Thanks to MW, I was able to read this book without giving the author any funds. I always prefer to share books or check them out from the library, if I can, since I am a voracious reader. I do love to buy a real book, now and then, but simply cannot afford to buy all the books I want.
Dr. Humphries is a currently-licensed nephrologist but is not currently practicing medicine. Instead, she is mostly traveling around the country with the Vaxxed team. I have been aware of her antivax stance for many years, back when she used to post alongside Hilary Butler, a long-time antivaxer from New Zealand. Hilary self-published a book called Just a little prick about ten years ago. I read it when it first came out as she was giving away free copies back then. Back in the early days of online parenting chats, Hilary was often found in vaccine forums. At some point, Suzanne picked up that trail. I can recall, back when I ran Informed Parents of Vaccinated Children page on Facebook (I was founder and ran it from 2011-2013 when I gave it to friends) that both of them would show up to chat about polio being caused by DDT, Vitamin C being the cure for everything, vaccines cause all the world’s evils, and how, at the time, Suzanne was studying homeopathy. Suzanne now denies this happened, but I was there. I just wish I had taken screenshots! Oh well, that was two computers ago anyway. At any rate, Hilary and Suzanne share a great many ideologies about vaccines, diseases, and vitamin C.
Roman Bystrianyk is the co-author and all I have ever been able to find on him is what was printed on the back of this book, that he has a BS in engineering and an MS in computer science. There is a little more information on him at the book website, but he otherwise keeps a low social media profile. He used to run a site called Health Sentinel but that appears to now be defunct.
First of all, about half the book is quotes from various other texts, articles, and studies, which is extremely unusual. I believe it is self-published and had no formal editing because a book from a reputable publisher would never have allowed this many quotes. Also, all the graphs are sideways, which is very annoying I ended up pulling them all from the digital copy onto my computer’s desktop so I could turn them the right way and actually view them while I read. The original writing is not very sophisticated, in my opinion, and there are many snide remarks throughout, such as “Millionaire vaccine inventor Paul Offit, a supporter of mandatory vaccinations, wrote a book on the Cutter incident.” I feel like this book was likely not edited by a professional as that inflammatory and untrue statement should have been flagged and changed to “Pediatrician and Vaccinologist Paul Offit wrote a book on the Cutter incident.” The book’s version, to me, seems rather snide, as if the authors are trying hard to portray him negatively when they should be letting the reader judge for herself.
Forward by Dr Jayne L. M. Donegan
Dr. Donegan is a general practice doctor and homeopath from the United Kingdom. She says the debate about safety is discouraged and no attention is given to improved social conditions. She states she was trained in medical school to not question vaccines. The UK 1994 measles outbreak, and recommendation to vax a 2nd and third time with MMR led to her doubts. She started to research death rate related to vaccine-preventable diseases and noticed a pattern of death rate decreasing before vaccines. “We get infectious diseases when our bodies need to have a periodic cleanout. Children, especially, benefit from childhood spotty rashes, or “exanthems” as they are called, at appropriate times in order to make developmental leaps, so long as they are treated appropriately. In my experience, the worst complications of childhood infections are caused by standard medical treatment, which involves suppression of all the symptoms.“
Sidebar: If you want to know what vaccine-preventable diseases actually do, I recommend reading the Pink Book.
Roman Bystrianyk says a book by Neil Z Miller and graphs of death rate decreasing before vaccines influenced his thinking. His experience curing his son of epilepsy “Happily, after a few months, the EEG revealed no seizure activity! Not only was I thrilled that my son’s condition had improved, but the experience had again shown me the power of belief systems. In this case, the belief that nutrients and diet had no effect on brain health was absolutely wrong. ”
Sidebar: Please note we have no evidence Roman cured his son and we do know his ex-wife was a nurse and was not anti-vax.
Suzanne Humphries says, “It would be untrue to say that I ever completely believed in the necessity and safety of vaccination. I have long had an intuitive distaste for vaccines.”
“During my medical residency, I saw many autoimmune diseases and silently wondered if the vaccines could be playing a role”
“The God-given sense that I was endowed with was temporarily replaced by supposed evidence-based medicine and mindless rules, protocols, and guidelines. ”
Sidebar: It is very apparent Suzanne has always had antivax tendencies.
