The Independent’s anti-vaccine scaremongering

Last weekend The Independent published a ridiculous piece of antivaccine scaremongering by Paul Gallagher on their front page. They report the story of girls who became ill after receiving HPV vaccine, and strongly imply that the HPV vaccine was the cause of the illnesses, flying in the face of massive amounts of scientific evidence to the contrary.

I could go on at length about how dreadful, irresponsible, and scientifically illiterate the article was, but I won’t, because Jen Gunter and jdc325 have already done a pretty good job of that. You should go and read their blogposts. Do it now.

Right, are you back? Let’s carry on then.

What I want to talk about today is the response I got from the Independent when I emailed the editor of the Independent on Sunday, Lisa Markwell, to suggest that they might want to publish a rebuttal to correct the dangerous misinformation in the original article. Ms Markwell was apparently too busy to reply to a humble reader, so my reply was from the deputy editor, Will Gore.  Here it is below, with my annotations.

Dear Dr Jacobs

Thank you for contacting us about an article which appeared in last weekend’s Independent on Sunday.

Media coverage of vaccine programmes – including reports on concerns about real or perceived side-effects – is clearly something which must be carefully handled; and we are conscious of the potential pitfalls. Equally, it is important that individuals who feel their concerns have been ignored by health care professionals have an outlet to explain their position, provided it is done responsibly.

I’d love to know what they mean by “provided it is done responsibly”. I think a good start would be not to stoke anti-vaccine conspiracy theories with badly researched scaremongering. Obviously The Independent has a different definition of “responsibly”. I have no idea what that definition might be, though I suspect it includes something about ad revenue.

On this occasion, the personal story of Emily Ryalls – allied to the comparatively large number of ADR reports to the MHRA in regard to the HPV vaccine – prompted our attention. We made clear that no causal link has been established between the symptoms experienced by Miss Ryalls (and other teenagers) and the HPV vaccine. We also quoted the MHRA at length (which says the possibility of a link remains ‘under review’), as well as setting out the views of the NHS and Cancer Research UK.

Oh, seriously? You “made it clear that no causal link has been established”? Are we even talking about the same article here? The one I’m talking about has the headline “Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination”. On what planet does that make it clear that the link was not causal?

I think what they mean by “made it clear that no causal link has been established” is that they were very careful with their wording not to explicitly claim a causal link, while nonetheless using all the rhetorical tricks at their disposal to make sure a causal link was strongly implied.

Ultimately, we were not seeking to argue that vaccines – HPV, or others for that matter – are unsafe.

No, you’re just trying to fool your readers into thinking they’re unsafe. So that’s all right then.

Equally, it is clear that for people like Emily Ryalls, the inexplicable onset of PoTS has raised questions which she and her family would like more fully examined.

And how does blaming it on something that is almost certainly not the real cause help?

Moreover, whatever the explanation for the occurrence of PoTS, it is notable that two years elapsed before its diagnosis. Miss Ryalls’ family argue that GPs may have failed to properly assess symptoms because they were irritated by the Ryalls mentioning the possibility of an HPV connection.

I don’t see how that proves a causal link with the HPV vaccine. And anyway, didn’t you just say that you were careful to avoid claiming a causal link?

Moreover, the numbers of ADR reports in respect of HPV do appear notably higher than for other vaccination programmes (even though, as the quote from the MHRA explained, the majority may indeed relate to ‘known risks’ of vaccination; and, as you argue, there may be other particular explanations).

Yes, there are indeed other explanations. What a shame you didn’t mention them in your story. Perhaps if you had done, your claim to be careful not to imply a causal link might look a bit more plausible. But I suppose you don’t like the facts to get in the way of a good story, do you?

The impact on the MMR programme of Andrew Wakefield’s flawed research (and media coverage of it) is always at the forefront of editors’ minds whenever concerns about vaccines are raised, either by individuals or by medical studies. But our piece on Sunday was not in the same bracket.

No, sorry, it is in exactly the same bracket. The media coverage of MMR vaccine was all about hyping up completely evidence-free scare stories about the risks of MMR vaccine. The present story is all about hyping up completely evidence-free scare stories about the risk of HPV vaccine. If you’d like to explain to me what makes those stories different, I’m all ears.

It was a legitimate item based around a personal story and I am confident that our readers are sophisticated enough to understand the wider context and implications.

Kind regards

Will Gore
Deputy Managing Editor

If Mr Gore seriously believes his readers are sophisticated enough to understand the wider context, then he clearly hasn’t read the readers’ comments on the article. It is totally obvious that a great many readers have inferred a causal relationship between the vaccine and subsequent illness from the article.

I replied to Mr Gore about that point, to which he replied that he was not sure the readers’ comments are representative.

Well, that’s true. They are probably not. But they don’t need to be.

There are no doubt some readers of the article who are dyed-in-the-wool anti-vaccinationists. They believed all vaccines are evil before reading the article, and they still believe all vaccines are evil. For those people, the article will have had no effect.

Many other readers will have enough scientific training (or just simple common sense) to realise that the article is nonsense. They will not infer a causal relationship between the vaccine and the illnesses. All they will infer is that The Independent is spectacularly incompetent at reporting science stories and that it would be really great if The Independent could afford to employ someone with a science GCSE to look through some of their science articles before publishing them. They will also not be harmed by the article.

But there is a third group of readers. Some people are not anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists, but nor do they have science training. They probably start reading the article with an open mind. After reading the article, they may decide that HPV vaccine is dangerous.

