vaccination research/reading

post by freyley · 2014-10-27T17:20:09.408Z · score: 0 (11 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 18 comments

Vaccination is probably one of the hardest topics to have a rational discussion about. I have some reason to believe that the author of http://whyarethingsthisway.com/2014/10/23/the-cdc-and-cargo-cult-science/ is someone interested in looking for the truth, not winning a side - at the very least, I'd like to help him when he says this:

I genuinely don’t want to do Cargo Cult Science so if anybody reading this knows of any citations to studies looking at the long term effects of vaccines and finding them benign or beneficial, please, be sure to post them in the comments.

 

I'm getting started on reading the actual papers, but I'm hoping this finds someone who's already done the work and wants to go post it on his site, or if not, someone else who's interested in looking through papers with me - I do better at this kind of work with social support. 

18 comments

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comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-10-28T04:23:10.907Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As indicated below, I took a look at some of the papers linked in the document above. A number of them have legitimate interesting findings, but often not the findings the person linking them thinks they have.

There's a first block of papers linked with the assertion that adjuvants and antigen injection causes brain damage. Innate immune system stuff tends to go over my head compared to adaptive immune system stuff, unfortunately. But I noted that the injections given to rats to induce immune reactions (lipopolysaccharide to mimic bacterial infection, and a second mimic of viral DNA) were given in a way that mimicked an acute systemic infection of bacteria or virus. Although these acute challenges did affect behavior later in life in mice, I find it odd that simulating bacterial or viral infection would be used as an argument about vaccination. I have a hard time addressing the last paper on vaccine adjuvants increasing autoimmune reactions except to note that the experiment was in the context of 'hyperdoses' of tetanus vaccine antigen much much higher than you would ever give a person after a week of pretreatment with immune-sensitizing chemicals, and I'm not sure that you can use this in context.

There's another paper linked with the assertion that "The literature also includes randomized placebo test of a flu vaccine in children, followed by following their health for a sustained period. The vaccinees got 4 times as many respiratory illnesses as the recipients of placebo." This is an extremely incomplete examination of the paper. It is true that those who received the flu vaccine did report much higher rates of non-flu respiratory illnesses (think colds) than those that were unvaccinated. However, the authors note that the study design was based on self-reporting and that those who got the flu might be less likely to report less-severe diseases in a study designed to study the efficacy of the flu vaccine. Much more importantly, they note that the vast majority of excess colds were reported in a window about a month after the peak of the flu season the year that the study took place, and suggest that it is due to a phenomenon called 'viral interference' known from the days of the live polio vaccine. It turns out that when you get a viral infection and recover, the part of your body that just recovered from infection is very resistant to other unrelated viruses for 2 weeks to a month afterwards due to a temporary boost to the innate immune system that is unsustainable and goes away. It also occurs for a shorter period after live-virus vaccines like the flu-mist nasal spray, or the live polio vaccine. It is suggested that children that do not get the flu in a given year due to a dead-virus vaccine therefore do not have a month of protection from colds at the height of cold-and-flu season and show more colds as a result.

Lastly of what I had time to look at, there's a clutch of papers linked with the assertion that "Other studies, both human and animal, report that flu vaccines can damage the immune system." I have to say that this, too, is a major misinterpretation that sadly hides some interesting and potentially useful information from view. These papers do indeed find that children who are repeatedly vaccinated against the flu show lower levels of memory T-cells adapted against the influenza virus, and that their reactions are more strain-specific with few broad-spectrum cross-strain anti-influenza antibodies developing. This is not a 'damaged immune system' though - this is just the result of the way the adaptive immune system works. They were not measuring some abstract 'immune system function', they were measuring the reactivity of the immune system to a particular suite of antigens found specifically in flu viruses which have to be produced by an adaptive response, they aren't there from the get-go. When you get sick, your immune system gets a good look at a whole functioning virus for a long time and builds a very strong reaction against it, most of which regresses leaving memory cells behind. The immune reaction to a vaccine is much smaller than that against a live virus, and so leaves behind a smaller memory cell footprint - but since the vaccine DOES empirically reduce the risk of developing the flu, that reaction is obviously still enough to head off an infection or reduce its severity a lot of the time.

Of much more interest is the finding that dead-virus vaccines generate a few specific antibodies and reactive T cell clones that are very strain-specific while actual illness generates a wide variety which tend to be at least slightly cross-reactive across strains, and that early vaccination reduces the total amount of cross-reactive antibodies made later. This makes sense because again, as said above, a smaller reaction is generated and only the most immunogenic things will be reacted against. The fact that smaller amounts of crossreactivity are seen later makes sense in the light of a phenomenon known as 'original antigenic sin' - once you generate an immune reaction against something, your immune system is kind of corralled into being biased towards replicating that response later rather than generating a new better response because the memory cells which can multiply up to react outnumber the new lymphocytes that can start novel reactions from single cells. If your first few exposures to flu antigens result in strain-specific antibodies, they might provide less innate protection against a novel strain than a more broad-spectrum initial response that came from a live virus.

This is actually interesting. The dead vaccines might be locking people who get them repeatedly from a very early age into a somewhat more limited set of reactions against the virus. It might suggest that a live attanuated virus vaccination (like Flu mist) or one or two actual contractions of the disease at some point is preferable to build some crossreactive immunity early in childhood to decrease the severity of future contractions, if the risk of not always having a good specific seasonal vaccine on hand for some very novel pandemic strain is deemed high enough. The vaccine is always better to get for the strain in a given year, but might affect reaction to future novel strains. I hereby quote from the paper:

"Thus, annual vaccination against influenza is effective but may have potential drawbacks that have previously been underappreciated and that are also a matter of debate (7, 22, 37). By no means do we suggest halting annual vaccination of children, especially those at high risk for complications, such as CF patients. A number of studies have demonstrated that annual vaccination reduces the morbidity and mortality caused by seasonal influenza in children and is (cost-)effective (23, 34–36). However, long-term annual vaccination using inactivated vaccines may hamper the induction of cross-reactive CD8+ T cell responses by natural infections and thus may affect the induction of heterosubtypic immunity. This may render young children who have not previously been infected with an influenza virus more susceptible to infection with a pandemic influenza virus of a novel subtype. Therefore, we argue for the development and use of vaccines that could induce broadly protective immune responses in children. For example, it has been demonstrated that live attenuated influenza vaccines induce virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses (21, 23a). In addition, it has been demonstrated that live attenuated influenza vaccines are also effective against drift variants in children (1, 2, 19). The development of broadly protective vaccines has been on the research agenda for some time, and progress has been made (13, 17, 38, 43). Young children, whether they are at high risk for influenza-associated complications or not, may especially benefit the most from these vaccines."

I did not get a chance to look further.

EDIT: Just so everyone knows, immunology is NOT my specialty, by any stretch. I'm much more a very basic metabolism and eukaryotic cell biology guy, usually working in yeast. I've just kind of always found the adaptive immune system fascinating because of the way it uses evolution with a single organism to do what it does.

comment by BarbaraB · 2014-10-30T14:30:35.232Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that the somewhat balanced upsides and downsides of flu-shots are recognised. In Slovakia, I perceive almost no pressure, at least to adult me, to get this particular type of vaccination. Although now that I am googling it, my insurance will cover the shot, should I want it, and my insurance company actually does recommend it for my demographic. It is compulsory only in some specific situations, such as in the homes for the elderly. On the other hand, the importance of vaccinating children against polio etc. is emphasized a lot, much, much more than flu.

comment by NatPhilosopher · 2015-01-17T17:18:47.655Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you should be careful to keep separate your theories or the explanations of "experts" from what is demonstrated. If you rely on authority, you are destined to propagate crowd think.

Its a fact that the only RPC study I know of that injected a vaccine or a genuine placebo into children and followed their health (not whether they got some specific disease) for more than a few months, reported vaccine recipients got 4 times as many respiratory illnesses as placebo recipients. This fact suggests to me not only that vaccines are causing collateral immune system damage, but also that the vaccine literature is hopelessly confirmation biased. The fact that even after this study nobody has repeated it with other flu vaccines is also of interest.

It certainly wouldn't be surprising a priori that vaccines cause collateral immune system damage, especially in developing children. And I cited a literature indicating reasons for believing this and mechanisms. Where is the evidence against?

As to your comments on the animal studies, I think there are plenty of animal studies that are injecting less into the animals than kids often get. The mouse aluminum study specifically scaled the aluminum by weight and studied both Swedish and American. The studies causing auto-immune disease in non-auto-immune mice are just using 8 injections, not 49 or whatever the kids get. And again, where is the data on the other side?

Also, btw, Hewitson injected macaques with placebo or off the shelf vaccines, and scanned their brains 6 months later, and she reported the ones with vaccines were brain damaged as well. That experiment appeared 5 years ago, hasn't been repeated either.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-01-17T21:54:42.992Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Its a fact that the only RPC study I know of that injected a vaccine or a genuine placebo into children and followed their health (not whether they got some specific disease) for more than a few months, reported vaccine recipients got 4 times as many respiratory illnesses as placebo recipients.

He explained this in the comment.

