Interview with Immunologist on Vaccines Parts 1 & 2

Interview with PhD Immunologist, Dr Tetyana Obukhanych- part 1, by Catherine Frompovich

Dr Tetyana Obukhanych, author of the book “Vaccine Illusion” has studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions. She earned her PhD in Immunology at the Rockefeller University in New York and did postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. and Stanford University in California.
Catherine Frompovich conducted an in-depth interview with Dr Obukhanych which is now transcribed. We will be publishing it in three parts.
Part ONE:
Dr. Obukhanych is the author of Vaccine Illusion: How Vaccination Compromises Our Natural Immunity and What We Can Do to Regain Our Health. In her book, she presents a view on vaccination that is radically different from mainstream theories. Something this interviewer finds fascinating is that Tetyana thinks vaccination campaigns compromise natural immunity and endanger the very young. I must admit that I feel exactly the same from my work as a natural nutritionist and consumer health researcher for 35 years. That’s why I requested an interview with Dr. Obukhanych. I wanted to pick her brains and share her knowledge with my readers.
Before we get started with my interview questions, there is something that I’d like to address upfront and it is: What implications do you think may be down the line from vaccines grown on various animal organs, e.g., diploid cells (aborted human fetal cells), chicken eggs, monkey kidneys, mouse brains, porcine lung, insects, and now dog kidneys for a new single vaccine being introduced into the United Kingdom in June/July 2012?
We know pig viral DNA (porcine circovirus) was found in Rotarix vaccine; SV40 cancer virus in the first polio vaccine used in the 1950s to early 1970s; Hepatitis A, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) were cultured on human diploid cells WI-38 and MRC-5; and recombinant DNA was found in the HPV vaccine, Gardasil®. What do such post-marketing findings portend from your perspective as an immunologist?
As an immunologist, I have a concern that the practice of manufacturing vaccines using yeast, egg, animal, or even human fetal cells implies that vaccines by necessity include some small amount of protein or other products from these cells or media, in which these cells are being cultured. I would really want to know whether and how well vaccine manufacturers test their final vaccine products for such unspecified vaccine “ingredients” and how much contamination they discover.
The reason I am concerned about such contamination is because I believe that the exposure to yeast, egg, animal, or human proteins in the context of immunogenic (antibody producing) stimuli has the potential to result in sensitization to these proteins or even to break human immunologic tolerance to “self.” The latter is especially relevant to infants, since their immune system is only starting to make the distinction between “self” and “foreign.” Setting this distinction the wrong way from the start, in my view, is likely to pave the road to allergic or autoimmune manifestations.
Thank you, Dr. Obukhanych, for that on-point answer, which I agree with totally.
Doctor, will you please explain what you mean by natural immunity.
Immunity is an ancient concept that refers to the observation that many acute infectious diseases occur only once in a person’s life, usually in childhood. The examples of such diseases would be measles, mumps, rubella, or whooping cough, to name a few.
Natural immunity is, in a way, a tautological expression because immunity can only be acquired naturally at this point, only through the exposure to an infected individual, although occasionally such exposure would go asymptomatic while still establishing immunity. Nevertheless, because there is a common misconception that vaccines also confer immunity, it is sometimes necessary to use a qualifier “natural,” when referring to immunity, to distinguish it from vaccine-based protection.
Ah! I appreciate your astuteness in qualifying the term “vaccine-based protection” as opposed to immunity.
Vaccinated children are coming down with the same infectious diseases for which they have been fully vaccinated. Why do you think vaccine ‘immunity’—if we can call it that—is so short lived and not adequate?
We would expect that vaccinated individuals would not be involved (or very minimally involved) in any outbreak of an infectious disease for which they have been vaccinated. Yet, when outbreaks are analyzed, it becomes apparent that most often this is not the case. Vaccinated individuals are indeed very frequently involved and constitute a high proportion of disease cases.
I think this is happening because vaccination does not engage the genuine mechanism of immunity. Vaccination typically engages the immune response—that is, everything that immunologists would theoretically “want” to see being engaged in the immune system. But apparently this is not enough to confer robust protection that matches natural immunity. Our knowledge of the immune system is far from being complete.
What kind of protection can we expect from vaccines, if not life-long immunity?
For live attenuated viral vaccines against communicable diseases, we can expect a very short-term protection (3-5 years). This estimate is indirect and comes from the statistical analysis of vaccination timing relative to the disease occurrence in vaccinated individuals. This is the only empirical evidence we have for the average duration of protection for certain vaccines.
There are other vaccines (e.g. for non-contagious toxin-mediated diseases, such as tetanus or viral diseases spread through animal bites, such as rabies) or even vaccines like Hepatitis B and Gardasil®, where an empirical estimate of the protection duration cannot be made at all, because we simply lack scientifically meaningful data to make such an estimate.
