measles in africa, vaccination africa, measles

Measles deaths in Africa

The following article is by Greg Beattie, author of Vaccination: A Parent’s Dilemma and the more recent Fooling Ourselves on the Fundamental Value of Vaccines. It was originally published on the REAL Australian Sceptics blog and bears repeating.

This information and the graphs included are excerpted from Mr Beattie’s latest book. It demonstrates very clearly that a true sceptic will not necessarily believe in headlines such as “Measles deaths in Africa plunge by 91%” without seeing the proof of those claims. Question everything – accept nothing at face value – that is the credo of the true sceptic.

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Bertrand Russell

Africa, measles africa, vaccination africa
0.450–0.499 0.400–0.449 0.350–0.399 0.300–0.349 under 0.300 n/a (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are not one to follow the news, you may have missed it. Others will have undoubtedly seen a stream of good-newsstories over the past five years, such as:

Measles Deaths In Africa Plunge By 91%[1],[2]

There have been many versions on the theme; the percentage rates have changed over time. However, the bodies of the stories leave us in no doubt as to the reason for their headlines. Here are some direct quotes:

In a rare public health success story on the world’s most beleaguered continent, Africa has slashed deaths from measles by 91 per cent since 2000 thanks to an immunization drive.

An ambitious global immunization drive has cut measles deaths…

Measles deaths in Africa have fallen as child vaccination rates have risen.

These stories represent a modern-day version of the belief that vaccines vanquished the killer diseases of the past. There is something deeply disturbing about the stories, and it is not immediately apparent. The fact is: no-one knows how many people died of measles in Africa. No-one! Not last year and not ten years ago.

I will repeat that. No-one knows how many measles deaths have occurred in Africa. So, where did these figures come from? I will explain that in this blog. In a nutshell, they were calculated on a spreadsheet, using a formula. You may be surprised when you see how simple the method was.

We all believe these stories, because we have no reason to doubt them. The only people who would have questioned them were those who were aware that the deaths had not been counted. One of these was World Health Organisation (WHO) head of Health Evidence and Statistics, who reprimanded the authors of the original report (on which the stories were based) in an editorial published in the Bulletin of the WHO, as I will discuss shortly. Unfortunately, by then the train was already runaway. The stories had taken off virally through the worldwide media.

Overview

First, an overview of the formula. The authors looked at it this way: for every million vaccines given out, we hope to save ‘X’ lives. From that premise, we simply count how many million vaccines we gave out, and multiply that by ‘X’ to calculate how many lives (we think) we have saved. That is how the figures were arrived at.

The stories and the formula are both products of a deep belief in the power of vaccines. We think the stories report facts, but instead they report hopes.

The nuts and bolts

Hardly any of the willing participants in spreading the stories bothered to check where the figures came from, and what they meant. That was possibly understandable. Why would we need to check them? After all, they were produced by experts: respected researchers, and reputable organisations such as UNICEF, American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, and the World Health Organisation.

However, I did check them. I checked because I knew the developing world wasn’t collecting cause of death data that could provide such figures[3]. In fact, it is currently estimated that only 25 million of the 60 million deaths that occur each year are even registered, let alone have reliable cause-of-death information[4]. Sub-Saharan Africa, where a large proportion of measles deaths are thought to occur, still had an estimated death registration of only around 10%[5] in 2006, and virtually no reliable cause-of-death data. Even sample demographic surveys, although considered accurate, were not collecting cause-of-death data that allowed for these figures to be reported. Simply put, this was not real data: the figures had to be estimates.

I was curious as to how the estimates were arrived at, so I traced back to the source—an article in The Lancet, written by a team from the Measles Initiative[6]. After reading the article, I realised the reports were not measles deaths at all. They were planning estimates, or predictions. In other words, they represented outcomes that the Measles Initiative had hoped to achieve, through conducting vaccination programs.

Don’t get me wrong. We all know that planning and predicting are very useful, even necessary activities, but it is obvious they are not the same as measuring outcomes.

The title of the original report from the Measles Initiative reads, “Has the 2005 measles mortality reduction goal been achieved? A natural history modelling study.[7] The authors took one and a half pages to explain how natural history modelling applied here. I will simplify it in about ten lines. I realise that in doing so, some may accuse me of editorial vandalism, however I assure you what follows captures the essence of the method. The rest is detail. If you are interested in confirming this, I urge you to read the original article for that detail. Here we go… the formula at the heart of the stories:

My interpretation of the Measles Natural History Modelling Study

  1. Open a blank spreadsheet
  2. Enter population data for each year from 2000 to 2006
  3. Enter measles vaccine coverage for each of the years also
  4. Assume all people develop measles if not vaccinated
  5. Assume vaccination prevents 85-95% of measles cases
  6. Calculate how many measles cases were ‘prevented’ each year (using the above figures)
  7. Calculate how many measles deaths were ‘prevented’ each year (using historical case-fatality ratios)

There, simple. As you can see, this is a typical approach if we are modelling,for predictive purposes. Using a spreadsheet to predict outcomes of various plans helps us set targets, and develop strategies. When it comes to evaluating the result of our plan however we need to go out into the field, and measure what happened. We must never simply return to the same spreadsheet. But this is precisely what the Measles Initiative team did. And the publishing world swallowed it—hook, line and sinker.

As mentioned earlier, WHO Health Evidence and Statistics head, Dr Kenji Shibuya, saw the problem with this method. Writing editorially in the Bulletin of the WHO, under the title “Decide monitoring strategies before setting targets”, Shibuya had this to say[8]:

Unfortunately, the MDG[9] monitoring process relies heavily on predicted statistics.

…the assessment of a recent change in measles mortality from vaccination is mostly based on statistics predicted from a set of covariates… It is understandable that estimating causes of death over time is a difficult task. However, that is no reason for us to avoid measuring it when we can also measure the quantity of interest directly; otherwise the global health community would continue to monitor progress on a spreadsheet with limited empirical basis. This is simply not acceptable. [emphasis mine]

This mismatch was created partly by the demand for more timely statistics …and partly by a lack of data and effective measurement strategies among statistics producers. Users must be realistic, as annual data on representative cause-specific mortality are difficult to obtain without complete civil registration or sample registration systems

If such data are needed, the global health community must seek indicators that are valid, reliable and comparable, and must invest in data collection (e.g. adjusting facility-based data by using other representative data sources).

Regardless of new disease-specific initiatives or the broader WHO Strategic Objectives, the key is to focus on a small set of relevant indicators for which well defined strategies for monitoring progress are available. Only by doing so will the global health community be able to show what works and what fails.

In simple terms, Shibuya was saying:

  • We know it is difficult to estimate measles deaths, but
  • You should have tried, because you attracted a lot of interest
  • Instead, you simply went back to the same spreadsheet you used to make the plan—and that is unacceptable!
  • If you want to make a claim about your results, you need to measure the outcomes and collect valid data
  • Until you do, you cannot say whether your plan ‘worked’

Unfortunately, by the time Shibuya’s editorial was published, the media had already been trumpeting the stories for more than a year, because the Measles Initiative announced its news to a waiting media before subjecting it to peer-review. So, without scientific scrutiny, the stories were unleashed into a world hungry for good news, especially concerning the developing world. The result… the reports were welcomed, accepted, and regurgitated to a degree where official scrutiny now seems to have the effect of a drop in a bucket.

The question of who was responsible for this miscarriage of publishing justice plagued me for a while. Was it the architects of the original report? Or was it the robotic section of our media (that part that exists because of a lack of funds for employing real journalists) who spread the message virally to every corner of the globe, without checking it?

One quote which really stands out in the stories is from former director of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“The clear message from this achievement is that the strategy works,” said CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding

What strategy works? Is she talking about modelling on a spreadsheet? Or, using the predictions in place of real outcomes? More recent reports from the Measles Initiative indicate the team are continuing with this deceptive approach. In their latest report[10] it is estimated 12.7 million deaths were averted between 2000-2008. All were calculated on their spreadsheet, and all were attributed to vaccination, for the simple reason that it was the only variable on the spreadsheet that was under their control. And still there is no scrutiny of the claims. Furthermore, the authors make no effort to clarify in the public mind that the figures are nothing but planning estimates.

No proof

Supporters of vaccination might argue that this does not prove vaccines are of no use. I agree. In fact,let me say it first: none of this provides any evidence whatsoever of the value of vaccination. That is the crux of the matter. The media stories have trumpeted the success of the plan, and given us all a pat on the back for making it happen. But the stories are fabrications. The only aspect of them which is factual is that which tells us vaccination rates have increased.

Some ‘real’ good-news?

General mortality rates in Africa are going down. That means deaths from all causesare reducing. How do we know this? Because an inter-agency group, led by UNICEF and WHO, has been evaluating demographic survey data in countries that do not have adequate death registration data. These surveys have been going on for more than 50 years. One of the reasons they do this is to monitor trends in mortality; particularly infant, and under-five mortality.

Although the health burden in developing countries is inequitably high, there is reason to be positive when we view these trends. Deaths are declining and, according to the best available estimates, have been steadily doing so for a considerable time; well over 50 years.

One of the most useful indicators of a country’s health transition is its under-5 mortality rate: that is, the death rate for children below five years old. The best estimates available for Africa show a steady decline in under-5 mortality rate, of around 1.8% per year, since 1950[11]. Figure 1 shows this decline from 1960 onward[12]. It also shows the infant mortality rate[13]. Both are plotted as averages of all countries in the WHO region of Africa.

Figure 1. Child mortality, Africa

This graph may appear complex, but it is not difficult to read. The two thick lines running horizontally through the graph are the infant (the lower blue line) and under-5 (the upper black line) mortality rates per 1000 from 1960 to 2009. The handful of finer lines which commence in 1980, at a low point, and shoot upward over the following decade, represent the introduction of the various vaccines. The vertical scale on the right side of the graph shows the rate at which children were vaccinated with each of these shots.

