Measles Vaccination: make an informed choice

Recently in Melbourne Australia, the wanderings of a baby infected with measles prompted Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester to name certain venues and alert the public. The 11 month old had, while infectious, visited four major shopping complexes, two restaurants, a cafe, a children’s play centre, a church and a chemist. Dr. Lester stressed those who attended these venues should ensure they pay extra attention to symptoms such as;

…common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. The characteristic measles rash usually begins 2-5 days after the first symptoms, she said, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.

A bit of a rash, sore throat and temperature then. I’ve heard groups who insist vaccines don’t work or aren’t needed pass measles off as nothing to worry about. Yet the article also included this from Dr. Lester;

“Anyone developing these symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash,” Dr Lester said. “If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The GP or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises transmission.”

Hmmm. Maybe hospitals in Victoria are running drills this month. Practising for something serious with this little rashy-coughy thing. After all a Slovakian micro-palaeontologist had described it as a simple “right of passage”. And if anyone would know about infectious disease in Australia it is a Slovakian micro-palaeontologist, not a mere Chief Health Officer of a state holding around six million people. But then the piece by the paper’s Health Editor went on to state measles is highly infectious. It is particularly dangerous for young children and young adults.

Those most at risk of getting the disease are people who have not been vaccinated, particularly adults between 33 and 47 years because many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine, and people whose immune systems have been compromised because of cancer treatment, for example.

Perhaps, as they say, this is not a drill. I remember reading material from those against vaccination. They spend a lot of time and caps lock justifying why vaccines are dangerous, or useless, or part of a conspiracy. The claim that vaccines are useless is backed by graphs which plot disease induced mortality against time and contend X vaccine was introduced well after mortality reached zero. Clean water, nutrition and better living standards stopped these infectious diseases they insist, not vaccines. So I decided to check the measles graphs drawn up by renowned antivaccinationist Gregg Beattie.

Beattie_measles1Gregg Beattie’s “Figure 1″ from Fooling Ourselves

The above graph is from Beattie’s officially discredited Fooling Ourselves. The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network is littered with this and many others. Greg Beattie cites the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Year Books and “data published by the Commonwealth” in Cumpston’s 1927 The History of Diptheria, Scarlet Fever, Measles and Whooping Cough in Australia. One notes the first problem is his reliance on mortality and not morbidity. Death as a consequence of a vaccine preventable disease is a limited indicator of how effective vaccination has been in reducing infection. Overall morbidity (infection rate) offers a more realistic picture. Indeed the anti-vaccine lobby are today only too quick to point to the number of pertussis notifications in those vaccinated, when launching attacks on the efficacy of the vaccine or the need to be vacccinated. They concomitantly avoid noting pertussis mortality in Australia hits the unvaccinated. The vaccinated cop a less dangerous, and to date, non-lethal infection. Below is another graph from Communicable Diseases Intelligence. I’ve boxed in measles in red and used coloured horizontal lines to link mortality to years pre and post introduction of the measles vaccine. It’s clear that the greatest gap – or in fact drop – in mortality follows the introduction of measles immunisation. Thereafter reductions are smaller and more evenly spaced. Diptheria tetanus polio measles highlight Could there be more important facts left out by Beattie? Clearly his graph is designed to visually convince the reader that the measles vaccine was introduced when measles was all but eradicated. Thus Beattie contends vaccination had no impact on its control. So what of Beattie? Do we afford him the benefit of the doubt? You be the judge. Immediately after the graph he writes in Fooling Ourselves.

The graph for measles (Figure 1) shows us that the five-yearly death rate, 100 years before the vaccine was introduced, was around 170. One hundred years later, and immediately prior to introducing the vaccine, it was less than one. That’s a reduction of 99.5%—before the vaccine arrived. The remainder of less than 1% is therefore the only portion of the decline to which the vaccine can possibly lay claim, because it simply was not around for the first 99.5%. [...]
Let’s check that again: One hundred years later, and immediately prior to introducing the vaccine, it (the five year mortality rate from measles) was less than one. Looking at the CDI graph above, and countless others that can be wheeled out from developed nations around the world he is simply misinforming his readers. Less than one for five years? Whilst the CDI graph plots 150 from 1966 – 1975. An excellent way to further debunk Beattie’s “vaccines-didn’t-save-us” mess is through statistical estimation of the deaths that would have occurred without immunisation. Yes Gregg. You can resign and run but you cannot hide. Cost effectiveness and the money saved through improved health is vital. Love it or loathe it the cost of running a vaccine-conspiracy would be monumental. The savings to be made in controlling infectious disease are also wonderfully impressive and much time and energy goes into ensuring we invest in what pays for itself. The figure loving, graph scribing, number crunching chaps at Applied Economics are deft hands at such dark arts. In a semantic flick of the bird to antivaccinationists they write;

