A provaxer watches The Pathological Optimist

The Andrew Wakefield documentary, The Pathological Optimist, popped up on Amazon Prime this weekend. So, I chose to watch it.

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Commentary

The film starts out with us watching Andy do yoga while media accounts of his fraud and the study retracted are shown. Interesting dichotomy, of a man easing his tension with yoga while the world discusses his malfeasance.

The rest of the film seems to follow him suing the British Medical Journal and Brian Deer, the journalist who wrote about his malfeasance for the Sunday Tims of London newspaper. Apparently, Andy chose to sue these British citizens and entities in the US state of Texas because he was living in Texas at the time and his reputation in Texas had been besmirched.

Some background information

You can read what Brian Deer wrote here and here.

Left Brain Right Brain blog explains the SLAPP suit here.

The outcome of the SLAPP suit here.

The film appears to be a melodramatic look at Andy’s feelings about the SLAPP suit and his life thus far. He is shown pondering thoughtfully quite a few times. This is juxtaposed with him being treated with adulation by fans at a book signing.  News reports about the study, fraud, and Brian Deer are shown repeatedly but Andy’s opinion is this only happened in the USA and was simply about the fact that he now lives in the USA. Thus, this is the reason his SLAPP case was taken on by the law firm DiNovo Price Ellwanger & Hardy.

An interesting fact in the film is that the money for his legal fight against Deer and the BMJ came from what Andy refers to as the “autism community.” From the film, it appears the money came from Autism One conference fundraisers. Autism One is the “autism quackfest,” as ORAC calls them, and it makes sense that they would sponsor the effort to redeem Andy’s reputation.

Ironically, as soon as I type this, Andy starts reading and talking about Orac.

Throughout the film, Andy and his wife, Carmel express their opinion that Andy’s troubles are because Brian Deer lies, that the study from 1998 was not fraudulent at all, and pharmaceutical companies are out to get him. When Judge Amy Meachum, in Texas, throws out his attempt to sue the British journal and related persons for libel, Camille brings up that Meachum’s husband is a lobbyist for pharma. This conspiracy theory was even published on the autism hate blog, Age of Autism. The Poxes blog exposed this ridiculous conspiracy theory for what it is, ridiculous, but still, the filmmakers made sure to include this point in the film.

The point of the film seems to be to portray Andy Wakefield as a fallen hero deserving of redemption. It’s calculated, in how they use conversations between Andy and his mother and Andy and his wife. It’s emotionally manipulative but subtle. In many ways, the film rehashes much of what Andy wrote about in his book. Callous Disregard, although the film is better made and easier to watch than the book is to read. I did read the book, but never blogged about it. Dr Harriet Hall, however, did write about how she read it. 

She writes: “In his concluding epilogue, he says

In the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, you have already lost… Why? Because the parents are right; their stories are true; their children’s brains are damaged; there is a major, major problem. In the US, increasingly coercive vaccine mandates and fear-mongering campaigns are a measure of your failure — vaccine uptake is not a reflection of public confidence, but of these coercive measures, and without public confidence, you have nothing.

How ludicrous: he is clearly the one who undermined public confidence, not the scientists and agencies that are doing their best to reduce the incidence of preventable diseases and to protect the public from alarmists like him.

In my opinion, the whole book is an embarrassing, tedious, puerile, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at damage control. Wakefield has been thoroughly discredited in the scientific arena and he is reduced to seeking a second opinion from the public. Perhaps he thinks that the truth can be determined by a popularity contest. Perhaps he thinks the future will look back at him as a persecuted genius like Galileo or Semmelweis. Jenny McCarthy thinks so; I don’t.”

The film, like the book, is basically a means for Andy to voice his excuses for why he should not have been struck from the register and why the study was not fraudulent. He even gets his son, James, and his wife, Carmel, to make excuses for why it was no big deal to take blood from James and his mates during James’ 10th birthday party. They all act like it is no big deal to pay children 5 pounds to take their blood at a birthday party, without ethical approval. One wonders why any of them think that this is a valid way to collect any kind of sample for a scientific study. It’s really hard to understand. Andy spends quite a bit of time, in the film, arguing that taking these blood samples was ethical.

As I get halfway through the film, I remember that the filmmaker, Miranda Bailey, maintains that the film is not about proving Andy right or making vaccines look bad and, yet, she spends quite a bit of time painting Andy as a loving family man. He is filmed cooking for his children and spending time with the family, the whole family participates in the interviews, and he is often filmed sitting in front of a large array of family photographs.

