that it was all her fault, even though she knows the likely cause of the condition and there’s nothing to be done about it.

In this case this woman’s sheer nastiness ran my friend out of the forum before she could be completely indoctrinated, and she has the support of people in the medical-adjacent field to help explain it all to her.

Agreed. Lots of viciousness.

In fact, sometimes I wonder if anti-vaxxers’ attacks on more SB parents and professionals are to assuage their own guilt after all, they were the ones who had their child vaccinated, leading to “damage or death”, so to atone for this sin, they need to prevent more wanton injury by saving others.
Anyone who believes that their child was vaccine injured has to feel somehow complicit because they helped thus they have a need to accuse doctors of underhanded profiteering, lying and destruction: “They lied! I am innocent” she doth protest.

“My friend was told by a respected member of this support group that it was her fault that her kid has [specific medical condition] because my friend got a flu shot while she was pregnant.”

I was told my kid got seizures because of cow milk. When I explained the child was a newborn and only had breast milk he doubled down and told me it was because I had cow milk while pregnant. Yeah, I experienced the “blame the victim” early on.

By the way, it is common for any family who has someone with a medical condition. If you gather some up in a cafe for a conversation it gets quite raucous when they tell stories of friends, relatives and strangers on what they did “wrong.”

By the way, I was in one of those groups a long long time ago. I got some of the idiocy. I quit that group when it turned out one of the “mothers” was an employee of a quack doctor who exploited desperate families, she was there to drum up business:

@ Chris

“By the way, I was in one of those groups a long long time ago. I got some of the idiocy.”

Interesting. Thanks for explaining. Weirdly, we have more in common than meets the eye, though it manifested in very different ways and for very different reasons.

@ Chris “they tell stories of friends, relatives and strangers on what they did “wrong.” ”

Years ago a coworker of mine was in a terrible accident; she was in a coma for months and had lots of other serious injuries. While she was in the hospital, still in a coma, some folks from her church stopped by and asked her husband “what she did to deserve this”.

Hospital security removed them.

Some people need, deeply, for to place blame on other people’s actions as the cause of misfortune, as a way to ward off terrible things from happening to them, by chance.

Scott Allen: “I was just pointing out that the anti vaxxers are using “science” to back up their claims.Those people chose to pick which science to believe, just as you have done or I have done.”

I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid “science” espoused by people who’ve lost medical licenses for gross malfeasance and/or ethical transgressions, researchers who’ve had their journal articles retracted over similar issues and those who pontificate without valid evidence regarding fields in which they lack adequate training or expertise, and who traffic in nonsensical conspiracy theories.*

“Somebody wrote something and it got published” does not equate to “science”.

*I don’t know how I missed this wingding up till now, but I spent some wasted minutes today perusing the writings of Donald W. Miller, a retired thoracic surgeon (there’s the ol’ Emeritus Syndrome again) who has promoted an alternate vaccine schedule in which no shots are given before age 2 because the kiddies’ brains are too undeveloped to handle them (he has since declared no vaccines should ever be given), believes the C.I.A. conspired to assassinate J.F.K., regards water fluoridation as “poison”, views the current pandemic as leading to “left-wing terrorists” instituting “neo-Marxist revolution” and declares masks useless for retarding spread of respiratory viruses despite wearing them daily for 40 years.

Now that’s Science.

I will endeavor to respond,
To Leonard Sugarman, there have been anti vaxxer since the “cow pox” vaccine, it is not a new thing, however now they are using “science” which has been published in top ten journals (Lancet), which were “peer reviewed”, the sad part is it took 12 years, again 12 years for the Lancet to retract the “Wakefield” paper. My point is how many other as yet to be “retracted” papers are out there, that we are basing public policy, spending vast sums of money based on bad/retracted science. How much government money based on the social science, put out by Diederick Stapel and his made up “peer reviewed” “science” were wasted, misspent or actually harmed people.
Of course we have bias’s look at any research paper, the citations in papers (for the most part) support what the authors are writing about and support that position.
To Justa Tech your argument about my economics that are “lacking” and that WHO provides for free or sells the vaccine for pennies may be true to a certain extent. The WHO buys these vaccines at top dollar price from drug companies (with wavers about the quality of the product and liability issues) but in turn gives them away or resells them for pennies. The economics of the vaccine industries comes from some one very close to one of the top ten richest persons in the US. If you would read the chapter of her book about Warrens investment in GSK, I referenced, you would understand.
Prior to the modern age of the internet, science was a slow process which purged itself of bad science, the reporters of science news actual had some basic understanding of what science was (to put that in perspective there are well over 10,000 researched papers waiting to be published on Covid and that virus has been around for 10 months or so) even Orac, as cynical as he is, got played in the “Covid” game. Journalism now produce tabloid reporters who have no idea what is real or not.
Sun Tzu

So basically your argument boils down to saying that science has been wrong before, and that gives you a license to just ignore any science you don’t like. The rallying cry of anti-science people everywhere.