What’s the difference between the focus of the science of immunology and natural immunity?
Immunology does not study immunity. Immunology studies how the immune system responds to immunization—that is, to the injection of a “foreign” protein or particle (virus, bacteria). Immunologic research focuses mainly on the long-term changes that occur in immunologic organs and bodily fluids following immunization. Such changes are collectively referred to as “immunologic memory.”
But the question is: what makes immunologists think, as they surely do, that immunologic memory is the basis of immunity? I see no evidence in immunologic research to allow me to conclude that this is the case. If anything, I see immunologic memory as being the basis for sensitization rather than for immunity. I am starting to doubt that immunologic memory is beneficial to us.
I think you feel immunology studies its own invention—vaccination—rather than natural human immunity. Is that correct? What led you to that conclusion after having earned a doctorate in the science of immunology?
Immunology, as a science, started with the invention of the vaccine (the smallpox vaccine) before the immune system was even defined as such. Afterwards, basic immunologic research was and still is performed in the context of injecting something “foreign” into a research animal, rather than studying natural disease or natural state of immunity to disease.
Perhaps, it is easier to design an experiment around an injection rather than around a natural disease in a laboratory setting. Perhaps, it is only a matter of expediency of research. But whatever the reason might be for conducting the study of injection (vaccination) rather than the study of natural disease/immunity, it has led us to amass the knowledge of the artificial process.
Not surprisingly, the system that we now refer to as the “immune system” is the one that responds to the injection of a foreign antigen. The immune system, in essence, got defined by the process of vaccination, not by the process of natural immunity.
But if the purpose of the genuine “immune” system is to establish life-long immunity following disease experience, what is that system that does the trick? Is it the same system that responds to the injection of a foreign antigen or is it a totally different system?
This is the biggest concern I have: among all the things we have discovered about the immune system in the context of injection, is any of that even relevant to the state of natural immunity? And if so, how would we even know what is relevant if we never study natural immunity directly?
You are asking me what led me to see the problem with how the science of Immunology construed the “immune” system after having earned a PhD in Immunology. You should rather ask me what miracle led me to see this problem despite earning a PhD in Immunology. I can tell you that once you commit yourself to the study of Immunology, you are so heavily invested in the “truth” of the field that the chances of seeing the problem with the most basic assumption becomes nil. The power of “believing” in definitions set up by the field is very strong.
CJF responded with, Touché, Doctor! I admire your intellectual spunk.
Can we then rely on immunology to give us answers about natural immunity?
I don’t think so.
As I mentioned before, none of the well-established and well-respected research in immunology studies the natural process directly. Instead, it sets up contrived (unnatural) models of infection/immunization in research animals and studies the immune responses within those unnatural and non-human settings.
How can we possibly be sure that such research has any applicability to natural process? We simply can’t. Yet, we are tinkering with the human immune system by means of vaccines, simply because this seems to be justified by contrived immunologic models of research, even though such research can only give us partial if not completely misguided understanding of the role of the immune system in the disease process.
Wouldn’t tinkering with nature with such misguided and partial knowledge be dangerous and hasn’t it led to the apparent health mess a great percentage of our young children find themselves experiencing?
I completely agree with such concerns. I have described some of my immunologic concerns with vaccination in Vaccine Illusion and I will summarize them here.
I am very concerned that “immunologic memory” of adjuvant-containing vaccines is actually the basis of sensitization rather than the basis of immunity.
Furthermore, I am very concerned that “successful” prevention of childhood diseases by means of short-term protective effects of live attenuated viral vaccines during childhood has led to the loss of maternal ability to transfer immuno-protection to their young, thereby leaving infants vulnerable to those diseases, should the exposure occur.
I am also very concerned that vaccination campaigns work by disrupting disease transmission, which reduces the chances of exposure, rather than by establishing a population’s immunity. By doing so, vaccination campaigns wipe out population’s immunity to childhood diseases rather than help to maintain it. If in prior decades there was naturally established herd immunity to childhood diseases among the adult population, then I am afraid that vaccination campaigns have ensured that it is long gone.
All of this is a direct outcome of the “desired” vaccination effects, the impact of which hasn’t been carefully thought through in advance of introducing mass vaccination. We thought that vaccines work just like natural immunity. Well, apparently they don’t and we are now reaping the consequences of that.
Now, shall I discuss “undesired” vaccination effects (a.k.a. vaccine injuries), or should we keep that can of worms closed for now?
I’d like to see what kind of worms are in that can, Doctor. Let’s go for it, please.
The can of worms I am talking about are parents’ concerns with adverse effects they observe in their children after vaccination contrasted with “scientifically” sounding claims of the Establishment that parents are wrong and deluded by their suspicions, that true vaccine injuries are so rare that they are statistically improbable to happen to your particular child, and that your fear of vaccination is irrational and unfounded. Let’s come back to this topic a bit later.