The primary purpose of this graph (as well as that in Figure 2) is to deliver the real good-news. We see a slowly, but steadily improving situation. Death rates for infants and young children are declining. I decided to add the extra lines (for vaccines) to illustrate that they appear to have had no impact on the declining childhood mortality rates; at least, not a positive impact. If they were as useful as we have been led to believe, these vaccines (covering seven illnesses) would surely have resulted in a sharp downward deviation from the established trend. As we can see, this did not occur.

In Africa, the vaccines were introduced at the start of the 1980s and, within a decade, reached more than half the children. The only effect observable in the mortality rates, is a slowing of the downward trend. In other words, if anything were to be drawn from this, it would be that the introduction of the vaccines was counter-productive. One could argue that the later increase in vaccine coverage (after the year 2000) was followed by a return to the same decline observed prior to the vaccines. However, that does not line up. The return to the prior decline predates it, by around five years.

With both interpretations we are splitting hairs. Since we are discussing an intervention that has been marketed as a modern miracle, we should see a marked effect on the trend. We don’t.

The WHO region of Africa (also referred to as sub-Saharan Africa) is where a substantial portion of the world’s poor-health burden is thought to exist. The country that is believed to share the majority of worldwide child mortality burden with sub-Saharan Africa is India, in the WHO south-east Asia region. Together, the African and South-east Asian regions were thought in 1999 to bear 85% of the world’s measles deaths[14]. Figure 2 shows India’s declining infant and under-5 mortality rates, over the past 50 years. Again, the introduction of various vaccines is also shown.

Figure 2. Child mortality, India

And again, vaccines do not appear to have contributed. Mortality rates simply continued their steady decline. We commenced mass vaccination (for seven illnesses) from the late 1980s but there was no visible impact on the child mortality trends.

In a nutshell, what happened in the developed world is still happening in the yet-to-finish-developing world, only it started later, and is taking longer. The processes of providing clean water, good nourishment, adequate housing, education and employment, freedom from poverty, as well as proper care of the sick, have been on-going in poor countries.

I would have loved to go back further in time with these graphs but unfortunately I was not able to locate the data. I did uncover one graph in an issue of the Bulletin of the WHO, showing the under-5 mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa to be an estimated 350 in 1950[15]. It subsequently dropped to around 175 by 1980, before vaccines figured. It continued dropping, though slower, to 129 by 2008[16].

The decline represents a substantial health transition, and a lot of lives saved. When cause-of-death data improves, or at least some genuine effort is made to establish credible estimates of measles deaths, it will undoubtedly be found they are dropping as well. Why wouldn’t they? This is good news, and all praise needs to be directed at the architects and supporters of the international activities that are helping to achieve improvements in the real determinants of health. In the midst of all the hype, I trust we will not swallow attempts to give the credit to vaccines… again.

I am not confident, however. I feel this is simply history repeating itself. Deaths from infectious disease will reach an acceptable “low” in developing countries, at some point in time. And although this will probably be due to a range of improvements in poverty, sanitation, nutrition and education, I feel vaccines will be given the credit. To support the claim, numerous pieces of evidence will be paraded, such as:

Measles Deaths In Africa Plunge By 91%

We need to purge these pieces of “evidence” if we are to have rational discussion. The public have a right to know that these reports are based on fabricated figures.  Otherwise, the relative importance of vaccines in future health policy will be further exaggerated.


[1]    Medical News Today 30Nov 2007; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/90237.php

[2]    UNICEF Joint press release; http://www.unicef.org/media/media_41969.html

[3]    Jaffar et al. Effects of misclassification of causes of death on the power of a trial to assess the efficacy of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in The Gambia; International Journal of Epidemiology 2003;32:430-436 http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/32/3/430

[4]    Save lives by counting the dead; An interview with Prof Prabhat Jha, Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 2010;88:171–172

[5]    Counting the dead is essential for health: Bull WHO Volume 84, Number 3, March 2006, 161-256 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/3/interview0306/en/index.html

[6]    Launched in 2001, the Measles Initiative is an international partnership committed to reducing measles deaths worldwide, and led by the American Red Cross, CDC, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, and WHO. Additional information available at http://www.measlesinitiative.org

[7]    Wolfson et al. Has the 2005 measles mortality reduction goal been achieved? A natural history modelling study; Lancet 2007; 369: 191–200 Available from http://www.measlesinitiative.org/mi-files/Reports/Measles%20Mortality%20Reduction/Global/Wolfson%20Lancet2007_Measles_Mortality_Reduction.pdf

[8]    Kenji Shibuya. Decide monitoring strategies before setting targets; Bulletin of the World Health Organization June 2007, 85 (6) http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/85/6/07-042887/en/index.html

[9]    MDG – Millennium Development Goals, to be discussed shortly in this chapter.

[10]  Dabbagh et al. Global Measles Mortality, 2000–2008; Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. 2009;58(47):1321-1326 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/714345

[11]  Garenne & Gakusi. Health transitions in sub-Saharan Africa: overview of mortality trends in children under five years old (1950-2000);  Bull WHO June 2006, 84(6) p472 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/6/470.pdf

[12]  If you perform a ‘google’ search for ‘infant mortality rate’ or ‘under-5 mortality rate’ you will locate a google service that provides most of this data. It is downloadable in spreadsheet form by clicking on the ‘More info’ link.  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.DYN.MORT/countries/1W-US?display=graph :Vaccine coverage data is available from the WHO website http://www.childinfo.org/files/Immunization_Summary_2008_r6.pdf

[13]  Infant mortality rate is “under-1 year of age” mortality rate.

[15]  Garenne & Gakusi. Health transitions in sub-Saharan Africa: overview of mortality trends in children under five years old (1950-2000);  Bull WHO June 2006, 84(6) p472 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/6/470.pdf

Not ALL mainstream media is ignoring our side of the vaccination issue

On June 18, 2015, the Sacramento Bee, a major daily newspaper from California’s capital city, published an article about the funding push behind SB277 – legislation intended to take away parent’s rights to philosophical and religious exemptions to vaccination.

The attempts to remove parental choice that we are seeing in Australia are happening in just about every country around the world and are being coordinated and funded directly by the companies that produce and profit from vaccines.

Entitled, Drug companies donated millions to California lawmakers before vaccine debatethis article in a major, mainstream newspaper, paints a sordid picture of corruption occuring in plain view. Senator Richard Pan, a medical doctor who introduced this bill and has been playing all sorts of nasty tricks to prevent the opposition from having a say. He has had over $500,000 donated to his campaign by drug companies over the last 4 years. Many others in the California Senate have had similar amounts ‘given’ to them by these vested interests and I personally believe that these politicians have been bought in order to gain their support for this tyrannical legislation. 

As bad as this information is, at least in the US, it is available to the public. In Australia, there is no way to find out how much money our politicians  have taken from Big Pharma (and other corporate interests) in order to promote their products.

A Voice for Choice, a consumer organisation that supports freedom of choice on this subject, is funding a week’s worth of political cartoons in the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Even if I had the money to do the same here in Australia, I doubt that any newspaper or magazine would run these cartoons because they answer to their advertisers – not their readers.

Here is the first cartoon – I will publish the others on this page as they are published in the US.

AVFC-Tombstones-Cartoon---final

AVFC-Donkey-Cartoon---final

Timeline to a Tragedy: Part 2 – The cover-up deepens

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Christine Selvey emailed Dr Jeannette Young, Chief Health Officer (CHO), QLD Health:

Russ (Dr Schedlich) contacted DOHA yesterday to try to find out what has been reported to the TGA. …

 

Dr Young replied to both Christine Selvey and Dr Schedlich:

I assume the death is unrelated to the school clinics but have we heard of any death related to pandemic vaccine?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dr Russell Schedlich sends the following email to Dr Jeannette Young:

Have not yet heard back from DOHA (Commonwealth Department of Health) and will follow up with them today, but they were certainly not aware of any Australian deaths. I understand that WHO (the World Health Organisation) is saying that there have been a few reported deaths temporally associated with vaccination.

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Six cases of suspected flu vaccine reactions reported by nurses at the emergency department at PMH.

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Parent in Geraldton calls CDCD after seeing several children at the Geraldton hospital reacting to flu vaccine. CDCD called the hospital to ask them to report any reactions to them and to the TGA.

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Mother calls CIC to report that her daughter had an adverse reaction to the flu vaccine. She had called PMH and was told that they were experiencing an increase in admissions at their emergency department. The CIC rang the CDCD to express concern after receiving calls from 3 parents advising them of flu vaccine reactions.

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PMH reports that three children had presented to the emergency department experiencing seizures within 24-48 hours of flu vaccination.

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CDCD called the TGA to ask if other states have been reporting reactions to the flu shot.

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A nurse at PMH contacted the director of the emergency department at that hospital to advise them that there were currently 6 children being treated in emergency after suffering reactions 24-48 hours after flu vaccination.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Craig Davis sends an email to Christine Selvey:

NOCS (ed note: Notifiable diseases unit in QLD) has nothing recorded about a death following vaccination. I’ve checked with Kay Campbell in NOCS data-entry and she has confirmed that she has seen nothing either.

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Ten patients presented to PMH emergency department reported as experiencing adverse reactions to flu vaccines. Hospital requests a check back through the EDIS (Emergency Department Information System).

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The CDCD emailed the TGA to follow up from their phone call the previous week. Again, they notified the TGA about seizures, febrile convulsions and other reactions being experienced and asked whether other states were experiencing similar. The TGA advised that a medical officer would be back in touch.

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Samantha Keegan sends the following email to the QLD Minister for Health’s office, cc’ing several other QLD Health employees:

Channel 9 is asking about a link between the Sudden Unexpected Death of a 2-yr-old girl on Friday and the child’s vaccination against swine flu 24 hours before her death.

Channel 10’s News Editor gave me his word he would not run anything on Fri-then ran a short 3 par ‘live read’ (no vision or interviews).

ABC and Courier Mail agreed not to run anything after I discussed the public health ramifications of children not being vaccinated with them.