Suzanne says that the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine caused kidney failure in three patients (her diagnosis) and that led her to be antivax. There is no evidence to support these claims.
This chapter is a reminder that diseases were rampant in 19th-century cities due to sanitation and sewage issues, factories, hazardous housing, and poor quality of food. I don’t refute this at all. However, I would look at more than just mortality rates to talk about community health. Just because death rate dropped does not mean diseases went away. The Pink Book does a good job of explaining modern outbreak data.
This chapter informs us that in the 19th-century, children were working and labor contributed to disease and injury rates being very high. Again, I do not refute this but there were still large outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and some deaths.
This chapter informs us that disease rates were high in 19th-century. We know that fact. Again, that did not mean diseases all went away. The authors only present death, or mortality, data and not incidence, or morbidity, data.
This chapter is about smallpox history. The claim is made that compulsory vaccination did not curb outbreaks because smallpox vaccine did not prevent smallpox in 100% of the population. The claim is made that strict vaccination laws had no beneficial effect. Some quotes from the book:
“In fact, more people died from smallpox in the 20 years after the strict compulsory laws than in the 20 years prior.”
“In 1948, there were an estimated 200 to 300 deaths as the result of smallpox vaccination, while during the same time there had only been 1 smallpox death.”
“The death rate for smallpox declined after 1872, but there is no evidence that vaccination had anything at all to do with it. In the early 1900s, death from smallpox all but vanished from England.”
Her implication is that better sanitation and hygiene contributed to the reduction of smallpox. I believe this is an inaccurate and disingenuous view of vaccines and smallpox history. Dr. Vince Ianelli does a good job of explaining smallpox disease and vaccine facts at his blog, Vaxopedia.
The authors are very concerned about cell culturing using animal cells. I am not sure why this bothers them. They state “as long as animals and animal cells are used for vaccine manufacture, the potential for infection will exist. There is no proposed end to the use of animals in vaccine production.” Since we eat, breathe, and drink non-human DNA all day, every day, and the human race has managed to survive quite a long time, I am unsure of their actual concern. Perhaps they saw “The Fly” with Jeff Goldblum and are concerned humans will morph into non-humans if we are encounter non-human DNA? I would remind them that is science fiction.
For some very good information on cell cultures, here are two excellent links:
This chapter describes the case of Leicester, in the UK, where some people chose jail rather than compulsory vaccination. They chose quarantine and disinfection. This is now called the “Leicester Method.” Dr. Ianelli does a great job explaining how this worked on his blog, Vaxopedia.
Leicester Method employed by WHO in Yugoslavia 1972 after smallpox vaccine supposedly failed. I found a WHO document explaining the outbreak and how it was handled. They quarantined those affected and vaccinated many others. The outbreak was contained and spread was halted. This was a public health win.
This outbreak was imported and confined to family and contacts from hospital exposures, 175 in all. Yugoslavia had been free of smallpox since 1930. There was a decreasing rate of children being immunized. The vaccination campaign was implemented in communes affected. Vaccination was continued until 95% of the population was successful. Vaccination was then extended to the entire population of 18 million. In areas affected by the outbreak, there was a restriction of movement of the population. “To quote Humphries and Bystrianyk, “even though they knew that vaccination was ineffective, the Yugoslavian Federal Epidemiologic Commission went ahead and vaccinated 18 million citizens. Vaccination had to continue through the end of April because so many of the vaccinations were considered unsuccessful and had to be repeated.”
Notice the negative tone here? In reality, this tone is not found in the WHO document, linked above, which merely states “it had to be continued to the end of April, however, because vaccination was unsuccessful in a proportion of the vaccinees.” P. 7. So, the authors of the WHO document recognize that vaccines have a certain failure rate and revaccination is a necessary reality. The authors of Dissolving Illusions, on the other hand, make the implication that revaccination is a problem. The authors of the WHO document also thank WHO for their efforts and explain that any outbreak of a serious infectious disease has to involve a variety of tasks, including immunization campaigns and quarantine.