The point of this film is obviously to make us see Andrew Wakefield as a victim.

But it is not working for me. I am getting upset as I watch it. I am upset that he cannot admit he did anything wrong. I am upset that he continues to con people with these lies and mistruths. And I am upset that Andy continues to allow these lies and mistruths to be perpetuated, giving fuel to the antivaccination fire. Truly, if it were not for him, I believe we would not have such a large antivaccination movement and we would have a far smaller group of people who think vaccines cause autism. We likely would also have far fewer dangerous “cures” and treatments for autism. Autistic persons would not be seen as damaged and people would not be trying to remove the autism from them. Andy even says, at one point in the film, that he is very lucky that his own children are healthy and have no developmental disorders. The implication is that a developmental disorder is a horrible thing. Again, he is perpetuating the notion that autism is horrible.

The part of the movie I found the most annoying is the tale of Andy’s experience trying to confront Brian Deer in Wisconsin in October 2012.  Included in this part of the film is the story of Cade, the son of Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larsen. Cade was typically developing, in her words, until he had his 15-month vaccines. Between 15 months and 19 months, Cade became autistic, according to his mother. For some reason, the filmmakers chose to show Cade’s mother fangirling over Andy, inviting him into her large, luxurious home, where Cade is shown stimming and enjoying their pool. Cade seems to have a lovely life, which includes two dogs, a huge home and pool, and his own art room. Cade is a very cute boy, perhaps about 12 in the film. By the very sad music, I gather we are supposed to feel sorry for his family but my take is Cade has a blessed life.

In the film, Brian Deer is invited to a journalism school to talk to journalism students. Andy feels it is appropriate to show up to the college uninvited to give “the other side.” Ms. Larsen truly believes, in her own world, that pharmaceutical companies are paying Deer to ruin Andy’s career because they want to bury a link between autism and MMR. So, Andy is shown yelling at a small crowd of supporters and being called a hero.

Melodramatic music plays in the background.

I gather we viewers are supposed to take these moments seriously and see Andy as the fallen hero but all I see is a charismatic liar.  I also have a very hard time with the moms fangirling Andy. As someone who has read a great deal of the scientific literature and someone who has an autistic child and knows vaccines have NOTHING to do with it, I find the adulation of him disturbing. He even goes so far as to blame governments for the increase in measles incidence. He says that because they have removed the single measles vaccine from the market, they gave parents no other choices. He fails to acknowledge that parents are choosing not to vaccinate with MMR because of his opinion that MMR causes autism.

The film returns to the appeal of the SLAPP suit being dismissed. Andy’s lovely Austin home is shown.  It is a large estate in Austin, Texas, with a great deal of land and more than one home on it.  For all the complaints from Carmel about money, the house the Wakefield’s are shown in is a multi-million dollar plus estate, according to public tax documents. Carmel is showing walking around the estate with her daughter, discussing their lack of funds. It is a confusing scene. How could they have money for such a large estate if they have no money?

One clue comes towards the end of the film when Andy states he is $350,000 in debt and he realizes that another source of money, other than autism community, is needed. He states that another “target” is needed, “another group of people who get it.” And that target is the chiropractors. This fully explains Andy’s recent involvement with chiropractor associations and the chiropractor associations recent interest in “health freedom” advocacy. Andy reels them in by explaining to crowds of chiropractors that investigating the connection between autism and vaccines ends people’s careers, that Andy needs their financial help to fight the powers of evil. Andy is shown at a chiropractor conference in San Diego, where $50,000 is raised and everyone who donates over $500 gets to enjoy dinner with Andy. He gets a standing ovation.

Despite that money, the courts dismiss the appeal. Andy loses what many call a frivolous court case. Andy decides not to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court and, instead focuses on making Vaxxed.

At the end of the film, Andy does admit that he believes that MMR causes autism. To the filmmaker’s credit, they do cite that there are over 100 studies demonstrating no link between vaccines and autism. But it is only one line in an hour and a half of Andy explaining otherwise.

The film ends with Andy taking to the woods with his ax, in hot pink shorts and a tank top, to chop some wood. Apparently, chopping down his woods is how he relieves stress.