An autopsy has been done on the child, but the cause of death is unknown. …

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The following media response is sent to Channel 9. In the footer, it says it was written by Kerry White and approved by Jeannette Young and Christine Selvey:

PR

In relation to the above press statement, Dr Jeannette Young responded to Kerry White as follows:

Assuming Christine [Selvey] is ok with it then I am fine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

 

CDCD emails the TGA because there has been no return phone call re-reactions. TGA sends a return email to the CDCD advising that there have been a number of reactions reported to Panvax (adult flu vaccine) and Panvax Junior (the vaccine for infants and children). TGA says there were four reactions notified nationwide at that time.

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CDCD emails summary of reactions being experienced in WA to that point and requests information from other states.

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Public Health nurse gives verbal report of 3 or 4 children with high temperatures for 12 hours following vaccination.

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SA Nursing Director Immunisation Section calls CDCD asking if there have been any adverse events reported in WA as SA was seeing them after flu vaccination.

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CDCD emails regional public health units informing them that they may be seeing flu vaccine reactions and requesting that these be reported.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

PMH reports that there were more reactions presenting overnight. A database is established and reports are sent to the TGA. The TGA states that these reports are not received until April 20th, 2010.

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A microbiology registrar calls a paediatric immunologist at PMH to report that his own child had a febrile convulsion after receiving flu vaccine.

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PMH emails the CDCD and confirms that 27 patients have presented – 5 with confirmed febrile convulsions following vaccination.

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SA Nursing Direction Immunisation Section emails TGA, DoHA and all State Health Departments to inform them that SA is seeing increased numbers of children with high fever and vomiting after flu vaccine.

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CDCD emails all public health units informing them that all reactions must be promptly reported – “not in a month’s time”.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The AVN is contacted by a QLD mother who sent the following email:

I contacted Channel  10  Brisbane on Monday to confirm the details stated here (Please see news report quoted on 9th April, 2010). All correct and the newsroom guy said that a Post Mortem was going to be done on Monday.

No press release from the Health Minister  appears to have  been released yet and no other TV or radio station  or Queensland  newspaper appears to have reported on this.

I have today, Friday 16th April about 11.30 am  contacted Janelle Miles the medical reporter for the Courier Mail, who said she was aware of the story but they (the Courier Mail) chose not to report it.

I asked why, she said there was no proof it was due to vaccination. I asked her if she knew about the Post Mortem , she said she knew a little .

I will go through the Courier Mail for the last week and see if any death or funeral notices for the toddler.

Don’t know if you guys can find out anymore….. or how you find  out if there will be a Coroners report.

 

PMH emails CDCD to report that there have been 90 possible presentations following flu vaccination – 22 of which were notifiable (seizures, temperatures over 40℃.

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CDCD calls parents of children reacting to flu vaccine to find out what brand of vaccine had been administered and where it was given.

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The TGA emails SA Nursing Director Immunisation Section to inform them that there had been 62 reactions reported so far – 22 of which were in people 18 years of age or younger. They requested all unsubmitted reaction reports from all states.

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The Victorian Health Department emails TGA, DoHA and all State Health Departments to say that they have been receiving reports of high fevers and vomiting after flu vaccination.

Last part of timeline will be uploaded tomorrow

Timeline to a Tragedy: Did incompetence, lies and a government cover-up lead to deaths?

The AVN has created a timeline of events surrounding the ill-fated flu vaccination campaign, from its launch in WA on the 19th of March, 2010 up to the 18th of May, 2010. It paints a disturbing picture of government incompetence; bureaucrats whose only aim seems to be avoiding having their policies questioned; lies from those responsible for protecting the health of the community; and a group of caring parents kept in the dark about the real risks of a medical procedure that caused hundreds of hospitalisations and an unknown number of deaths.George Orwell1

We have merged 3 sets of data to bring you this information:

1-    The timeline included in the Stokes Report, commissioned by the WA government to examine what went wrong with the flu vaccination campaign and make suggestions as to how to prevent the same happening again.

2-    The Right to Information (RTI) request revealing how Ashley Epapara’s death was covered up to prevent criticism of the vaccine. The correspondence in this RTI also proves that both the Chief Health Officer (Jeannette Young) and the Minister for Health were alerted within hours of Ashley dying, despite their claims to the contrary.

3-    Phone calls and emails from parents and health practitioners received by the AVN during the worst of the reactions in WA and elsewhere. Most concerning is the fact that the AVN’s information includes two reports of deaths following flu vaccine – one an infant in Perth and another a 19-year old young man near Newcastle. Neither of these has ever been reported in the media nor, to the best of our knowledge, have they been included on Australia’s national database of vaccine reactions.

The recommendations of the Stokes report have, for the most part, been ignored. What happened four years ago, can happen again. Protecting vaccination policy still appears to take precedence over alerting consumers to warning signs of an unfolding tragedy.

Our health officials are claiming there is no vaccination debate; minimising the known risks and exaggerating the unproven benefits to declare vaccines beyond question. They follow this up with an agenda of vilification against those who have the greatest stake in the issue – the parents of Australia’s children.

Timeline of WA Flu Vaccine Disaster

(Please note – all emphasis has been added by the AVN and this blog will be uploaded in 3 sections due to the large amount of information included.)

Official studiesFriday, March 19, 2010

Flu vaccination campaign launches in WA with letters being sent to all families whose children are in the target age group, urging them to be vaccinated against influenza. No information is provided to alert them to the fact that this is an experimental, untested vaccine.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A local health service in WA contacted public health to report reactions in six out of nine children who had received the flu vaccine the day before. One child was hospitalised.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A public health nurse contacted the Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD, WA), telling them of flu vaccine reactions and one child who was hospitalised. Authorities reassured this nurse that “reactions are common” and asked her to report to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An immunologist working at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) contacted the Telethon Institute (the organisation being paid by pharmaceutical manufacturers to conduct a trial on flu vaccination in children) with concerns that their own child was experiencing a reaction to the Fluvax vaccine.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A senior nurse emailed CDCD to inform them of a number of calls from parents reporting vomiting and fever after receipt of flu vaccines.

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Ashley Jade Epapara, her twin sister and her older brother received their flu shots from a local doctor. That night, all three became ill.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reports received from the nursing staff at PMH that children were presenting to the emergency department “unwell” after receiving the flu vaccine.

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Bunbury hospital called the CDCD to report that an adult had presented to their emergency department suffering a suspected reaction to the flu vaccine.

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CDCD emailed the Central Immunisation Clinic (CIC) at the WA Department of Health to confirm that they had heard of some children who were experiencing high fevers, pain and vomiting leading to hospitalisation after flu vaccinations.

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Ashley Jade
Ashley Epapara and her family

Ashley Jade Epapara was found dead in her bed at 6.30 on the morning after receiving the vaccine. Her twin sister and older brother who also received the shot are ill.

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Channel 10 News runs the following report at 5:00 PM:

Possible swine flu vaccination death – toddler dies in Brisbane

The Brisbane 5pm  Channel 10  TV News  – Friday 9th April 2010 reported  Mt Gravatt police are investigating the sudden death of  a 2 year old toddler .

The death occurred a day after the girl and most of her family had been immunised with the  Swine Flu vaccination.

The Queensland  Health Minister (Paul Lucas) said that no-one should avoid Swine Flu vaccinations.

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Samantha Keegan, A/Manager (Corporate) QLD Health, sent the following email to other QLD Health Officials:

Channel 10 have rung saying they have been informed by a very reliable source a 2-year old has died following some kind of flu vaccination.

Sounds a bit suspect as they said QPS is ‘aware’ – Police media know nothing.

Kerry White, Senior Public Affairs Advisor to QLD Health sent the following email to the Commonwealth Health Media Unit as well as to various officials with QLD Health:

 

Gday all, just to let you know (UNOFFICIAL) a two year old had died at Mt Gravatt, a Brisbane suburb, with “no suspicious circumstances”, we have had a TV inquiry already who says police suggested the only thing different in their lives recently was swine flu vaccination. Police seem to have left this as a possibility for post mortem investigation.

That is all we have at the moment, nothing official yet. Awaiting more detail.

Please advise total number of vaccinations in Australia, adverse events, any deaths attributed? And global?

 

Samantha Keegan, A/Manager (Corporate) with QLD Health wrote the following email:

Had a call from Channel 10 about a story they wanted to do on a two-year-old girl who died at Mt Gravatt this morning.

The QAS was called and police attended. There were no suspicious circumstances.

However, someone involved (think it was a police officer) told the journalise the death may have been linked with a flu vaccination given to the child 24 hours before its death, and an autopsy will be performed Monday to rule it out.

I have spoken to police media who followed up with the area to make sure no further statements of the nature were made and spoke to CH 10 News Editor about the unlikeliness of a link and the possible panic such a story could cause.

He has agreed to drop the story at this stage. No other media have called.

 

Email from Kerry White to Neil, Media Unit, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing

Gday Neil, a police office apparently made some comment to a Channel 10 reporter abt a possible vacc connection. Samantha has spoken to police media and got them to put a stopper on that talk, and to Channel 10 who have agreed to go no further, not run anything.

 

Email from Neil to Kerry White:

Thanks Kerry, and thanks Samantha for setting the coppers straight.

The irony is that I provided a one-hour briefing to reps of all State and Territory Premiers and Police media units about pandemic flu in Adelaide only last week. Part of that presentation included my thoughts on how people in authority (ie. Doctors in my case) can totally undermine health programs by making silly comments about perceived safety issues.

 

Email from Neil to Kerry White:

Much appreciate the heads up. Please keep me posted on this one.

I’m keen to hear if this blows up. Certainly has the potential to seriously undermine the confidence in the program and I’d like to jump on it before it does blow up (if possible).

 

Email from Kerry White to Dr Russ Schedlich, State Health Incident Controller, Pandemic H1N1 2009:

…In QLD it seems on the latest info I can find that we have had 199 adverse events (33 hospitalised) reported from 717,167 immunisations administered. (AVN note: 717,167 vaccines may have been distributed but there is no information on how many of those were actually administered.).

