Vaccination: The Inside Story

Vaccination: The inside story
- Prof Dr B M Hegde
Our primary effort should be to strengthen the immune system to keep the population healthy. Many of the infectious diseases give life-long immunity after the first attack. This should be harnessed in children instead of trying to vaccinate a child for every mild childhood infection that would otherwise make the child immune for the rest of the child’s life

  “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear"—
George Orwell

Vaccination comes from the root vacca, the cow. This is a misnomer as cow pox virus was not the one used in regular small pox vaccination, as was originally thought. The recent revelation that the cow pox and smallpox are genetically two distinct viruses proves the point. The only one disease that mankind has so far been able to eradicate from this globe, smallpox, was successfully conquered using the Indian system of vaccination which existed here for “times out of mind.”  This Indian system of vaccination was shown to be 90% effective in protecting the population from smallpox while the unvaccinated segment of the population had 90% death rate in any epidemic, by a great physician-scientist, TZ Holwell, FRS, FRCP (London). Holwell was in India as a part of a team of twenty scientists, all Fellows of the Royal Society, sent here by the East India Company in the eighteenth century to study Indian science and technology, which were in their peak at that time compared to the West. Holwell was a distinguished physician in addition and was a Fellow of the London Royal College.

Holwell stayed on for twenty years in Bengal to study the Indian system of vaccination prospectively, probably using the so called gold standard of medical science today, the randomized controlled studies (RCTs), unbeknownst to him at that time, to get at the truth. Indian vaccination was practised by the Gurus from the great universities of India in Banaras, Nalanda and Taxila annually well before the epidemics started in summer. They used naturally attenuated smallpox virus from the previous year’s epidemic. Natural attenuation consisted of keeping the smallpox pus in chamois leather pouches for a year! The graphic details of the vaccination methods using some of the most sophisticated methods of inoculation as also the results of the 20 years prospective observation are available in Holwell’s original paper presented to the president and Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London. This document is available even today inside a glass case in the main library of the Royal College in Regent’s Park in London. That could also be accessed online. That report was later presented to the king to make Indian system to be used universally by a Decree of the King. 

Edward Jenner’s infamous experiment on his errand boy, James Phipps, aged thirteen, using some of the crudest methods would be considered a criminal act today. Norma Thelms, a cow maid, casually told Jenner, a family doctor in London, that she is immune to smallpox as she suffered from cow pox. Using that pretext Jenner injected cow pox pus into his orphan errand boy who later came down with a near fatal cow pox attack. After James survived by the skin of his teeth, Jenner injected James with live small pox pus from a patient to test his hypothesis. Providentially, as luck would have it, James did not come down with smallpox. That is the proof positive of cow pox vaccination! Unfortunately, distorted history still harps on Jenner as the father of smallpox vaccination. Truth is bitter.

Be that as it may, let us turn our attention to infectious diseases against many of which we claim to have effective vaccines! The list of vaccines grows by the day, thanks to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Vaccines, with the whole population as their potential clients, are a trillion dollar industry pushed by some of the top business tycoons on the Forbes list. A child in the US today gets about 20 vaccines before it starts to walk and talk! A gold mine indeed! We claim that we have conquered many fatal infectious diseasesbecause of our interventions. The truth is otherwise! Most of these diseases were on the wane long before the medical science came on the scene. Plague disappeared from Europe by the end of 18th century before any intervention or antibiotics came on the scene, diphtheria  death rate plummeted well before anti-diphtheritic serum was made available, tuberculosis deaths had significantly come down long before streptomycin or BCG were discovered. 

Affluence with good food and better standards of living coupled with good sanitation had made infectious diseases come down both in Europe since the Second World War and in the US after the 1930s depression abated. Medical intervention had very little to do with the decline. Another biological reason was that most of these diseases are but dynamic ones with their own cycles of waxing and waning. Man claims credit when nature comes to his help. One could only shudder to think that any of the deadly diseases could rear their head at any time in the future when the environment suits them. Give one example of plague. Plague disappeared from Europe when Europe became a degree cooler making it difficult for the rattus rattus (black rat) to survive, replaced by rattus novigenous (white rat). The latter cannot harbor pasturella pestis, the plague germ. If Europe becomes a degree warmer in future, plague might reappear in spite of medical efforts to stop it!