Are you actually going to respond to anything CellBioGuy said? I'm mildly curious if you are at all able to explicitly state when a piece of evidence doesn't support the position you thought it did and update your position accordingly. If not, continuing to discuss this is highly unlikely to be unproductive.

comment by NatPhilosopher · 2015-01-18T01:28:33.252Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He "explained it in the comment" ? He responded with various explanations, which are at best theories. I stated facts.

I didn't see any pieces of evidence I stated that don't support the position I think they do. Can you name one?

You think the fact that every animal study injecting animals with viral mimics or aluminum or the like that has been pointed out to exist, all find damage, do you think that supports the vaccine safety position? You think the fact that the only RPC study injecting children with a vaccine or a placebo and following their health reports vaccine getters got 4 times as much infectious disease supports vaccine safety? Or maybe after the explanations it supports vaccine safety? Is that your point?

I'm big on changing my mind. I changed my mind big time, from vaxxing my first two kids to understanding that was a huge mistake. I've changed my mind on many other important things too. You all seem resistant. I've offered lots of evidence you should change your minds, none of you have offered even an iota of evidence in support of the vaccine safety position. At best you've offered rationalizations about the damning evidence I've offered. But mostly you've just complained that you didn't like my tone.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-01-18T03:28:42.314Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You seem to be missing my primary point. Your reply and the part I quoted was:

Its a fact that the only RPC study I know of that injected a vaccine or a genuine placebo into children and followed their health (not whether they got some specific disease) for more than a few months, reported vaccine recipients got 4 times as many respiratory illnesses as placebo recipients.

Which as written seems oblivious to CellBioGuy actually discussing that very paper. You completely ignored it, which has to make me wonder how much of the rest of what he wrote you actually paid attention to.

I'm big on changing my mind. I changed my mind big time, from vaxxing my first two kids to understanding that was a huge mistake. I've changed my mind on many other important things too.

Take an outside view for a moment. A new account comes to a forum, claims that they changed their mind to some fringe position, and keeps arguing for that position, and does literally nothing else on the forum other than argue for that single position. How do you think people will interpret that?

comment by NatPhilosopher · 2015-01-18T04:47:33.843Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I still don't understand your point. I responded to what he wrote. I said it was at best a bunch of theories. What part of it do you think has some basis in reality? Why should we trust it? BTW, I don't understand how the self reporting is even relevant, since the patients didn't know if they had a placebo. Even if all those explanations are true, does that mean the vaccine didn't damage the immune systems, given that in a blind experiment you got 4.4 times as much disease?

You said some piece of evidence I cited didn't support the point I thought it did, so I still want to know what one that is.

I guess you are saying the fact that the only RCP test ever conducted on a vaccine (to the best of our knowledge) that looked at actual health, found the patients getting the vaccine much less healthy, (which by the way is supported by lots of other results showing vaccines do collateral damage to the immune system, its hardly an outlier) which is the evidence I cited,

you are I guess saying this didn't support my case because the authors of the study wrote various speculations that might have partially explained some of it, although a factor of 4.4 takes a lot of explaining, so I doubt it.

Is that your point? Can you spell it out?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-01-18T22:30:39.266Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I still don't understand your point.

I thought I was being explicit. You wrote:

Its a fact that the only RPC study I know of that injected a vaccine or a genuine placebo into children and followed their health (not whether they got some specific disease) for more than a few months, reported vaccine recipients got 4 times as many respiratory illnesses as placebo recipients

You wrote that in response to a comment which specifically talked about the study in question, but made no effort to actually address the point about that study. That's completely failing to engage in the argument in question and makes one have to wonder if you actually read what he wrote to notice he talked about that same study.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-10-27T18:24:05.577Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can probably examine the papers cited in the above link in greater detail after work. On the university network now, downloading papers into dropbox, will look later.

I will note, without looking at ANYTHING yet, that one thing I quite often see in almost all non-professional reading of scientific biological literature is the latching onto one contextual or partial finding and yanking it across contexts where it does not belong.

comment by William_Quixote · 2014-10-27T21:15:19.916Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The quickest way to investigate most issues is to look to see if there is a consensus among experts. In this issue there is. If you don't have a lot of experience in the field thinking you can do better original research or synthesis than the experts is probably not reasonable.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-10-28T16:03:52.152Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you don't have a lot of experience in the field thinking you can do better original research or synthesis than the experts is probably not reasonable.

You don't need to hold that belief to think that the experts are wrong. The expert might be wrong because they are willing to downplay the risks associated with vaccination because they think the benefit from higher vaccination rates outweigh the cost.

There also a huge commercial interest in the experts supporting vaccination.

Experts can be wrong and it's often useful to read papers yourself.

comment by NatPhilosopher · 2015-01-18T02:40:46.113Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my experience, if there is a field where there is a big consensus opinion among "experts", and a small group of wacko's on the internet contesting the "expert's" finding with their own citations to the scientific literature, if I've investigated and read what the science says, the wacko's have turned out right every time.