The trend in measles deaths since 1940 reveals a secular decline. This reflects a reduction in case fatality associated with a general improvement in health status as well as the introduction of antibiotics in the late 1940s (Russell, 1988). By fitting a trend to measles deaths for the period 1940–69 and extrapolating it from 1970 onwards, we can estimate the deaths that would have occurred without immunisation. A trend can also be fitted to actual deaths that occurred with immunisation. The difference between these two trend curves is our estimate of the lives saved because of immunisation.

I’ll leave you dear reader to pop over and peer at their graphs revealing the “lives saved because of immunisation”. They also sacrifice many pure white A4 sheets doing the same with Hib vaccination. Nonetheless here is (the businesses end of) the table born of such mysterious chanting and ritual. Pre immunisation years from 1940 are available. The point here is to further debunk the antivaccinationist claim that vaccines did nothing. By analysing pre and post immunisation mortality and morbidity trends, a strong estimate of lives saved and disease prevented can be clearly demonstrated.

 Estimated deaths due to, and notifications of, measles tabulated as with or without immunisation

Consequently estimated lives saved and estimated cases averted based solely on measles immunisation can be calculated as the difference

Deaths Notification
 Year Without Immunisation With immunisation Estimated lives saved Without immunisation With immunisation Estimated cases averted
1970 16 10 6 110,693 77,000 33,693
1971 15 10 5 112,391 67,459 44,932
1972 14 10 4 114,061 59,100 54,961
1973 13 10 3 115,706 51,777 63,929
1974 13 9 4 117,325 45,362 71,964
1975 12 9 3 118,921 39,741 79,180
1976 11 9 2 120,494 34,817 85,677
1977 11 8 3 122,044 30,503 91,542
1978 10 8 2 123,574 26,723 96,851
1979 10 7 3 125,083 23,412 101,671
1980 9 7 2 126,573 20,511 106,062
1981 9 7 2 128,044 17,969 110,075
1982 8 6 2 129,497 15,743 113,754
1983 8 6 2 130,932 13,792 117,140
1984 8 6 2 132,351 12,083 120,268
1985 7 5 2 133,753 10,586 123,167
1986 7 5 2 135,139 9,274 125,865
1987 6 4 2 136,511 8,125 128,385
1988 6 4 2 137,867 7,118 130,749
1989 6 4 2 139,209 6,236 132,973
1990 6 4 2 140,537 5,464 135,074
1991 5 3 2 141,852 4,787 137,065
1992 5 3 2 143,153 4,194 138,960
1993 5 2 3 144,442 3,674 140,768
1994 5 2 3 145,719 3,219 142,500
1995 4 2 2 146,983 2,820 144,163
1996 4 1 3 148,236 2,470 145,765
1997 4 1 3 149,477 2,164 147,313
1998 4 0 4 150,707 1,896 148,811
1999 3 0 3 151,927 1,661 150,266
2000 3 0 3 153,136 1,455 151,680
2001 3 0 3 154,335 1,275 153,059
2002 3 0 3 155,523 1,117 154,406
2003 3 0 3 156,702 979 155,723

 © Applied Economics

These are impressive figures. Lives are saved and disease is averted due to the MMR vaccination. Conversely with no vaccine induced protection from measles lives are lost, disease is spread and disability and suffering ensues. There can be few better examples as to the efficacy of mass immunisation, or indeed, the danger of the anti-vaccine lobby.

Consulting reputable publications we can see that measles is indeed a potentially very serious disease. Health authorities have never denied that vaccination carries a negligible risk. The anti-vaccine lobby is apt to demand vaccines be both 100% effective and 100% safe. As a public we are rather poor at assessing risk-benefit and thus many fall prey to the anti-vaccine slogans and lies.

Encephalitis is a one in a million plus risk as a consequence of measles vaccination. As a consequence of measles it is a one in a thousand risk. In short those who argue “natural immunity” is best subject their children to the risk of brain damage or death at a rate 1,000 times greater than had they chosen MMR. For every ten who contract encephalitis one will die and four will be permanently brain damaged. Around one third of those infected will develop complications that will likely require hospitalisation.

Depending on age, one child dies for every 2,500 – 5,000 cases of measles.