To be continued tomorrow, May 23, 2014…

Tamiflu drug ‘largely ineffective’ in reducing hospitalisation: study

TamifluAntiviral drugs are largely ineffective for reducing hospital admissions and complications from influenza, and come with serious side-effects, according to a research review published by the Cochrane Collaboration today.

The drugs were stockpiled by governments across the world, including Australia’s, in response to the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Cochrane, along with the British Medical Journal, is asking governments to consider whether they would choose to stockpile well-known antiviral Tamiflu in light of these findings, arguing the original evidence leading to the stockpiling was incomplete.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Health said antivirals were part of the National Medical Stockpile currently valued at A$192 million, but refused to provide further details “due to security and commercial sensitivities”.

Tamiflu drug ‘largely ineffective’ in reducing hospitalisation: study.

The AVN – our finances are an open book

by Meryl Dorey9710598_s

Yesterday, the AVN was contacted by Amy Corderoy who is the Health Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. She had been contacted by members of Stop the AVN – the organisation that has been set up to harass, abuse and threaten our members in order to force our group to close down. Due to their complaints about the AVN, Amy Corderoy wanted to let us know that she had asked an independent accountant to look over the AVN’s financial records over the last 7 years and that they had ‘concerns’ about what we have spent our money on for the year 2010. I will have more to say about 2010’s financial report later in this blog. According to SAVN’s accusations however, none of our money has been spent for a charitable purpose and therefore, they felt that we should be investigated.

Let’s see – in the 2 years since we won our case against an illegal investigation carried out by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, we have been investigated by 6 federal and state departments (Charity Departments in WA, VIC and NSW, The Department of Fair Trading in NSW, The Australian Tax Office, The Health Care Complaints Commission) a dozen times. And every single one of these investigations was in response to complaints by Stop the AVN. Now, we have journalists carrying out an investigation at the behest of this organised hate group whose founder publicly stated that he would be the cause of my demise. Perhaps instead of responding to Amy Corderoy’s email,  I should be telling her that if she wants to investigate the AVN, she will need to take a number and wait in line?

The last straw

I am writing this on behalf of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (formerly the Australian Vaccination Network, Inc.) and also on my own behalf – as the founding member of this organisation, its public officer and, until very recently, it’s President.

For more than 5 years, members of Stop the AVN, some sectors of the government and the media have been slandering and defaming both myself and the AVN, claiming, amongst other things, that there have been financial improprieties with our group.  They have claimed that every cent the AVN took in went straight into my pocket and that I am ‘living the high life’ on the back of our members’ support.

Ironically, when the Sydney Morning Herald sent a couple of reporters out to my home a couple of years ago to allow me to tell ‘my side’ of a story (what a joke that was!), they described my house as being ramshackle – perhaps because we haven’t had the money to paint or landscape it since I have let my volunteer-work for the AVN take priority over paid employment?

Below are links to our financial reports which have always been available should people request them. As opposed to the accusations being spread by SAVN:

  1. Our financial records have been audited every year since 1998 when we became a charity authority holder. This is one of the requirements of holding that license, as opposed to simple incorporated associations who do not have the same level of scrutiny.
  2. Our financial records are overseen by both the Department of Fair Trading and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing. This happens every year.
  3. In fact, in 2009, due to the vexatious complaints of Ken McLeod of SAVN, the AVN was audited by the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing whose representatives spent 2 days here going over our books and many weeks studying our financial records. Though they found some minor errors and one larger mistake that had been made by the organisation, they specifically stated that there was no evidence of fraud or other illegal activities and that these were the sorts of errors they would expect to see with any small, understaffed volunteer-run organisation.
  4. All AVN Committee members are and always have been volunteers. Both myself and Greg Beattie, our President, work full time quite often, sometimes more than full time, on jobs for the AVN without receiving any payment.
  5. For a few years, I was paid for my role as the Editor of Living Wisdom magazine. That was the only time in the over 20 years I have been involved with this organisation when I was paid. I was not paid for my role on the committee but rather for my role as Editor. Amy Corderoy’s email contains the following statement (quoted verbatim):

    They [the accountant consulted by the Herald] have also highlighted the editor payments for Living Wisdom

    2007 Total $ 15,840 4 issues published. Editor fee per issue: $3,960
    2008 Total $ 17,490 3 issues published. Editor fee per issue: $5,830

The implication appears to be that I was making the princely some of nearly $16,000 for one year and nearly $17,500 for another so, ipso facto, I was getting rich from my work with the AVN. In actuality, I was earning between $1,250 and $2,400 a month for between 120 to 150 hours of work. This is far less than what the average wage earner would be making.

2010 – the year from hell

The one year when our financial report really does have some serious deficiencies is the year ending on the 31st of December, 2010. Let me set the scene. At this point, we had been under attack for nearly 18 months from Ken McLeod and the other members of the Australian Skeptics and SAVN. These attacks had been very public and had included death threats, the mailing and emailing of pornography and a string of very public false accusations. We were involved in a court battle where our solicitor and barrister had both appealed to the court to suppress their names because they were afraid of becoming targets of these hate groups and the court itself had to have security guards present because members of SAVN had indicated they would be present at the hearings. We were unable to find a forensic accountant to write a report for the court, because they told us they were too scared to work with us. Can you imagine it? These professionals – who regularly work with organised crime gangs and the like – were too scared to work with us.

We were also unable to find an auditor to prepare our end of year financials for the same reason. I had personally contacted dozens of them and all declined after finding out that it was our organisation calling. Many of them were on side on this issue but they all said that they feared SAVN and the Australian Skeptics and did not want to go on record as having prepared our end-of year report.

The Department of Fair Trading was threatening to deregister us if we didn’t provide them with our financials and we were desperate when we found a local auditor who said he would take on the job. This person had – from memory – over 6 months to do so. He was given an absolute deadline as to when this needed to be submitted along with our form A12 and he agreed to finalise his report before then.

In the end, despite all of my cooperation; despite being provided with boxes and boxes of our financial records and me sitting in his office for hours to go over everything and his off-sider coming to our office for the purpose of due diligence, he did not finish the job until 3 days after it was due. In fact, I feel confident in saying that he did not START the job until that time since every time I called and asked how the audit was progressing, I was told he would be looking at our work ‘soon’.

You might presume that he was doing this for free because he cared about our group when in fact, he charged more than any other auditor had up until that point. Since our return was going to be past the deadline, he called me in to sign it so he could send it off to the Department of Fair Trading straight away. I signed it there on the spot without going through it in detail to avoid further delays.

It wasn’t until getting home with my copy that I noticed that he had pre-dated the paperwork to 3 days earlier. In fact he had been so careless, he had put another company’s name and address at the end of the document rather than ours! By then, the damage had been done and SAVN have made as much of this poor return and the errors in it as they could.

I contacted our solicitor to ask about suing this accountant and was advised not to do so because even though this was a truly terrible job, it would cost us more to pursue a lawsuit than it was worth and we simply didn’t have the funds to do this and fight fight all the other battles we faced.

At this time, our committee is considering paying another auditor to redo 2010’s books, but we wish that stress that any implications that improper uses were made of funds during that year are without basis and only due to the malicious intent of SAVN.

16553570_sReal News or Smokescreen?

Yet journalists are being lobbied by members of the SAVN who seem to think that the irregularities in our 2010 statement is news. Perhaps some journalists might feel that Australians really care about the measly remuneration I received for the work I put in as Editor of the AVN’s magazine. Perhaps they would be correct in that assumption.

But I think they need to know that intelligent Australians can see through these smokescreens. What they care deeply about are the real crimes being committed by drug companies and health authorities in Australia every single day (for example, how the Health Care Complaints Commission did nothing to stop Graeme Reeves, the Butcher of Bega, from maiming more than 500 women).

The AVN’s payment to staff is not really news, but the following stories are and strangely enough, they don’t seem to have found their way onto the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald (or most other newspapers in Australia):

  1. Dr Brian Hooker fought for years to get the Centres for Disease Control to release data they had suppressed on the link between thiomeral – the mercury-based preservative which used to be in childhood vaccines – and the development of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Dr Hooker was finally able to get these details under Freedom of Information. It showed that there was a 7.6 times increased risk of ASDs in children who received mercury-containing vaccines.
  2. Neuroscientist Chris Shaw and Biochemist Dr Lucija Tomljenovic published research indicating that HPV (so-called cervical cancer) vaccines “may trigger fatal autoimmune or neurological events in some cases”. A search of the entire Sydney Morning Herald database showed nothing for these well-published researchers, but there was plenty of drug-company sponsored ‘research’ saying how great this vaccine is and how every man, woman and child in Australia should be getting it.
  3. Speaking of the HPV vaccine, while Australia was expanding the use of this vaccine from girls and women to boys and men, Japan stopped recommending it because of the high number of serious reactions and deaths following the shot. Did the Herald request the services of a specialist investigator to look into this situation and report back with the truth so they could report that back to their readers? Sadly, the answer is no.
  4. Multinational pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, was fined US $2.4 billion for the fraudulent off-label marketing of its anti-psychotic medications to vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled. Did the Sydney Morning Herald get up in arms about those who were killed and permanently injured by Big Pharma for profit? No – they were too busy pursuing the AVN and trying to smear me personally for making the princely sum of $600 for 60 hours work back in 2009.

These attacks against our organisation and the individuals who support it are nothing more than a blatant effort to intimidate those who speak publicly on this issue. Just as Dr Andrew Wakefield and his research was used to warn any doctor of what would happen to them if they dared listen to parents of vaccine-damaged autistic children. The AVN, our committee and our members are being used to set an example of what will happen to anyone who speaks out in support of informed choice and the example isn’t very nice at all.