Wakefield is a fraud. Yes there are other frauds, too. This does not make him less a fraud. If you do not like frauds, expose them, do not defend them.

If you want to use real scientific procedures then the profit calculation for vaccines is irrelevant unless you compare it to the profit calculation for all the other drugs produced.

Even that is irrelevant unless you look at the percentage of Pharma profit obtained from vaccine sales vs other drugs.

We may say that the profit is extortionate. It may even BE extortionate but don’t ignore the terrain when you are looking at an interesting rock.

Pharma companies make plenty of money, yes. Vaccines are NOT one of the major sources of profit. Your source is incorrect.

Scott Allen- regardless of any faults you may find in scientific enterprises most mistakes or fraud will eventually be discovered or corrected, and most of this correction will be achieved by those who are versed in their various fields of expertise. It’s the best procedures we’ve got and has been developed over a long period of time with huge life changing successes. Anti-vaxxers , pseudo scientists and all their supporters have nothing positive to offer in these scientific endeavors, in fact the very opposite. Their irrationality today is of a pattern on display at least since those cowpox days. Irrational.

As a person who works in public health I’m going to need you to provide a citation other than a book that the WHO pays “top dollar” for vaccines.
The GAVI page on their business model doesn’t indicate anything about “paying top dollar” for vaccines.

I notice you completely ignored my point about the large countries with domestic vaccine manufacturers. How does the Serum Institute fit in your idea of profits?

But the real point you just completely ignored is that vaccines, especially given the current price point, will never, ever be as profitable as all of the “maintenance” medications that people take every day, year in and year out. A 50 year old man may get a flu shot, but he’s going to take his Lipitor every day.

Everyone knows that the best money is in the subscription model, not in durable goods. Vaccines are durable goods. All those other medications are the subscription model.

If you don’t like that pharma companies make a profit on vaccines, well, please take that up with capitalism. If you think making a profit makes something nefarious, well, uh, I don’t know how you reconcile that with current society.

As for your continued insinuations about “quality” issues, it’s clear that you’ve never manufactured any pharmaceutical product, let alone a vaccine. The safety and quality controls that are in place, from all sides, would make your eyes bleed.

To anonymous Coward. I did not defend Wakefield, I was explaining where the geneses and time line of the modern anti vaxxers came from and how they were fed their beliefs with real published, peer reviewed science. I was criticizing science and scientific publishing, the Lancet by waiting 12 years to retract that paper gave weight/credence to Wakfields paper. Who were the reviewers of that paper, who were the reviewers of Diederick Stapel papers, who were the reviewers of James Hunton’s papers. How is the public to know which papers are real and which papers are fake/flawed if even the “experts” can’t tell the difference. One poster here said they don’t read papers published by person who have had their licenses pulled or have been discredited. The trouble is you nor the public know about the fraud and deceit for many years and by the time they are discovered the damage to credibility of science has come into question again.
To number wang, if you are looking at profit at a drug company a simple review would show that OTC pain killers (aka: aspirin or an off shoot) are the most profitable drug for the big 7 companies. Mary Buffett was just pointing out that vaccines are a cash cow with no down side, the government pays a large part of research cost and tax write offs cover the rest , their are about 200,000,000 new customers born every year. the minimum number of shots most of these people get over their life time is 38 (that covers most basic illnesses, with boosters but most in the western world get between 75 to over 100). So basically thats over 50 BILLION dollars year after year of steady profit with liability protection covered by the governments, this was affirmed by the US supreme court.
The ruling was this “Vaccine manufacturers fund from their sales an informal, efficient compensation program for vaccine injuries; in exchange they avoid costly tort litigation and the occasional disproportionate jury verdict. Congress enacted this deal to coax manufacturers back into the vaccine market,” So the big 7 charge more for the vaccines the money is turned over to the US government who then makes the victims go thru the federal tort claims process and the drug companies can keep making their billions on profits.
Again my point of the whole post was to show that the anti vaxxers were following science they were listening to experts and the were watching/reading the instant news cycle that daily has new a breaking news about the latest science discovery. The editor of the Lancet said that he doesn’t believe half of what is written in his journal is true (I am paraphrasing ) so if the head of a publication like that doesn’t believe the science he is publishing what is a non scientific person to believe, if we are told we must “believe science” and not question it, Were we to believe Wakefield when it was first published or Wakefield 12 years later, when it was retracted.

“If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those that tell us something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs of the next charlatan, political or religious leader who comes ambling along”

Carl Sagan in a interview with Charlie Rose

You seem to be objecting to the vaccine manufacturers increasing prices to fund the Vaccine Court? What did you expect? Do you think it would be any different if there wasnt a vaccine court? If there were direct challenges to vaccine manufacturers (which there can be in America) the prices would go up in order to cover those legal costs. Either way the price goes up. If you expect the manufacturers to feel some pain due to funding the VC then your own economic hero is laughing at you. You might as well complain about the colour of the sky.