MMR vs infection

© The Encephalitis Society – Access full document here

Recently the vaccine-autism zombie had some life breathed into it. Fortunately it turns out that just as Wakefield perpetrated his original – and ongoing – fraud for money, the author of the latest scam is a member of a group erroneously believing vaccines cause autism and will stop at nothing to mislead the public to this same misconception. The “paper” was withdrawn in one month. A statement has been published by Dr. William Thompson who was deceived into becomming a “whistleblower”.

He was recorded against his will and it appears the anti-vaccine author Brian Hooker had worked for months to get the pro-vaccine Thompson on record as sounding like a whistleblower.

And so it continues. This is indeed not a drill. We do have reasonably healthy rates of vaccination but the return of measles, varicella and other vaccine preventable diseases means there is no room for complacency.

Make an informed decision. Vaccination saves lives.

The history of measles

Australian Immunisation Handbook – 2013

MMR

Measles Fact Sheet – WA Health

NCIRS – events in MMR vaccination practice

What SAVN doesn’t want you to read, reviewed

Recently Brian Martin of Wollongong University penned a selective piece headed What SAVN doesn’t want you to read.

Selective in that material used and omitted leans strongly toward sustaining the primary claim of the article. Arguably deceptive and certainly erroneous in that a great deal of baseless extrapolation must occur from each example to contend SAVN wants certain material unread.

My name appears a couple of times, both in the body of the piece and an apparent standout in “Acknowledgements”.

I thank the many individuals who read drafts of this comment and offered valuable feedback, especially Paul Gallagher who helped clarify several points.

Brian asked if I’d like my input to be acknowledged and I agreed. Yet it’s important I stress that input was not in support of the article’s contention but against it. As it stands readers may assume the opposite. The item which drew most comment from me is “March 2014: “Biased reporting”. It refers to a “lengthy critique” by Martin of an article by Rick Morton.

The article revealed that Wollongong University paid $3,000 for anti-vaccine lobbyist and PhD student of Martin to attend an overseas conference run by the frequently discredited OMICS group. The student/lobbyist/conspiracy theorist is Judy Wilyman. Wilyman presented what has been demonstrated to be flawed, offensive and misleading views contending that the HPV vaccine is not cost effective.

Australian information on sound cost effectiveness may be found here. Research finding positive or high cost effectiveness includes Chesson et al, 2008, Xian Wen Jin et al 2013 and Mark Jit et al 2014. Wilyman’s contention is false.

Meryl Dorey published Martin’s piece on her anti-vaccine conspiracy blog. Initially in What SAVN doesn’t want you to read Martin wrote under “Biased Reporting”;

Meryl Dorey wrote a blog about my critique; her blogs are scrutinised by some SAVNers, but I did not see any comments by them.

Actually Dorey didn’t write a critique but simply cut and pasted the first two paragraphs then linked to Martin’s full article. But that’s not the point. In 2012 Brian had sought comment before publishing “Online onslaught” and “Public mobbing”. I responded then, mentioning Dorey’s refusal to discuss or respond at a rational level. Weeks later I noted her selective censorship of comments to her blog and Facebook. This allows her to shape the tone of reader feedback and thus, mislead readers in general.

In this light one can see “onslaughts” and “mobbing” are the result of provocation by Dorey, who indeed revels in the opportunity to cry brutal persecution, hate speech and general woe. I was keen for Brian Martin to realise many of his concerns can only exist in the milieu Dorey constantly nurtures.

At one point Professor Martin replied;

As I’ve written before, there is a fundamental asymmetry in the encounter between the AVN and its opponents. SAVN and perhaps others are trying to shut down the AVN. In this context, I think it is unrealistic for those in SAVN to expect the AVN to open its columns to its opponents. As I think I asked before, can you give me an example of any advocate of a minority, fringe view opposed by a powerful establishment who, having come under heavy attack for years, is still willing to open their own organisation’s columns to their opponents? If you can give me a few examples, it might help me rethink my views.

Thus as Martin had conveyed he is both aware and supportive of Dorey censoring her blog it is impossible to suggest the absence of SAVN comments is evidence that SAVN has something to hide. There was quite some back and forth until Martin could see the point I was making. He then altered the text of the “Biased reporting” paragraph to that in the published draft.

Another aspect where I’m directly mentioned is in the paragraph headed, “September 2012: SAVN and conspiracy theories”. Martin refers to his paper Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning. At the time I wrote in response, Dealing with the Brian Martin dilemma. There’s only one published comment. That’s from Ken McLeod who referred to being asked to comment on another draft article by Brian Martin. I didn’t publish Martin’s reply as I predicted a response or responses to be biased and unhelpful.