They Yugoslavia outbreak of 1972 was extinguished because of a combination of quarantine and immunization. The authors of Dissolving Illusions, on the other hand, refuse to recognize this fact.
This chapter compares compulsory immunization laws to eugenics. This is so completely offensive, I am not going to say anything else.
This chapter tells the story of Arthur Smith Jr who suffered smallpox as a result of smallpox vaccine he got for school. The compulsory vaccination laws in 1915 New York are blamed. We know that some smallpox vaccinees got smallpox from the vaccine. This is not a reason to dismiss the vaccine.
Improvements in hygiene and sanitation are explained and credited with reducing disease outbreaks. As has been stated, it is obvious that hygiene and sanitation played huge roles in reducing disease rates but that does not mean vaccines did not help.
Smallpox decline is credited to improved sanitation and not vaccination. Smallpox cases become mild and routinely mistaken for chicken pox. Sanitation is credited for decreasing rates of typhoid fever, scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, and diphtheria. They refer to this ear of mid-1800s to early 1900s as “the Sanitation Revolution.” Mortality rates are discussed but not morbidity.
In reality, there is no evidence that chicken pox is smallpox. And, again, the rate of disease (morbidity) should not be dismissed.
The authors claim “the polio story is a haunting one: long, complicated, and ugly. It’s not a story you will have read or that the medical profession will be able to tell. Beyond the smoke and mirrors lie sketchy statistics, renaming of diseases, and vaccine-induced paralytic polio caused by both the Salk and the Sabin vaccines. Dr. Albert Sabin’s oral polio vaccine (OPV) continues to cause paralysis in vaccine recipients today.”
Medical professionals know that low uptake of the oral polio vaccine, which is live, can lead to the shedding of vaccine-derived poliovirus outbreaks. But, the oral polio vaccine has a very important place in history as it is easier to use than the inactivated version. It has many advantages over the inactivated vaccine. It is easier to share in developing countries but, in times of war, there are vaccine-derived outbreaks. This is no reason to dismiss the vaccine. In 2016, there were 34 cases of wild polio and three cases of vaccine-derived, on earth. That is astounding! Unfortunately, due to war, there have been 84 cases of vaccine-derived polio in 2017, but we are still extremely close to eradicating polio from earth.
The best place to learn about polio is the Global Polio Eradication website.
Humphries and Bystrianyk further claim polio was a low incidence disease. They introduce the story of the Brazilian Xavante tribe who apparently had no paralytic polio amongst polio cases in a 1964 study. Americans living in the same area had significant rate of paralytic poliomyelitis. The authors make the claim that modern medicine increases susceptibility to poliomyelitis. “ Refined sugar, white flour, alcohol, tobacco, tonsillectomies, vaccines, antibiotics, DDT, and arsenic had become financial golden calves that led humanity blindly down a spiral of disease and misery. Unfortunately, the paralysis was uniformly attributed to poliovirus infections which thus justified and prioritized vaccine research at all costs. Many thousands of people were needlessly paralyzed because the medical system refused to look at the consequences of these golden calves, gave only lip service to the success of the Sister Kenny treatment of paralysis (discussed later in this chapter), and concentrated solely on vaccine research.”
No proof of these claims is offered.
Humphries and Bystrianyk also claim a change in diagnostic criteria and advent of diagnostic tests, which could distinguish between polio and other paralytic diseases. They tell about a 1958 Michigan outbreak where 1060 patients who were believed to have polio were found to have a variety of issues, including 401 with no virus and 176 with other viruses. They make the claim that paralytic polio was, in fact, mostly not actually poliovirus and deformed limbs and life of paralysis could be easily avoided if everyone had good food and employed Sister Elizabeth Kenny’s methods of physical therapy for rehabilitation. This anecdote is not supported by any evidence Sister Kenny’s methods actually work.
The authors further claim that we see high rates of Polio in India and Nigeria and Gaza because they lack safe food and physical therapy. They do not reflect on how India, Gaza, and Niger all have zero cases of polio lately.