The problem with your quick way of investigating is its based on the utterly fallacious theory that annointed "experts" know what they are talking about. In general, they are just spouting crowd think.

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” ― Richard P. Feynman

'A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.' --Albert Einstein

"To return to the faculty of observation possessed by crowds, our conclusion is that their collective observations are as erroneous as possible, and that most often they merely represent the illusion of an individual who, by a process of contagion, has suggestioned his fellows... "The events with regard to which there exists the most doubt are certainly those which have been observed by the greatest number of persons. To say that a fact has been simultaneously verified by thousands of witnesses is to say, as a rule, that the real fact is very different from the accepted account of it." --Gustav Le Bon, The Crowd, 1895.

"Vaccination is a barbarous practice and one of the most fatal of all the delusions current in our time. Conscientious objectors to vaccination should stand alone, if need be, against the whole world, in defense of their conviction.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-01-18T03:39:22.521Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my experience, if there is a field where there is a big consensus opinion among "experts", and a small group of wacko's on the internet contesting the "expert's" finding with their own citations to the scientific literature, if I've investigated and read what the science says, the wacko's have turned out right every time

And other than vaccines what are your issues where you think this? Also, what makes you think that this is actually what is going on and you aren't falling prey to a basic desire to be special and have access to the truth?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-10-29T22:30:01.198Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted to make CellBioGuys comment more visible.

comment by freyley · 2014-10-27T17:21:15.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm starting by reading through the cites on this page:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6002a1.htm

comment by ErichBacher · 2014-10-29T11:45:08.931Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm also not an expert in the field, but I am very interested in this topic and reviewing the available evidence to create a cohesive and easy to understand proof.

Some of the things the article in the OP mention indicates where he is getting his information. The "CDC whistleblower" allegations he refers to have been thoroughly refuted.

"(a) written by a lead author who also was lead author on another study which his own collaborator says was improperly manipulated to hide a vaccine-autism connection. Do they really need to rely on him as their sole source for arguing vaccines don’t cause autism?"

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/brian-hooker-and-andrew-wakefield-accuse-the-cdc-of-scientific-fraud-irony-meters-everywhere-explode/

comment by NatPhilosopher · 2015-01-17T15:12:59.912Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't read that ridiculously long distraction you linked, did you? However every phrase in my statement I believe to be true. Thompson was a collaborator. Thomson issued a statement through his lawyer saying as follows: "My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where I have worked since 1998. I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed."

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046630_CDC_whistleblower_public_confession_Dr_William_Thompson.html#ixzz3P5iPApOM

I believe there are also phone tapes of him which he wasn't expecting to be published that take a stronger position, and at the above link you can read old emails from him to the then Head of CDC, (Now Head of Mercks' Vaccine Division) and others documenting and extending the claims.

If you visit the CDC webpage on the question of whether kids are getting autism from vaccines, the paper they link you to has the same lead author. This is the only primary source they link. So I repeat my question: Does the CDC really need to rely on him as their sole source for arguing vaccines don’t cause autism?"

Incidentally, the more important question is the second one I point out, if you read that paper it is being misrepresented just as the data reportedly was in the earlier paper, to say things it doesn't say. This study doesn't indicate that too many vaccines too soon aren't causing autism. It is blind on that subject. At best it indicates that DTP and the rest of the vaccine series isn't dramatically more likely to produce autism than DTaP and the rest of the vaccine series.

In addition to that, its my belief that a minor reanalysis of their data, just changing the entries in a column of table 1 from "number of antigens" to "mcg of Al in vaccine" and running the data through their computer again, would give much more interesting results. Also changing the entries from "number of antigens" to "1" (ie total number of vaccines, counting 1 per vaccine) would give more interesting results. (The actual paper contrived to use a column that contained "3004" for DTP and some single digit number for everything else in common use, so it basically reduced itself to a single vaccine test while being presented as a test of multiple vaccine effects.)

comment by NatPhilosopher · 2015-01-17T15:59:59.248Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did you find anything relevant to any of the questions I address, such as long term effects of total vaccine load, especially of aluminum, and of early vaccine use?

Did you find anything rebutting the extensive animal literature I cited that reports early and often vaccines are a problem? Did you find anything rebutting the epidemiological literature I cited, that suggests similarly.

Did you find anything confirming or refuting Original Antigenic Sin-- the phenomenon that a vaccine while training the immune system to a particular type of response to a particular virus, damages other responses of the immune system, such as cellular, both to that virus and to other infections?

Did you find anything interesting on how long immunity lasts, particularly that addresses the question of how soon after their last booster vaccine recipients become susceptible to sub-clinical infections and may become contagious?