I do understand your overall point. However, anti-vax ‘science’ has never been a majority. Or even close to a majority. Meaning that those whose follow it do so because it suits them. In other words, they ain’t following the science, they’re following the feeling.

Wang I do NOT object to the drug companies raising their price for anything. That is not what is happening, (this is a simplified version) the government is raising the price to fund the liability “trust”. The government then determines which victims even get a hearing, then if the victim don’t agree with that decision, then the victim can sue (the government) (but only if the government attorneys agree to the lawsuit), the government attorneys are paid for by taxpayers and if their is a resulting judgement it comes from the fund.
This law exempts drug companies from any civil litigation that involves vaccines.
As to your point of minority/majority I was taught that science is science and doesn’t depend on a majority or consensus of believers and anyone who disagrees with the majority is wrong. My objection is that science in the modern era has been politicized and that this “new” science can be used to support either side, its a matter of what science you want to believe. Their are researcher who have had papers that were retracted for FRAUD who have subsequently written papers that have won awards or who now edit very prestigious journals most of these people are still doing research and getting published, none of their grant money has been clawed back by the funding agencies for the fraud. I thought that peer review was to weed out bad research, but then peer reviewers are not paid so I guess the journal’s are getting what they paid for.
As I said in my original post I come to this site to read the post of the supposed well informed and the open minded but what I really find is a small group of closed minded, dogmatic (and that is not a machine to water your dog) people. Who can’t or won’t see how the other side could come to the conclusions that they have. The people who claim that the anti vaxxers are cherry picking the science they choose to believe (and yes they are), have no problem citing in their research papers that tend to support their research and rarely cite papers/research with opposite view points or negative information.

Scott, the ‘majority’ is important. That’s the point of trials. If ten drug trials show no side effects and one drug trial does show a side effect. The likelihood is that the single trial is throwing up a false result. This can happen purely by coincidence, no matter how well designed the trial may be. The poorer the trial design the more likely that the result is incorrect. Hence it is also possible for several badly carried out trials to be negated by fewer well designed trials.

This isn’t a case of most people believe this, so that’s what we’ll go with. It’s a case of the vast majority of tests show X. Therefore X is the current consensus. A Y result is interesting but only if it can be replicated and only if it doesn’t come from a poorly designed and poorly analysed trial. If anti-vaxxers want to be taken seriously, they need to carry out these trials and argue the results in a court of science. You won’t find an anti-vaxxer who’ll do this though. They’d rather invent shit and throw a million random data points out there, before nodding knowingly and accusing the target du jour of genocide.

Wow – I have no idea where you get your numbers, but you’re not even on the same planet…..

Total global revenue (not profit) for vaccines is still only about $35 Billion dollars – since vaccines run at about a 8% margin, once you figure in expenses, that’s only a couple of billion in actual profit per year.

Those expenses include paying for post-release surveillance studies, as required by the various regulations – not just here in the US, but in all major markets, globally.

Vaccines are also not “liability-free.” Some countries, like the US, have a no-fault compensation program, but those don’t cover negligence – and many countries allow these companies to be sued…so again, you’re wrong.

You should do a bit more research before mouthing off.

You don’t seem to have grasped a very important concept called “scientific consensus”. Single studies, such as Wakefield’s ultimately discredited one, don’t really mean a lot in the grand scheme of things. As they say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and when an extraordinary claim is made by a paper, like vaccines causing autism, other scientists will attempt to replicate those findings. That then becomes a body of research, which is then analysed to see where the evidence is trending, and then based on that, scientists reach a consensus about the claim. There are special types of scientific papers called systematic reviews and meta-analyses that look at as much of the relevant published research done on a specific topic, and do an analysis to see where the bulk of the research points. Such meta-studies are the at the pinnacle of the scientific evidence hierarchy, and are the key tools for the development of a scientific consensus.

Were Wakefield an honest scientist, he would have instead issued at most cautious statements to the press about his findings (as the co-authors of his discredited study seem to have done). His research would then have languished, buried by subsequent studies that contradicted his findings, making a retraction superfluous. It would have just been considered one of a few papers that might have been statistical flukes. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses would then have found that apart from a small amount of research like Wakefield’s, the rest of the body of research on vaccines and autism shows no link exists. Here are two such systematic reviews and meta-analyses:

However, Wakefield is not an honest scientist, and he had substantial grift in the offing, so he instead vigorously promoted his fraudulent research to the press, which for the most part gullibly lapped it up, leading to the disastrous fall in vaccine uptake in the UK and Ireland. This led to closer scrutiny by better journalists like Brian Deer, who uncovered Wakefield’s fraud and conflicts of interest. The Lancet already issued a partial retraction in 2004 when these things first came to light. It then became a full retraction in 2010 after the full extent of Wakefield’s malfeasance was known. The twelve years that the paper spent not fully retracted did not lend any more credence to it than of any single paper, which I have said doesn’t really mean too much. The majority of subsequent research that tried to replicate his findings instead refuted it.