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Review

As far as documentaries go, this is a fairly well-made film. It was fascinating to get a behind the scenes look, albeit a contrived one, at Andy’s life at home. The point of the film is obviously to make the viewer sympathetic to Andy and I do believe the filmmakers did a good job of this, with their choices of where to film (in front of family photos) and how they portray Andy himself. This makes it very obviously a film focused on the antivaccine message, the message that Andy Wakefield is a hero and the MMR and other vaccines are evil. This is not a message based on sound science. It is emotionally manipulative, just like all the other antivax films. In that respect, I find this film very annoying and the producer, Miranda Bailey, to be highly disingenuous in her statements that she was not setting out to make an antivax film.

 

It should be noted that Brian Deer wrote about this film and the idea that he was asked to participate in it.  It is an interesting read. As you might expect, the filmmakers were not truthful.

 

Remember to think for yourself!

 

Kathy

10 Things I Want Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids To Know

I read a blog post today, entitled “10-things-want-parents-vaccinate-kids-know” and I felt the need to respond.

1.Most of the time the diseases we vaccinate for are very mild and unlike vaccine injury, they last only a short time. This is not true. Back when vaccine-preventable diseases were common, disease injury was common. 30% of measles patients suffer complications and many require hospitalization. Some of those will be permanently injured. Back when nearly all children got measles, this mean thousands suffered injury every year.  Polio was also very bad in the 1950s.  “In 1952 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus; thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Hospitals set up special units with iron lung machines to keep polio victims alive. Rich kids as well as poor were left paralyzed.”  source  Before the hepatitis V vaccine was recommended for all children in 1994,  30% of infected adults had no risk factors and 10,000, of children under age 10 were found to have Hepatitis B yearly. source

I could go on but, no, these diseases were not mild for everyone and yes they did cause permanent injury.

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2. Even if you choose to vaccinate, please please make yourselves aware of the adverse events that can occur.  Yes, by all means,  check the vaccine information sheets. If you read the vaccine inserts, be sure to be aware that they do not list side effects. Inserts list adverse events reported during the clinical trials without regard to causation. There is always more to read than inserts. Vaccine information sheets list actual, proven side effects.

3. If you are really are worried about viruses and bacteria, you might want to also read about vaccine ingredients.  Sure, by all means ask questions about vaccine ingredients.  But, know that the dose makes the poison and nothing in vaccines is toxic. MSDS are not helpful, as they refer to pure mercury and pure aluminun, neither of which are in vaccines. Antivaxers will refer to the limit for aluminum in IV feeding  but that is not a helpful thing to read because vaccines are not TPN feeding. The Children’s Hospital of Philadephia has great resources on vaccine ingredients. Remember, the dose makes the poison.

4. Your children will be shedding their live virus vaccines (this includes the measles and chickenpox vaccine) after their shots. Just big fat no. Here is a great article for you to read about why vaccine shedding is theoretically, but not actually, possible. Measles and chicken pox rates are down. Because shedding is myth.

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5. The Mawson study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated children, found significantly higher rates of autism, allergies, ear infections, learning disabilities and chronic diseases in those vaccinated to the schedule.  The Mawson study is completely invalid.  Don’t just read my take. Read all the links.

6. Vaccines are far from perfect… but there is not a huge failure rate. Many vaccines have 95% or greater efficacy.  Measles vaccine, for example, is 99% effective for life after two shots. Rubella vax is 95% effective for life. Tetanus vaccine is nearly 100% effective but only for ten years.   You can find all the efficacy rates here.

 

7. If you are worried about where to get good and unbiased information from. Look at vaccine inserts, VAERs reports, studies that aren’t funded by pharma companies, and most importantly, parents of vaccine injured children. By all means, look at VAERS reports but understand that nothing about them is valid. They are not valid because no medical information has been analyzed to confirm those reports. Also, most vaccine studies are NOT pharma funded, so using pubmed, you should be easily able to find many studies to read. International scientific consensus will show to you that vaccines have far greater benefits than risks.  Finally, parents are not great resources. We are not medical experts.  For example, if you read the Brian Hooker vaccine injury claim, you will see how one parent, even one with a PHd in a science-field, can make mistakes and miss early warning signs.

8. The people trying to convince you not to vaccinate have only one motivation, and that is to prevent more suffering, because they have either witnessed it first hand in their own family or know someone who has.  Okay, moving past the bad grammar in that sentence, which pains me, the reality is that there are people who have been duped by others into believing everything under the sun is a vaccine injury. And, those doing the duping are shysters and snake oil salesmen and women. They call themselves “experts” but they are really selling you products in lieu of modern medicine.   Be wary. Science should verify the validity and reliability of data. Shysters do not.