We have nothing to hide

The AVN Committee invites you to examine our financial records – and make up your own mind about how our ‘millions of dollars’ have been spent and whether you feel that this is a legitimate news story or simply another arm of a witch hunt targeting a group of parents who care so much about the rights of Australian families, they are willing to put themselves through this abuse without any hope of personal profit or advancement. We do this simply because we are passionate about making a stand for what we feel is true and just.

Meryl Dorey,
AVN Public Officer

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Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Anti-vaccination storm brewing at UOW – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation

vax needle“In a university environment we uphold the principle of academic freedom for staff and students,” he said.”Just because something is controversial doesn’t mean that a student shouldn’t present her viewpoint.”

…”But the Australian Medical Association has criticised the University of Wollongong for supporting a PhD student with anti vaccination views.

“AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton says while everyone is entitled to their opinion universities have a higher responsibility.

“People should be able to do anything they want to do and I agree with that, but when we have funds contributed does that undermine the university’s reputation for being a scientific institution or not?” he said.

via Anti-vaccination storm brewing at UOW – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Get conflicts of interest out of health policy NOW!

The government knows that there are serious conflicts of interest involving those who make our health policies. They consistently claim that it is impossible to find qualified experts who are not already financially involved in some way with the pharmaceutical industry – as if that somehow excuses the fact that these conflicts exist. Well, they DO exist and as a result, none of us can be sure that our policies are based on good science or just a good living for the regulators.

This problem is not unique to Australia with American experts such as Dr Paul Offit making as much as $55 million from the sale of a patent he sold in a vaccine he worked on whilst he also sat on the government committee that decided what vaccines would be administered to American children!

Below is a letter and an attachment which have been sent to the Federal Human Rights Commissioner by Judy Wilyman, a PhD candidate who has been studying these issues for some time. Have a read. I know you will agree with me that this situation is shocking and must stop now if we are ever to feel confident in taking the government’s advice when it comes to our health and the health of our families.

To the Federal Human Rights Commissioner

Vaccination and chemicals injected into the human body are a human rights issue. I would therefore like to bring to your attention the selective presentation of the vaccination debate that is being presented to the public. Recently, there have been many media reports about the whooping cough vaccine that have been presented by two government officials – Professor’s Peter McIntyre (NCIRS) and Robert Booy (NCIRS). These programs have been promoting the whooping cough vaccine on anecdotal evidence (in particular ,Dana McCaffery’s death) and the mantra of ‘seeing sick babies gasping for air’.

Whilst these cases are tragic, the promotion of vaccines on anecdotal evidence is inappropriate. This is particularly the case as the government is recommending 12 vaccines before babies are one year of age – a schedule that has not been studied in controlled animal or human studies. Today, Australian society is seeing an explosion of children with autism, allergies, anaphylaxis, autoimmune diseases and cancer and it needs to be emphasised that a scientific consensus on the cause of these diseases is not obtained by ‘selecting out’ scientific arguments.

Government Conflicts of Interest:


Professor Robert Booy, the co-director of the government National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), was an investigator involved in the trial for Panvax influenza vaccine. He receives support from CSL limited and other pharmaceutical companies to attend conferences and is on the vaccine advisory board for these companies (1). He receives funding from Roche, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth for attending and presenting at scientific meetings (1).

Professor Peter McIntyre’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) project for the study of pertussis vaccines for newborns was granted $1.5 million of which more than $750,000 in kind will be provided by GSK for monovalent vaccine and laboratory testing (2).

It is noted that many government officials now have conflicts of interest with industry (see attachment) and in addition, vaccine trials and advisory boards are largely funded and influenced by pharmaceutical companies. Whilst this situation is not necessarily a problem, it is important that the public is informed openly (and transparently) about funding from pharmaceutical companies and any financial ties officials have with industry.

It is also noted that health professionals and consumers are being investigated for discussing the risks and benefits of this procedure. The NSW HCCC recently retracted a false charge (after 2 years) that was made against a consumer group (the Australian Vaccination Network) for asking valid questions about the use of multiple vaccines in infants. This is compounded by media programs that do not present complete information about immunisation policies. The media is also not accountable to the Health Department for the information it provides on vaccination (3) (4).

It is everybody’s choice to use a vaccine if they believe it is beneficial, but if we a living in a society that does not ensure the information the public receives on health issues is complete and accurate, then incentives such as tax benefits for parents and payments for doctors are unethical. These measures are being increased by the government on 1 July 2012.

At present, the government has not proved that the increase in autism is not being caused by adding multiple vaccines to a developing infant before one year of age. Therefore, there is no scientific consensus that the government‘s immunisation policy is safe and it is certainly not based upon scientific -evidence.

Judy Wilyman

PhD Candidate www.vaccinationdecisions.net

Reference:

1.       Nolan T, McVernon J, Skeljo M, Richmond P, Wadia U, Lambert S, et al. Immunogenicity of a Monovalent 2009 Influenza Vaccine in Infants and Children: A Randomised Trial. Jama. 2010 jan 6:303 (1): 37-46: Supplementary online content.

2.       Professor Peter McIntyre, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, http://www.health.usyd.edu.au/people/profiles/P.Mcintyre.php 06.09.09
3.       Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing, Office of Health Protection, 2009
4.       NSW HealthCare Complaints Commission (HCCC), 2012

Health freedom and suppression of information – an interview with Leon Pittard of FairDinkum Radio

The following is a transcript of a radio interview I did a few weeks ago with Fairdinkum radio. You can listen to the original interview here – http://fairdinkumradio.com/resources/AVN%20050512.mp3.

Leon: Today, our podcast is featuring Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network. Meryl joins us quite regularly to talk about vaccination subjects and issues. And the topic of our podcast and discussion today is the Australian government’s assault on health freedom. Meryl, welcome to Fairdinkum Radio.

Meryl: Thanks, Leon.

Leon: Meryl, your organisation, the Australian Vaccination Network, has been active for many years endeavouring to give information to the public and the people of Australia and indeed the world on the other side of the vaccination question and often the information that is not shared freely by other interested bodies.

Just recently the Australian Vaccination Network went through a long and protracted court case which ended on the 24th of February. Maybe for our listeners who are not familiar with that, you could give us a little overview of what that court case involved and what the ruling was.

Meryl: Sure, I’d be happy to Leon. Back in 2009 – so it has been a very long time – an organisation was setup called Stop the AVN and this group was very closely associated with an organisation called the Australian Skeptics that’s associated with sceptics’ groups around the world. And even though they’re called sceptics they’re not at all sceptical. They are sceptical of anything that is not supported by mainstream medicine and health, and they basically support mainstream medicine and health. Vaccination is probably the one issue that they all absolutely agree on, and many of them are for compulsory vaccination. But all of them believe that there is not a second side to the vaccination issue. There’s only the side that doctors will tell you and everyone should vaccinate. So they opposed our organisation from the very beginning and in 2009 they setup this group and its stated goal is to close us down in any way they can. And that started with a string of complaints to just about every single government organisation. And one of these organisations is the Health Care Complaints Commission of New South Wales. And this commission was setup to basically protect the population from dangerous health practitioners; doctors and other practitioners. So we said from the very beginning that the complaint that was filed was not a valid complaint because it has to affect the care and treatment of an individual client, and we don’t have individual clients. But we went through an entire year long process of investigation where the Health Care Complaints Commission just about ignored everything that we said, where at one point when I told the investigator that I felt that there was great bias in the investigation, she said to me “well, you have to understand that the Health Care Complaints Commission is a government body and, as such, it must support government policy which is pro-vaccination”. So there was quite strong evidence of bias.

And at the end of this 12 month investigation the Health Care Complaints Commission issued a public warning stating that the AVN was dangerous, deceptive and misleading, and that we needed to post a warning on our website to let people know that our information was solely anti-vaccination. And we refused to do that. We do have freedom of speech in Australia, we do have freedom of communication, and we do not consider ourselves to be anti-vaccination. We are pro-information and pro freedom of choice. But we’re certainly not telling people that they shouldn’t vaccinate. So as a result of our refusal to put this warning on the website.. sorry, put the warning that we’re anti-vaccine on the website, the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing which administers charities, revoked our authority to fund raise, meaning that for almost the last 2 years we were unable to accept new memberships or donations from the general public. And it’s my strong belief that it was thought that that revocation would have forced us to close our doors. It came very close to it. I had to get rid of all of our office staff and for the last 2 years, I’ve been doing everything myself. But we decided that we were going to push the envelope on this, we were going to take the government to court because we knew that what they had done was illegal and we wanted to prove it, not just for the AVN but for all the other organisations out there in Australia that go against government policies and have the information to back up what they’re doing. And that’s many natural therapy organisations, many natural therapists because we’re all under attack in Australia and around the world right now.

So we fought our case in the NSW Supreme Court and as you said, on February 24th we won this case and the court awarded costs to us. And they said what the Health Care Complaints Commission had done was illegal. And because the only reason that our charity authority had been revoked was because of the warning of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on the 18th of April the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing reinstated our authority to fundraise. So we are now once again able to take on members and donations from the general public. And that was a huge victory for us because everybody said that you can’t possibly take on the government and win, especially when you’re unfunded. We had a barrister who was working on spec and a solicitor who we did pay and that took an awful lot of our cash, our little bit of cash to do, but it was such an important issue – and our members supported us through this – that we felt it was something that we had to do. And almost immediately after our charity was reinvoked, was reinstated, excuse me, the Shadow Minister for Health in NSW has asked the Minister for Gaming & Racing to revoke it once again.

Leon: This is incredible because this really goes to the heart of.. the extension of your case is that my website, and any information sharing website, is, will be under assault to share information which may be contrary to government policy.

