Anti-vaccination is expected consumer behaviour

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Anti-vaccination is expected consumer behaviour
Jagannath Chatterjee

How would you act if you have decided to buy a car? You would probably visit the car showrooms, talk to the salesmen, collect literature on the cars, visit other showrooms, search the internet, talk to people who have purchased cars, exchange ideas with your friends, talk to the mechanics, and find out more from people who have faced problems with a particular brand. You would also be concerned about the performance and the safety features and wonder if they are up to the advertisements and sales pitch. Pretty much normal, is it not?

Complaints lead to better products;
Car manufacturers take it on their stride. They know that this is a typical consumer behaviour pattern. The consumers are choosy, picky, and try to have the best value for money. They have distinct individual needs and choices that have to be met in order to stay afloat and be profitable. The manufacturers respond by manufacturing quality cars that are better than the competitors’ and take great care to ensure that both performance and safety aspects are above reproach.

What if complainants are arrested?
But what if the car manufacturers had an association and a huge political lobby that ensured there was no competition? What if they were connected to the service industry that is wholly dependent on faulty cars? What if the car mechanics were taught by the marketing wing of the industry and not by engineers? What if all the salesmen and mechanics were given licenses that could be revoked if they did not speak the same language? What if the car accidents and lives lost due to that brand are assigned other causes? What if there is a long list of such crashes and casualties that is never acted upon?

What if regular wrongdoings and serious lapses within its factories are regularly exposed by whistle-blowers? What if the way they bribe and cajole key decision makers become public? What if the highest court of the country delivered its decision that the car was unavoidably unsafe and therefore granted the company absolute indemnity from law suits? What if the manufacturer claimed the car would work properly only if more than 95% of the population purchased it? What if those who have faced serious problems with the brand are forbidden to speak out? What if those who speak against the brand are arrested? What if there is a gag order on mechanics perceiving trouble and who are eager to point it out? What if those who fought against this system be dubbed anti-car, anti-science and demonized?

The Vaccine Cartel;
You would then be dealing with a cartel: a cartel that would take the decisions and force them upon you. You would end up with products you do not want. Products that would neither perform nor be safe, for these would not be ensured in such a situation, simply because they would not matter.

The movement against vaccinations, both by victims as well as by discerning doctors, is based upon this consumer behaviour pattern. The adverse effects can no longer be hidden. There is no incentive to ensure safety or efficacy. The rush to fulfill targets has thrown caution to the winds. An inherently risky product is being sold like chocolates in the private sector. Monitoring committees and institutions have always abdicated their responsibilities. Voices of doctors and scientists are being ignored. Everything that can possibly go wrong has happened.

Alarmed by developments, people are now comparing products, reading the package inserts, logging on to the internet and discussion boards, social media; they are talking to parents whose children have suffered adverse reactions, and they are reading books and watching films that give a glimpse beyond the hype. Doctors and caregivers of affected children are trying to reach out to stem the rot and are conducting research and studies that try to pinpoint the truth and objectively address the problem. As a result parents and the public are finding out more than they bargained for. They are reluctant to subject themselves and wards to serious risks but are facing mandates. Censorship is being imposed. Books and videos critical of vaccines are being pulled out. As a result protests are ensuing. What is wrong with this scenario? Need we be worried? For the industry and its marketing wing it would be a problem no doubt but others should welcome this trend. The spirit of inquiry has at last reached the common population.

Demonizing Parents;
It has been pointed out that the anti vaccine crowd are mostly a bunch of panicked ill informed mothers. That allegation is partially true. The mother’s have panicked and they are asking questions. The questions they ask stem from innate common sense, gut feeling and unconditional love for their children. They also observe and believe their eyes and ears. These are strange parameters for the scientific community who are trained to believe statistics; statistics that emanate from chosen institutions and not from their own studies and observations.  

What questions are these mothers asking?
They want to know what is being injected into their children. They want to know if it is safe to inject studied and well known poisons into pregnant women, preemies, infants, and children. They want to know if unbiased safety studies have been conducted on vaccines; if the 69 to 72 shots routinely recommended have been studied for their combined impact. They want to know if the persons recommending and mandating them are objective and free from conflict of interest; whether the doctors injecting them are profiting from them. They want to know if the industries manufacturing them have a track record of honest dealings and safe manufacturing practices. 

They want to know if children are getting hurt. They want to know if those incidents are being acknowledged and corrective actions being taken. They want to know the nature and frequency of such injury; whether there is any protocol to treat such children. They want to know the long term impacts. They want to know how parents of injured children are faring. They want to know if the epidemics of serious chronic diseases and disabilities being observed in children and adults alike are in any way connected to the increasing list of vaccines being forced upon them.