I informed him of my reason for omitting his reply. Of course it wasn’t lost on me that as an academic who actively supported Dorey’s manipulative and deceptive censorship of posts and comments he should understand.

At 7:42 PM +1100 9/10/12, Paul Gallagher wrote:
Hi Brian,

Sorry for the delay.

As you may know Ken is the subject of unremitting attacks from Meryl Dorey and I would be unwilling to provide her with any more material.

I have forwarded Ken your reply and he has rejected your account.

I have weighed – and continue to seriously consider – whether to publish any of your content. Given the vast amount of material omitted about the AVN’s conduct and your defence of Ms. Dorey censoring critics and misinforming the public, I fear any content published would be biased.

Over our exchanges I have raised many issues pertinent to the AVN, yet none are accepted by yourself. Thus I am reticent to provide yet another platform for what is arguably intellectual dishonesty. This appears to be happening on Hank’s blog.

I remain keen for your input on AVN matters such as fraud, monetary scams, deleting of material, tormenting grieving parents, refusal to acknowledge recent TGA/CRP requests, or obsessing over claims of persecution, etc, etc.

In fact as an example the matter of the $180,000 in subscription fees taken for many as yet unseen magazines (a dupe still attracting professional advertisers), does beg acknowledgement or comment.

I’d be interested in how a “citizens group” can attract your interest and continually be presented as benign.

Omitted from Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning

In the same paragraph he also referred to Peter Tierney’s piece Of publication and sleights of hand. This was also in response to his piece on dilemmas in health campaigning. As you will see by following the link there are 42 responses, many from Professor Martin. His “September 2012: SAVN and conspiracy theories” paragraph initially concluded with a reference to Hanks post that he (Martin) was “winning the argument hands down” and thus the comment thread was terminated. The published version however offers;

My interpretation is that they terminated the interaction to prevent others from seeing their refusal to submit our views to review by experts.

“They”? The blog is under the control of Peter and only Peter. Perhaps assuming “they” control it and terminated it for a reason other than avoiding time wasting is insightful. Yet as I’d observed in the above correspondence I was worried about biased input, taking the place of genuine exchange and wasting time. As Hank more directly put it before terminating the thread: “Last warning. Piss or get off the pot.”

Another arguably ridiculous paragraph refers to the manufactured claims by Meryl Dorey that she is subject to serious death threats, abusive comments, false claims and is regularly sent pornography. Dorey has manufactured this from tepid insults almost six years old. Her desperation shines through in that Dorey published her “Dossier of attacks” in August 2012. Clearly she isn’t troubled by the material. The “dossier” was simply another scheme by Dorey to embellish the persecuted victim persona. The content of the “dossier” is rather pitiful compared to Dorey’s own insults.

Dorey’s narcissism shows as she likens herself to Charlotte Dawson, even quoting then police minister Michael Gallacher that (in Dawson’s case) there may be grounds for prosecution under 474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act. Dawson was subject to hundreds of vile and offensive tweets. Dorey has a couple that are years old. She would delight in receiving a genuine insult or threat.

On February 22nd this year Charlotte Dawson died by suicide. Dorey has not seen fit to edit or delete her offensive page which exploits this tragic series of events. As a social scientist this is a dynamic Professor Martin should be pursuing. Instead he notes of the “dossier”;

There was an initial flurry of criticism of the dossier by SAVNers, but subsequently they seem to have largely ignored it. It is reasonable to suggest that SAVNers are not keen to draw attention to their own methods of attack.

Given these are not methods of attack employed by SAVN, but lies and misrepresentation on the part of Dorey why would anybody wish to engage continually on her obsessive hatred of critics? Two individuals have been removed from SAVN for their conduct. One admitted sending porn circa early 2010. Another had called Dorey’s home and left insulting messages. These events and the standard expected on the SAVN Facebook page and elsewhere (regardless of topic) were intentionally publicised at the time.

Dorey’s obsession with casting those who hold her to account as dangerous, and seeking to gag critics extended to taking out Apprehended Violence Orders. This was all quite jolly but somewhat spoiled by Dorey publically taunting the subjects she concomitantly insisted posed a threat of violence.