If you were a betting person, where would you place your wager: on vaccines or on natural immunity? Why?
Betting on vaccines versus natural immunity to achieve what? Could you please specify the effect you are asking me about? If it’s about making the human race unfit for survival, then I bet on vaccines.
Doctor, I think you read my mind.

An Interview With Research Immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych PhD, part 2

Part 2 of 3
Catherine J Frompovich
Dr. Obukhanych’s passion is educating herself and others about immunity. One of Tetyana’s ways of doing that is teaching small one-on-one-type classes in Menlo Park, California to help parents make their own informed vaccination decisions ( Her classes cover the ‘waterfront’ on vaccine issues and include: if, and when do, vaccines prevent and not prevent disease—something probably disputed by many; dangers in vaccines, especially the effects of aluminum, a neurotoxin and adjuvant in many vaccines that might be sensitizing children to be allergy-prone; the principles and the flaw of the vaccine design; the lack of scientific knowledge of natural immunity (a very important topic for this interviewer) along with nutritional factors that lower susceptibility to disease—just to mention a few.
Catherine’s comments are in italics.
Dr Obukhanych’s comments are in normal font.
I’ve promised to address vaccine injuries. Let’s do it now.
The potential of a vaccine injury is a legitimate concern that people have when faced with vaccination. Databases of vaccine adverse effects (such as VAERS in the U.S. and similar databases in other countries) are replete with reports of complications that come in close temporal proximity to vaccine administration. These adverse effects range from numerous but seemingly small effects, such as inflammation at the side of injection or fever, to more rare but also more adverse or irreversible conditions, such as allergic reactions or Guillain-Barré syndrome to mention a few, to perhaps even more rare fatal cases.
How do public health officials approach the concerns of citizens about vaccine safety in general? They point to scientific publications that claim to have found no statistical associations between a certain vaccine and a suspected injury, despite case reports that have initially instigated such studies.
A typical statistical study that aims to look for an association between a certain vaccine and a certain adverse effect might answer the following question: can we find the association by looking at a limited and randomly selected pool of people from the general population? The answer quite predictably comes out as: no statistically significant association has been found that way. However, this is the right answer to the wrong question.
The question that should be sought instead: is the association likely to be found in a group of people who are similar (genetically, nutritionally, metabolically, immunologically, etc.) to the person who had suffered from an adverse effect?
Such studies are very expensive to execute, they are unlikely to be funded by governments / funding sources with biased vaccination agendas, despite the fortunes accumulated by vaccine sales. Therefore, such studies are simply not being performed.
What are the consequences for society of relying on the wrong type of study when addressing vaccine safety concerns?
The consequences are that important moderators (i.e. predisposing factors) to vaccine injuries are not being uncovered in time, a vulnerable segment of the population continues to be unnecessarily injured by vaccines, while references to the “lack of evidence” studies are being misused to silence the dissenters.
With our current state of research on vaccine injures, I will repeat this over and over again: lack of evidence does not constitute the evidence of lack.
Say the Establishment claims that the chance to develop a certain syndrome after a certain vaccine is one in a million, based on the frequency of previously reported cases.
If you understand the statistics, they say, then you understand that you have higher chances to get injured in a car accident, or get struck by lightning, or win a lottery, etc.
What they don’t tell you is that, if you understand the biology as opposed to mere statistics, then you understand that depending on particular predisposing factors which you might or might not have (and which you are not even made aware of due to the lack of research that would uncover such factors), your chances of getting a certain vaccine injury would be either close to nil or close to 100 percent.
As of now, we are totally in the dark regarding who will and who won’t suffer a severe vaccine injury and from which vaccine. No guarantees can be made. Basically, vaccinate yourself at your own risk.
Can you share information regarding the allegations that aluminum, which is in many infant vaccines, is toxic to the central nervous system, crossing the blood brain barrier?
I would refer you to the work of a neuroscientist Dr. Chris Shaw and his colleagues that will confirm your concerns about neurotoxic effects of aluminum (alum). This is not in my direct immunologic expertise to analyze.
I have to admit that Immunology is a very compartmentalized science. I personally belong to what we call “basic” immunology. Basic Immunology “supplies” the theory on how the immune system works when challenged with injected foreign antigens, based
on experiments in research animals. Our main interest and the scope of expertise are very restricted to understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms of artificial immune responses and antibody production. That’s it. As far as immunologists are concerned, aluminum salts are included into a number of vaccines as adjuvants that trick the immune system into antibody production. This is alum’s “desired” effect and this is all immunologists care about.
Immunologists do not “know” about alum’s neurotoxicity because they are not methodologically equipped to look at what happens in the animal (or human) overall, how other systems, especially the brain, are affected by immunization or by alum in particular. This is for another specialist to deal with. Sad, but this is the reality of science compartmentalization.