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9. In the time you have spent reading this, more children have been damaged by vaccines, because they believed what Doctors and the government told them. In reality, 5482 vaccine injury claims have been compensated in the last 30 years.  2,845,946,816 doses of vaccines have  been given out in that 30 years. That means that vaccine injury rate is 0.00000195%. That is incredibly rare.

10. It’s not too late to change your mind. I agree. It is never too late to vaccinate.

 

Remember to always think of yourself and verify your claims using valid science.

 

Kathy

 

 

All vaccine infographics come from here

 

The Truth about vaccines 2, more lies

This episode is sub-titled What is in vaccines, are they effective, and what about polio.

I accessed the documentary by joining the email list. From there, I got a daily email with a link to watch today’s episode free for 24 hours. After the 24 hours, the episodes are available for purchase at the Truth about Vaccines website. I am not going to share a link to the video because I don’t want anyone to think I am an affiliate with them, trying to earn referral dollars. On their website, you will see that they have a referral program where can earn $1 per person you refer. (I have taken screenshots)

My goal in watching this series is to “take one for the team” and blog about the worst mistruths and list in each episode.

The series is hosted by Ty Bollinger. Ty is a CPA. See episode 1 for information about Ty. 

So, let’s look at the top ten lies from episode two.

One: Robert Kennedy, Jr states all vaccine safety studies are epidemiological and they are notoriously prone to manipulation.  Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations.  For example, he states, the CDC eliminates all autists from safety studies.

Let’s look at the reality. There are three parts to this claim: A, that all the safety studies are done by the CDC; B, that all safety studies are epidemiological; and, C, that children with autism are not included in these studies.

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A. There are many different sources for vaccine safety studies. In the USA, one source is the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which is collaborative project between CDC’s Immunization Safety Office and nine health care organizations. These studies are published in journals, but the CDC also has a link to them their website. These studies are not conducted by the CDC. The CDC also publishes yearly reports on vaccine safety. Some of these studies have authors who are affiliated with the CDC and some of these studies were done by the CDC but by far most are NOT affiliated with the CDC. Vaccine safety studies are also done by researchers in other countries.

B. Safety studies are all epidemiological.  ‘Epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why.” Thus, all safety studies are epidemiological. This is true.  But, this is a deceptive comment in that it implies that safety studies should be not epidemiological.  I think what RFK means is that there should be a study on a group of children purposely left unvaccinated for the sake of science, a vaccinated versus unvaccinated study. This would leave those children vulnerable to disease, for the sake of science, and would never be approved by any ethics committee in any country. Even this study would be epidemiological. In other words, there really isn’t a good alternative. It appears the RFK does not understand the term.

C. Children with autism are not included in safety studies.  This is simply untrue. Here is a study from Denmark. The implication is that vaccine safety studies are not done on special populations but that is simply untrue. Here is a study from Cuba that included physically and mentally disabled persons. Here is a study from Japan that included handicapped persons. Here is another Japanese study.  Much thanks to Dot for helping me to find these.

Two:  Brandy Vaughan, who sold Vioxx for Merck for two years, makes a claim that no vaccine safety studies include sick or disabled children. See 1C for refutation.

Three: Suzanne Humphries and Sherri Tenpenny state vaccine studies never use saline placebo.  But, here is a flu study that used a saline placebo. Here is a literature review of HPV studies, some of which used saline placebo. Here is another flu vaccine study with saline placebo.  Here is a meningococcal serogroup B safety study with a saline placebo.  Why am I easily able to find many saline placebo studies on Pubmed when these two doctors cannot?

Four: Mike Adams appears in his lab to tell us that healthy people will always make a strong immune response to wild flu because they will immunize themselves. This is simply untrue. Studies show that more unvaccinated children die of influenza than vaccinated, even in those previously healthy.

Five: A common topic, in this series, is that vaccine ingredients are toxic. Not once does any of the so-called experts mention how toxicity varies by dose. Irvin Sahni, MD, claims vaccines have the herbicide glyphosate in them as well as anti-freeze. What is amazing about these claims is this man has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.  He should know better than to make claims not grounded in science. Parents need to know that the glyphosate in vaccines issue has been debunked and there is no antifreeze in vaccines. A single component of anti-freeze, polyethylene glycol, is used in some flu viruses but it is not anti-freeze and it is not toxic.

