Reconsidering Vaccines

Ron Unz, a former skeptic of vaccine critics, is forced to reconsider his instinctive pro-vaccine position:

A central theme of anti-vaxxers has been that many of the vaccines they criticize actually have serious adverse side effects, sometimes doing more harm than good, and I’d always been quite skeptical of this claim. After all, I’d known that prior to their general release new vaccines must typically go through a long period of clinical trials, in which they are matched in randomized, blinded large-scale tests against placebos. But the very first chapter of Turtles claimed that this was mostly a myth and a deception.

According to the authors, such vaccine trials are not conducted against true placebos such as saline solutions, but only against previously approved vaccines. So a new treatment is considered safe if its rate of harmful side-effects is no worse than those of previously approved versions rather than no treatment at all, an illogical approach that seems to make little sense. Thus, the supposed safety and efficacy of current vaccines has only been established relative to a long series of their predecessors, often stretching back decades, and this constitutes the “Turtles All the Way Down” metaphor of the book’s title. This sort of very simple factual claim seems unlikely to have been made unless it were actually true.

Surprisingly enough, the tested rate of adverse vaccine side-effects is sometimes quite significant. For example, during the clinical trials of the Prevnar vaccine, about 6% of the 17,000 infants tested needed emergency room visits and 3% required hospitalization. But because the previous vaccine used for comparison purposes had similarly high rates of negative side-effects, Prevnar was judged safe and effective, a shocking verdict.

There are also cases in which no previously approved version of the vaccine existed for use in such a comparison trial, and one might naturally assume that the only possible choice would be to use a true placebo such a saline solution. Yet as Turtles reveals, in that situation a deliberately crippled version of the vaccine itself is given to the other half of the trial population, a compound which could not provide any benefits but would still probably produce all the same adverse side-effects. The most plausible reason for this strange methodology would be to mask the existence of those adverse side-effects, thereby ensuring the vaccine’s approval.

Turtles summarizes this outrageous situation by stating that each year tens of millions of vaccine doses are administered to infants and toddlers in America, and not a single one of them has ever been tested in clinical trials against an inert placebo. None of this proves that any of these vaccines are dangerous, but it certainly raises that serious possibility. Pilots who fly blind may not necessarily crash, but they probably have a much greater chance of doing so…

The easiest and most convincing means of demonstrating that vaccines are actually safe and beneficial with few serious side-effects, would obviously be to conduct a large randomized trial study comparing the total health consequences of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, what they call a “Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated” (VU) study. Yet according to Turtles, no such study has ever been conducted: “It seems inexplicable that VU studies have not been initiated by the vaccine establishment for so many years.”

It’s a very long article and delves deeply into the actual history and science of the development of vaccine technology. Read the whole thing. It may well convert you from being a vaccine skeptic to being an outright denier. Although how anyone can seriously attempt to defend vaccines in the post-vaxx era is a mystery.