Humphries and Bystrianyk then go on to describe their theory that transverse myelitis in the USA today would have all been labeled polio in past generations. They also make the claim that that DDT poisoning causes similar symptoms as polio. Diet is again implicated. ““Diet—in particular, diets high in refined sugar and flour—has a known impact on susceptibility to severe poliovirus infection. The harsh chemicals used in cane sugar refining are thought by some scientists to have contributed to the synergy between an otherwise innocent virus and the sugar. In addition, as Dr. Sandler demonstrated sugar metabolism and post-prandial hypoglycemia increased cellular viral susceptibility.”
These are common antivax tropes but no one ever explains how polio was found before DDT was invented and is currently eradicated in countries where DDT is back in use. Further, they don’t explain how the polio virus has been recognizable in tests for decades and how polio is distinct from TM. In my opinion, these are unproven conspiracy theories.
The current distribution of DDT shows it’s used in many countries which are free of polio. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254912/1/WHO-HTM-GMP-2017.4-eng.pdf
The authors also claim polio is related to arsenic poisoning and syphilis. These are pure conjectures. The authors then explain how polio is very mild in 95% of cases and they hypothesize that paralytic polio had other causes and, thus, we do not need a vaccine for polio.
The Cutter Incident is presented as a big issue but I feel the authors try to use this incident as a reason not to vaccinate and that is not appropriate. The SV40 issue is also outlined. ““How much of the abrupt rise in human cancer rates since the introduction of monkey products into the human population is due to SV40 will also remain uncertain due to a lack of precise research.” The Skeptical Raptor does an excellent job debunking this myth.
Finally, the authors claim the increase in the incidence of acute flaccid paralysis in countries like India is due to changing of diagnostic criteria and AFP would have been labeled polio in previous years. I find this claim simple to debunk because India has been able to track viral causes for AFP for quite some time and has seen a yearly rise for the first decade of 21st century. But, is that due to increased access to diagnosticians or is it related to the polio vaccine? That it might be related to the vaccines is an idea primarily promoted by Dr. Jacob Puliyel, a pediatrician in Delhi, India. His opinion is a minority one and his opinion that polio vaccination funds would be better spent on improved sanitation is not one shared by many people. Most experts believe it is important to vaccinate and improve sanitation, at the same time. Not one or the other. ”
Dr. Puliyel blames the polio vaccine for a sharp rise in India in cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis – weakness or inability to move limbs. “But polio is just one of many causes, with other viruses and bacteria also responsible. Public health officials also point out that monitoring of cases is now far better than in previous decades.” http://www.bbc.com/news/health-21207601
The authors also fault GAVI for increased efforts to vaccinate children. But, it should be noted that since the publication of this book, India has been declared polio-free. So, something great has been accomplished by GAVI’s efforts. The authors further state that the attention spent to polio vaccine is inappropriate and the billions of dollars spent by GAVI and Gates Foundation would be much better spent on improving nutrition, clean water, farming, and dealing with war and famine. It’s as if they don’t realize that Gates Foundation and WHO all actually do address those issues AS WELL AS immunizations.
The authors conclude:
“History books of the future may reflect upon a disaster with this conclusion: Wild poliovirus should have been left alone and the real sources of paralysis pursued and addressed.”
How on earth can they think the world is not better now? I am flummoxed.
In this chapter, the authors claim whooping cough is not a serious health threat in healthy individuals and play up quite dramatically the risks of the vaccines. Many incidences of vaccine injuries are presented. Again, the historical death rate is presented as proof that vaccines did not save us. The authors also make the claim that there is much more pertussis around us than is documented because doctors do not consider a mild cough could be pertussis. They also discuss the promise of lifelong immunity made with vaccination. The limitations of the acellular pertussis vaccine are presented as a reason not to vaccinate.
They discuss original antigenic sin ““The concept of original antigenic sin (OAS) was coined by Dr. Thomas Francis, who became well known during the Salk vaccine era when he oversaw and interpreted the results of the largest (and most controversial) vaccine trial in history. He explained the phenomenon of OAS using natural influenza virus as an example.” This is the concept that the body responds more robustly and naturally to wild disease than to a vaccine. The authors believe that immunity from natural pertussis is stronger than that of vaccine pertussis. They believe that the CDC portrays pertussis as severe to increase vaccine uptake.