And what if some of those readers are teenage girls who are due for the vaccination? What if they decide not to get vaccinated? What if they subsequently get HPV infection, and later die of cervical cancer?

Sure, there probably aren’t very many people to whom that description applies. But how many is an acceptable number? Perhaps Gallagher, Markwell, and Gore would like to tell me how many deaths from cervical cancer would be a fair price to pay for writing the article?

It is not clear to me whether Gallagher, Markwell, and Gore are simply unaware of the harm that such an article can do, or if they are aware, and simply don’t care. Are they so naive as to think that their article doesn’t promote an anti-vaccinationist agenda, or do they think that clicks on their website and ad revenue are a more important cause than human life?

I really don’t know which of those possibilities I think is more likely, nor would I like to say which is worse.

64 thoughts on “The Independent’s anti-vaccine scaremongering”

  1. Adam,
    you are obviously an intelligent guy but why are you so committed to the benefit and safety of all vaccines?

    Until 4 years ago I would have agreed with you but then my daughter was severely disabled by Cervarix. I am totally convinced about this and have researched this particular vaccine which I am now convinced does not offer the safety and reliability which is expected of it.

    I do not rely on blogs for my information. I rely on Freedom of Information requests from the DoH, MHRA, JCVI, NHS, etc and also on reports from the vaccine manufacturers. What I have found is that this vaccine appears to be the next Thalidomide.

    You are obviously of a totally different view so I am quite available to try and seek the truth for this vaccine. If you have evidence which demonstrates that its benefits really do outweigh the risks I am prepared to be convinced. I just hope that you are prepared to be as open.

    1. Hello Steve.

      If you’re wanting real medical information, try the CDC, WHO, NHS etc pages on these vaccines. You can also try blogs by medical experts like Dr Jen Gunter.

      You’ll notice there are practically no medical sources warning you against HPV vaccination.

      1. Where is the science? Where is the safety testing? The CDC are meant to report to Congress every 2 years on vaccine safety. Do you know how much data they have collected and reported since 1989 when the law was passed? ZERO

    2. This is absolute confirmation that statistics mean nothing when it is your child that has been affected.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter, Steve.

    If you are really trying to seek the truth about the vaccine, I would have thought a good place to start would be the scientific literature, but you don’t mention that as one of the places you have looked.

    Some people get ill, for no other reason that they are unlucky. A great many people get vaccinated, so it’s inevitable that some people will get ill, just by chance, shortly after the vaccination. So the question to ask is whether it’s more likely that people will get ill shortly after vaccination than before vaccination. And that’s something that’s been investigated a lot in the scientific literature.

    Here are a couple of papers to get you started. There are plenty more where they come from.

      1. Research is funded by all sorts of different bodies, from industry, academia, and government.

        If you read any individual paper it will usually tell you who funded it.

  3. they still believe all vaccines are evil. For those people, the article will have had no effect.

    I disagree. In one word: reinforcement.

    Nevertheless, this is so reblogged.

  4. OK, in the last 4 years I have learnt to distrust the CDC, DoH, MHRA, JCVI and NHS when it comes to HPV vaccine.
    If you go on the JCVI webpage you will find the confirmed public minutes of the HPV Sub-committee meeting pf September 2014. It eventually gets round to considering ‘HPV Vaccine Safety’ and reports ‘the Sub-committee have received a report from the MHRA and noted that no serious risks have been identified associated with either HPV vaccines in the UK’

    However, FOIA act requests to the MHRA report 19,150 reactions reported, 2798 Recovering, 2145 Not recovered, 4 fatal, 2898 Unknown. Some will be a coincidence and not linked but the reporting rate is c.100 times higher than all other common vaccines. Most are 2-8/100,000 SAE but the HPV vaccine is 108/100,000 and the MHRA recognise that only 10% of SAE are reported.

    This is even reported by the manufacturer’s during their clinical trials where they report SAE of 2500/100,000 but its OK because the controls report a similar number. Not really because teh controls are against similar vaccines or so called ‘placebo’s’ which contain the aluminium adjuvant of the vaccine’ . Surely statistically it would be correct to compare the HPV vaccinated population with the population which have received all other common vaccines.

    If you are so good at statistics you should be able to understand and demonstrate this because it doesn’t stack up .

    Do you not recall Thalidomide or the GSK MMR vaccine used between 1998 – 2002 which contained the mumps Urabe strain which caused encephalitis and meningitis. It took the UK statisticians 4 years to convince the JCVI before they changed it to the Jerryl Lynn strain which had much improved safety levels. Canada, Japan and others reacted much sooner.

    1. Sorry Steve, I’m confused about what you think would count as good evidence of safety.

      First you say it’s a problem that the control groups are against similar vaccines, but then you say it would be correct to compare the HPV vaccinated population with the population that have received other common vaccines.

      That seems a bit inconsistent to me.

      Can you spell out exactly what kind of evidence would convince you of the safety of HPV vaccine?

    2. “the GSK MMR vaccine used between 1998 – 2002 which contained the mumps Urabe strain which caused encephalitis and meningitis.”

      Yes, it did cause meningits (but not encephalitis) at a rate of one per 14,000 vaccine shots.
      Yet natural mumps, which all children used to get, caused the meningitis in one in every 30 or so cases of mumps. Does that fact come into your calculation of risk benefit, or not? It damn well should, obviously.