Are you beginning to be as annoyed as I am at these lies? I make this face a lot lately.

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Six: There is glyphosate, an herbicide, in vaccines. This is a claim made by many of the “experts” in the documentary but no one discusses the reality, which is that there is one study done by Moms Against Monsanto, where in glyphosate was found in vaccines which use mammal cells. The theory is that the animals who eat the grain which has been sprayed with glyphosate have it in their tissue, which is then used to grow vaccine viruses, and that is transferred into the vaccines. A great discussion of the reality of this claim comes from The Genetic Literacy project. As you can see, the results of this MAM study have been challenged by many and they have been replicated by no one.

Seven: Ty claims formaldehyde in vaccines is not the same as what is made in our bodies or what is in our foods, naturally, because it cannot be broken down by the body. Formaldehyde is used to inactivate pathogens and toxins. Ethyl acetate is used to precipitate formalin out of solution in a gas chromatography tube. So, there is not actually any formaldehyde in the vaccines. It is just used in the process of manufacturing. The CDC explains how some ingredients are removed before the vaccine is given. Just the Vax blog explains how even what is possibly left is not a health concern.

Eight: This is a new claim, for me. Toni Bark and Lawrence Pavelsky, both doctors who are against vaccines, claim that polysorbate 80, when used in conjunction with other drugs, opens the gut and blood brain barriers. Further, they claim, because everything with them also gets into the gut and brain, then nanoparticles of viruses, bacteria, and aluminum are also getting into these parts of our bodies. Larry says polysorbate 80 binds to the viruses and and aluminum and “walks into the brain the way a ghost can go through a wall.”  He concludes that this is what is causing vaccinated children to have autism and other neurodisabilities.

Now, first of all, we know vaccines are not causing autism. Secondly, aluminum salts in vaccines are microparticles, not nanoparticles. Polysorbate 80 is used with nanoparticles of certain drugs, like loperamide, to deliver them to the brain when necessary.  These drugs only cross the blood brain barrier  when loaded onto polybutylcyanoacrylate (PBCA)-nanoparticles and coated with polysorbate 80. But, aluminum salts are microparticles, not nanoparticles. There are experiments underway using aluminum salt nanoparticles but all existing vaccines use microparticles of aluminum salts and those are much too large to cross the blood brain barrier.  Aluminum salts are about 2 um or 2000 nanoparticles in size.

Nine: Ty, and others, claim the amount of aluminum in vaccine exceeds the FDA limit. Ty is referring to a document on the FDA website which refers to aluminum use in total parenteral nutrition. The TPN limit is 25 micrograms per liter. TPN is a method of feeding people bypassing the gastrointestinal tract. Sick newborns, for example, may receive TPN via a vein. Children and adults with bowel disease may also get TPN. Adult daily requirements for TPN are 30–40 mL Water (/kg body wt/day).  This has nothing to do with vaccines and is not the aluminum limit for vaccines. In fact, an “FDA study found that the risk to infants posed by the total aluminum exposure received from the entire recommended series of childhood vaccines over the first year of life is extremely low” and  “the maximum amount of aluminum an infant could be exposed to over the first year of life would be 4.225 milligrams (mg), based on the recommended schedule of vaccines. Federal Regulations for biological products (including vaccines) limit the amount of aluminum in the recommended individual dose of biological products, including vaccines, to not more than 0.85-1.25 mg. For example, the amount of aluminum in the hepatitis B vaccine given at birth is 0.25 mg.”

Ten: I cannot believe I got all the way to #9 and I still am only half way through this episode!  The rest of the episode is about polio and Salk and SV40.  Suzanne plugs her book and claims there was a diagnostic criteria change around the time the polio vaccine was invented and that is the reason polio rate dropped. She claims the vaccine had nothing to do with it. Sayer claims women pass SV40 to their fetuses and he got it from his mother who had that vaccine. Toni claims the polio vaccine causes massive paralysis in developing countries, but it is not tracked.

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In lieu of debunking all these claims, I am going to link to Mr Skeptical Raptor, who has done a find job debunking polio vaccine claims. These all specifically address claims made by the movie, although these blog posts were written well before the movie. Antivaxers like to recycle the claims. Skeptical Raptor fully cites all sources and backs all claims.