“The reason immunologists and vaccine scientists don’t talk about original antigenic sin is that if they had to explain to the public just what it means in principle and in practical fact, they’d have to explain that vaccination breaches a fundamental immunological tenet. They would have to admit that whooping cough vaccine immunity is vastly inferior and that vaccine immunity has immunologic unintended consequences in the future.”
The thing is, immunity from wild pertussis is not that different from vaccine immunity. “A review of the published data on duration of immunity reveals estimates that infection-acquired immunity against pertussis disease wanes after 4-20 years and protective immunity after vaccination wanes after 4-12 years. ”
The authors then go on to explain that pertussis will be a mild infection if the child is properly nourished and treated with Vitamin C. But, they don’t have any actual scientific evidence to support this claim. Dr. Humphries says that “generally speaking, antibiotic-treated children fare no better than their untreated counterparts. In my experience, they often fare worse. Breastfeeding makes a major difference in how well the child handles the infection. Infants as young as two weeks of age have fared quite well at home with the vitamin C treatment and breast milk alone. This makes sense given that antibiotics alter the bowel immunity and, during the dying off of bacteria in the gut, release even more toxin into the already toxic child.” Now keep in mind that Dr. Humphries was a kidney doctor, so she never treated children for pertussis. And her vitamin C protocol is based on case studies from the 1930s where nothing else was tried but vitamin C.
She makes some truly outrageous claims that are not supported by any evidence:
“Properly managed, natural whooping cough is but an irksome nuisance that will impart true and lasting immunity upon the convalesced.”
“If vitamin C in adequate doses was given to children, and even the youngest infants with pertussis, the reputation of B. pertussis as the devastating 100-day cough would fade away.”
In fact, the Linus Pauling Institue at Oregon State University has research demonstrating vitamin c has no proven efficacy for any virus or bacteria.
This chapter is about measles and again history mortality rates are illustrated but not morbidity. Real epidemiologists always compare death (mortality) rate to the incidence of disease (morbidity) to better understand trends. Are people still getting sick in huge numbers but just not dying or is the disease truly waning? In this book, only mortality rates are analyzed. And the graphs are all sideways, which is incredibly annoying.
A brief history of some of the bumps in the road to an effective measles vaccine is presented as proof vaccines do not work. Then, we get to Wakefield. The authors paint a portrait of Wakefield’s history that is common amongst his fans. They claim his original 1998 study was valid and only pulled because he was attacked. They also claim his colleagues found proof of his original hypotheses but their research has been stalled due to lack of funding. The authors try to discredit the measles vaccine by claiming that because measles virus can be found in the urine of some vaccinated individuals this must suggest that we are all walking around with atypical measles infections. These claims are all refuted by the facts of the case against Wakefield.
This all led the authors to conclude that there is no danger from measles and the vaccine is unnecessary. They also cite several outbreaks of measles in those with only one MMR as proof the vaccine does not work. Again, the implication is made that vaccines do not really work. They are just a profit scam by pharmaceutical companies. They make the claim that the vaccine does not produce lifelong immunity. Honestly, that the vaccine does not create the kind of immune response as a wild disease doesn’t actually matter to vaccine advocates because the vaccine comes with a far lesser risk of complications than having a wild disease. The idea the authors imply, that we should all get sick with natural measles because it induces a stronger immune response, is dangerous.
The authors also claim that the vaccine is not responsible for the steep drop in incidence of measles after 1963. Their reasoning is because not all children were vaccinated for measles in the 1960s then the vaccine could not be the reason for the decline in incidence. They claim that the vaccinated were still getting measles but were not being counted; thus, measles incidence rate did not really fall. They claim laboratory confirmation of disease was not done for all patients with symptoms. They claim that the 5-10% of vaccinated individuals who get a mild rash after measles vaccine not only actually have measles but that percent is a gross underestimate.
“If 5–10 percent of measles vaccines result in fever and rash, then there are approximately 650,000–1,300,000 cases of measles in the United States per year given the 13–14 million yearly doses of vaccine injected into one-year-olds (live births per year US census = 14 million).”