      “It took the UK statisticians 4 years to convince the JCVI before they changed it to the Jerryl Lynn strain which had much improved safety levels.”
      The first cases of possible meningitis were brought to the attention of the JCVI in late 1999. The JCVI acted quite appropriately. Instead of inducing a needless panic by withdrawing a very good vaccine, they called for hard data on the frequency of the problem, which had at that point the British Paediatric survey had suggested to be as little as one in 100,000 MMR shots.
      When this new information was collated by the JCVI it was apparent the rate of meningitis was closer to one in 10,000 than 100,000, and the JCVI moved to remove Urabe strain, leaving Jeryl Lynn strain vaccine instead. At that time there was evidence to suggest Urabe strain was more immunogenic/effective than Jeryl Lynn, so this decision was not taken lightly. The decision to stop Urabe strain vaccine did not take 4 years, but 2 years, as JCVI minutes indicate.

      “in the UK Canada, Japan and others reacted much sooner.”
      Yes, Canada stated that Urabe strain should not be used, but did not officially withdraw it. Japan did withdraw MMR, only to suffer the consequences a few years later when massive epidemics of measles swept the nation, affecting quarter of a million kids. Good decision that one, hey Japan!
      Oh, and Canada and Japan were the only countries at that time to act against Urabe strain MMR.
      There were no “others”.

      It would help if you got your facts straight before trying to sound knowledgeable on a topic, Steve.

  5. Adam,
    I am reasonably comfortable with the safety levels of the vaccines given in the UK natioanl programme except HPV, although MMR and the flu vaccine can be a bit high for SAE. Of course this is only since they stopped using GSK’s Pandemrix flu vaccine for adolescents which is proven to have caused narcolepsy. The adjuvant isn’t the same as Cervarix but it is similar.

    Merck used Gardasil (q4) for the control with Gardasil 9. See their own ‘Highlights of Prescribing Information’ at
    They had 2.3% SAE with Gardasil 9 and 2.5% with Gardasil. This is huge (2300/2500/100,000) but they discount them as being coincidental and not related to the vaccine. In comparison the rate of serious injuries in road traffic accidents in the UK (which I would expect to be high) is 32/100,000.

    You will also find a similar situation in the EMA report for Cervarix:

    The controls were GSK’s little known Haverix 360, Haverix 760 and ‘aluminium adjuvant’ but it is almost certainly the aluminium adjuvant that is causing the problems with bot Cervarix and Gardasil. I have calculated teh SAE rates at 2844/100,000.

    I have all of the MHRA’s declared SAE reporting rates for the other UK national programme vaccines and they range from 2 – 8/100,000.


    P.S. I don’t sit on a couch and use internet blogs as my source of information.

    P.P.S. you might accept this source as reasonably reliable information:

    1. That doesn’t really answer my question. What kind of control group would a study need to have to convince you of the safety of HPV vaccine?

        1. OK, so what you’re really saying here is that it’s not specifically HPV vaccine you believe to be dangerous, it’s any vaccine with an aluminium adjuvant you believe to be dangerous. Is that right?

          1. I need to be careful here because you will tell me that some of the other national programme vaccines contain aluminium. I believe the problem is in the quantity of aluminium, which is cummaltive for 3 doses within 6 months, and the other adjuvant ingredients which facilitate the aluminium’s passage through the blood/brain barrier.

          2. If you follow the studies on GSK’s AS03 adjuvanted Pandemrix flu vaccine you will see that it is also adolescents that are primarily affected, not younger children or those older. It is now only recommended for those over 20.

            I would imagine there is a growth/developmental spurt also involving hormones at this age which may interact.

          3. I am not against scientific progress where it is beneficial but please also consider that both HPV vaccines are unique from others. They are the first ever Genetically Modified (GM) virus? Previous virus vaccines have generally been ‘attenuated’ (i.e. weakened) versions of the wild virus, but both Gardasil and Cervarix use a completely new method of manufacture to produce a completely new form of vaccine containing what are known as VLPs—virus-like particles. These are proteins that occur on the outer coat of the virus, known as L1 proteins, which trigger an immune response. Two scientists at the NIH National Cancer Institute found that they could produce large quantities of VLPs in insect cells infected with recombinant baculovirus. So this vaccine is not only genetically engineered, it is also trans-species.
            The long term results of introducing into the human body genetically engineered, recombinant human, insect and animal DNA, along with human and animal strains of papillomavirus are unknown, untested and unproven, particularly when used as a vaccine, which effectively bypasses all of the body`s natural defences against outside pathogens (skin, saliva, mucus, etc).

          4. You’re not being very consistent here, Steve.

            Do you think it’s something specific about the HPV vaccine that’s unsafe? Or do you think it’s aluminium that’s unsafe?

            Because if you think it’s something specific about the HPV vaccine, then we could look at studies comparing HPV vaccine to aluminium-containing placebo vaccines.

            If you actually think the HPV vaccine is irrelevant and the problem is just the aluminium, then obviously that wouldn’t convince you and we’d need to look at the evidence for the safety of aluminium.

            So which is it?

        2. I have the MHRA official SAE rates for the following UK national programme vaccines:
          Menitorix (MenC/Hib combination)
          Prevenar 13 (Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
          Pediacel and Infanrix IPV HIB (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
          MMR Vaccine
          Meningitis C Vaccine
          Repevax / Infanrix IPV (d/DTaP/IPV)
          Revaxis (dT/IPV)

          and of course HPV vaccine

          All of the regular ones have SAE of between 2 – 5/100,000, MMR is 8/100,000 whereas HPV vaccine is 108/100,000. I don’t need to look at control groups other than these to see that HPV vaccine is a ‘flier’ /rogue.

          1. You are not comparing like with like. Reporting rates do not reflect true AE rates. Doctors are specifically encouraged to report AEs for new products. Since HPV vaccine is new, it is very likely to see more reports of AEs. That doesn’t mean that it really has more AEs.