Some among them with a science background are also asking other common sense oriented questions. What is natural immunity? What is cellular immunity? Is wild infection and vaccination the same? Do preemies and infants produce antibodies? At what age does the immune system mature? At what age does the myelin sheath develop fully to try and protect from neurotoxins? Can vaccine immunity last a life time and can a mother pass on the artificial immunity to her child?

Vaccines create antibodies. Do antibodies protect from disease? There are many ingredients in vaccines. So what happens to the antibodies to the other ingredients and can they disrupt the functioning of the body? Why do vaccinated populations come down with the diseases they are vaccinated against? Why booster shots are regularly needed? What are the consequences of repeatedly challenging an immature immune system with powerful adjuvants? Is herd immunity real or is it a marketing gimmick? Do the diseases vaccines exist for present a grave threat or do they serve some purpose? Is the incidence really so extensive or is it hyped? 

Are there other less controversial and safer means to tackle them? Why do we need to be frightened of only those diseases for which vaccines exist? How can an un-vaccinated child who does not have the disease pass it on to a vaccinated child? Whether a recently vaccinated child can carry and shed the virus or bacteria and infect another and thus be a real problem? If health has to be ensured why are we not mandating nutrition and exercise instead? What do doctors and medical scientists critical of vaccines have to say?

What is wrong with questions?
These are questions that every medical undergraduate ought to ask. If they are not then is there something wrong with the education system?
Mothers are not interested about compensation. No mother would like to be in a situation where they have to demand compensation for a dead or injured child.

And from whom are they asking questions? From a system that takes great pains to point out ad nauseam that it is immaculate and scientific. From governments they vote for. From doctors who have pledged to do no harm.

The anti-vaccination movement precedes vaccination;
The concept of intrusive protection has existed since a very long time. They were directed against small pox as the disease was persistent and deadly. Prior to vaccination there were three practices. The first was the concept of olfaction that originated from India and China. The weakened disease agent was blown onto the face. The next was inoculation where the disease agent was scratched into the skin. Third was variolation; active disease matter was surgically introduced deep into the body. They failed because of three reasons; they led to serious adverse effects, increased the death rate and helped the disease to spread among populations where they were practiced. By 1728 the medical profession knew very well that these concepts would not work.

Therefore when Jenner came out with the concept of cow pox and suggested the same method he was ridiculed. It was insinuated that he was out for fame and that he would simply encourage quacks waiting in the wings to establish themselves. A cartoon in a pamphlet of the time lampooned him as a plump cow with quacks eagerly drinking out of his big udder. That perfectly portrayed the anxiety. Jenner hurriedly obtained a cheap medical degree to avoid further ridicule and impress King George III who sanctioned a grant in 1796 and set the ball in motion.

The results of the small pox vaccination based upon the single example of one James Phipps being operated upon and observed to be free of small pox when challenged with the disease, again assuming that the immunity so obtained was for life, did nothing to quell that anxiety. Small pox continued unabated and the perceived period of immunity reduced progressively from a lifetime, to ten years, then three and ultimately six months to a year. Repeated revaccination was suggested that amply suited those implementing the practice for a handsome fee. Opposition to the vaccine grew as people witnessed their children develop serious illnesses and die from the vaccine. Growing rejection of the vaccination and protests against it led to mandates in 1864-68 in Leicester, England leading to the launch of the Anti-Vaccination League in 1870.

Many regions including Leicester rejected the vaccine and adopted sanitation, hygiene, isolation and nutrition which effectively saw the disease rate declining remarkably. Ironically small pox when it disappeared all over the world disappeared also in regions where people shunned the vaccine and adopted this method. It may be noted that with growing opposition WHO too had adopted these measures.

The dangers from the vaccine pointed out by both doctors and eminent members of the society was officially acknowledged when Dr R P Garrow pointed out in the British Medical Journal on January 14, 1928, that it was causing a great surge in cases of small pox in areas where it was widely given and that as the vaccination rate decreased, the incidence of the disease dropped correspondingly. He also noted that a vaccinated person was five times more likely to die of the disease than the unvaccinated. The vaccine has been linked to a wide range of diseases from schizophrenia to cancer, tuberculosis and leprosy. In 1987 a WHO consultant linked it to AIDS.

