Saturday, March 6, 2010

Are Flu Shots Effective at Preventing Illness?

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a public health campaign in the U.S. encouraging vulnerable patients - particularly the elderly - to "protect yourself and the ones you love against flu: GET VACCINATED!"

Hold on! Your probably thinking the whole swine flu hysteria is over. What gives?
Honestly it will never be over.
After swine flu, there will be 'simian' flu and 'poultry' flu and then there will be the bovine excerement flu. Whatever it is labelled, the WHO and the pharmaceutical companies will dream up another 'pandemic' and maybe they'll change the defintion again, justify more fear mongering.
Well, anyway-Deadly Hybrid Flu possible- you get the idea?
There will be another hastily created vaccine that authority figures and talking heads will urge you to take! And all voices of reason will be silenced in the din. So I want to take a moment at this quiet time to share this.

At least one flu-vaccine researcher disagreed with the message: Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist with the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, which has headquarters in Britain.

Jefferson and colleagues have published several systematic reviews of existing studies on the efficacy of influenza vaccines. Weighing the data, they conclude that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that flu vaccines reduce infection rates or mortality, even in the elderly.

Jefferson spoke with Time magazine about his quest for further research, some excerpts-

On Feb. 16, the Cochrane Library published your updated review of all major studies on the efficacy of flu vaccines for the elderly, some of the results of which you believe to be preposterous. Can you explain?

We looked at studies on vaccines in the elderly and in health care workers who work with the elderly, and we found an implausible sequence of results. We have studies that claim up to 90% effectiveness against death from all causes [in inoculated patients compared with the nonvaccinated]. If you were to believe that evidence, you would believe that flu vaccine is effective against death not only from influenza, but also from heart attack, stroke, hypothermia, accidents and all other common causes of death among the elderly. That is quite clearly nonsense.

Why do you think such studies have not been done?

I don't know. We've known for years that we needed proof one way or the other, and governments have not taken any notice of this. It's an extraordinary situation.
(consider the influence of the pharmaceutical industry?)

One argument I've heard is that it would be unethical to compare vaccines against a placebo because you would be withholding crucial treatment from patients. Do you agree?

No. We don't know these vaccines work, so you can't make that claim. But if you really find placebos to be unethical, then why don't you randomize against masks, hand-washing, gloves, distancing - public health measures that have proven to be effective?

Why do you think your reviews have not filtered down to policymakers?

In a separate study we looked at the science that policymakers use, and it's disturbing how large the gap is between policy and evidence. We looked at the World Health Organization, CDC and U.K., Australian and German authorities - they have what it is called a "citation bias." They cite some studies that support vaccines, but other studies that find no effect are left out. Most importantly, there is no critical appraisal of the methods. [Cochrane reviewers examine the methodology of all studies they include in their systematic reviews.] It's disturbing. I think with influenza there's a feeling in governments that "we have to do something." Well, you can do something: you can better promote cheap public health measures such as hand-washing.

(They cite studies that support their predetermined outcomes, and discard what does not fit the desired results. Is anyone having a global warming science aha moment? Besides me? It seems the same biased agenda is at work. The science is used that fits the agenda.
No critical appraisal of the methods, seriously, this is the same issue with the global warming science)

Anyway, the article is linked above. And it is worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. Although I disagree with some of the views expressed here in regards to the global warming deal, much of what has been done with the data regarding the flu crap reminds me of my days working at the Greater White shell Nuclear Research station at Pinawa Manitoba. All of our research data had to be sent to the main office before it was published in the official outgoing papers, and once there should the results of our research be just slightly untoward the official version of what they should be,they were scrubbed and rubbed,laundered and then white washed until they came out squeaky clean. We called that office the Paint Shop.

    It's somehow comforting to know that somethings never change.