  6. Even the UK DoH now accepts that there is an increased risk of narcolepsy with GSK’s Pandemrix even though their reported studies quote a rate much lower than the Scandinavian studies.

    There was no national immunisation programme for Pandemrix in the UK but there was in Scandinavian countries.

  7. Mass HPV vaccination of children, is experimental vaccination which has been fast-tracked around the world in recent years.

    The basis for mass HPV vaccination is highly questionable, as the risk of cancer associated with the HPV virus is very low. A Cancer Australia Fact Sheet acknowledges that cervical cancer is uncommon, and that “since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991, the number of new cases of cervical cancer for women of all ages almost halved to 2005, and mortality also halved from 1991 to 2006”.(1)

    The Australian National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) website notes: “Most people will have HPV at some time in their lives and never know it…Most HPV infections clear up by themselves without causing any problems. Infections can cause cervical abnormalities, which, if they persist, can lead to cervical cancer.” The NCSP website notes that: “It is important to remember that most women who have HPV clear the virus and do not go on to develop cervical cancer.” and “For most women, their immune system will clear the virus, similar to getting rid of a common cold.”(2)

    In an article on The Conversation website, titled Catch cancer? No thanks, I’d rather have a shot!, Professor Ian Frazer, the co-inventor of the technology enabling HPV vaccination, states: “Through sexual activity, most of us will get infected with the genital papillomaviruses that can cause cancer. Fortunately, most of us get rid of them between 12 months to five years later without even knowing we’ve had the infection. Even if the infection persists, only a few individuals accumulate enough genetic mistakes in the virus-infected cell for these to acquire the properties of cancer cells.”(3)

    If only “a few individuals accumulate enough genetic mistakes in the virus-infected cell for these to acquire the properties of cancer cells”, I question whether it is justifiable to coerce mass populations of children to have HPV vaccination.

    And it now appears HPV vaccination will be compulsory to obtain family tax benefits in Australia, refer to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s press release No Jab – No Play and No Pay for Child Care which states “Immunisation requirements for the payment of FTB Part A end-of-year supplement will also be extended to include children of all ages. Currently, vaccination status is only checked at ages 1, 2 and 5 years.”(4)


    1. Cervical cancer. Australian Government:
    2. About the human papillomavirus. Australian Government National Cervical Screening Program:
    3. Ian Frazer. Catch cancer? No thanks, I’d rather have a shot! The Conversation, 10 July 2012:
    4. No Jab – No Play and No Pay for Child Care. Australian Prime Minister, Media Release, 12 April 2015:

    1. You’re right, cervical cancer is not the most common cancer. In the UK, just 919 women died of it in 2012.

      Perhaps that seems unimportant to you. However, I suspect if you were one of the 919 families who had lost a loved one to a preventable disease, you might feel differently about it.

      1. I have huge respect and concern for those that get cervical cancer but this vaccine has not been proven to prevent a single case of cervical cancer.
        Other HPV’s, lifestyle, smoking, diethylstilboestrol, the pill, etc, etc. are all known to also contribute.
        PAP screening is ultra reliable and cost effective, unfortunately it is not available until the age of 25 in England. Scotland is more savvy and provide it at age 25. Unfortunately some women don’t bother and they are probably the ones at higher risk.

        Cervical cancer rates in the UK are 9/100,000 and mortality has come down from 8 to 2/100,000 over the last 40 years with zero help from the vaccine.

        SAE rates for HPV vaccines are c.2,500/100,000.

        What sense does this make?

        Oh by the way, when the Labour government approved the Impact Asssessment in 2008 for introduction of the national immunisation programme they didn’t consider any cost of SAE but did estimate the overall cost of vaccine alone to be £2.25billion.

        1. Steve,
          The deaths from cervical cancer are happening in the UK despite there being this “wonderful” pap screening programme you are lauding.
          In my opinion, it would seem as though it isn’t working very well.

          I’d also prefer that disease was prevented, rather than attempts made to treat it once it has started, which can include quite invasive and painful procedures. Have you spoken to a woman who has undergone laser cervical treatment for CIN? Perhaps you should.

          1. Just to add to the conversation (haven’t decided about the HPV Vaccine yet). I had laser cervical treatment twice for CIN and it was painless. Don’t want to frighten anyone who is about to have this procedure. Quick and painless and effective.

        1. It’s a bit soon to see the effect on deaths. Cervical cancer typically takes a great many years to develop, and the vaccine is new.

          What we do know is that HPV vaccination massively reduces the incidence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, a precancerous lesion which is a precursor to full-blown cancer.

          It would be hard to believe that that wouldn’t reduce the incidence of actual cancer in due course.

          1. And yet again the pro-vaccine lobby will insist that the vaccine takes the credit. Deaths due to cervical cancer have come down from 8/100,000 to 2/100,000 over the last 40 years with ZERO benefit from vaccines. I realise its a big ask but at this rate could be ZERO in 10 years.

            During this time many thousands of girls will die and be permanently maimed unnecessarily.

            P.S. Adam, thanks for introducing me to the great work that Elizabeth is doing.

          2. I am puzzled, Steve.
            Why would you say that in 10 years the vaccine would kill “thousands” of girls?
            Based upon even the current inflated and unevidenced attributed risks, the number would be in the dozens, not the thousands.