Essentially Martin’s claim that It is reasonable to suggest that SAVNers are not keen to draw attention to their own methods of attack, is without merit. The purpose of SAVN is stated clearly on the Facebook page Stop The Australian (Anti)Vaccination Network. Whilst “exposing [AVsN] lies, their endemic corruption and their fraudulent practices.” is mentioned as a purpose of SAVN, nothing appears as part of the SAVN mission that precludes obsessing over this unique aspect of Dorey manufacturing the impression she is unjustly persecuted.

The so-called dossier includes Complaints to Government Bodies as a mode of “attack”. It really goes without saying that complaints follow the strict and legal guidelines laid down, reflecting the reality that Dorey is accountable for and guilty of many breaches of public health legislation, corporate and financial responsibility and based on their own disseminated material is the subject of a NSW Health Care Complaints Commission warning.

Put succinctly this absurd and irrelevant “dossier” dragged together by a narcissist is utter rubbish. Fiction. There’s no evidence to mount a serious critique of vaccination schedules or vaccines themselves and more appropriately the arguments have all been debunked. Faced with this reality antivaccinationists often fall back to generating outrage and disgust in the minds of their readers. No real cognition is needed but the pseudoscientist appears somehow correct.

Indeed Dorey made much of this in December 2010 via Death threats and suppression of vaccine truth in Australia, hosted by another bastion of lies and quackery; International Medical Council on Vaccination. Attempting to participate saw SAVN banned and disconnected from the webinar. Ample commentary and deconstruction occurred at this time.

It is not at all “reasonable to suggest SAVNers are not keen to draw attention to their own methods of attack”.

Under “April 2014: Medical Observer”, Professor Martin draws attention to a critique of Patrick Stokes’ article No, you’re not entitled to your opinion. Stokes’ piece has been exceptionally well received. The article provokes thought about the consequences of not not just giving respect to another’s right to hold opinions, but of treating certain opinions as fact and acting as if they were truth. Stokes presents a crisp example of very poor thinking on the part of Meryl Dorey.

Dorey “reasoned” that if Dr. Bob Brown can comment on nuclear power she can seriously comment on vaccination. Brown of course isn’t a nuclear physicist. Dorey doesn’t see what having a medical background has to do with (immunology). Dorey is equipped with the full knowledge Andrew Wakefield was struck from the UK medical registrar for his fraudulent paper seeking a link between MMR and “autistic enterocolitis”, and his callous disregard for the disabled children he exploited. She is aware that the paper was retracted by The Lancet.

The Essential Baby article cited by Stokes also includes;

Did the Wakefield case cause any doubt in her mind about his research? “No, not at all,” she says. “I knew he was being scapegoated, because there is so much money involved in vaccination.”

You can see where Stokes is going and the vital importance of affording serious consideration to understanding the when, why and how certain opinions cannot be dismissed as polite entitlement. The case for denying Dorey (and many others for that matter) the right to be taken seriously is strong. Arrogant, intellectual disregard should be considered reason for forfeiture. Although Dorey mentions Ken McLeod’s 2009 complaint to the NSW HCCC in her “dossier of attacks”, we should now turn our attention to her 2009 HCCC reply (pp.5-7) addressing McLeod’s challenge to AVN free speech which may harm or maim innocents.

Citing High Court rulings Dorey argues that activity of the (then) Australian Vaccination Network is akin to;

…the right to unfettered communication and discussion of all matters relating to government and public policy

Freedom of communication on matters of government and politics has been determined by the High Court as being an indispensable incident of the system of representative government that the Constitution creates…. This freedom of communication and discussion is protected against the exercise of federal and state legislative and executive power and extends to all those who participate in ʻpoliticalʼ discussion (such as the AVN) and therefore is not limited only to electors and elected.

… The High Court has extended this freedom of communication on matters of government and politics extends to all non-verbal conduct [Citation], which would include content on the AVN website and all published materials of the AVN which is the subject of this complaint from Mr McLeod.

In this case the reasoning as to why Dorey is not entitled to her opinion is manifest.

Professor Martin refers to an article penned by Neil Bramwell 18 months after Stokes’ The Conversation article. It mentions vaccination and dedicates a few lines to Patrick Stokes. Entitled Not qualified to speak out? Martin’s concern appears to be that SAVN has not given due attention to Bramwell’s piece. Why?

I think the main reason is that the article is so balanced, presenting various perspectives, not just ones favoured by SAVN.

Two other items draw Martin’s attention. SAVN did not respond publically to his article On the suppression of vaccination dissent. The piece includes a dozen paragraphs under the heading A high-profile researcher. That researcher? Andrew Wakefield. Yep. Taking up the lions share in an article on suppression of dissent. Yes, dissent. Not fraud and deception as he is guilty of.