How do adjuvants in vaccines trick the immune system? What are the consequences of that ‘sleight of science’?
Alum’s adjuvant effect has been studied intensively only in the last 5-10 years, despite its use in humans since the 1920s. It appears that alum’s adjuvant effect depends on its ability to kill cells, its “cytotoxic” property. This cellular damage releases intracellular contents, such as DNA and uric acid into the extracellular space, which is now accessible to the cells of the immune system to act upon. This cellular damage is sensed by the immune system, which then initiates the immune response against a “foreign” protein that showed up in the context of such damage. Without alum and without damage that it creates, the immune system would simply disregard the injected foreign protein as innocuous and not make any antibodies against it. But since the whole point of vaccination is to induce antibody production, then whatever alum is doing to induce antibody production, is considered favorable.
Doctor, what a sham and shame!
I am not updated on the mechanisms of action of other adjuvants. Most of the oil-based adjuvants that we use in research animals are prohibited from the use in humans, because they induce very overt inflammatory reactions. But I am sure newer adjuvants destined for human use are in the pipeline and it will remain to be seen what side effects they induce for the sake of all-important antibody production.
Can you give us a quick ‘sound bite like’ tutorial on antibodies and why immunology places supposed efficacy in vaccines producing them?
The concept of antibodies evolved from the research on toxins, such as diphtheria or tetanus toxins. Initially, antibodies were referred to as ‘anti-toxins’—some mysterious entities that were appearing in the blood of toxin-injected research animals that could neutralize the pathological effects of those toxins.
I would like to mention that based on clinical research described in the book by Dr. Thomas Levy, Curing the Incurable, ascorbic acid would fall into the definition of an
“anti-toxin,” as it is known to effectively curb the symptoms of most toxin-mediated as well as infectious diseases when given intravenously at very large doses.
But immunologic research on anti-toxins went into a very narrow direction and led to the idea that anti-toxic ability is restricted to a certain class of immunoglobulins, which we now call antibodies.
Immunologists then realized that such “antibodies” could be raised not only against toxins, but also against practically any substance that is presented to the immune system in a certain way. Some of the requirements for such “immunogenicity” (i.e.—ability to induce antibody production) are: 1) a substance must be of non-self origin; and 2) it must be accompanied by a “danger” signal, usually provided by an irritating or cell-damaging substance called adjuvant or by pathogen-associated pattern molecules of bacterial or viral origin.
The science of Immunology then got caught up in uncovering excruciatingly minute details of antibody production process, none of which needs to be of interest to non-immunologists. Yet, most of the 20th century in basic immunologic research was devoted to this endeavor, encouraged and rewarded by numerous Nobel prizes. This only reinforced the notion of the importance of antibodies, creating the antibody-centered paradigm in immunology.
Needless to say, the sole purpose of vaccines is to raise antibodies that bind the microorganisms and toxins, based on the antibody-centered paradigm of protection. But seeing so many reports of disease outbreaks occurring in properly vaccinated individuals, as well as reports of the disease in vaccinated individuals with documented high titers of antibodies only reinforces my conviction that an antibody-centered paradigm needs to be re-examined with great scrutiny.
I agree totally with your assessment, Doctor, and the sooner the better.
If pertussis (whooping cough) is not a virus but a bacterium, how does that fit into the vaccine paradigm? Aren’t most vaccines formulated for viruses?
Oh don’t worry about such fine distinctions. I can make you a vaccine against anything you want, a vaccine against a peanut, if you want one.
Seriously speaking, the term “vaccine” is derived from a Latin word vaccinia (which stands for cowpox) and was originally referring only to the procedure of inoculation of a healthy individual with pus from a cowpox-infected individual. Later on this term was adopted to indicate injection of an attenuated virus or adjuvanted viral of bacterial proteins or toxoids in order to produce antibodies against the corresponding microorganisms or toxins. Pertussis vaccine fits into this definition, as it is composed of pertussis toxin and a few other bacterial proteins mixed with adjuvant.
In modern days, the word vaccine is used even more broadly. It is used to mean panacea. Immunologists are cooking up vaccination strategies against cancer, autoimmunity, or allergy. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day someone will be making an attempt to develop a vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease or even against autism.
Dr Obukhanych is currently in California, where she lives and teaches.
She offers classes on vaccines and natural immunity. Her classes are intended primarily for parents seeking to make more informed vaccination decisions for their children, but are open to anyone interested in vaccination issues. Her website is
Catherine J Frompovich is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies.
Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.
Catherine is an editor and writing consultant who helps authors get into publication. For numerous semesters she taught several writing courses for a suburban Philadelphia school district’s Adult Evening School. Her passion is assisting and guiding authors into print.
Catherine’s latest book, A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective & Non-Toxic Treatments, will be available on and as a Kindle eBook sometime in July 2012.
Two of Catherine’s more recent books on are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008).