    2. Further to my previous comment, GARDASIL Consumer Medicine Information approved by the TGA in Australia acknowledges GARDASIL will not protect against all HPV types, and women will need to continue to follow their doctor or health care provider’s instructions on regular Pap tests.(1)

      I again question whether mass global vaccination is justifiable with this expensive and experimental vaccine, particularly as we have no idea of the possible long-term effects, including the possibility of type replacement (and the current experience with the failing pertussis vaccine should ring alarm bells here, see for example Whooping cough increase related to current vaccine(2) and my emails re pertussis vaccination to Professor Lyn Gilbert and Professor Ruiting Lan (December 2012):


      1. Gardasil Consumer Medicine Information:
      2. Whooping cough increase related to current vaccine. ABC Science, 24 April 2015:

      1. That’s right, HPV vaccination won’t prevent every single cervical cancer death.

        So can I ask you how many preventable deaths you think would be acceptable?

        1. The Daily Mail also asks (2 June 2015): Just how safe is the cervical cancer jab? More and more families say their daughters suffered devastating side-effects from the HPV vaccine and experts are worried too:

          The Daily Mail quotes “British epidemiologist Dr Tom Jefferson, a global authority on vaccine trial evidence, who works for the scientific body, the Cochrane Collaboration. ‘The HPV vaccine’s benefits have been hyped and the harms hardly investigated,’ he says. He is highly critical of the drug company funded clinical trial data that is used to justify the use of mass vaccination. He adds that pharmaceutical companies may hide negative results deep in their trial data and hugely inflate the benefits. ‘The reason for introducing vaccination against HPV was to prevent cancer,’ he says. ‘But there is no clinical evidence to prove it will do that. We have to tread a very careful line, weighing the potential benefits and harms that a vaccine may cause. With HPV, the harms have not been properly studied. ‘It is extremely difficult to publish anything against HPV vaccination. Vaccines have become like a religion. They are not something you question. If you do, you are seen as being an anti-vaccine extremist. The authorities do not want to hear “side-effect”.

  8. I found this article interesting.
    MPL is the ‘unique’ adjuvant that GSK use in Cervarix. It is claimed to be ‘low-toxicity’ which in my understanding states that it is still toxic.

    The low-toxicity versions of LPS, MPL adjuvant and RC529, are efficient adjuvants!

    1. Understand what Steve?
      The adjuvant is quite different.
      You wouldn’t be trying that old strawman tactic again, would you?

  9. I could even accept that some recipients would make an informed choice and decide to have this vaccine even if they knew the true incident rate of SAE with the vaccine but the NHS tell us that the rate of SAE is 0.1/100,000 or 1 in a million (see NHS Choices web page).

    We answered NO on the consent form because our daughter had a severe reaction to teh MMR vaccine but the school nurse told mum that we were denying our daughter a life-saving vaccine which is safe and nothing like teh MMR vaccine.

    Later when we obtained copies of our daughters medical records we found a letter to the GP from a paediatric consultant indicating that he suspected that our daughter has a compromised immune system (nobody told us) – accoring to the vaccine manufacturer this is a contra-indication for this vaccine.

    1. Steve,

      What action have you taken against the school and/or health authority for overriding your wishes? It is clearly a serious matter. In my school, those children whose parents have not given consent do not go anywhere near the room where the vaccinations are taking place. They cannot receive the vaccine unless their names are on a list of those whose parents have given permission. I suspect many other schools operate a similar system.

      If your case is so strong, as you suggest, did you even complain?

    2. Steven

      Further to my earlier comment, did you put NO on the consent form for the HPV vaccination or not? Earlier reports that you took part in suggest strongly that you gave consent:

      At sanevax [sic] you say: “when she brought a consent form for HPV vaccination home from school, her mother and I were reluctant to grant permission for her to take the series of three shots.” So which story am I supposed to believe?

      I don’t disbelieve you that your daughter is ill. I don’t disbelieve you when you say you believe that her illness was caused by the vaccine. I cannot be sure, when you contradict yourself in two accounts, which is the correct one and which isn’t.

      By the way, has Lucy improved in the intervening four years?

  10. You and many other quote: CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.

    You are absolutely correct. That is almost certainly why Thalidomide was ignored for so long and why the DoH/JCVI procrastinated for 4 years using GSK’s MMR with Urabe strain mumps which caused meningitis and encephalitis. Canada and Japan stopped its use much sooner.

    1. Adam,
      ALL vaccines are SAFE and EFFECTIVE! They have been approved following clinical trials.

      Then why were the following withdrawn?

      Trivirix MMR vaccine made by GSK Canada caused meningitis, Plusrix MMR vaccine made by GSK UK caused meningitis, Immravax MMR vvacine made by Aventis Pasteur caused meningitis,
      Rotashield rotavirus vaccine made by Wyeth Lederle caused bowel obstruction,
      Polio vaccine made by Medeva caused vCJD, the human form of mad cow disease,
      Lymerix Lyme disease vaccine made by GSK caused Lyme disease and severe arthritis,
      BCG vaccine made by PowderJect did not meet the end-of-shelf-life specification,
      Imovax hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type B made by Aventis Pasteur tested positive for the live vaccine, Hexovac diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough vaccine made by Sanofi Merck provided inadequate protection,
      PedvaxHIB haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine made by Merck was contaminated with a bacteria called Bacillus cereus,
      Comvax haemophilius B and hepatitis B vaccine made by Merck was contaminated with a bacteria called Bacillus cereus,
      Menjugate meningitis C vaccine made by Novartis was infected with bacteria Staphylococcus aureus,
      Fluvax flu vaccine made by CSL caused seizures,
      Preflucel flu vaccine made by Baxter Healthcare caused fatigue, muscle pain and headaches and
      Pandemrix flu vaccine made by GSK caused narcolepsy.