I am not disputing what you describe about Wakefield or his study (it was even worse than you describe as it was pushed by lawyers for the 12 objects of his “study” and forced the manufactures to fork over millions in the law suits). It became “famous” because of the way science in reported on in the modern tabloid/electronic news cycles.
I just question why it took “Lancet” (and not only Lancet but other journals and other papers on other research fields) take 6 years to partially retract and 12 years to fully retract??? and who peer reviewed it and who allowed it to be published.

Here’s an explanation of how the peer review process is generally supposed to work:

Peer review is not a complete vetting to ensure validity of results (only further research can do that); it is done only to catch obvious flaws and and to ensure that any such published research has at least a certain level of quality. On the surface, Wakefield’s work seemed valid, and there is a presumption of honesty among scientists. Wakefield’s paper didn’t have any such obvious flaws or clear signs of fraud that peer review would have caught.

As I said, it took six years to partially retract Wakefield’s paper because it took six years for the first credible evidence of his malfeasance to come to light, and another six years from that for the full extent of it to become known. Meanwhile, Wakefield had sold his story to the press, though later research into the vaccines-autism link was already refuting his findings.

Four out of six reviewers of Wakefield’s paper recommended against publication, from my understanding. The editor decided to go ahead anyway but had a commentary attached setting out the deep flaws in the paper – that the press did not read.

I don’t think it’s a peer review failure as much as a failure of the editor.

@ Scott Allen, adding to Anonymous Coward’s statement:

Peer review is not a complete vetting to ensure validity of results

Peer review isn’t the only part of science that exists to commit error checking. Keep in mind that Replication is just as important. This is why frontier results are so shaky; they haven’t survived Replication. This is also why it’s important to have large meta-analyses and reviews of topics; the field needs to keep track of how well results have been replicated and how well they’ve survived attempts. Just being able to quote a paper that says what you want it to say is naive. You need to understand where the consensus lies too.

In August, I pushed back against Russia’s approval of its Sputnik-V vaccine with barely even a phase I clinical trial and suggestions that we should approve a vaccine without necessarily completing phase 3 clinical trials.

The Russian Sputnik 5 vaccine is in Phase 3 trials as of early September, 2020 and hopes to have usable results by May 2021.

The Russian equivalent of the US FDA issued an EUA for front-line workers. A bit dubious but the Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine, claims it is not totally unreasonable, based on their Phase 1 & 2 trials and earlier work with similar vaccines for Ebola and MERS.

Totally incompetent reporting by the English-language Russian media and the Western media managed to turn a limited EUA into an approval for mass vaccinations.

“One poster here said they don’t read papers published by person who have had their licenses pulled or have been discredited.”

Actually, I didn’t say that I don’t read papers from dubious or discredited sources. I don’t jump to assume that their conclusions are valid, which is what credulous true believers do, long after the sources have been exposed as frauds.

“The trouble is you nor the public know about the fraud and deceit for many years”

You should read some of the articles available on RI, Science-Based Medicine, and other sites. There are numerous watchdogs jumping on bad research these days, mindful of the Wakefield case and similar debacles. Deeply flawed antivax papers don’t pollute the literature unchallenged for years any more…it’s generally a matter of days, sometimes hours.

It isn’t just in the realm of vaccination either. Scientific sleuths are quickly ferreting out examples of image manipulation in other publications, leading to retractions and sanctions for bad actors.

Of course, none of this matters to zealots determined to believe in whoever seems to support their cause.

Quick side note – something’s up with the Gnat….his website seems to have lost all of its content.

@ Lawrence:

Maybe he’s too busy working on Trump’s campaign – as he did in 2016 – to create the thought provoking content expected of him and to respond to his many commenters’ intriguing questions..

If the quantity and nature of the comments is any indication, he has very little influence. I wonder if he is honest enough with himself to acknowledge that.j

Ah, that would be too easy. Actually, his posts have been few and far between over the past year…it’s almost like he’d gotten tired of yelling at windmills.

In other news…

( WKXW 101.5; NJ Spotlight)
Hundreds of parents and school aged children descended upon the NJ state house to protest a proposed mandatory flu vaccine measure for school children Thursday. Anti-vaxxers and health freedom advocates opposed
public health attempts to circumvent a ‘twin-demic’ – Covid plus influenza- this year. Interestingly, the first source’s photo reveals children without masks sporting face paint and carrying polemic signs. RFK jr had asked his adherents to show up . Massachusetts has already initiated a similar law and Vermont is starting the same process. .