Meryl: Exactly. It’s a very big danger. And even with our victory in the supreme court, the decision said that what the Health Care Complaints Commission did was illegal because the complaint did not involve the care and treatment of an individual, but the decision of the judge said that the ‘care and treatment of an individual’ and the word ‘affect’ can mean that someone can come to our website… let’s say they come to our website and they decide to vaccinate even though our website has information on the dangers and risks of vaccination. If they then file a complaint with the Commission saying that they were ‘affected’ by the information on our website, then that would be a valid complaint. And the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network group has been advertising, trying to find someone to file this complaint and for all I know they may have done so by now. I just haven’t heard from the HCCC. So there is incitement and conspiracy, as far as I’m concerned, to actually try and shut our organisation down by these groups. This is illegal. What they are doing is completely illegal. I don’t know what the end result is going to be, but I think it’s something that all, especially natural health practitioners, need to be aware of because the same group that is doing this to us is trying very hard to do this with individual practitioners in Australia and with the organisations that govern the practitioners in Australia. There is a very strong effort to get rid of any natural therapy practitioner, supplements, homeopathy, chiropractic, all of these things are under threat. And I believe that it’s time for us to band together because if we don’t band together we’re going to be gone.

Leon: Absolutely. I’ve got no doubt that this is a test case for the future and that’s why we need to fight it in every way on the basis of humanity’s freedom to choose to research, to choose to investigate, and to choose to make a decision about what enters their body. This is a freedom issue, fundamental and… vaccination, which is a form of allowing someone to enter your body, must be done only by the individual or the parents consent. That’s where we stand today but this case is obviously trying to push that boundary and cross that line to where it becomes a department’s policy that the body will be impregnated by what and who they choose.

Meryl: That’s right. Isn’t it just a basic human right to say what we will and will not take as a health therapy for ourselves and for our children? And when the government says that they have the right to tell us what to put in our bodies and we don’t have the right to say no, then I say that the government is stepping well and truly outside of their boundaries. And it’s time, when that happens, for us to take a stand and say only this far and no further. I think we’ve reached that point.

Leon: Absolutely. Since that case and that ruling on the 24th of February there is now four separate government investigations which have basically started since then. The Department of Fair Trading, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Now, you have information that leads you to believe that all four of these have now begun the wheels of process in an endeavour to work out a different way to come at you so that this ruling is not applicable for you being a charity.

Meryl: Yes, well I don’t know for sure that the departments themselves are trying to work this out but I know that the Stop the AVN group and especially several members of that group who are very active, one in particular, Mr Ken McLeod, who is the original complainant with the HCCC. He has since filed another complaint with the Health Care Complaints Commission, a complaint that is 90 pages [long], and the HCCC assessed that complaint even though once again it did not involve the care and treatment of an individual. Mr McLeod actually referred back to conversations on our email discussion list in 1998. I mean that is how desperate they are. And the Health Care Complaints Commission basically said that they had no complaint, that he had no valid complaint. He said that I had given incorrect information when I told someone that there is no requirement by the Australian government for people travelling overseas to get a yellow fever vaccine. He said that was a lie. The HCCC checked it out and said “well actually, as a matter of fact, that’s true”. So, they’re trying in any way, sort of like shooting arrows in the air and hoping that one of them will fall down and hit something, because they are filing these massive complaints with so many government departments and it’s only a matter of time before one of the departments will actually do something.

So they filed complaints with the Health Care Complaints Commission, the department of Fair Trading, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and that’s a really interesting one because I got a call from the TGA. Now the Therapeutic Goods Administration, if I can give just a little bit of background for the listeners, it’s like the American Food & Drug Administration. They are the government department that licenses and approves drugs and vaccines and therapeutic products. So all therapeutic products that are licensed in Australia have to go through the TGA. And the TGA, even though it is a government department, receives no funding from the Australian government. Since 1998 they’ve worked under something called cost recovery and what that means, and I think it’s a fairly evil policy, it means that the government gives them no money to operate. All of their operating expenses come from the licensing fees for drugs and vaccines. So when a pharmaceutical company wants to license a new drug, the pharmaceutical company does all the testing, then they give the study to the TGA, and based on that information without any further checking, the TGA licenses the drug or the vaccine. If they stop licensing the drugs or the vaccines they won’t have money to operate. So they are totally dependent on the multinational corporations that they are meant to oversee. They are meant to protect the health and wellbeing of the Australian population but in the way that they’re setup it’s impossible for them to do that. And this has come out lately, there are many enquiries into the TGA that have been going on.

But what the complaint that was made about the AVN to the TGA says, and I’ve only just received this information, you’re the first person I’m speaking with about it, is that we sell a DVD on our website. Now we have a lot of books and DVD’s about general health issues, vaccination, natural health, instinctive parenting, environmental issues, we feel it’s our responsibility to allow people to access information that they might not find elsewhere. And one of the DVD’s that we sell is by Elaine Hollingsworth called One Answer to Cancer. Now, Elaine runs a health retreat up on the Gold Coast called Hippocrates Health and she was almost killed by a mainstream cancer treatment, I think it’s called Aldara, I could have the name wrong. It’s been banned in many countries. She had skin cancer, was given this treatment and it almost killed her. As a result of that experience she found a treatment that’s been used for at least 2000 years called black salve. And it’s a combination of herbs and minerals that is applied topically to cancer and it’s called nature’s scalpel. Now I’ve used it myself on a cancer that I had on my shoulder. I’ve got to tell you, it is like a scalpel, it cut it out in a perfect circle. And it got rid of it completely. So, the Australian government several years ago banned the use of black salve on humans and you could only buy it for animals. As of a couple of weeks ago you’re not even allowed to sell it for animal use.

Leon: Unbelievable.

Meryl: The only reason.. they haven’t actually given any reason except that it hasn’t been safety-tested by the organisation that licenses drugs and vaccines which also haven’t been independently safety-tested, the TGA. But because they’ve banned this now and because, I’m assuming, someone from Stop the AVN and I don’t have information on this yet, has filed a complaint with the TGA. They’ve come to me and said that we have to remove our sale of this DVD because actually providing information via a DVD, according to the TGA, is exactly the same as advertising and selling the product. And we’ve been in touch with several natural health practitioners who’ve been told the same thing. They may have an article on the use of ‘x’ herb for stomach ulcers, let’s say, and the TGA says even though they are not selling that herb the fact that they are giving out information on it’s use, may influence someone to actually go out and find a retailer who sells this herb and to buy it and therefore they’re advertising it.

Leon: Yeah. See, this is incredible because what this is opening up, this is the thin edge of the wedge of total surveillance of all information sharing to… by government bureaucracies to oversee every piece of information that the public receives. And therefore even any information sharing website, and let’s take the subject of fluoride, that may be opposite to public policy, will be subject to litigation or court action even though you may not be selling fluoride – it’s the government selling fluoride – but you’re the person that is sharing the other side of the story. Therefore you will be subject to litigation because it is against what the public system has already incorporated.

Meryl: That’s exactly right. The government has a policy, they’ve put some policy in place and if you are giving out information that opposes that government policy then you can be prosecuted, or persecuted is more likely, as a result of it. We saw the Howard administration start to do this with their anti-sedition laws and I proudly wore a t-shirt saying I’m a seditionist because I believe that in a democracy, public debate is supported. Not only supported, but protected. And if Australia wants to be considered a democracy and not a banana republic, then it has to support the right to free and public debate on all issues. If an issue does not have enough information to back it up, well you have to believe that the people are smart enough to figure work that out for themselves. The fact that the government is trying to control and suppress this sort of communication is frightening and it is not something that a democratic government should, or would, do.

Leon: The thing is we can see that schoolchildren are being taught that we are entering a phase of dangerous global warming and that is the government’s position. That is put in the curriculum. Now there’s many in society that question the validity of that indoctrination and therefore anyone who would oppose that, automatically, their information is not able to be shared. To just follow on from that example, for instance, all of the price increases via the carbon tax, there has been legislation passed to say that the business cannot put on the product that this product is $10 dearer because of the carbon tax. It is illegal to put there what the increase is. Now you can see there that what this legislation, and this is related to what we’re talking about because what it is, is a dampening of the information to the public about the government policy. Now, it’s an attack on openness, it’s an attack on freedom, and it’s an attack on information sharing about the truth. If a person believes something is the truth he should be able to have the freedom to share that.

I wanted to ask you, Meryl, about… to register as a charity. Now, this was the recent ruling and I notice that what the opposition health person, Dr Andrew McDonald, is now asking is why has the Minister reinstated authority for charitable fundraising for the AVN. Can you describe to us what the parameters and the conditions are for being a charity?

Meryl: Yes. Now, from the very beginning because of our constitution, the AVN has been considered a charity. A charity basically means, and there is a whole lot that you can read on the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing website about this, and every state has their own body that administers charities. If the government determines that the activities of the organisation constitute the pursuit of a charitable purpose then they are a charity. Now the really crazy thing is that we had actually tried to get rid of our charitable authority well before this happened because it is a huge onus, a huge burden, for a charitable organisation. Especially a small unfunded one like ours to be considered a charity. You could go out tomorrow, Leon, and you could put a “donate here” link on your website – I don’t know, you may even have one now – and there would be absolutely no requirement for you to report to anybody or do anything because you’re not pursuing a charitable purpose. But if you’re pursuing a charitable purpose and you are registered as a charity, you have to account for everything that you do. You have to account for the size of the collection box that you use when you go out and do a seminar and put up a collection box on the table.

Leon: Incredible.

