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Spotlight

MagazineJune 1994 (Vol. 5 Issue 3)Spotlight

The latest problem with vaccination has to do with ways that vaccines themselves are responsible for new disease

The latest problem with vaccination has to do with ways that vaccines themselves are responsible for new disease. Jabbing someone with a weakened or killed version of a virus can cause him to develop viral "mutants" or encourage their growth in the p

In a series of letters to the Lancet, a number of authors describe cases in which babies born to mothers given the hepatitis B vaccine went on to develop an "escape mutant of HBV". In one letter (The Lancet 5 February 1994), the authors contend that 3 per cent of vaccinated babies develop such a mutation. In this study, 44 of 2590 babies born to hepatitis B positive mothers and given a full immunization programme against hepatitis B nevertheless became HBV positive. Thirty two of those babies demonstrated the presence of the vaccine viral escape mutant. This mutant has been associated with hepatitis and active liver disease, say Florida liver specialists Johnson Y Lau and Teresa Wright.

Another Lancet correspondent noted that failure to detect these mutants may lead to transmission of the HBV through donated blood. In fact, it has been documented that these viral mutants can be transmitted via contaminated blood products, causing severe hepatitis. And of course this mutant may infect individuals even if they have been vaccinated (The Lancet, 19 March 1994).

Eradicating one strain of virus can also encourage the proliferation of other forms of it among the population. This is precisely what is occurring with the haemophilus influenza b meningitis vaccine, says WDDTY panel member Dr J Anthony Morris, former Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health expert on vaccines. Dr Morris maintains that as b-type H influenzae strains are being wiped out by the vaccination, non-b H influenzae strains are thriving.

Dr Morris cites a study in the Lancet (3 April 1993) which examined 408 strains of Hib meningitis. Although 94 per cent were H influenzae type b, the rest were non-serotypable haemophilus influenzae (NST) strains. The Lancet study concluded that vaccination will have no effect on the incidence of infection of these mutant strains. "Infections due to these H influenzae strains are, after the implementation of Hib vaccines, likely to persist and represent a substantial proportion of the serious infections caused by this species," it said. An accompanying editorial said that Hib meningitis comprises only 40-60 per cent of all invasive Hib infection. "As more Hib vaccine is used, the greater, porportionally, will be the role of [non-b] H influenzae that are a major cause of [middle ear infection] sinusitis, exacerbation of chronic bronchitis and other mostly respiratory infections," wrote writer Heikki Peltola.

Morris claims a similar situation occurred with US army recruits being tested with a killed viral pneumonia vaccine in the 1960s. According to Harold S Ginsberg (The Adenoviruses, Plenum Press, New York), the vaccine caused unpredictable shifts in the virus type. Epidemics of disease from these mutant viruses occurred among recruits, rendering the vaccine useless and sending the scientists scurrying back to the laboratory without success to try to develop a vaccine that would knock out the mutations as well.


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