In other other news…

( Reuters, today)
The Czech Republic has again tightened restrictions now limiting the number of people gathering indoors and out, closing bars earlier and limiting in-person education after R0 increased to 1.6. now lower at 1.4, to prevent further community spread.
Scoffers don’t understand that numbers mean something8 especially when you consider the effects of increases *over time. Also restrictions are not all or none but steps between extremes that change as real world data arrives….


The below is direct quotes from Mary Buffett’s book “The Warren Buffett Stock Portfolio” she was outlining the reason that Buffett invested in GSK and justification for the amount of money Berkshire was investing at the time
I would copy and paste but the chapter is long and so I just picked the highlights. Feel free to purchase the book on line. Mary is not an anti vaxxers, just an investment person.If you were to obtain copies of Birkshire’s yearly report and that of GSK you would see that Mary is spot on, when discussing that particular investment. These are publicly traded companies and must report profit/loss/research/lobbying etc. Those things are not secret (at least not in a publicly traded company).

“The vaccine business is particularly attractive because an individual shot costs GSK approximately $1.50 to manufacture and its sells to national vaccine programs for approximately $9 a shot, that give GSK a net profit of approximately $7.50 per shot. This markup gives GSK a very healthy profit margin that improves with each and every new disease that the company develops a vaccine for. …. GSK’s profits rose 10% with the 2009 Swine Flu, a disease for which the company had a state of the art vaccine ready to inoculate (people)…… There are only four pharmaceutical giants that control most of the vaccines production in the world and GSK is one of them.

4.3 million babies in the U.S. …..the US centers for disease control recommends 34 vaccine shots for ages 0 to 6 … This in turn means that the vaccine manufactures (GSK) selling in the U.S. have the potential to earn a profit of $1.09 billion every year. Consider the number yearly vaccines world wide and the numbers are staggering….. world wide the potential is $340 billion in profit (over 10 years)”

And last but not least, vaccine manufactures in the U.S. are completely immune from lawsuits.”

…vaccine manufactures in the U.S. are completely immune from lawsuits.

Vaccine manufacturers can still be sued if they release a defective batch of vaccines to the public and someone is injured.

according to US law 42 U.S. code 300aa-22
Drug companies are held harmless if products are not effective or defective. That was the reason for the tort law change, the US government has assumed liability for defense and costs in all vaccine cases.

You just contradicted yourself….read your statement again & maybe you’ll understand where you went wrong.

“Potential” – as yet unrealized, because as I stated, the entire total revenue (not profit) generated by vaccines is still less than $35 Billion per year.

I mean, she wouldn’t have any interest in drumming up more business now, would she?

So someone who is not a doctor wrote a book that is not about medicine or pharmaceuticals that briefly talks about vaccine manufacturing from an investment standpoint which may or may not have been accurate at the time and has probably changed many times since this book was published…and you take that as gospel about the topic?

You should really do a better job of considering your sources.

Vaccine court will award automatic compensation in a case of table injury. only a temporal connection is required. On other cases, a possible causation is required (fifty procent plus a feather). Last but not least, a petitioner’s costs are fully paid.
Problem is that Wakefield’s theories do not hold water at all, so people relying on them were disappointed in autism omnibus trial.

“Drug companies are held harmless if products are not effective or defective.”

That only relates to alleged design defects. Vaccine makers can still be sued for other reasons including purported improper manufacture. There’s also a long-extant case alleging mumps vaccine effectiveness was overstated.

you probably didn’t realize what you wrote….”because as I stated, the entire total revenue (not profit) generated by vaccines is still less than $35 Billion per year” that was from your post 2 hours and 45 minutes earlier. Then you claimed I didn’t understand the difference between profit and revenue after I posted a link to sales (revenue) over a 5 year period with revenue this year to be at 59 billion.

Pf ….. she was very accurate in her financial assessment of the drug industry and GSK in specific and the reasons why Warren bought and sold stocks as he did. Berkshire has been buying Teva Pharmaceutical and Biogen, You have a hard time even conceding that her evaluation of the situation at the time was correct (“may or may not have been accurate”) you did not do any research or even a few mouse clicks to determine if her assessment was or was not correct. You at the same time are critical of anti vaxxers and their dogmatic beliefs, that is a cognitive dissonance. I would take her assessment of the finances and potential a business over yours any day.

As I stated in my first post “I come to this site to read the comments of supposed well educated people.” some people actually present well reasoned arguments or explanations which is what science is suppose to do, others post mindless drivel or knee jerk reactions and post un researched garbage, that isn’t even suitable for twitter. The problem is that the general population is hearing only those who post drivel, which hurts science. 20 years ago when juries were questioned after a verdict over 80% of the jurors believed the scientific experts that testified. In 2018 a study showed that 54% of the jurors polled did NOT believe the expert scientific evidence presented.
Real science is in trouble.