It was Louis Pasteur that wrote that the “soil is more important than the seed” years ago. That golden statement was missed by the medical scientists for ages. The body’s immune system is what keeps us alive and not medical science or the vaccines and drugs. It was a thinking American physician, Theobald Smith, who wrote in 1915 that “any disease might be directly related to the virulence of the germ but is definitely inversely related to the resistance of the host.” How true but forgotten by the medical world until in 1981 a peculiar pneumonia killed two homosexuals in the West. Our attention to the immune system got a shot in the arm only after that. Our primary effort should be to strengthen the immune system to keep the population healthy. That precisely is the essence (bija mantra) of Ayurveda, a great system of medical care. Many of the infectious diseases give life-long immunity after the first attack. This should be harnessed in those non-fatal diseases in children instead of trying to vaccinate a child for every mild childhood infection that would otherwise make the child immune for the rest of the child’s life. A good example is chicken pox, a mild infection in children. 
The same in an adult could be a serious malady and could even be fatal. I had a bitter experience myself with virulent chicken pox when I was thirty years old. Even my enemy, if there is one, should not get chickenpox as an adult. With childhood chicken pox vaccination we might be making more adults get chicken pox as the latest research shows that vaccination does not give life-long immunity in chicken pox. May be this applies to many other minor illnesses in children.

It is time to understand the difference in immune response of natural infection vis-à-vis vaccine produced inflammation. There are about 150 genes in the long arm of the 9th chromosome that look after the immune response to infections. The response of the immune system to a natural infection is a very healthy attempt to overcome the infection and stop it when feasible, failing which at least to contain it to a milder form. In the unlikely event of the immune system failing to do either, the victim dies with the germ inside, killing the latter as well in the bargain—teleologically good for the herd. In the ordinary course the immune response to a natural infection gives the patient a full blown life-long immune cover against that particular germ. Every vaccine produces inflammation of a milder degree in most organs of the body including the brain. It is the latter that sometimes suffers a bit more in vaccine-produced inflammations that could be risky.

 However, the vaccine-produced inflammation is a very poor cousin of the natural infection. The immune response here, many times, is only short lived, and depends on the nutritional state of the recipient always. Poor children, the majority in the world, with 46.4% of children in India suffering from malnutrition, are risky candidates for vaccinations as they do not produce enough antibodies in response to vaccination since they do not have enough raw materials (serum proteins) to produce antibodies to vaccines. In fact, certain vaccines like the live oral polio vaccine in such malnourished children could provoke the attenuated live virus to mutate to produce a deadly live virus to infect the recipient and other children in the vicinity! Such epidemics have been reported lately from Haiti, Dominican Islands and the Barbados. There have been nearly 27,000 vaccine-related polio deaths in India until 2007!

Now let us take a look at the other side of the coin. With more than twenty vaccines given to a child, many of them in clusters, they might even confuse the 150 genes in the 9th chromosome resulting in, on rare occasions, the genes producing auto anti-bodies that might attack the body’s own cells resulting in the deadly auto-immune diseases dreaded by the father of immunology, Paul Ehrlich, in his own words as “horror auto-toxicus.” A study of African Americans, most of whom are of East African origin, shows that they have much higher prevalence of autoimmune diseases in the US compared to the Caucasians. Curiously, in East Africa the natives have hardly any auto-immune disease. What could be the possible reasons? One possibility is that in Africa the 150 genes in the 9th chromosome are kept busy all the time by numerous bacterial, parasitic and other infections that the genes have to be on their toes all the time on duty. Whereas in the US, African Americans have such sterile surroundings, thanks to the antiseptic industry that the genes might be lazing away doing nothing. If such genes are artificially tickled with vaccines could they, possibly, produce many auto antibodies in the bargain? Horror autotoxicus indeed!

"What Jenner discovered, though hardly original in its general principle, was that it pays far better to scare 100% of the fools in the world—the vast majority—into buying vaccine than it does to treat the small minority who really get smallpox and who cannot afford to pay anything. It was indeed a very great discovery—worth thousands of millions. That is why this kind of blackmail is still kept going"--Dr Hadwin

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted