Daily Archives: July 25, 2009

Mass flu vaccination would be madness

“Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible.”

– Bertrand Russell, “The Impact of Science on Society”, 1953, pg 49-50

We could expect hundreds of people to get GBS, some of whom will suffer permanent paralysis or die.

London Times | Jul 22, 2009

The current threat of swine flu doesn’t justify a gamble on a vaccine that has not been fully testedRichard Halvorsen

A mass vaccination programme moves ever closer. Orders have been placed; priority groups identified. There will be enough swine flu vaccine to inoculate the entire population, starting with NHS staff, in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease and save lives.

Is all this really necessary? To start with, swine flu is far milder than we first feared, so the case for vaccinating millions of healthy adults against a disease that is no more unpleasant than a bad cold is questionable. There is a stronger argument for vaccinating those at greater risk, such as those with lung, heart or kidney disease, those with suppressed immune systems (such as those on cancer treatment), pregnant women and children under 5 — but only if the vaccine works and is safe. But there are serious doubts about this.

Related

Children who have flu jab ‘three times more likely to need hospital care’
Children, elderly and black people preyed on by vaccine companies for first H1N1 “clinical” trials in Rochester, New York
World Health Organization moves forward in secrecy to accomplish forced vaccination and population agenda
Bioweapons, Dangerous Vaccines, and Threats of a Global Pandemic
Corporate Swine Project Significant Profits for Toxic Flu Vaccines

Rushing the vaccine on to the market means we will have no idea how effective it is, although we do have a body of research on the effectiveness of flu vaccines in general, which gives some idea of what we might expect from the swine flu vaccine. Provided that we have matched the vaccine well with the virus, it is likely to be up to 80 per cent effective in healthy adults, the group at least risk from the virus.

A number of trials have looked at the effect of flu vaccination on children’s asthma and have failed to demonstrate any benefit; one trial even suggested that the vaccine made asthma worse. There is no good evidence that the vaccine helps those with chronic health problems or pregnant women. However, we do know that the immunisation offers no more than a modest benefit in the elderly; indeed, the effectiveness of the vaccine is known to decrease sharply after 70 years of age.

The first vaccines are expected to arrive in the UK by the end of next month. It will be some weeks later before they have gone through the minimal safety testing necessary to consider offering them to the general population. Realistically, it is unlikely that sufficient doses will arrive to vaccinate substantial numbers until the end of the year.

Even putting aside the daunting logistical problems of administering millions — or even tens of millions — of vaccines over a short period of time (everyone needs two doses), it is quite possible that most of the population will have come across the virus by then and developed natural immunity (always stronger and longer-lasting than vaccine-derived immunity) and so be in no need of the vaccine.

Perhaps the biggest concern is the speed at which the vaccine is being rushed out. Research for my book, The Truth about Vaccines, taught me how vaccines are increasingly being released on to the market with little testing of either safety or effectiveness, against infections that are rarely the threat that the Department of Health or pharmaceutical companies (who are finding the vaccine business an increasingly lucrative market) claim.

To be properly tested for safety a vaccine needs to be given to tens of thousands of people and followed up for several months to detect uncommon but serious side-effects. This is clearly not going to happen with the swine flu vaccine, which is being fast-tracked at unprecedented speed. The little safety testing that does occur is likely to be in healthy people, and not those with health problems who are in greatest need of the vaccine, but probably also at greatest risk from side-effects.

We have experience of mass vaccination against swine flu from which lessons should be learnt. In America in 1976 a vaccine was offered to the whole population to prevent the spread of an epidemic of swine flu. Millions were rapidly immunised, but the vaccination campaign was stopped after a rise in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) among recipients of the vaccine. GBS is an autoimmune disorder that causes paralysis of the arms or legs or, rarely, the whole body; the sufferer usually makes a complete recovery, but some suffer permanent paralysis and a few die. Research later estimated that there was one case of GBS caused by every 100,000 swine flu vaccines given. If the current vaccine caused a similar rate of cases, then we could expect hundreds of people to get GBS, some of whom will suffer permanent paralysis or die.

Vaccinating a large proportion of the UK population with an “experimental” swine flu vaccine will be a huge gamble. It may save lives and, more likely, prevent healthy adults from having to take a few days off work. It may also cause serious side-effects and deaths. It is a gamble that the current threat of the virus does not justify.

There is a case for offering the vaccine to those at risk, but not without informing them of the uncertainty over the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. To vaccinate the whole population would be a huge and foolhardy experiment for which there is currently no scientific rationale.

Dr Richard Halvorsen is a Central London GP and medical director of BabyJabs, a children’s immunisation service. His book The Truth about Vaccines is published on August 7

All parents to sign ‘behaviour contracts’

All parents will be forced to sign “contracts” to ensure their children behave at school, the Government has announced.

Telegraph | Jul 22, 2009

By Graeme Paton

Pupils and their families will be required to agree to the deal – setting out minimum standards of behaviour and attendance – before the start of term. Contracts, known as Home School Agreements, will also establish parents’ responsibilities for the first time.

They face court action and possible fines of up to £1,000 for repeatedly breaking rules.

Bouncers hired by schools as ‘crowd control’The contracts will become compulsory in all English state schools under plans laid out in a Government White Paper.

Ministers suggested that “good” parents would be able to complain about other mothers and fathers who fail to ensure their children behave.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said the changes would help stop a single student disrupting the education of his or her classmates.

“If the large majority of parents are doing the right thing but a small minority do not engage you can have one lesson for 30 kids disrupted by one child,” he said.

“Every parent will have to, as part of the admissions process, say they take on board the obligations in the Home School Agreement, and every parent will be expected to reaffirm that every year.

“If other parents feel that the HSA is not being enforced against other parents they will be able to tell the local education authority.”

HSAs are already in widespread use. They are currently imposed on the parents of unruly children, forcing them to take responsibility for their behaviour.

But under new rules, all parents of children starting school for the first time will be required to sign them, the Government said.

It will set out rules on behaviour, attendance, school uniform and homework. Parents will have a duty to ensure children meet the tough code.

Ministers have already announced plans to toughen up the contracts.

Under the White Paper, parents may be hauled before the courts by local authorities if they repeatedly break the contract.

They can be served with civil “parenting orders” by magistrates’ courts, forcing mothers and fathers to attend parenting courses or counselling sessions and ensuring children are at home at night or kept clear of bad influences. Orders are backed by fines of up to £1,000.

The details of the contracts form part of the updated Youth Crime Action Plan, published on Wednesday by the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Mr Balls added: “Heads will be able to say to the recalcitrant parents, if you do not sign this or make sure they do the homework, or support discipline, then we will take that as evidence in the magistrates’ court.”

Agent Orange linked to heart disease, Parkinson’s

The findings add to a growing list of conditions that could be linked to the defoliants, including leukemia, prostate cancer, type II diabetes and birth defects in the children of the veterans exposed.

Reuters | Jul 24, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Agent Orange, used by U.S. forces to strip Vietnamese and Cambodian jungles during the Vietnam War, may raise the risk of heart disease and Parkinson’s disease, U.S. health advisers said on Friday.

But the evidence is only limited and far from definitive, the Institute of Medicine panel said.

“The report strongly recommends that studies examining the relationship between Parkinson’s incidence and exposures in the veteran population be performed,” the institute, an independent academy that guides federal policy, said in a statement.

The findings add to a growing list of conditions that could be linked to the defoliants, including leukemia, prostate cancer, type II diabetes and birth defects in the children of the veterans exposed.

The herbicides, nicknamed “Agent Orange” from the orange stripe on the barrels in which they were stored, include chemicals such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid.

Between 1962 and 1971, an estimated 20 million gallons (75 million liters) of these chemicals were used to strip Vietnam’s thick forests to make bombing easier.

Veterans exposed to the chemicals have complained for years about a variety of health problems, and in the late 1970s the government started to investigate them systematically. Each finding brings veterans one step closer to getting government-paid medical services for these conditions.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the dismissal of lawsuits by Vietnamese nationals and U.S. veterans against Dow Chemical Co, Monsanto Co and other chemical makers over the use of Agent Orange .

In 1984, seven chemical companies, including Dow and Monsanto, agreed to a $180 million settlement with veterans.

Vietnam Veterans to VA: Don’t Wait for Us to Die of Agent Orange Exposure

Vietnam Veterans of America to VA: Don’t Wait for Us to Die: Grant Association to Agent Orange Exposure for Parkinson’s, Heart Disease, Hypertension

PRNewswire-USNewswire | Jul 24, 2009

WASHINGTON – After reviewing scientific studies of the past few years, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has determined there is “limited or suggestive evidence” of an association between Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease with exposure to Agent Orange.

“We thank the IOM for their efforts and applaud them for their conclusions,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). “Now, we urge the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to immediately make Vietnam veterans with either of these conditions eligible for disability compensation as well as health care, and we will petition him to do precisely this.