Even assuming that dubious [citation needed] statistic shows anything it is that many or most of those 54% of jurors have been terminally confused by the blithering of kooks such as you. Stop blithering and they’ll gradually recover. But if no one listens to scott allen’s blither does scott allen exist? Be careful or you risk vanishing in a puff of quantum uncertainty. And your cat.

I know Teva used to make a glass-vialed sterile solution for my company (but hasn’t in a long time), so maybe they bottle them?

I don’t know, I heard they were getting into monocolonals, but that could be old gossip.

Teva don’t supply any vaccines to the UK market according to their retail price list, either directly or through any of their other liveries

Strange….. one of my buddies worked for Sanofi in IT. It was a well-known fact within the company that vaccines were NOT really moneymakers. Vaccines got them into markets and into doctors’ office so they could plug the big money makers. Globally, vaccine sales were 32 billion of a total $1 TRILLION in 2014 pharmaceutical sales (yes, 1/3%). Vaccines have almost doubled in size since….on the backs of …..swine flu….. Ebola… and of course, now Covid-19). What was one of the biggest pharmaceutical money makers? A certain little blue pill…..

Wow in five short sentences you proved the point in my original post and is an excellent example of marcusian rhetorical.

So what is the poll Scott refers to? Did it involve actual jurors who took part in trials or mock jurors? Was the allegedly questioned expert testimony related to a medical field? What is the relevance to vaccine science?

“you proved the point in my original post”

People who say “you proved my point” are often confused about what point they were trying to make in the first place.

“I come to this site to read the comments of supposed well educated people.
The most fascinating ones are those who rail against the anti vaxxers, the
people who post the vitriolic words who claim to be the most educated”

university of chicago law review.
it involved post decision questions to jurors and yes it was medically related. One of the most interesting findings (it also looked at jury selections) was how much a well educated expert witness was (1) paid and (2) the attitude of the expert when challenged with opposing findings of science/opinions. Seems that a calm well reasoned response to opposing view points was a favorable factor in a jury opinion of the believability of an expert witness . I just thought that might apply in the anti vaxxer postings.

I have attempted to show in my posts that the anti vaxxer were not anti science but in fact they were using science ( abet, bad science) and the electronic media (mal practice/sensationalism ) and piss poor journalism to bolster their mind set and how they think big pharma is in on the fix and to show how they could come to the conclusion that vaccines are bad and I linked to the scientific american on tattooing of the vaccinated which only adds to the conspiracy belief (you know mark of the devil, only people with mark of the beast can do anything ,etc….). I attempted to explain how name calling and bullying are actually making them more resolute in their (mistaken) beliefs.
poster like dorit and anonymous coward added to the conversation and they had information that I had not researched,The rant by rs did nothing to add to the conversation other than an attempt to “bully” me or silence me (did rs just sound like Trump) or to make themself (rs) think they were fighting for something but will be used or quoted by the anti vaxxers as “proof???” of the vaxxers intolerance.
So I guess my attempts to explain how the anti vaxxers could have come to their beliefs (via bad science) have failed.

I got a vaccine (btw, vacca==Latin for cow, didyaknow?) once. The front fell off (just the tip). It was not supposed to do that. They got better.

Scott. The first time your child breaks a window is an accident. Maybe the second and third time too. How many times do you patiently explain that bouncing a ball against the side of the house is dangerous? At some point you realise that the child is either doing it deliberately or doesn’t give a shit.

Most newly ‘vaccine concerned’ people WILL be treated gently. It is easy to understand how the anti-vax pundits get a hold of a person’s mind. Simple human psychology means that we often won’t trust what we don’t understand or cannot see or that goes against out intuition or politics.. However, once the horse has been led to water a thousand times and still won’t drink, fuck it.

Well, I see you did not give us examples of “science” used by two anti-science folk who frequent this blog (Natalie White and Christine Kincaid). I have tried to be nice to Ms. Kincaid only to have her go back to saying terrible things about her own kid (being ableist) and telling lies about her late child who was a premature twin. Then Ms. White is just a nasty soul who deserves all the derision she gets as a disease promoter.

But you switched to pharmaceutical profits from vaccines, which is why I have another question for you about vaccine economics. Please tell us which produces more pharmaceutical profits: vaccines to prevent diseases versus the products required to treat the diseases. This study is actually an economic assessment of the vaccines versus the diseases, please produce a PubMed indexed study that shows it is all wrong:

Agreed. It’s ableism and more.
A person need only go to AoA, the High Wire, Stop Mandatory Vaccination Now FB, Vaccine Injury Stories FB or AV twitter to read tales of children’s “destruction” by vaccines including:
— videos of infants’ seizures
— videos of teenagers who struggle to speak
— accounts of young adults’ interest in pre-school oriented television shows
— accounts of embarrassing failures of personal hygiene in great detail
— photos of “perfect” smiling children before vaccines and contrasting post vaccination images of them looking distressed, ill or dead
— narratives detailing profound disability whilst highllghting the mother’s sacrifice and current heroic life as saviour of other people’s children

Many of them by “people we know”.