Dr. Charles Nichols of Boston observed in the Idaho Observer of June 2000, “In India, according to an official return presented to the British House of Commons by Viscount Morley, there have been, during 30 years, 1877 to 1906, 3,344,325 deaths from smallpox of persons presumably vaccinated, for vaccination is universally enforced in India....In each and every community where vaccination ceases and strict sanitation is substituted, smallpox disappears. There are no exceptions to this.” Subsequent investigations revealed that the nature of the virus in the vaccine remains a mystery; whereas cow-pox and horse-pox were speculated upon, the name “vaccinia virus” appeared for the first time in history without research to establish its origin and potential to prevent a small pox epidemic. It was also dubbed the most dangerous vaccine in history.

The Anti-vaccination League and its accusations were vindicated.

The Indian scenario;
What is the situation on the ground that troubles Indian parents? The Indian crowd has been oblivious to the worldwide anti-vaccination movement due to its inherent trust of both the government and the scientific community post independence. The controversies over the small pox vaccination died down with Gandhi who had declared himself "anti-vaccine", and the BCG and DPT controversies were controlled by false assurances. The 15 year old ICMR trial that found the BCG vaccine was 0% effective, and the spate of encephalopathy, neurological disorders, and spasticity associated with the DPT vaccine was kept away from public gaze.

It was with the OPV vaccination, widely condemned by concerned doctors and medical scientists in India and which received some media attention that first stirred the complacent crowd. The doctors of the country were aghast that 32,419 cases of polio worldwide, around 12,000 in India, was inflated to 350,000 to justify a vaccine that was clearly linked to paralysis and had been blamed for causing cancers. But the public concerns over vaccination really began with the deaths that followed the Pentavalent vaccine in India. Doctors calculated that around 8,100 children could be dying annually from this vaccine alone. Parents began avoiding vaccination drives alarmed by reports of deaths. They were in for a rude shock when doctors revealed that the WHO had changed its reporting protocol such that the deaths could not be ascribed to the vaccine. The Indian media, mostly reluctant to highlight vaccination issues, began writing on them after a senior editor of the Times of India was awakened by the death of his brother to the yellow fever vaccine.

Concern over measles vaccination deaths and the surprising inaction grabbed media headlines. The unjustified closure of Indian public sector units producing vaccinations stirred up a controversy. Doctors alleged this move was to favour private vaccine manufacturers. The introduction of the Hep-B vaccine for a disease that infected promiscuous adults and drug addicts into the childhood schedule raised eyebrows. News stories about spastic and autistic children alarmed parents but they were never exposed to the huge uproar over the Wakefield GMC trial in the UK which grabbed headlines worldwide.

Indian NGO’s start investigating;
The introduction of a tetanus vaccine aimed at women and girls of childbearing age and the discovery of the hcg hormone in it prompted NGO’s working in the health sector to start looking at vaccines with suspicion. The illegal HPV vaccine trial in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat that resulted in the death of 9 tribal girls further deepened their worries. A Parliamentary Committee Report found the agencies responsible, PATH and ICMR, to be callous and guilty but the case filed in the Supreme Court moves at a snail’s pace and is yet to pronounce justice. It was then that activists turned to what was happening in other countries and became aware that the concern over deaths and serious disability, including infertility, after the vaccine was spread across Japan, Sweden, Italy, UK and the USA. The US based Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System records 61,060 adverse effects reported from the vaccine that include 464 deaths, 149 cases of cervical cancer, 6080 hospitalizations, and 8936 serious adverse events up to 14th January 2019.

School based campaigns become deadly;
This was followed by an era of enforced school based vaccination campaigns. The JE vaccine campaign in Odisha followed by the MR vaccine campaign across India witnessed child deaths and hospitalizations in an extensive scale. The parents were already wary that their wards required vaccine compliance. Many were privy to whisper campaigns that autism which was spreading its tentacles among children in India is linked to the many vaccinations that are administered in infancy and childhood. It was to counter this that doctors began infiltrating parents groups and started assuring them that autism was in no way connected to vaccines and that it was purely genetic. NGO's workings with the affected children were influenced by funds that flowed in their direction and they were happy to participate in the obfuscation. Independent parents resented this imposition and joined social media platforms to know more on the issue. They were taken aback by what they found. Many responded by beginning to home school children to stay away from vaccine mandates.

Indian Government withholds Clinical Trial results; 
Indian doctors chipped in by revealing that the culprit was probably the presence of mercury in vaccines. They also pointed out how vaccines were being introduced into the country without any cost benefit analysis and without regard for the epidemiological trends in the country. The way the CMC Vellore suppressed clinical trial data on the Rotavirus vaccine which was causing an extremely painful and potentially lethal intestinal obstruction in children, and the Government defence that the data could not be released as it would “alarm the public” came as a rude shock which made parents realize that the government was not on their side and that there was an extensive vaccination lobby that cared little about the impacts on children.