Polio, and SV40 do not cause cancer

Jonas Salk is an American Hero

Polio vaccine did not cause 47,000 cases of paralysis in India

Bill Gates is not trying to depopulate the world with vaccines

And, finally, to learn more about the single greatest public health initiative of all time, wherein we went from polio paralysing 1000 children a day in 1988 to 37 cases of polio (wild and vaccine-derived) last year, please visit the The Global Polio Eradication Initiative website.

Remember to always think for yourself,

 

Kathy

 

 

James Lyons-Weiler and the HPV ad controversy

Have you heard of the appeal to authority logical fallacy? It refers to an appeal from a someone based on his or her presumed expertise merely by being a self-described authority.  Authority or not, all contentions should be proven, particularly when one is not actually an authority in a given topic.

Such is the case of James Lyons-Weiler, PhD  when it comes HPV vaccines. Who is Dr Lyons-Weiler? That is a difficult question to answer because he has moved through a variety of areas of study. Looking at his Linkedin account, he has a Master’s in zoology, with a focus on paeloecology, a PhD in ecology and biology, where he studied wild flowers and computational statistics, and he did postdoctoral work in computational molecular biology related to evolutionary genetics. Since then, he has worked on a variety of data analysis and modelling projects, including lung cancer gene expression and protein evolution.  He has been on the faculty at three different universities, most recently the University of Pittsburgh, where he directed the Bioinformatics Analysis Core.  In the past few years, he has written several books. One is about ebola, another about autism, and the third about how he believes medicine is more motivated by profit than cures. Most recently, he founded something called The Institute for pure and applied knowledge and he has begun to be a voice in the antivaccine movement. He even has Mary Holland, famous antivax advocate and attorney, on his advisory board. He has several current projects, including the CDC Accountability Project and the FTC petition re: HPV tv ad.

The appeal to authority I am concerned with is his issue with the HPV ad, which centers around a television ad for Merck’s HPV vaccine. The ad was created by BBDO Worldwide and can be watched here, on ispot dot tv. The gist of the commercial is a man and a woman discussing that they have cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and wouldn’t it have been nice if they could have done something as teens to prevent that virus. The point made is that the HPV vaccine can prevent HPV which then can protect the person from getting cancers associated with the virus. The viewer is directed to www.hpv.com for more information.

 

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As part of the Vaxxed film tour, producer Del Bigtree has been posting periscope videos (made with handheld smart phones) with people all over the country. He recently sat down with James Lyons-Weiler to discuss the FTC petition and the ad. You can watch their conversation here (thank you to Karen Halabura for helping me get the video off Facebook). Dr Lyons-Weiler tells Bigtree that the ad is emotionally manipulative and makes claims not supported by science. You can view the petition and transcript of the tv ad here. Lyons-Weiler thinks the ad is false advertising and the Federal Trade Commission should remove it because of seven errors he feels Merck makes in the ad, all of which point to false advertising. The video, as of writing of this blog, has 22,000 views and nearly 800 shares.  I feel it is worthwhile pointing out the mistakes Lyons-Weiler makes in this contentions because his assertions are influential enough that they are now showing up in online discussions about HPV vaccines.

Italicized points are from Lyons-Weiler while bold are from me.

(a) the knowledge that HPV vaccination does not protect against all HPV types, which could lead vaccinated consumers to act as though they are in fact protected from HPV infection in general, when, in reality, they are not;  As per the provider information for Gardasil 9, the most recently available HPV vaccine in USA, it protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and, 58. These represent 81% of the viruses that cause cervical cancer, 74% of the other HPV-associated cancers, and 90% of the HPV types which cause anogenital warts. The ad clearly uses the word ‘could’ when they postulate that the person ‘could’ have protected from HPV back at age 11 or 12. Therefore, no false advertising.

(b) the knowledge that has resulted from numerous studies that indicate that HPV vaccination using any of the available HPV vaccines only provides partial protection against 2, 4 or 9 types of HPV, when in reality there are at least 100 HPV viral types that can replace those that the vaccination removes from an individual or from the population; Gardasil 9 offers protection from most of the HPV types that cause cancer.  Therefore, no false advertising.

(c) the knowledge that women should continue to get Pap smears after HPV vaccination to screen for infection (as expected given type replacement); The Merck ad is aimed at both men and women, boys and girls, and states that everyone should talk to their doctor. The implication is the doctor will tell the patient the benefit of yearly exams, both for men and women. The ad does not imply nor state that the vaccine should replace yearly wellness exams. Therefore, no false advertising.

