Sunday, August 23, 2009

Swine Flu / 2009 H1N1: Vaccines, Conspiracy Theories; and Common Sense

"WHO official predicts H1N1 'explosion'"
CNN (August 21, 2009)

"The world will soon see an "explosion" of swine flu cases as the H1N1 virus spreads rapidly around the world, a top World Health Organization official said Friday.

"Spread of the virus is entering an 'acceleration period' and it is certain that there will be more cases and more deaths, said Dr. Shin Young-soo, the organization's regional director for the Western Pacific.

" 'Most countries may see a doubling of cases every three to four days for two months until peak transmission is reached,' he said at a symposium in Beijing, China. 'At a certain point, there will seem to be an explosion in case numbers. I believe it is very likely that all countries will see community-level transmission by the end of the year.'..."

"...'We will only be safe when we have applied these lessons in every country dealing with this virus,' [Dr.] Shin [Shin Young-soo, the organization's regional director for the Western Pacific.] said. 'We need to learn quickly since, as I believe, it appears that this pandemic will get worse before the situation gets better.'"

The article gives a pretty good look at where the H1N1/swine flu epidemic is concerned.

The WHO (World Health Organization) has a few words about 'antivirals' -

"Recommended use of antivirals / Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 8" WHO (August 21, 2009).

And, about the safety of vaccines -

"Safety of pandemic vaccines / Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 6"
WHO (August 6, 2009).

It's All Some Kinda Plot, Apparently

If you go to Google and key in these words - swine flu vaccine danger - you'll see links to news, op-ed, and dire warnings about the awful dangers presented: by the vaccine and the dark forces behind it. "Globalization" figured prominently on the samples I glanced at.

Okay: Maybe there is some sort of vast conspiracy going on. (May 8, 2009) Then again, maybe not.

It's possible, although in my view quite unlikely, that the CDC, WHO, and one of those secret organizations that conspiracy-theory buffs like to invoke, is involved in some vast global conspiracy. It's even possible - although wildly unlikely - that space-alien, shape-shifting lizard people are behind the whole thing. (January 14, 2009, in another blog)

But I rather doubt it.

There's a kernel of truth in the claims that the H1N1 flu vaccine may be dangerous. All vaccines are dangerous. The trick is to balance benefit and risk. (May 1, 2009)

Hysteria, No; Common Sense, yes

There's no shortage of op-ed pieces about swine flu / influenza A(H1N1) "hysteria" - which may exist somewhere. I've read about it, but have yet to encounter an example.

Do I have to say it? Hysteria is not a reasonable response to the danger from the current influenza pandemic.

Common sense, yes. It's the same old boring stuff from childhood and hygiene classes: wash your hands; wash your food; don't inhale deeply when someone near you sneezes; don't lick door handles. There's more, but you get the idea.

I don't want to 'feed hysteria' - wherever it is. On the other hand, there's something new to say about swine flu / influenza A (H1N1), and it seemed like a good idea to share it.

About that flu vaccine? I'm at the age where getting a flu vaccine as autumn comes is good sense. I expect to get another one this year. If it includes an edge over this year's H1N1, fine.

Finally: Yes, I know. If it hasn't happened already, in tests, someone who got the new vaccine felt bad later, or maybe even died. That's tragic. But some people are sensitive to some substances.

The swine flu vaccine of 1976 was a case in point. About 1 in 80,0001 people who got the vaccine developed GBS, a very unpleasant condition, and died. (May 1, 2009) If there were no threat of swine flu, it wouldn't make sense to take the vaccine. If the odds of contracting, spreading, and possibly dying from swine flu were more than 1/80,000, taking the vaccine would have made sense.

My guess is that today's swine flu vaccine will be like every other: a tiny percentage of people will be sensitive to it - and there's no way of finding out, without taking the vaccine.

It's not a perfect situation; but it's not a perfect world, either.

List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources:
Update (August 23, 2009)

A tip of the hat to lizditz, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this article:

"A Defense of Childhood Influenza Vaccination and Squalene-Containing Adjuvants; Joseph Mercola's 'Dirty Little Secret' "
Science-Based Medicine (August 21, 2009)

I haven't researched the specific assertions made in the article thoroughly: but I think it's worth reading as an example of how to think about benefit/risk ratios and the relative safety of vaccines.

One interesting point is that the SBM article asserts that the rate of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) appearing in people was 1 in 1,000,000. I'd been using a figure of 1 in 100,000 in several posts. (August 23, 2009, April 25, 2009, April 30, 2009, May 1, 2009) So, I had to go back and check my numbers.

And found out that I'd made a mistake - excessive rounding of the numbers.

I'd used as my source a CBS article whose writers couldn't seem to get over the horror of 1976, when a flu pandemic didn't happen - and 500 people came down with GBS. I'm not trivializing their experience: Guillain-Barré syndrome is, to say the least, unpleasant.

And 500 feels like a really big number.

CBS made the mistake of including other numbers in their article. Like 40,000,000 people getting immunized with the demon drug. And 500 coming down with GBS.

Oops - A Correction

500 divided by 40,000,000 (or 500/40,000,000) is 0.0000125: Or 1/80,000. I rounded that - arguably too much, to 1 in 100,000. I've revised/corrected the posts, with a footnote leading to this update.

One in 80,000; One in 1,000,000 - What's Going On?

It looks to me like SBM didn't take the CBS News numbers, but instead went to "Guillain-Barré Syndrome Following Influenza Vaccination," Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Vol. 292 No. 20, November 24, 2004, by by Penina Haber, MPH; Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH; Fredrick J. Angulo, DVM, PhD; John Iskander, MD, MPH; Sean V. Shadomy, DVM, MPH; Eric Weintraub, MPH; Robert T. Chen, MD, MA.