Unlike RI, readers at these sites are probably not sceptical of the content or wary enough of internet histrionics and thereby fall prey to the obvious emotional manipulation presented and thus reinforce the disease promoter with praise and perhaps heeding the warnings given.


no where in my post did I mention profit of pharma,
Lawerence brought up the market for vaccines (he stated 35 billion world wide) I presented the true picture of the vaccine market (this year will be 59 billion plus) I know the difference between sales and profit.
As I stated in an earlier post the pharma companies make the most profit off of OTC pills not on perception meds. I quoted Mary Buffett’s book that shows why Warren invested in pharma because of the profit margins in vaccines with no lawsuit down side.
you post a citation that was from 2014 and like most posters to this site some how claim superior knowledge etc yada yada yada.
I am not an anti vaxxer but I am amazed of the vicious nature of the supposed educated people that troll this site. I have been interested in the Wakefield study for the past year and the retraction of his study. It still puzzles me that almost 10% of the papers that were peer reviewed and published supported his conclusions and why if the original paper was retracted why weren’t the papers that supported his paper retracted as well (in legal terms it’s call “fruits of the poisonous tree”). And why it took Lancet 6 years for a limited retraction and 12 years for a full retraction.
My complaint is the tabloid nature of modern science (and reporting).

Scott, the U. of Chicago law review archives are available online. I don’t see any 2018 articles on expert evidence and juror polling.

Could you link to a specific article to enable any further discussion?

Christine Rose- I would be very interested to read the studies that have shown that those asymptomatically infected with the ‘Covid’ virus can or have developed some permanent or long term damage to their heart and/or lungs Surely that very damage would produce symptoms!

What about people asymptomatic carriers infect ? They could have a very serious illness.

squirrelelite- thanks for the reference.I have read other articles recently all concluding or concurring as you do, and of course, now I know, me also. It will be interesting to find if the pathological signs in the lungs or heart are reversed or maintained in the long term with all types and degrees of Covid sufferers.

aaaaaaa. Natalie….. that isn’t exactly earth shattering. You will also notice it will help (and the science behind it has been well known since I was a child).

Hey lookie here .. no such thing as immunity boosting! For those with good vitamin D levels there is scant evidence that taking a D supplement will prevent COVID-19.

More drive by ignorance.

However, by all means make Mercola richer than you will ever be! If that isn’t your lifestyle — I also have a charity for D deficient young ladies with little education and I invite you to contribute just 5 dollars a month to my effort to manage their deficiencies! Perhaps you have a D deficiency that you weren’t unaware of! Just 5 dollars a month. A bargain price.

@1000 – “by all means make Mercola richer than you will ever be!”

Oh silly. You made me chuckle. Dr. Mercola is doing just fine without my help. But since you mentioned him, I provided a link below for his Vit D resource page. He even states the sun is the best source for Vit D. Exposure to the sun is FREE! Some people are afraid of sun exposure or just don’t (or can’t) get out.

There is also Vitamin D in food but some discount the importance of nutrition in what they eat, preferring fake food, empty calories, etc.

Good day.

@Natalie White Mercola says that D vitamin prevents blood vessel formation. Not very good for wound healing, I would say. Promoting differentiation is not good thing either.
Another thing is that Mercola sells supplements and tells everybody how great they are. There is no conflict of interest here, of course. Orac does not sell cancer drugs, but somehow there is a conflict of interest here.

Chris- As I understand it ( maybe incorrectly) the vast majority of those infected with ‘Covid’ have no symptoms. Do they or don’t they develop scarring of lung and heart? Yes the facts do matter.

@Leonard Sugarman

It would seem so but mostly clears up?? Mostly is never noticed??

Part of it is that people without symptoms generally don’t get tested. Within sports, it is different and “One-third of Big Ten athletes who contracted COVID-19 {sb. SARS-CoV-2??} show signs of heart inflammation. Is SARS-CoV-2 really causing this?” Also, greatly elevated troponine in asymptomatic people.

Exacltly, Chris. Thus Ron DeSantis’ action of opening bars and restraunts to 100% capacity, no masks required, and even forbidding municipalities from enforcing their own mandates can lead me to no other conclusion than he has timed it perfectly for voting so that when the spike hits and then hospitals become overrun he has an excuse to close polling places in densely populated areas. “Florida — God’s waiting room”. Now expidited with self-checkout!!