(d) the knowledge that HPV vaccine has been found to fail to lead to a decrease in overall HPV infection rates, according to study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Markowitz et al., 2016); Strangely, Lyons-Weiler’s own source proves him wrong. Markowitz, et al, concluded that, 6 years after vaccine introduction, there was a 64% decrease in 4xHPV type prevalence in females aged 14 to 19. Therefore, no false advertising.

(e) the knowledge of side effects of HPV vaccination, including death, paralysis, premature ovarian failure, seizures and blindness; There have been many large studies of HPV vaccine safety, in various countries, and none have found any significant relationship between the vaccine and serious adverse events. As the ad clearly states to get more information from your doctor, and you get a vaccine information sheet with reach vaccine which clearly outlines risks and benefits, then again, There is no false advertising.

(f) the knowledge of alternatives to the vaccines for protection against HPV; Del and Lyons-Weiler spend a great deal of time talking about safe sex in the interview. Lyons-Weiler stays that HPV is a lifestyle disease and practicing unsafe sex is what needs to change. Since 95% of women clear the virus in the first two years, and there is a drug, according to him, in clinical trials that will completely cure the virus, there is no need to vaccinate. He does not seem to notice his statements are contradictory. He wants women to abstain from sex but then he also wants women not to worry about the virus because there is a cure for it coming soon. Del claims that pap smears stop HPV in it’s tracks, which is completely untrue. A pap smear can only (hopefully) detect if you have cancer or not. It is not a cure nor a treatment for cancer. They both routinely fail to tell their audience how this virus also affects men and they fail to inform that nearly all sexually active people will, at some point in their life, usually in early adulthood, acquire HPV infection. Yes, HPV is passed as a sexually transmitted infection but you can pass it via oral, anal, or vaginal sex or even just contact with sexual fluids (what my mother’s generation called heavy petting). Condoms do not prevent HPV as it can infect areas a condom does not cover. The only way to guarantee you will never get HPV is to never engage in any sexual activity with anyone other than the one partner you will have and keep for your entire life, assuming they also have only had one partner their entire life. As this is not a reasonable goal for most people, and sex is a natural, biological function, this vaccine is an important part of having a HEALTHY life. Vaccination is one key part of staying healthy. The only alternative to vaccination is abstinence and that is not a valid choice for all. Furthermore, human papillomaviruses can also cause oral and anal cancers, none of which are detectable by pap smears.  Therefore,  no false advertising.

(g) the knowledge that indiscriminate use of HPV vaccination in a population not screened for HPV infection may increase (double) the risk of HPV-associated cancer. Lyons-Weiler does not qualify this statement with any details so one must conclude this allegation is false. In the film interview with Bigtree, Lyons-Weiler states he believes that getting the HPV vaccine while already infected may be a problem but he, again, does not qualify this statement with any supporting evidence. Therefore, no false advertising.

The conversation between Del Bigtree and James Lyons-Weiler, regarding HPV vaccine, is rife with dangerous myths about both human papillomaviruses and the HPV vaccine. In just the few days since it first aired, I have noticed comments online being made that bear striking resemblance to those of Lyons-Weiler. He has influenced people. This vaccine already has so many dangerous myths associated with it that it is a shame to now have more. As a person who lost a lovely cousin to cervical cancer, a cousin who did have yearly pap smears, I know that Bigtree and Lyons-Weiler are doing is going to cost lives that could have been prevented. My own children are or will be protected with this vaccine. Like tens of millions world-wide, they have had no serious side effects to any vaccine, ever, in their lives.

Why is Lyons-Weiler engaged in this battle against HPV vaccine? On his website, he discusses a great many different projects, including several related to vaccines. It is troubling to me that he is spreading myths and lies about vaccines while, at the same time, asking for donations for his multiple projects. Usually, scientists with his level of education work for a research institute or university and they write grants to fund their projects. I have no real idea why Lyons-Weiler is no longer involved in the standard type of research, but I find it deeply troubling that he is stirring up vaccine waters.

As always, be sure to think for yourself!

 

 

Kathy

 

My sources for information and facts on HPV vaccine and cancers related to HPV.

 

  1. Gardasil 9 – provider information sheet
  2. Pink Book chapter on Human Papillomavirus
  3. Gardasil Myths debunked at Skeptical Raptor blog
  4. Prevalence of HPV After Introduction of the Vaccination
  5. CDC page on human papillomavirus information
  6. Ways to prevent HPV infection