Friday, 29 November 2013

People die after vaccinations - shock, horror, probe

Apparently, people are interested in the last meal of a condemned man.  Why, I don't know.  That's not the cause of death.
Curiously, Lynne McTaggart is keen to push her anti-vaccine agenda and prints a news item in her journal of record rubbish with the title "People do die after vaccination".  Well, duh!
Her expose says that, for the first time, it is admitted that people have died after having had vaccinations.  In fact, 15,000 of them over a three year period in the US.  Sounds frightening, doesn't it?
The link given is to this paper, Mortality rates and cause-of-death patterns in a vaccinated population ( 2013 Jul;45(1):91-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.02.020).  Luckily, and in something that is becoming a bit of a habit at WDDTY, this looks like another foot in mouth for the plucky investigative journalists at the esteemed journal.  If only they learned to read.
As the authors of the paper put it:
In the overall distribution of cause of death classified by
body system among all ages, the categories that represent the
majority of the distribution include diseases of the circulatory
system (32%); neoplasms (24%); and diseases of the
respiratory system (10%). In children aged 0–18 months,
congenital malformations, deformations, and chromosomal
abnormalities (22%) were the leading cause of death within
30 days of a vaccination visit; sudden infant death syndrome
(SIDS) was the second-leading cause of death (16%). The
leading cause of death within 60 days of a vaccination visit in
children aged 0-18 years was external causes of morbidity
and mortality (21%); next in leading causes of death were
congenital malformations, deformations, and chromosomal
abnormalities (18%), and SIDS (13%).
In other words, causes of death weren't  related to the vaccinations but to pre-existing conditions, SIDS and accidents.  They also found that deaths occurred more commonly in the winter months, in elderly people and the causes of death were consistent with the wider population.
So although Lynne McTaggart would rather have us believe that vaccination is evil somehow, the paper she cites suggests very much the opposite.  The fact that people die after vaccination is not surprising.  They die after all sorts of activities.  Can I get funding for a study to find out how many people die within 60 days of reading McTaggart's rag?
Not that McTaggart or her magazine are in any way anti-vaccine.  Perish the thought.  Though in order to muddy the waters clarify matters, the article does say:
Aside from the elderly, other vulnerable groups include pregnant women and those with chronic health problems, so doctors perhaps need to think carefully before vaccinating these people, say the researchers.
What the researchers actually say is this (my bold):

Although there is currently no evidence to support a causal relationship between vaccinations and death, this study provides background mortality rates following vaccinations to be used as a baseline when examining the safety profiles of new vaccines and during mass immunisations campaigns.
Similar analyses should be conducted when new vaccines are added tot eh ACIP recommended schedule, and also would be useful in other populations, including vulnerable subpopulations such as pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions.
So that's not quite what WDDTY would have you believe.
There is a trend at What Doctors Don't Tell You clearly emerging.  Take a health story, twist it so it looks as if it supports the agenda you are pushing and hype it up to make it more scary.  Oh, and trust the intelligence of your readership does not actually rise to the level where they begin to read for themselves and check the references. 
It didn't take me long to find the paper McTaggart refers to.  If I can do it so can almost any reader with internet access.   And an inquiring mind might be disappointed to find that the news story and the paper don't support one another. 
And she wonders why true skeptics aren't taken with the magazine's efforts.  It's because it isn't honest with its sources.






  1. WDDTY's inability to interpret papers (or ability to blatantly lie about them) is not limited to the article above.

    Here is another example:

    On page 10, WDDTY says: "Michael Douglas's recent claims that his throat cancer may have been caused by oral sex isn't backed by the evidence". According to WDDTY, his claim that HPV (which is transmitted by oral sex) causes cancer is untrue, because "researchers from various Universities and clinical centres accross the US...could find no evidence to support the claim"

    WDDTY misinterpret the work of Dr D'Souza, a researcher at Mt Sinai hospital, The paper referred written by her to does not say HPV does not cause throat cancer. In fact, Dr D'Souza has numerous publications on HPV.

    In one review she says:
    "Over the last decade it has become clear that human papillomavirus (HPV) not only causes genital and anal cancers, but also causes a subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In addition to the estimated ~492,800 cervical cancers caused worldwide by HPV each year, HPV also causes an estimated ~30,000 oropharyngeal cancers, HPV is detected in ~25% of all HNSCC (Kreimer et al., 2005), and the majority of these HPV-associated HNSCC are oropharyngeal (tonsillar and base of tongue) squamous cell cancers. In fact, HPV is now the major cause of oropharyngeal cancer in developed countries, detected in 45–90% of cases (Fig. 1) (D’Souza et al., 2007a; Kreimer et al., 2005; Nasman et al., 2009). HPV has also been detected in a smaller subset of laryngeal (24%) and oral cavity (23%) cancers (Kreimer et al., 2005). There is strong and consistent molecular evidence demonstrating that HPV is an etiological cause of these oropharyngeal cancers. HPV is detected in the tumor of these oropharyngeal cancers, where it is localized to the cell nuclei, transcriptionally active, clonal, and not found in the surrounding benign tissue (Gillison et al., 2000). Epidemiologic evidence for the role of HPV in oropharyngeal cancer is equally strong. Case–control studies consistently show that oropharyngeal cancer cases have a higher average number of lifetime sexual partners (a surrogate for oral HPV exposure) and are more likely to have current oral HPV infection than matched controls."

    That sounds pretty conclusive, and it leaves no room for doubt as to where the finger of blame lies wrt throat cancer.

    The D'Souza paper from 2013 that WDDTY refers to indicates that the risks relate to number of lifetime partners (and Douglas admits he has had more than a few in his). Essentially, what is demonstrated in her recent work on partners of patients with HPV is that the prevalence of HPV remains low (but still higher than that in the general population), and since many people spontaneously clear HPV, then couples need not become too paranoid about altering their sexual behaviour to limit the risks of HPV acquisition.

    WDDTY's message? That "You don't get throat cancer that way" [ie from HPV infection acquired through oral sex]. In view of the scientific evidence, and in the absence of alternative suggested means of acquiring oral HPV, then the message should be that one does indeed catch throat cancer that way.

    Once again, WDDTY has taken a perfectly sensible paper and twisted its interpretation to fit with its own agenda, just like the "death after vaccination" study above.

    1. Thanks, Dingo, that's an article on its own. Excellent stuff. I suspected the WDDTY line was twisting the evidence but I didn't chase down any references. I wonder how many more there are.