Though, as I posted a link from some jounal last week, it seems to be that up to 80% are asymptomatic now (where there is universal masking).. The thought of the commentary was that with leaky masks/masked meets unmasked that we’ve all been going around ‘variolating’ each other. Unless through the eyes, this probably puts me at a disadvantage now as restrictions crumble because I’ve been full-on sealed facepiece and HEPA bag the whole time.

@Leonard Sugarman,

Do you have a reference for the “vast majority” statement?

The best estimates I have heard on sources like TWiV, for instance, estimate about 20-30% of those testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 either have no symptoms or are presymptomatic (they develop symptoms after the test).

I’ve also seen a crude estimate that total infections are about 10 times the number of detected infections. This is roughly comparable to measles in the U.S. in the 50’s when there were about 500,000 cases per year but practically all of the 4 million children born each year were infected and developed immunity (about 8 to 1).

JHU reports about 7 million cases of Covid-19 for a population of 330 million or a little over 2%. A recent CDC survey reported prevalence of from 1 to 7% depending on location.

I’ve also heard informed guesses of from 7 to 11% for the U.S. national infection rate/total prevalence. But that would only be a ratio of about 3-5 for total to detected cases.

And many of those cases have symptoms, just not severe enough to merit medical diagnosis.

The answer is yes. I have seen three or four between the wards and clinic who developed clotting problems and never knew they had the thing until antibodies came back positive. One came into the ED last week whose only symptom was he suddenly got short of breath climbing some stairs and was afraid he was having an MI. They’re swabbing everyone, now, and he popped positive. His chest x-ray was awful but he never knew anything was wrong because he sits on his keister all day, never stresses his lungs, and was young.

We learned of the exsanguination of horseshoe crabs for vaccines (which may be a net positive for them because, otherwise, if they weren’t so valuable, they’d go back to being bait and fertilizer) but this is just extra rude:

According to estimates made by conservationists, around three million sharks are killed every year for squalene, which is also used in cosmetics and machine oil.

Cosmetics?? And machine oil? That should have come from hemp, all along. In fact, I’ll bet that injecting 3 bong waters into one’s arm is just as good an ‘adjuvant’ as squalene.

Tim- thanks for the reference which throws much light in answering my original question. It will be interesting to know ( with future research and knowledge) what percentage of apparently completely symptom free Covid infected people actually have permanent lung and heart damage, to whatever degree.

Completely asymptomatic can infect other people and these can have serious lung complications. It is just your own ass, is it not. Other peoples health is not your problem, I presume.

Aarno Syvanen-you presume far too much and are way off beam. I have read much about asymptomatic Covid infected people infecting others, with often very damaging consequences. My original question had nothing to do with my selfish personal interest or care. I distance, mask and hand wash as instructed ( here in the UK). I thought my question was legitimate and academic- nothing more. You obviously didn’t like it which at the moment I fail to really understand.

Natalie: “Some people are afraid of sun exposure”.

Yes, how silly of them.

Just roll on out there without sunscreen year after year, them blue skies will keep smiling at you.*

As will the dermatologists, plastic surgeons and pathologists. Actinic keratoses, squamous and basal cell carcinomas and melanomas have been very good to me.

I’ve got that keratosese in a few spots. I put iodine on them. Sometimes they go away, and sometimes they do not. But what am I supposed to do about the subunqal melanona on the tip of my toe?? I gave it a few months to see if it was just some bruise I got in a drunkken stumble; but, alas, now that the toenail has grown out, I can’t scrape the black off like it was dried blood. I have no GP because he was such a prude about hydroxyzine and now I’m literally starring at fucking toe God’s ‘Merica.

@ DB – Gawd, I didn’t say fry your skin like a piece of …. well….bacon!

“People who are obese or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery
A BMI value of ≥30 is associated with lower serum 25(OH)D levels compared with nonobese individuals. Obese people may need larger than usual intakes of vitamin D to achieve 25(OH)D levels comparable to those of normal weight.[23] Greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester (captivate) more of the vitamin and alter its release into the circulation. Individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery may become vitamin D deficient over time without a sufficient intake of vitamin D from food or supplements; moreover part of the upper small intestine where vitamin D is absorbed is bypassed.[58,59]”

Good day! I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the sun.

squirrelelite- I have no reference for my ‘most people infected with Covid are asymptomatic.I have read a variety of estimates from several sources, none being at all definitive. I think I conceded originally that I could be mistaken with my wild exaggeration.

You’re welcome. It’s easy to overstate or just misstate when you trying to reply quickly in a discussion.

in other news of interest, a new report is out showing somewhere between 10 and 15% of Americans have been infected so far. And several incidents show it takes at least 60% infections to slow down the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus So if we try to get to “natural herd immunity” a la the 50’s measles, somewhere between 800K and 1.4 million Americans will die as a result.

POTUS shouldn’t be so quick to pat himself on the back.

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