The other name in this piece by Professor Martin is Gary Goldman. Goldman – known for being anti-varicella vaccination – is the founder and president of that appalling anti-vaccine mess of scam and quackery, Medical Veritas international. His abuse of VAERS is almost legendary. Orac has written about him here and here. Also mentioned in this paragraph is Dr. Jane Donegan, antivaccinationist who was charged (unsuccessfully) with scientific misconduct in 2007.

She is also a hero on the pages of another vaccine conspiracy blog, Child Health Safety. This hive of conspiracy, skepgoating and nonsense has been kind enough to publish Martin’s very same article we’re examining today, What SAVN doesn’t want you to read.

Next is our “citizen campaigner”. Without evidence Martin accepts the probably bogus claim of her son suffering vaccine “reactions”. It’s known he suffered inconsolable crying after whole-cell pertussis vaccination. The others Dorey fabricated. Her section includes a list of SAVN evils, suggesting by implication Dorey is mobbed and attacked.

Is Brian Martin seriously suggesting SAVN has something to hide regarding the claims of Andrew Wakefield, Gary Goldman and Meryl Dorey? Apparently so. The likelihood of this being true deserves no comment.

Which brings us to the final piece on two articles authored and co-authored by Professor Martin. In March 2012 Martin attacked SAVN in both Online onslaught and Public mobbing. These describe criticism of Meryl Dorey and the then Australian Vaccination Network by SAVN. Whilst Dorey is indeed challenged by SAVN it is impossible to seriously suggest she is a victim of onslaughts or mobbing when she refuses to engage in discourse and censors online content to present false impression. One would expect better of Professor Martin.

More so Martin had in 2012 sought input from members of SAVN. Indeed I have referred to such exchanges above wherein he makes no attempt to hide the fact Dorey is censoring material. Rather he supports this conduct. In fact by then members of SAVN were arguably exhausted with the insistence of Professor Martin to defend the intellectually dishonest conduct of Meryl Dorey.

In March 2012 Brian Martin wrote to me:

On 26/03/2012, at 9:42 AM, Brian Martin wrote:

Hi Paul,

I’ve written a couple of new articles about the vaccination debate, and would welcome your comments. They are “Online onslaught” and “Public mobbing” and are available at http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/preprints/.

Regards,
Brian

Brian Martin
Arts Faculty
University of Wollongong, NSW 2522

I replied;

On 26/03/2012, at 8:09 PM, Paul Gallagher wrote:

Hi Brian,

I’ll aim to read more in detail but for now would simply note Meryl’s refusal to discuss or reciprocate on a rational level.

Usually when errors or problems are demonstrated some reply is forthcoming. You may be interested in a couple of topics I’ve sent to Meryl via email to no avail:

Pertussis;

http://luckylosing.com/2012/01/04/my-personal-request-of-meryl-dorey/#personalrequestpertussis

Autism;

http://luckylosing.com/2012/01/06/vaccine-induced-autism-how-meryl-dorey-misled-her-woodford-audience/

Also:

Reflections on the “skeptic involvement” and “free speech” myths. Considering reluctance to discourse the perpetual claim of bullying and oppression is a little tiring:

http://luckylosing.com/2011/12/22/are-meryl-doreys-critics-really-against-free-speech/

http://luckylosing.com/2012/01/23/meryl-dorey-claims-that-australian-skeptics-suppress-free-speech-why/

Finally her misrepresentation of the court judgement continues. Certiorari was not granted, yet as recently as last Friday on “Fair Dinkum Radio” Meryl claimed the HCCC ruling had been wiped (not so) and the OLGR admitted to using only HCCC material.

It seems this is an attempt to avoid discussing the 23 breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 and breaches of The Charitable Trusts Act 1993.

Regards,

Paul Gallagher
paulgall@westnet.com.au
=====================

Yet in reference to “Online onslaught” and “Public mobbing” Martin fails to mention any exchanges with SAVN prior to publication. He maintains “to my great surprise, there was hardly any response.” And that “it was the first indication of an emerging pattern of not responding to contributions that are well written and that SAVNers do not want others – including their supporters – to read.”

Perhaps in truth it reflects the poor quality of material which seeks to defend evidence denial behind the veil of “scientific dissent”. Certainly Professor Martin was simply ignoring the fact that perfectly rational material was being sent to Meryl Dorey. She was choosing to ignore this and instead both were presenting the highly biased claim that Dorey was subject to “attacks” and “mobbing”.