The IAP suffers conflict of interest;
The Indian Academy of Paediatrics has always been very pro vaccine and perceived to be very close to the vaccine manufacturers. It was tainted by a media sting that revealed it was heavily financed by donations from the industry. However it was thoroughly exposed when its executive committee member Dr Vipin Vashisth who is also the principal author of its books on vaccines wrote a public letter to the President alleging that vaccines were being pushed for monetary gains and profits. The media published an article that revealed 15 additional vaccines were pushed privately by doctors and that commissions ranging from 30 to 300% earning Rs. 150 to 2600 from a single vaccine, helped them to an income of Rs. 8100 crores annually as they charge every parent Rs. 25,000 to 30,000 for the shots. Dr Vashisth was promptly expelled from the IAP after being physically assaulted in one of its programmes.

RTI queries uncover deaths and adverse events;
An RTI in the year 2018 was even more shocking. The Government had to concede that 10,612 deaths occurred after vaccination during the period 2008 to 2018 and that there were more than 600,000 adverse effects every year. What is worse, it was conceded that no sincere efforts are made to analyze the findings of the reporting system. Upon questioning it was revealed that the revised WHO protocol that left little chance of any death being attributed to the vaccine was being followed; it was insinuated that the deaths and adverse effects were probably coincidental in nature.

While the oral polio vaccine is being credited with the eradication of polio in India the steep rise in cases of acute flaccid paralysis, a condition clinically indistinguishable from polio, has been a thorn in the side of the establishment. A recent study has analyzed the available data and uncovered that the vaccine has caused 491,704 cases of paralysis in Indian children in the 17 years from 2000 to 2017. While the findings were challenged, the authors of the study have convincingly refuted every allegation thrown at it. The steep increase in the incidence of cancers among children, and the epidemic of encephalopathy among them that appeared after intensive vaccination drives are yet to be explained.

Sensing the mood of the people the vaccine manufacturers of India have launched a campaign roping in the services of Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor. The involvement of high profile celebrities in the country’s vaccination programme is not new but what raised eyebrows was when an eminent member of the IAP declared, “If Kareena Kapoor says vaccines are safe, they are safe.” Is there no other method to ensure the safety of vaccines being produced?

Courts support parents;
The parents have approached three High Courts; at Kerala, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi after children started dying and were hospitalized in hordes after being vaccinated with the measles rubella vaccine in a school based campaign. Deciding on the petitions the clear judgement in all three cases has been, the risks have to be advertised and express consent taken. Preparations are on to challenge the decisions. It has been acknowledged by government sources that vaccination campaigns cannot succeed unless the parents are kept ignorant and the vaccines forced on the children. The WHO too has realized this. It has decided that there should be no right to refuse vaccines.

The problem is global;
Their worries are shared by parents globally. The US FDA investigated the presence of mercury in vaccines and found regulators "asleep at the switch." Steps were taken to reduce the quantity in vaccines in developed countries but mercury continues to be present in vaccines, and the amount of aluminium in them increased sharply. Faced with intense criticism the US Government in 1986 instead responded with a law that provided vaccine manufacturers protection from lawsuits! The US Supreme Court declared in a landmark judgement in 2011 that vaccines were "unavoidably unsafe". The HHS was instructed to file vaccine safety reports every year but a recent investigation has revealed it has never submitted a report in the last 32 years. The US Government has formed a Vaccine Court and has so far paid around $ 4.09 billion as compensation for deaths and injuries. Around 328 published and acknowledged scientific studies have so far linked vaccines to 248 serious diseases and disorders including death.

An Italian investigation has found the presence of cadmium, lead, copper, tungsten, stainless steel and even uranium in vaccines. Another investigation has found vaccines to be contaminated with glass particles and latex rubber. The use of animal human and avian serum in vaccines has contaminated it with bovine porcine simian and avian viruses which are a source of great concern. An American NGO has found the cancer causing herbicide glyphosate in vaccines and has reported it to the CDC only to be ignored. 

Condition of children is critical;
Our children are today in a deplorable state. According to a report in The Lancet, 54% of children today suffer from chronic disorders. 1 in 10 children has asthma. 1 in 13 suffers from food allergies. 1 in 6 children suffers from developmental disorders. 1 in 8 suffers severe neurological disorders. 1 in 68 children suffers from autism. In the past 8 to 10 years: juvenile diabetes increased by 23%, cancer increased by 29%, ADHD increased by 43%, food allergies increased by 50%, asthma rates rose by almost 50%, autism increased 150%. There is enough to be worried about.

It is extremely easy to counter the anti-vaccination movement. Address the concerns raised. Follow the decisions of the Court. There is absolutely no need to panic and go into media engineered over-hype.