Meryl: You have to be audited every year at a cost of… well, it’s cost us upwards of four to five thousand dollars a year just to get that audit done. Where if we were not a charity, all we would need is a plain accountant to do our end-of-year figures, which might cost four or five hundred dollars. So we tried to get rid of this but we were told that we pursue a charitable… we have a charitable pursuit, our organisation, so we are a charity. And even when our authority was revoked the OLGR said that we still needed to abide by those regulations because we pursue a charitable purpose. The only reason that we were not able to accept new memberships and donations during that period when our status was revoked was because the OLGR said that we pursue a charitable purpose. So Dr McDonald saying that we are not a real charity, it means to me that he really doesn’t know 100% what he’s talking about. He also said that we get special tax breaks because we’re a charity and that’s not true at all. I think he might be talking about becoming a tax-deductible gift recipient and that’s one of those organisations where if you donate more than $2- you can deduct it off your tax. And the AVN applied for that several times. The last time the ATO told us that we definitely do qualify as a deductible gift recipient but they wouldn’t give it to us because they considered that we were anti-vaccine and the government is pro-vaccine and therefore they wouldn’t give us the deductible gift recipient. Which they weren’t supposed to do.Tthey were supposed to make that decision based on whether we qualified or not. And the other thing is that some charities can be income tax exempt but you have to apply for that, it’s not automatic. So Dr McDonald really doesn’t know what he’s talking about in this situation. And in his questions on notice in NSW Parliament that were given yesterday, he said that… he asked the government whether there were any reasons for declining our authority, such as alleged fraud. Now, he’s using parliamentary privilege to say something that I believe he might know is not true because there was no alleged fraud. The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing specifically stated that they found no evidence of fraud when they did an audit of our organisation. What they found were breaches to the Act and mistakes, errors. And they said that these were of a technical nature and that they were common in organisations of our sort. And they asked us to fix everything and we immediately fixed everything. So they said that there was no reason to revoke our authority based on the errors that they found.

Leon: The very fact that you raise this issue about ‘is there any alleged fraud’, I mean, he’s planting seeds in peoples’ minds about your organisation. And he goes onto say, is there any other questionable issues about this organisation that we could revoke their authority on. I mean, I could raise a thousand issues against him and his former government about selling his people out, selling our electricity and selling us in every way. The corruption that was in that government is just incredible. And here they are burdening the individual who’s just trying to share information with so much… I only saw the numbers the other day, in the last 12 months we’ve had 16,000 pieces of legislation passed in Australia, in the last short time.

Meryl: Wow.

Leon: Just incredible.

Meryl: How did they know that?

Leon: And what they’re doing to us, as individuals, they’re loading us up with requirements, checks and balances, how big’s your offering box, all of these different things. And yet, those in power basically march on and take away everything that’s dear to us without question.

Meryl: Yeah, a government’s responsibility is to mandate, not to mandate, but to govern the safety and wellbeing of the population in as far as infrastructure goes. They are not there to tell us what we can eat, what treatments we can use, how we educate our children. All of these things they are stepping outside of their real responsibility on. And I believe that it’s time for us to put the government back in its place cause it’s stepped right outside of that place.

Leon: Absolutely. Well that’s, you’re exactly right. That’s what they are doing, they’re crossing the line to say what we should teach our children, what we must teach our children, what we must give our children as far as healthcare goes… the direction of our whole lives is being impregnated by government policy and even about the cost in our lives, everything is being encroached upon. Now Meryl, regarding this… is there anything else you wanted to add regarding this latest assault by Dr Andrew McDonald?

Meryl: Not really. The only thing I would ask is if your listeners are interested, our blog “No Compulsory Vaccination” which is on wordpress, will have regular updates as we find out more information and as we put in our responses to these issues. So if people are interested in finding out more and staying up to date with what’s happening, I urge them to stay in touch. You can subscribe to our updates on our blog and that would probably be a really good thing to do.

Leon: That’s good. Now another question I wanted to ask you about the gaming authority, sorry, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, you were saying how the only way that they actually get funded is by the registration process of vaccines and therapeutic drugs, etc. Do they receive grants from any other foundations, to your knowledge?

Meryl: Not to my knowledge, that’s not anything that I’ve ever looked into. I do know that they receive no funding to test either the safety or the effectiveness of the drugs and vaccines that they license. And that they’re licensed purely on the information that’s provided to them by the drug manufacturer.

Leon: Ok. And the reason I ask is I’ve been doing a little bit of research into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and have discovered that their foundation has been giving millions of dollars to different media outlets and these media outlets actively promote their vaccination programs and what they are doing around the world with vaccination, etc, especially in places like India and Pakistan. And that these millions of dollars that go to these different media organisations, these media organisations then produce documentaries about the miracle working power of vaccinations in all of these countries. And if you follow the money you see a link between those promoting the vaccines and the media companies that are actually promoting them, which leads me to an article that I was reading last week about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation program in India which was promoted as the last mile to eradicating polio in India. And it featured a promotional video which was displaying numbers of the cases of polio in India decades ago, with the number of cases dropping to 42 by 2010, but it appears that the wild polio virus stats have been traded for polio from vaccines and non-polio acute flaccid paralysis. Now, in India over 47,000 cases of this non-polio acute flaccid paralysis was reported in 2011. Now these symptoms are practically the same as what is attributed to the eradicated wild virus polio. Now, apparently vaccine polio viruses also cause polio paralysis. Have you got any thoughts on that, Meryl?

Meryl: Yes, it’s interesting. India declared itself, or was declared by the World Health Organisation to be free of polio for the first time, I think it was about two months ago, sometime in February. And there was wild celebration, our polio vaccine campaign has worked! But this article that you’re talking about was published by two Indian researchers. And what they found, they did an absolutely, fantastic job of researching this. As you said, there were 47,500 cases of acute flaccid paralysis, and non-polio paralysis. And it’s interesting because before the polio vaccine came in, polio was always diagnosed using clinical symptoms. So we didn’t know what virus was causing paralysis before the polio vaccine came in. And in India there was very little testing done up until fairly recently, it’s only within the last 8 years that there’s been widespread testing. So they’ve had a lot of paralysis and they’ve been calling it polio, but they don’t really know what virus is causing it. Now, they’ve had to politically declare that all of these millions and millions of dollars, well actually billions of dollars, that have been spent trying to rid India of polio have been successful. So they’re doing all these tests and they’re finding that there are 47,500 cases of paralysis but that a lot of it’s not being caused by the wild polio virus. A lot of it’s being caused by the vaccine virus and what these researchers did is that they found that the death rate from the non-polio, non-wild polio virus is twice, it’s double, what the death rate is from polio. So if you get polio naturally you are half as likely to die from it as you will be if you get it from the vaccine or from one of these other viruses which 10 years ago in India would have been called polio anyway. So it’s playing with statistics.

And the other thing they’ve done is they found that India is using polio vaccine as if it was water. In Australia, a child will get four polio vaccines by the time they start school age, and I believe there’s another one at school age. In India, they are getting up to 50 doses of the oral polio vaccine. Every time this vaccine campaign, the pulse-polio campaign comes through a village, it doesn’t matter, they don’t check to see if the person’s already got the vaccine. If one dose is good, fifty’s better. And because you’re continually exposing people to this live virus, and these people live in less than hygienic conditions, and polio virus is a stomach virus, it’s an enteric virus so it’s carried through stool, you’re spreading the disease. We stopped using the live polio vaccine over 10 years ago in Australia, and in the U.S. they stopped using it a decade before that, but it’s cheaper to produce. So we send it to third world countries which is the last place where it should be used because of hygiene problems. So not only has the vaccine not eradicated polio in India, it has made the situation worse. It has increased the number of cases of paralysis, and who cares if paralysis is caused by polio virus or by another virus. The fact is that your child is paralysed and it doesn’t make any difference to you whether it was caused by polio virus or something else. The fact is your child is paralysed. And if we are causing more paralysis by vaccinating than we were by not vaccinating, then why aren’t we looking at what we’re doing? We are causing huge tragedies, huge numbers of tragedies and grief in a country that’s already dealing with so many issues. And we’re declaring a victory when there was no victory; or what there was, was more disease.

Leon: It was good work of those Indian researchers to find that and as we discussed in one of our other conversations, how a lot of the out-of-date swine flu vaccines were dumped on countries like India, Brazil, Pakistan, even though they were a year or two out-of-date. They had millions of these vaccines left over, and they dumped them on these countries as an experiment or we had to get rid of them somehow. What’s going on with these poor people? As you said, we don’t use this polio vaccine anymore and yet it’s ok for them.

Meryl: Yep, what’s done in developing countries by medical organisations is beyond immoral. It’s horrible, it’s absolutely horrible. These people are used as guinea-pigs for tests. There have been vaccines that have been given in these countries that have abortive agents in them, in other words, vaccines that will prevent a woman from getting pregnant, make them lose their baby if they are already pregnant. This is not conjecture, this is confirmed by the World Health Organisation. And they’re used as guinea-pigs in drug and vaccine testing because ethics committees in developed countries will not allow these sorts of tests that are done in these countries. Doctors are paid an awful lot of money in these countries to refer parent, who don’t know what their children are getting, to these studies.

Leon: Look, they’re using these countries as experiments, they want sterilisation, they want population control, and vaccines are a perfect way to deliver that outcome. Now, Meryl, I want to talk to you a little bit about autism rates and I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of… the autism rates have spiked, and I notice there’s a lot of articles circulating regarding that, but I would like to just speak about Donald Trump for a minute, and a statement he made which obviously makes a lot of ground because he’s an important type person, someone’s that in the spotlight. He acknowledged that speaking out against vaccines and a vaccine schedule is very controversial but he went on to state, he said “I don’t care less. I’ve seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child. They go for vaccinations and a month later the child is no longer healthy.” Trump’s statement is a victory for parents who have long believed vaccines contribute to neurological damage their children suffered post-vaccination. It goes on to say that the Centers for Disease Control just released a study based on 2008 data revealing autism rates have risen to an all-time high. Health records for 8 year old children in 14 states were analysed showing autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys in the U.S. Have you seen these rates recently?

Meryl: I have. And it’s amazing. First of all, if there was anything that twenty years ago caused 1 person in 10,000 to get a disease and that disease has now risen to 1 in 88, there would be worldwide panic. There would be billions of dollars. Look what happened with AIDS. I mean billions, if not trillions, of dollars were thrown at that issue trying to solve it. And yet, with autism there’s this constant thing from the government and the medical community “calm down, it’s not really happening, it’s all smoke and mirrors”. But it’s not. These are real diagnoses of autism, it’s not better statistic keeping because the countries where this statistic keeping is done have always kept good statistics on autism. And that 1 in 88 figure, we’ve gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88 as of the year 2000, because they did this in 2008 with 8 year old children. The U.S government says that the rate of autism is increasing by 12% a year and if we extrapolate that, that means that a child born today has a 1 in 20 chance of being autistic. It’s not 1 in 88, it’s 1 in 20, and possibly 1 in 10 for boys. So, when are we going to panic? When are we going to start saying what is going to happen to the future of these children? How is our society ever going to provide for kids who can’t speak, who can’t learn, who are constantly ill? It’s the most amazing situation, the emperor has no clothes and yet everyone is saying what a beautiful outfit he’s wearing.