“We also urge the Secretary to reconsider hypertension, which the IOM, in its 2006 report concerning Vietnam veterans and Agent Orange, also found elevated evidence of an association,” Rowan said.

“We do believe that the IOM must focus on what we consider to be the very real association between a veteran’s exposure while serving in Southeast Asia and the birth defects, learning disabilities, and cancers, not only in his children but in his grandchildren as well,” Rowan said. “We continue to get far too many calls from the children of veterans who wonder if their father’s experiences in Vietnam — and along the demilitarized zone in Korea in 1968 and 1969 — has any connection with their health issues and now those of their children.

“Let’s not wait until we die, and for our children to be forgotten,” Rowan said. “The time for real action is now.”

China begins lifting strict one-child policy

China has taken the first step towards ending its controversial one-child policy by encouraging urban couples in Shanghai to have two children.

Telegraph | Jul 24, 2009

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai

The easing of restrictions comes in response to concern about economic problems caused by the country’s ageing population.

Shanghai is actively promoting the two-child policy as China tries to defuse a demographic time bomb caused by a shortage of young workers after 30 years of tough population growth restrictions.

China’s one-child policy undermined by the richThe policy shift in the large coastal city marks the first time since 1979 that officials have actively encouraged parents to have more children.

If they are both single children themselves, husbands and wives in Shanghai are allowed to have two children.

While they have technically been allowed to do so before, the couples are now the target of a city-wide campaign to persuade them to make use of their extra allowance.

They will receive home visits and leaflets to promote the benefits of a second child.

The city government is worried about the rapidly rising number of elderly people and the resulting burden and drag on the Chinese economy.

“We advocate eligible couples to have two kids because it can help reduce the proportion of ageing people and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future,” said Xie Lingli, the head of Shanghai’s family planning commission, to the China Daily newspaper.
The policy shift will prove popular. A recent survey released by the Shanghai family planning commission showed that more than half of 4,800 respondents, aged between 20 and 30, said would like a second child if the one-child policy was eased.

China’s one-child policy was originally designed to make sure the huge country’s population remained at a manageable size, given the country’s relatively low water, energy and food resources.

Experts predicted earlier this week that there will be zero growth in China’s population of 1.3 billion people by 2030.

The US-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies warned in April that mainland China will have more than 438 million people older than 60 by 2050, with more than 100 million aged 80 and above.

The country will then have a population ratio of 1.6 working-age adults to support every person aged 60 and above, as compared with 7.7 in 1975.

Shanghai’s over-60 population already numbers more than three million, or more than one-fifth of residents. But that proportion is expected to rise to around one-third by 2020.

In China, the number of citizens over 65 is forecast to more than treble from 106 million today to 329 million by 2040. This will hugely increase the cost of pensions and impose a major constraint on the future growth of China’s economy.

Some economists have predicted that the stellar growth rates which have buoyed China’s economy will become impossible with so many people set to leave the working population.

The demographic crisis has been compounded by government population policy which is estimated to have resulted in the birth of 400 million fewer people.

Population forecasts have shown that if the current one-child policy continues China’s children of today, at the time of marriage in 20 years, could face the task of taking care of four parents and as many as eight grandparents.

At last week’s Venice Biennale, Chinese artist Xing Xin has locked himself in a iron box for 49 days to protest at the one child policy which has long been criticised on human rights grounds.

China relaxes one-child rule to beat pension crisis

Independent | Jul 25,  2009

By Clifford Coonan in Hong Kong

Fears that an ageing population could be left unable to support itself mean that China’s biggest city and financial centre, Shanghai, is overhauling the decades-old One Child Policy and encouraging couples to have a second baby.

Many couples will be excluded from the new diktat, but if both parents were an only child, like most newly-weds in the city, they will be encouraged to conceive again, in an effort to ensure that the city’s workforce is not outnumbered by its pensioners.

The rules are already in place, but so far not enough families have taken advantage of the exception. As a result, family planning authorities are going on the offensive, putting flyers under doors and making home visits to make the case for a second baby.

“We advocate eligible couples to have two children because it can help reduce the proportion of ageing people and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future,” Xie Lingli, head of the city’s Family Planning Commission, told the China Daily.

Under the one-child policy, imposed in 1979 as a way of reining in population growth, most families were limited to one child.

The spectre of an ageing population hangs heavy over Shanghai, where the proportion of working adults to retirees is high and threatens a major burden. By 2050 China will have more than 438 million people over 60, with more than 100 million of them 80 and above. There will be just 1.6 working-age adults to support every person aged 60 and above, compared with 7.7 in 1975.