      But for now the HPV vaccines are still considered safe!

      I hope you did your stats on the above vaccines.

      I am not anti-vaccine, I am:
      – anti unsafe vaccines
      – angry that the DoH/MHRA/JCVI/NHS conceal the truth
      – angry that the DoH/NHS don’t allow parents to make an INFORMED choice.
      – angry that the DoH/NHS tell blatant lies to try to blame parents, refer them to Social Services and accuse them of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy (now known as Fabricated or Induced Illness).
      – angry that vaccine injured girls are often eventually diagnosed with CFS/ME which is a ‘waste-bucket’ diagnosis.
      – angry that the NHS consider CFS/ME to be a psychiatric illness when true M.E. is a serious multi-organ medical condition.
      – ANGRY with ‘know-it-alls’ that attack media publishers and editors that expose the truth.

      1. But you are not assessing your information appropriately, Steve.
        Let’s take the Urabe component of MMR again, seeing as this is the 3rd or 4th mention of it.

        What makes you think that a one in 14,000 risk of a rather painful but unconsequential reaction (Urabe meningitis) makes the vaccine “unsafe” when the alternative to it at that point was to get mumps (a one in 25-30 risk of meningitis)?

        By your definition, no vaccine or medical product will ever be safe. I can see you saying “vaccine X is unsafe – one person in a million gets a sore arm” next.
        Nirvana fallacy or what?

        1. Hmmm. Well if you want to quote statistical risk vs statistical risk here is one for you relating to the new menB vax…there is a 19:100000 chance of a child under 1 contracting men b, this falls to 6:100000 for 1-4yr olds and 1:100000 as a generalised figure across all age groups. Of the confirmed cases of men b 19 children died in 2014/15 (that works out as 8% or 0.8/10). Now according to GSK 1:1000 vaccinated children will develop Kawasaki Disease, which has an estimated case fatality ratio of 17% (IE 1.7/10 – or twice that of men b). KD is now the leading cause of childhood heart disease in the UK and USA and associated sequelae are equally as frightening as of sequelae associated with men b. So if we are talking ‘chances of’, statistically speaking, you would be better off not vaccinating?! Secondly, what are your thoughts on the use of Aluminium adjuvants? Are you aware of the (vast) quantity of scientific literature relating to the incredibly harmful effects of Aluminium on the immune and neurological systems but to name two? After a telephone conversation where I raised concerns over the use of AA’s I emailed my GP approximately ten unbiased, independent journal articles relating to current concerns in the scientific community over the long term effects and biopersistence of Aluminium, over its interference with cytokine activity, its role in skewed immune response, its role in immunological, developmental and neurological sequelae…but to name a small selection. That was six weeks ago, she had said during our conversation she had no knowledge of the type of concerns I raised but that she was sure a consultant immunologist friend of hers would allay my fears…she never got back to me….what are your thoughts on the ever extending link between total body burden of Aluminium and disease, which directly links to the use of AA’s, and please don’t quote Mitkis (whose calculations are less than adequate to say the least). Oh and just out of curiosity what are your credentials, are you a qualified scientist or immunologist? Do you understand the complexities of immunological response in relation to exposure to Aluminium? I only ask because I am a qualified and experienced scientist, therefore I feel I have a little knowledge in this field.

  11. The Independent article was NOT anti-vaccine. It raised legitimate concerns and published evidence that the MHRA are NOT doing what thety exist for: The Yellow Card Scheme is run by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and is designed to pick up unexpected problems or new side effects. If a serious new side effect is identified, the MHRA will follow up the report. It may change the way a vaccine is used, or even take it off the market.

    If only!

  12. You are not comparing like with like. Reporting rates do not reflect true AE rates. Doctors are specifically encouraged to report AEs for new products.

    I have heard this before but it is WRONG. I truly believe in statistics if tehy are used for the right purpose. I am in touch with 100 families whose daughters have had uneplained SERIOUS adverse events which ‘coincided’ with the HPV vaccine immunidation (in our case the reactio was immediate). Of all of these 100 families I think only 3 have been offered a Yellow Card. The rest have been kept in the dark or have had to insist and insist. Doctors are scared to make Yellow Card reports. I had to go to the Associate Director for Preventive Medicine NHS Cunbria, Three GP’s and 5 Paediatric Consultants didn’t even consider it even though one consultant wrote to the GP and stated ‘it is quite likely that this is a consequence of teh HPV vaccine’.

    If I was you I would stick to statistics rather than b——t.

    1. p.s. please excuse my teh’s and tehy’s, my left finger keeps getting in front of my right finger.

        1. Steve, if you mistype words when you’re upset, then can I suggest that you proof-read your text before posting?

  13. Adam,
    you persist in trying to put me ‘behind the 8 ball’.

    Its help I need and you claim to know your stuff, stop trying to back me into a corner.

  14. Correlation does not equal causation
    For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

  15. Adam,
    Wow, thanks for providing an international platform, We made Google vaccine alerts today:
    – The Independent’s anti-vaccine scaremongering
    The Stats Guy , Media coverage of vaccine programmes – including reports on concerns about real or perceived side-effects – is clearly something which must be …

    Flag as irrelevant

  16. The Gardasil HPV vaccine was originally rejected by the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) in 2006.