It is likely members of SAVN were both wary of being manipulated and quite rightfully ignoring Brian Martin’s intellectual dishonesty. Also at these times Martin was asked how he justified involvement with a cruel, callous and dishonest individual like Dorey. No reply or indeed acknowledgement was forthcoming.

Martin has offered no critical reasoning for his claim. Simply correlating the odd absence of comment around the time that suits him seems good enough. He’s ignored confounding variables and failed to reference or justify when there was indeed SAVN comment.

Professor Martin might like to explain if he accepts and defends Dorey censoring material, does he seriously still contend there is a “fundamental asymmetry in the encounter between the AVN and its opponents.” Looking at this article it’s difficult to comprehend the extent of Dorey’s manipulation by censorship. It appears to me the only asymmetry is Dorey crying her disdain for censorship yet proceeding to engage it excessively and dishonestly.

Ultimately it appears that What SAVN doesn’t want you to read by Professor Brian Martin is a dishonest article.

  •  For now it’s best to remember how deceitful and dangerous this anti-vaccine group is.

HCCC warning with WmarkFrom The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission – April 30th 2014

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

The importance of relative risk in understanding vaccine effectiveness

A while back I noticed that Greg Beattie was deceiving his readers about pertussis vaccine efficacy by misrepresenting NNDSS data.

Yes, the same Beattie with the bogus claim that vaccines did not reduce infectious diseases. He dresses this up with misleading graphs comparing mortality from vaccine preventable disease to the introduction of X vaccine. These graphs are also bogus in that he omits the impact of vaccine introduction. The stunning success of the vaccine itself and the elimination of infection is always absent from his peculiar artwork.

Beattie’s claim back in 2012 was that the pertussis vaccine failed because high numbers of notifications had been vaccinated against pertussis. This is thunderously misleading in that it’s at the same level as dismissing seat belt safety because most fatalities on our roads involve seat belt wearing occupants. He also avoided explaining all reasons as to why notifications were high. Increased awareness, testing and follow up, pockets of low vaccination driving an epidemic, low booster uptake.

You can check the post here to follow my review of the same data table Beattie used. But it’s pretty simple. By 2011 close to 95% of 0-4 year olds were fully vaccinated by age 2 [NCIRS]. Using the table provided it turns out those not fully vaccinated made up 27.2% of notified infections. Fully vaccinated notifications equal 56.7%.

Relatively speaking a child fully vaccinated against pertussis has a notably reduced chance of being infected. Conversely, the small number who are not fully vaccinated have a frightfully high chance of being infected. To be sure, if 56.7% of notifications collected over 2008 – 2011 are from fully vaccinated children one can argue the vaccine could (and needs to be) more effective. But when the 5% who are not fully vaccinated make up 27.2% of infections, then the claim the vaccine is not effective is patently absurd. A dangerous and irresponsible lie.

Basically this is a story of relative risk being falsely presented as absolute risk. Choose some data and omit other data and the claim looks sound. But the post itself is limited in examining Vaccine Effectiveness vs Relative Risk (Risk Ratio – see screenshot). Understanding related and relative data sets is crucial in grasping how vaccine efficacy can be misrepresented. Regrettably many falsehoods peddled by the anti-vaccine lobby stem from such misrepresentation.

Fortunately an excellent piece addressing this was recently published on The LymphoSite by kill3rtcell. Headed But most of the people who got the disease were vaccinated for it! the post comprehensively addresses vaccine effectiveness, risk ratios and even provides interactive calculators. These crunch values of vaccine effectiveness, vaccination rates and resultant cases in the unvaccinated or vaccinated.

Do head over and read what is an excellent contribution to the deconstruction of misinformation peddled by antivaccinationists.

The screenshot below helps explain what this post accomplishes.

relative risk

© kill3rtcell – The LymphoSite

——————

Parrot Pareidolia?

You may swear this parrot was a female model.

And indeed be right.

Or if you would swear this female model was a parrot…

Pareidolia parrot

Then enjoy the brilliant work of Italian body painting artist, Johannes Stoetter.

Video at YouTube here.

CIA to stop exploiting vaccination programmes

In the first quarter of 2011 Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi began a hepatitis B vaccination programme in and around one of the poorer cities in Hazara in Northeastern Pakistan.

Abbottabad is similar to less fortunate Pakistani cities struggling with poverty and insufficient access to health services. Employed by the government and considered the top medic in the Khyber tribal area, Dr. Afridi’s vaccination programme was typical of such immunisation initiatives.

shakil afridi

Dr. Shakil Afridi

However what is now well known is that Dr. Afridi had been recruited by the CIA. Provided with only minimal information from CIA operative “Peter”, he was to use the vaccination programme as cover for gathering blood samples from an Abbottabad compound.