Humphries and Bystrianyk also claim this is why we have a “present-day epidemic of connective tissue diseases, immunoreactive diseases, and degenerative and tumorous ailments.” They cite a study by Ronne called “Measles Virus Infection Without Rash in Childhood Is Related to Disease in Adult Life” wherein the author theorizes but does not prove that patients who were given immune globulin had higher rates of certain adult infections and that should lead to the reconsideration of immune globulin for atypical measles infection. This is just an opinion and no support is provided.
Humphries and Bystriany state that “rashless infection would have led to fewer measles reports, but not because measles was not circulating and causing occult infections. So, on one hand, the early vaccines were leading to cases of atypical measles and causing a different disease (which were not counted as wild measles), and on the other hand, the gamma globulin given to prevent the side effects of the vaccines was also interfering with normal cell-mediated processing of the virus.” Again, this appears to be their opinion.
Finally, the authors believe measles was dying out on it’s own and improvements in nutrition and increases in breastfeeding are the reasons. They make a correlation between low breastfeeding rates in the 1940s and pertussis epidemics. I am sure we can all agree that breastmilk is a wonderful food for infants and I breastfed my own children for 36 months each. However, the authors are implying that all women should breastfeed their children and that because many of us were vaccinated, we are putting our infants at risk by not passing the immune properties of our own measles infections along to our infants via our breastmilk. This makes two deeply offensive implications: that women should all breastfeed and that being vaccinated actually endangers children. The authors provide no evidence to support either assertion.
“Today, because of vaccination, young infants are more susceptible than ever. Scientists are searching for ways to vaccinate them and bypass the vaccine neutralization that comes from placental and breast milk immunity. Why? That immunity protects the infant from measles. This is just another example of how vaccines have created a situation that requires even more vaccines and more manipulation of the immune system. This is financially efficient for vaccine manufacturers but scientifically and immunologically unsound.”
I am sure I am not alone in not only feeling this argument is unscientific but it is also remarkably sexist.
Vitamins A and C are presented as all the measles patients need. It is implied that children in western countries all become deficient in vitamin A and case studies from the 1930s are cited as proof that Vitamin A is important for all measles patients. They cite a study from 1990 of 20 children in California who had measles as proof American children are low in vitamin A. They also cite case studies from before the 1940s as proof vitamin C has efficacy in fighting infections.
No evidence is offered that American children are deficient in vitamin A nor that vitamin A will prevent most of the complications of measles infection.
The authors also downplay the severity of SSPE, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, claiming it is a disease only in the vaccinated. They cite a study called Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: Is there something different in the younger children? This was a study of 9 children with SSPE, all but three with no history of vaccination and two of those three also had a history of wild measles infection. They cite another study from China that is also cases of children who previously had wild measles. SSPE is always caused by wild measles, but the authors claim otherwise. They also postulate that fever medicines (antipyretics) and measles immune globulin are to blame for SSPE. I find this claim incredible, mostly because they don’t support it with evidence at all.
This chapter is about scurvy and vitamin C. More case studies from before modern medical treatments were invented are provided as evidence vitamin C is all one needs to fight disease. These are more anecdotes about children who did not die rather than actual evidence Vitamin C has any value in treating vaccine-preventable diseases.
This chapter is about herbs and other “lost remedies.” This chapter is also full of very old anecdotes about remedies people tried before modern medicine. There is no actual evidence in this chapter.
This one is about belief and fear. This chapter is a repeat of all the previous messages that vaccines did not save us.
This, my dear readers, brings us to the end of the book. I hope you enjoyed my synopsis. I believe is is clear that Dissolving Illusions is based on conjecture and not scientific evidence.
Two awesome ways to help bring vaccines to those in need.
- Public Health BC Canada has fun and games on this website, which leads to them donating vaccines to UNICEF. Join my team! I get nothing but the knowledge that we are awesome!
- If you don’t want to play a game but you want to make the world a better place, UNICEF is the site! Personally, when antivaxers make me really unhappy, I go donate to UNICEF in their names. Makes me feel better.
Remember to think for yourself!
Note: I just finished a very difficult quarter at the local university, wherein I authored two very long reports using APA style. As such, I am purposely giving myself a break and not worrying about APA-style rules for this blog post. Therefore, I am denoting page numbers for quotes.