    An article in The Australian at the time, “Howard rescues Gardasil from Abbott poison pill”, reports the PBAC rejected Gardasil because it was “too expensive and, just maybe, not what it was cracked up to be anyway”. According to the article, Tony Abbott, then the Australian Federal Health Minister “took to the airwaves, passing on PBAC’s concerns about the efficacy of Gardasil and even floating the bizarre idea that a misplaced confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine might actually result in “an increase in cancer rates”.”[1]

    According to Matthew Stevens’ report in The Australian, it took just 24 hours for then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to “put an end to the nonsense”, delivering “sparkling prime ministerial endorsement to Gardasil along with a clear direction to Minister Abbott that the immunisation program should proceed. And pronto.”[1]

    In her report “Government response to PBAC recommendations”, Marion Haas provides some commentary on the Australian government’s interference with the PBAC’s initial rejection of Gardasil, noting Prime Minister John Howard, “intervened personally by announcing that the drug would be subsidised (ie listed) as soon as the manufacturer offered the right price. The PBAC subsequently convened a special meeting and recommended that Gardasil be listed on the PBS”[2] (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme).

    Haas notes that “the developer of the Cervical Cancer vaccine [i.e. Ian Frazer] was prominent in the media during the debate about listing. His influence was enhanced by his position as Australian of the Year.” [2]

    Haas notes the main objectives “of the PBAC are to consider the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of medicines in making recommendations to government regarding the listing of drugs for public subsidy. A perceived willingness to interfere in this process may undermine these objectives…” Government reaction which results in reversal of PBAC decisions has “the potential to send signals to manufacturers and lobby groups that a decision made by the PBAC may be reversed if sufficient public and/or political pressure is able to be brought to bear on the PBAC…this may undermine the processes used by the PBAC to determine its recommendations and hence the perceived independence of the PBAC.”[2]

    Getting a vaccine on the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme must be the ‘golden goose’ for vaccine manufacturers as this assures a mass market for their vaccine product.

    After John Howard’s interference in this matter, other countries adopted HPV vaccination, impacting on millions of children around the world, and resulting in multi millions of dollars’ worth of sales for the makers of the HPV vaccines, i.e. Merck (Gardasil) and GlaxoSmithKline (Cervarix)[3], and royalties for Ian Frazer from sales of HPV vaccines in developed countries[4].

    According to FierceVaccines, Gardasil was the second best-selling vaccine of 2013 with worldwide sales of $2.167 billion.[5]


    [1] Howard rescues Gardasil from Abbott poison pill. The Australian, 11 November, 2006:

    [2] Haas, Marion. “Government response to PBAC recommendations”. Health Policy Monitor, March 2007: (Note: This link needs to be copied into a web browser to work.)

    [3] FierceVaccines special report on the 20 Top-selling Vaccines – H1 2012 states that H1 2012 sales for Gardasil (Merck) were $608 million, and sales for Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline) were $285 million:

    [4] “Catch cancer? No thanks, I’d rather have a shot!”. The Conversation, 10 July 2012: The disclosure statement on this article by Ian Frazer states: “Ian Frazer as co-inventor of the technology enabling the HPV vaccines receives royalties from their sale in the developed world.”

    [5] Top 10 best-selling vaccines of 2013. FierceVaccines 29 May 2014:

  17. On the subject of HPV vaccination, another review has recently been published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases supporting this intervention: “Population-level impact and herd effects following human papillomavirus vaccination programmes: a systematic review and meta-analysis”, published online 2 March 2015.

    The abstract includes this interpretation: “Our results are promising for the long-term population-level effects of HPV vaccination programmes. However, continued monitoring is essential to identify any signals of potential waning efficacy or type-replacement.”

    I wonder how many children and their parents are being properly informed of the possibility of waning efficacy or type-replacement with the use of HPV vaccines, and the implications this may have? It is my strong suspicion that in many instances valid ‘informed consent’ is not being properly obtained before this medical intervention, and now Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decreed it is going to be compulsory anyway to access family tax benefits.

    It is notable that the systematic review and meta-analysis is behind the paywall of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, i.e. it can be purchased for $31.50 USD. I suggest it is highly problematic that papers which promote the use of vaccine products are not open access, i.e. easily accessible for public perusal.

    There’s also commentary in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on this review: “Greatest effect of HPV vaccination from school-based programmes”.

    Again, it’s behind the paywall…. For interested citizens who do not have the privilege of institutional access, this will mean a time-consuming visit to a university library to try and access the paper there, or another $31.50 USD for the coffers of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, kerching…

    One of the authors of this review is Julia Brotherton. This person has been involved in the promotion of HPV vaccination in Australia for some years, at least since 2003. See for example: “Planning for human papillomavirus vaccines in Australia. Report of a research group meeting”. CDI Vol 28 No. 2 2004.

    In the acknowledgements of this report published in 2004 it is noted: “We would like to thank CSL Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline for their support in facilitating this meeting…”

    Julia Brotherton, and the other author of the report, Peter McIntyre, currently an ex officio member of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, are part of the ‘vaccination clique’ in Australia, and have been associated with CSL and GSK for some time.

    It really concerns me that people such as Julia Brotherton, who have associations with industry, and who may also have an ideological and career interest in ‘proving’ the benefits of HPV vaccination, are also the ones evaluating the effectiveness of HPV vaccination. Personally, I have no confidence in their objectivity on this matter.

    I’ve also become very cynical about the often industry-associated ‘peer-reviewed literature’. Even The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, has confessed that: “Journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.” (As quoted in Richard Smith’s essay “Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies” PLOS Medicine 17 May 2005.)