The CIA believed Osama bin Laden may be hiding in the compound and were after a DNA sample from children to compare with his late sister. Dr. Afridi had two female staff working with him on the programme. One was able to access the compound and gather blood samples. Afridi and his staff had no idea who the CIA were targetting.

Ultimately the scheme failed and did not lead to the success of the USA confirming this was bin Laden’s hideout.

What is known is that the CIA’s use of this and other vaccination programmes has had a lasting negative effect on their implementation and success. As a result the control of dangerous diseases including polio, has likely been set back years.

Already regarded with suspicion in developing Islamic nations, Western backed and funded vaccine programmes are subject to anti-vaccination propaganda. Conspiracies linking polio vaccination to deliberate Western plots to spread HIV/AIDS or cause sterility have circulated for years. The incorrect claim that the vaccine is “unclean” under Islamic law has been thankfully countered by the global Islamic Advisory Group on polio.

Pakistan’s polio vaccination programmes have suffered significantly from the plot involving Dr. Afridi. The Pakistani Taliban have placed a “ban” on polio vaccine programmes. 350,000 children have missed out on polio vaccination and access to other health care. A spike in polio infection has seen 66 children diagnosed to date this year compared to a total of 14 for the whole of 2013.

60 health workers have been killed over the past three years due to enforcement of this ban by violent militant groups. Infection has spread across the border to Afghanistan.

On May 5th this year the World Health Organisation announced polio had “re-emerged as a public health emergency”. Some critics have argued 30 years of work to control the virus “could unravel”. The WHO is calling for all children in affected countries to be vaccinated or revaccinated, whilst anyone travelling from these countries should also be revaccinated, and carry proof of this with them.

A few days ago the CIA announced an end to the exploitation of vaccination programmes.

Lisa Monaco, a senior counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to President Obama, wrote in a letter addressed to the leaders of several prominent public health schools that the CIA would not use immunisation programs – or workers – as a means to collect intelligence. Such programs have prompted attacks on medical workers in Pakistan.

“The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers,” Monaco wrote in the letter, which was first obtained by Yahoo News.

“Similarly, the agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs. This CIA policy applies worldwide and to US and non-US persons alike.”

Former CIA spy Micheal Scheuer, who was a senior adviser to the CIA’s bin Laden unit has criticised the decision. Speaking to the BBC he argued any tool that got the job done is justified.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: If it saves Americans it justifies the end. That’s what the agencies and business want.

BBC INTERVIEWER: Even though potentially thousands of people could die as a result of the spread now of polio?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, you know, stuff happens, Sir.

WILL OCKENDEN: He says the use of vaccination programs by the CIA paid off in the hunt for and execution of Osama bin Laden.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Without a doubt. It led directly to the killing of Osama bin Laden. It was too late in the war to make much of a difference but as long as he was alive he was involved in planning attacks against the United States and Britain and some of our other allies. It was very much worth the cost.

You can catch the full ABC News audio below, or download the mp3 file here.

Leaving the CIA behind it’s worth noting that logistical problems associated with conflict in Syria and the inexplicable apathy of the Syrian government have seen the resurgence of polio, measles and meningitis. In April it was reported polio had spread from Syria to Iraq.

In Somalia Al Shabaab had banned 16 humanitarian agencies by late 2011. Consequently 300,000 children went unvaccinated for three years. This led to a 2013 outbreak in polio, including 194 cases of paralysis and a spread to Ethiopia and Kenya. Existing Aid programmes managed to control this spread within six months. Large scale measles infection has also proven a problem across the Horn of Africa.

Boku Harem has attacked health facilities responsible for vaccination programmes in Nigeria. Ten polio workers were killed in February of 2013.

According to an editorial just published in Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper, ten countries currently report that polio is in circulation.

The action of the CIA in Pakistan (and apparently elsewhere) has been monumentally reckless. The consequent scattering of polio vaccination reduction, alongside global conflict has led to a global emergency.

The lesson then for the developed world is clear. Now, more than ever, there is no excuse for parents to question the validity of any vaccination.

Particularly polio.

 

  • Below Professor Michael Toole, Deputy Director of Melbourne’s Burnet Institute discusses the problems facing some Islamic nations on ABC 24 (May 24th 2014).

Radical Islam Opposition To Polio Vaccination

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