Leon: Exactly. And I notice between 1960 and 1980, we talked about these rates before, children were subject to around 25 doses. Today, children are subject to about 70 doses in the same time period. To put this in perspective, a child born today, if you follow the schedules, would receive more vaccine doses by the time he’s six months old than his mother did by the time she went to college. And we’re looking at 160 or so vaccine doses from a child to an adult. It’s just incredible. It just keeps growing and growing.

Meryl: But don’t worry, because Paul Offit, who’s at CHOP, the Children’s Hospital, Pennsylvania, and who has sold his patent for a vaccine for an estimated 20 million dollars, says that children can get up to 10,000 to 100,000 vaccines at one time without suffering any ill-effect. So the number of doses that our kids are getting, according to Paul Offit, should make no difference to their health. Yet, we have parents all over the world, millions of parents, who are saying that they had a perfectly healthy child one day, they vaccinated them, and then the next day their child regressed into autism or had another health condition that either permanently disabled them or killed them. But Paul Offit says this is not happening despite the parents out there whose own experience have shown them that it is.

Leon: You know what’s incredible about the time which we’re living in, you alluded to it there about the emperor having no clothes. Cancer rates are increasing. Autism rates are increasing. Neurological disorders increasing. All of the health of humanity. Obesity. It doesn’t matter what avenue you look at, people are getting sicker and yet the one thing that the system will never do – they will never ask why. They will always provide a new vaccine to fix this problem or a new chemical drug to fix this problem, but they never ask, “Why are people getting sicker?” Why are these rates increasing. And they will refuse to look at the link between the chemicalisation of foods, the genetic modification of foods, and the vaccines that are going into people’s lives, that is actually a cause of all of these… I mean, mercury, there’s more and more studies showing the damage that adjuvants like mercury do, and the link to mercury and autism. And yet, this is never addressed by the system and anyone that wants to speak out about it, they’re side-lined and they’re isolated. Like in your case where the assault is against your organisation to even receive a donation.

Meryl: That’s right. It’s very true. But I have to say I think that all of these attacks, which are accelerating and getting far worse, not just in Australia but around the world, are the last gasp of an industry that is on… it’s dying. We’re at a tipping point right now. The latest research shows that I think by the year 2016, the average cost per year for American citizens for healthcare will exceed the average income of the American citizen. We cannot continue the way that we’re going and it’s obvious that there are more and more people becoming better informed about these issues and making decisions not to use chemical drugs, not to use vaccines. For once, I believe that it’s true, when the governments say that the rate of vaccination compliance is declining. They’ve been saying it for years, crying wolf, but now I think it’s actually true because people are better informed, because the internet is there, and because people are finally waking up and saying enough is enough. Our children are sicker. In Australia, over 40% of Australia’s children are currently being treated for a chronic disease; in the U.S. it’s over half. We’re sicker than we’ve ever been before, and yet we spend more money on medical care and medical treatments than we’ve ever spent before. This generation of children is going to be the first generation in history that’s going to live for a shorter time than their parents have. Where is the great success? Where are the blockbusters that we’re constantly hearing about every day? They are not working and people are finally knowing that they’re not working, and they’re looking at the safer, effective natural therapies and they’re saying “When I take them, I feel better. When I have a condition and treat it with natural therapies, I get better. So why I am listening to my doctor and using these drugs when all I do on the drugs is get sick?” People are saying this. You can only fool people for so long.

Leon: I think you’re right. People are waking up to the system and waking up because of the research that they’re doing themselves, and that’s the great thing that we have with the internet today that we are able to research and look at two sides of the story or as many sides of a story as possible. Ladies and Gentlemen, a return to good health is what we need, eating good quality foods and removing ourselves as much as we can from the chemical assaults that we are under today. And I encourage you all to investigate the other side of the story with vaccinations. Go to the Australian Vaccination Network website. I encourage you all not to vaccinate until you do the research and if you choose to vaccinate after you do the research that’s your privilege, but we encourage you to do the research, read and investigate, and look at the statistics. Meryl, it’s been great speaking with you again. Is there anything you’d like to add in closing?

Meryl: No, Leon, I’ve think you’ve said it all, that was perfect.

Why should we trust medicine?

We are constantly being told that when it comes to our health and the health of our families, we should trust our doctors because they practice ‘evidence-based medicine’ – three words which would indicate to any thinking person that the drugs and vaccines being delivered by medicos have undergone rigorous independent trials and been shown to be both safe and effective.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth and the evidence for this lack of safety and efficacy is becoming more apparent on an almost daily basis.

On Tuesday this week, an article appeared in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, written by Brian Deer of all people. Yes, the same Brian Deer who was the instigator of the charges brought against the authors of the 1998 Lancet paper that hypothesised a potential link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Entitled, It’s time for a register of interests for science academics, this article discusses the fact that a great deal of medical research is being called into question because it has been performed by academics who are financially linked with the drug companies and the products they are meant to be studying. There is no way of knowing about these links in many cases because there seems to be a strong reluctance on the part of these researchers to reveal this information and there is no legal requirement for them to do so. As a result, the conclusions drawn by published, peer-reviewed studies is suspect.

Does this sound familiar? It’s exactly what the AVN has been saying for almost 20 years now!

Stating the bleeding obvious in his own inimitable style, Deer says that,

Although triumphant in the common room over their front-of-the-plane funding, successful science academics (particularly in biosciences) are often as publicly transparent about the paymasters behind their publishing as chefs are about rats behind the fridge.

And whilst scientists, academics and pharmaceutically-funded researchers continue to publish studies without independent oversight, the toll of bad medicine continues to mount as does the cost – both emotional and financial – to society.

As long as scientists get more money (which I think was Bhattacharya’s point) and the idea doesn’t get round that most science articles are advertising, the tobacco industry’s dosh is the same colour as Marie Curie’s. All it needs is a good scrub for opacity. More worrying to journal editors would be any dent in reader loyalty triggered by stirring public pressures to disclose.

The Bhattacharya Deer was talking about published a blog in the Guardian back in February entitled, Scientists have sold their souls – and basic research – to business. In this article, Bhattacharya says that,

Young scientists who want their research funded are now expected to ‘forge lasting links with industry’.

…Can basic research be saved from the tyranny of the profit motive? I doubt it. The coalition government has shown little inclination to question the science policies inherited from New Labour, and judging by the science minister’s comments, he has little time for science for science’s sake. The devil, it seems, will always get his due.

This new form of chequebook science is what we see happening in Australia via organisations like The Telethon Institute. Their former director, Professor Fiona Stanley, crowed in an interview with the NHMRC that Telethon’s relationship with big pharma was pivotal to the Institute’s success.

But there’s been a really good – we’ve had a very good relationship with big pharma, some of which has just been, ‘Here’s the money. We’re interested in anything you produce.’ That’s a very good relation that Pat Holt has had with GlaxoSmithKline.

What’s the problem?

The government claims that this cozy relationship between researchers and drug companies is not a problem. They say that the integrity of research is not affected by money and anyway, it’s impossible to find qualified experts who are not already affiliated with big pharma so we need to use what we have.

That’s simply not good enough, however. Not when our lives and our health are at stake!

In today’s New York Times, Peter Doshi from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Tom Jefferson from the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration have contributed an Op-Ed piece entitled, Drug Data Shouldn’t Be Secret. In this article, they describe the inevitable outcome of industry-funded studies which are classified as commercial in confidence with data that is not available to the public or the scientific community for independent scrutiny.

Doshi and Jefferson talk about the Tamiflu debacle where the US government spent over $1.5 billion stockpiling this anti-viral drug during the so-called ‘swine flu pandemic’. They did this based upon information provided by Roche, Tamiflu’s manufacturer and the only body to have studied the ability of this drug to prevent influenza or reduce the severity of its symptoms or a person’s risk of hospitalisation.

IN the fall of 2009, at the height of fears over swine flu , our research group discovered that a majority of clinical trial data for the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu — data that proved, according to its manufacturer, that the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization, serious complications and transmission — were missing, unpublished and inaccessible to the research community. From what we could tell from the limited clinical data that had been published in medical journals, the country’s most widely used and heavily stockpiled influenza drug appeared no more effective than aspirin .

So we had a drug that was not suited to the purpose for which it was sold, being studied only by the drug company that reaped huge profits from its sale and whose data was not made available then or since – despite promises by Roche to provide this information.

After we published this finding in the British Medical Journal at the end of that year, Tamiflu’s manufacturer, Roche, announced that it would release internal reports to back up its claims that the drug was effective in reducing the complications of influenza. Roche promised access to data from 10 clinical trials, 8 of which had not been published a decade after completion, representing more than 4,000 patients from every continent except Antarctica. Independent verification of the data seemed imminent. But more than two years later, and despite repeated requests, we have yet to receive even a single full trial report.

…This is not the way medical science should progress. Data secrecy is a disservice to those who volunteer their bodies for clinical trials, and is dangerous to those being asked to swallow approved medicines. Governments need to become better stewards of the scientific process.

…We should not have to wait for patients to be hurt by the medications they take, as recently happened with the diabetes drug Avandia , before reviewing this wealth of data.

As I said, these are just a few of the reports that come out on an almost daily basis demonstrating that what we currently call science actually represents research available only to the highest bidder and what medicine calls evidence is only smoke and mirrors set up to conceal the fact that actual scientific research has never been done.

Trust? It’s something that has to be earned.

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