  18. Yesterday The Australian published a front page advertorial supporting HPV vaccination: “Gardasil vaccine fears baseless, says audit”:

    Of course the Murdoch media is very much a promoter of vaccine products, as evidenced by its ‘No Jab, No Play’ campaign:

    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott obligingly responded to the Murdoch media’s campaign by making vaccination compulsory for children of all ages to access family tax benefits, which means vaccination with the HPV Gardasil product will be compulsory.

    In other parts of the world negative stories about HPV vaccination continue to emerge, e.g.
    the US:
    India: etc…

    Usually when these stories emerge representatives of the scientific/medical establishment express outrage, particularly that old standby ‘correlation does not imply causation’… e.g.

  19. Comment courtesy of a good friend:

    Point of information for our medical fraternity – if we are talking about scientific illiteracy, then I shall just highlight (again) the DH publication called “Beating cervical cancer – the facts”, page 13, which they circulated widely in hard copies and online back in 2008-9, to doctors, schools and families, and the JCVI.
    Ironically, in that factsheet there was a serious statistical error about the risk of side effects with the HPV vaccine, and clearly a blatant understatement of the facts (to the tune of x1000), therefore very misleading, considering it was to obtain so called ‘informed consent’. Certainly it was far from trivial. DH officials did write that they were grateful I pointed out the error, but they didn’t reprint or alert anyone at the time. Don’t you think the public have a right to know the more accurate statistical risks of side effects that the manufacturers had already stated? I suspect that hospital staff didn’t notice the little mention of an “update” about 8 months later in their DH bulletin, in amongst all the swine flu bumf at the time. It calls into question, just who is playing with people’s lives and deaths – a government’s vastly inaccurate claims in mass-produced promotional material or a newspaper report of thousands of injuries, seven years later. Who was doing the ‘playing-down’ of side effects?

    FOI reference:

  20. HPV vaccination is part of the bigger picture re vaccination, and the push for compulsory vaccination which is going on in the US and Australia, and which is likely to translate to other countries.

    We have to rise up as citizens against this never-ending tide of lucrative vaccine products, and demand that no vaccine product be added to the schedule without public consultation.

    We must demand transparent justification for mass vaccination programs.

    As things stand ‘vaccination committees’ – small groups of often conflicted academics (i.e. with usually undisclosed associations with industry) – are putting in place vaccine ‘recommendations’ that are subsequently mandated by governments. These vaccine committees have too much power, and it’s time for them to be reined in and made accountable to the public.

    1. Further to my previous comment, in Australia, the Prime Minister is ultimately responsible for the Federal Government’s vaccination schedule, which effectively mandates vaccination interventions for healthy people, particularly children.

      In this regard I am forwarding letters to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, questioning vaccination policy in Australia.

      In the first instance my letter to Prime Minister Abbott (21 January 2015) requests he urgently address the problem of potential conflicts of interest and lack of disclosure by members of groups influencing vaccination policy in Australia, i.e.:

      • the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI);
      • the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC);
      • the TGA Advisory Committee on the Safety of Vaccines (ACSOV);
      • the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC); and
      • the Working Group and Oversight Committee for the Australian Academy of Science publication The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers, which was funded by the Australian Federal Government’s Department of Health and Ageing.

      In my letter to Prime Minister Abbott I describe the lack of transparency and accountability for the groups providing advice on vaccine products to the Australian Federal Government, there is an alarming amount of secrecy in this area.

      As the influence of these groups can result in the imposition of medical interventions (i.e. vaccinations) for healthy people, and massive sales of lucrative vaccine products for pharmaceutical companies, it is vital that the process of adding vaccine products to the national vaccination schedule is open and transparent, and that any potential conflicts of interest of the members of these groups are accessible for public perusal.

      I have received a response to my letter to Tony Abbott from the Immunisation Branch of the Department of Health, which indicates we may be at last obtaining some sunlight on this matter, at least in regards to the ATAGI committee. The letter advises: “The ATAGI has an established process for the declaration and, if necessary, the management of CoIs. At its 19-20 February 2015 meeting ATAGI reviewed the COI policy and agreed to publish details of the CoIs of its members on the Immunise Australia website to improve transparency. It is anticipated this information will be published in March 2015.”

      Checking the Immunise Australia website, the information on conflicts of interest is now finally available – refer to this document which discloses potential conflicts of interest for members and ex-officio members of ATAGI:$File/2015-ATAGI-conflict-interest.pdf

      The document makes for interesting reading as many of the members, and an ex-officio member, of ATAGI have associations with pharmaceutical companies via funding for clinical trials and travel expenses.

      I requested this information from then Health Minister Nicola Roxon in November 2011 and from then ATAGI Chair Professor Terry Nolan in March 2013 – why has it been kept secret for so long? Why do citizens such as myself have to fight for access to this information in our liberal democracy?

      It is notable that only information for current members and ex-officio members of ATAGI is currently accessible. I suggest it is imperative that this information be retrospective and also detail associations with the pharmaceutical industry of previous members.

      For instance Professor Terry Nolan has only recently departed the ATAGI Chair, yet there is no information on his potential conflicts of interest in the recently published document.

      An article published in Australian Doctor in November 2005 titled “We’ll be fast: new vax boss” notes that: “The new head of the Federal Government’s revised vaccine advisory group, Professor Terry Nolan, will prioritise timely responses to new vaccines and industry developments…”

      As Professor Nolan has overseen the addition of vaccine products to the national schedule during his long tenure, including the Merck/bioCSL Gardasil HPV vaccine and GlaxoSmithKline’s Priorix-Tetra measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine, I suggest it is imperative that potential conflicts of interest during his tenure should also be disclosed.

      I will pursue this matter further.

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