There's a certain amount of comparing apples and oranges here: the JAMA report didn't use 1976 data. Their study used data from a program that started in 1990. Part of the results:

"...The annual reporting rate decreased 4-fold from a high of 0.17 per 100 000 vaccinees in 1993-1994 to 0.04 in 2002-2003...."

Okay: a midpoint between 0.17/100,000 and 0.04/100,000 is right in the neighborhood of SBM's 1/1,000,000.

Pretty good odds, if the alternative is being open to infection from a potentially deadly disease: with the bonus of knowing you're spreading it to others.


notepad publishing said...

H1N1 = Conspiracy?

H1N1 notepad

October 2009
On October 1 2009, a former federal health minister dismisses as "crackpots and conspiracy theorists" those who would actively discourage Australians from having their swine flu vaccine'. October 2nd, the San Fransisco Chronicle publishes that 'Everybody seems to be saying TRUST THE GOVERNMENT but it's hard to trust the H1N1 vaccination campaign' and on October 4rd, the Washington Post wonders 'When the swine flu vaccine finally arrives this week, will Americans line up to get it?' and CBS News writes about health care workers protesting the flu vaccine mandate. October 6th Foodconsumer publishes 'Do NOT Let Your Child Get Flu Vaccine -- 9 Reasons Why' and writes that 'modern medicine has no explanation for autism, despite its continued rise in prevalence. Yet autism is not reported among Amish children who go unvaccinated'. October 7th Healthnews writes that 72 percent are concerned about potential vaccine side effects and the Examiner writes that' theorists believe that government may force people to take the vaccine'. October 8th Times&Transscript publishes that 'a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal would be included as one of the substances in the H1N1 vaccine', Medill Reports writes that Dr. Mayer Eisenstein is advising his patients to say no and is convinced that vaccines cause autism and the Los Angeles Times Blog publishes that media commentators Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have apparently fallen prey to the loony websites of the anti-vaccine folks and that Beck would do "the exact opposite" of what the government recommended and attend a swine flu party. October 9th, The Christian Science Monitor publishes that 'the vaccine is opposed, moreover, by naturopaths and even a well-known epidemiologist' and that Glenn Beck from Fox News has devoted hours to ask 'why the World Health Organization, "Big Pharma," and the government are hyping a pandemic'?

Read the full article with all media references @

notepad publishing (a non-profit news agency based in Switzerland)

notepad publishing said...

Read the full article with all media references at:

December 21 to December 31 2009

December 21 2009 the Washington Post publishes ‘Vaccine scares‘ and Age Of Autism writes ‘Clive Thompson Calls Questioning Vaccine Safety Decade’s Worst Idea‘.

December 22 COTO Report publishes ‘Former CDC head now leads Merck vaccine division‘.

December 24 Anthrax Vaccine writes ‘In Holland, the Public Face of Flu Takes a Hit/ Science‘ and The Examiner publishes ‘Another H1N1 vaccine recall due to problems with various types of fast-tracked swine flu vaccination’ and UPI writes ‘Most Australians may refuse H1N1 vaccine‘ and The Flu Case writes ‘Why Science and the State Need To Be Kept Separate For The Swine Flu’ and OpEdNews publishes ‘The Council of Foreign Relations Enters the Vaccine Biz‘.

December 25 Natural Solutions Foundation publishes ‘Preventing Merry Disinformation and a Happy New World Order: Please Open: Globalists Bring the War Home‘ and Flu and Vaccine Tidbits writes ‘The Dirty Hidden Secrets of Vaccines‘ and TrustSeek Center publishes ‘The Side of the H1N1 Swine Flu Virus You Will Not Hear in the News’ and Websites writes ‘Medical Doctor Retracts H1N1 Vaccine Advice After Reading Insert!’.

December 26 Age Of Autism publishes ‘Q & A - How About a Half Cup of Mercury Hazardous Waste?‘ and KNX10.70 NewsRadio writes ‘More than 4M Doses of Nasal H1N1 Vaccine Recalled‘.

December 27 Info over Mexicaanse griep writes ‘Vitamin D kills H1N1 and NO scientific proof flu vaccines‘.

December 28 Taiwan News publishes ‘Fewer school children receiving immunization over vaccine doubts’.

December 11 to December 20 2009

December 12 NHF publishes ‘Forced Vaccinations, Government, and the Public Interest‘.

December 14 LabVirus writes ‘As the H1N1 vaccine is made widely available starting today for the next week in cities throughout the USA, masses line up to be sterilized, paralyzed, irreversibly harmed, and some – killed.’

December 15 ResistNet publishes ‘Agenda 21 is it, you decide - Bioterrorism!‘ and Truth11 writes ‘Why is the Government of Canada running adds for the Flu Vaccine without any warnings | Population Reduction’ and TheFluCase writes ‘Reports of Serious Side Effects For Swine Flu Jab Soar in France. Only Internet Reports’ and Attorney At Law writes ‘H1N1 Vaccine Doses Recalled; May Not Be Strong Enough‘.

December 16 the Examiner writes ‘Several people get GBS after swine flu vaccinations, yet some doses ‘not potent enough’’ and Psyorg writes ‘Bacteria wouldn’t opt for a swine flu shot‘.

December 17 the New York Times publishes ‘Advisers on Vaccines Often Have Conflicts, Report Says’.

December 18 notepad publishing writes ‘What comes next?‘

December 20 Ennahar Online publishes ‘Vaccine against swine flu: a cure or an injection of death!’ and The Chronicle watch writes ‘H1N1 Vaccine; Woman Paralyzed, Babies Dead‘ and the European Union Times writes ‘Germany and Spain seek to cut swine flu vaccine orders as millions refuse to take shot‘ and a video is published ‘Dr. Eisenstein talks about the Flu Vaccines‘.

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