The enormous economic value of vaccination – that is, the economic benefits of a vaccine far outweighs the costs – is often overlooked, especially by those who invent some massive conspiracy by “Big Pharma” to push vaccines.
The standard anti-vaccine trope is that vaccines are a gargantuan profit center for pharmaceutical companies. That would be false. In fact, if we are going to endow Big Pharma with immorality and evil motives, they would stop making vaccines and profiting off of the massive illnesses that would ensue. But that’s not what happens.
The facts are that pharmaceutical companies manufacture and market vaccines at a moderate profit, forsaking the much larger profits in a world with rampant vaccine-preventable diseases. I’m not one of those naïve individuals who think that Big Pharma is filled with 100% altruistic and moral individuals. However, it mostly is.
Moving away from the economic benefits and profits for the pharmaceutical industry, there is a tremendous economic value of vaccination for society at large. And it’s important to make this clear to anyone who is willing to listen.
Continue reading Enormous economic value of vaccination – the case is clear
The myths about cancer risk are both sad and dangerous. Too many times, I read about supplements or diets that stop “cancer” as if it’s one disease (it is not) that a handful of blueberries will destroy. Like almost every cancer, reducing breast cancer risk really boils down to a handful of lifestyle choices.
In 2015, there will be 232,000 new breast cancer cases in the USA (pdf). Worldwide in 2012, it was estimated that there were over 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer. There is evidence that the rate of breast cancer is increasing, but that may be a result of better diagnostic tools that give earlier diagnoses (and this is a discussion left for another day).
Breast cancer has become a part of our culture, partially because the disease moved from a disease that was only mentioned in whispers to one that has some of the highest awareness for cancers.
Using a review article, by Max Dieterich et al. about breast cancer risk and lifestyle influence as a template, I thought it would be prudent to list out some of the major influencers on breast cancer risk. And no, smoking weed has no known influence on the risk of breast cancer.
Continue reading Breast cancer risk – lifestyle choices
The issues with the pertussis vaccine waning effectiveness has been circulating for several years. There have been a number of well-designed studies that have provided evidence of the issues with the pertussis component of the DTaP or Tdap vaccine (which also provides immunization against tetanus and diphtheria, both dangerous diseases).
According to current research, individuals who have been vaccinated against whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), with either the DTaP (version for usually for children) or Tdap vaccine, lose protection against whooping cough in some time period after being vaccinated.
A new article, published in Pediatrics, written by Nicola P Klein et al., examined children who received the Tdap vaccine in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) health care plan, a vertically integrated managed care system which closely tracks patients after vaccination. Their data provide important information about the strategies for the vaccine going forward.
Continue reading Pertussis vaccine waning effectiveness – the facts
In the USA, we’re nearing the heart of the flu season, with pediatric flu deaths peaking during the next 8-10 weeks. So far in the 2015-16 flu season (which generally starts on October 1), the CDC has reported that there have been 7 pediatric flu deaths through the 4th week of December. This is unchanged from the previous report.
Now, I know some of you may say “only 7,” but since pediatric flu is mostly prevented with a vaccine, we could prevent these 7 deaths. Moreover, it’s early. During the last 3 years, there were 171 pediatric flu deaths in 2012-13, 11 in 2013-14, and 148 in 2014-15 – most of the pediatric flu deaths happened after this week.
It seems that the the numbers are lower, so far, than in previous years. However, this flu season may be several weeks late, probably as a result of warmer weather (no, warm weather does not block the flu). Flu mortality across all ages crossed the threshold for an “epidemic” last week, so these numbers might increase. Let’s hope they don’t, but as opposed to what people believe, flu is dangerous.
Continue reading Pediatric flu deaths 2015-16 – Update 2
Recently, I read a new article published in Pediatrics that described how educating either teenagers or their parents about HPV vaccinations had little effect on the overall vaccination rate for the vaccine. Essentially, the researchers found that it was a 50:50 probability that any teen would get the vaccine, regardless of their knowledge of HPV and the vaccine itself.
So I thought about why that Pediatrics study found that education about HPV and Gardasil didn’t move the needle on vaccination uptake. It’s possible that the benefits of the vaccine is overwhelmed by two factors–first, that there’s a disconnect between personal activities today vs. a disease that may or may not show up 20-30 years from now; and second, that the invented concerns about the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, promulgated by the usual suspects in the antivaccination world, makes people think that there is a clear risk from the vaccine which is not balanced by preventing cancer decades from now. It’s frustrating. Continue reading Your one stop shop for real science and myth-debunking about Gardasil
Recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have adopted new vaccination schedules for children and adolescents. Mostly, the changes were minor (read about it here), but it did include an endorsement for the more powerful anti-cancer HPV vaccine – known as Gardasil-9.
The new, more powerful, version of the HPV vaccine, cleared, last year, by the US Food and Drug Administration, protects teens and young adults from 9 subtypes of HPV, helping prevent more cancers. The new vaccine, called Gardasil-9, prevents even more types of cancer.
This newest version of the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine safely and effectively prevents several forms of cancer in young adults by protecting the those who receive the vaccine from nine different types of the HPV virus.
In a clinical study about this more powerful HPV vaccine, published in Pediatrics, 3066 girls and boys, aged 9 through 15, were given a three-dose series of the new Gardasil-9 vaccine–day 1, month 1, and month 6. The researchers observed no serious adverse events and high immunogenicity (antibodies to all 9 HPV types). Continue reading CDC endorses powerful anti-cancer HPV vaccine
Vaccination mortality risk is often trumpeted (no evidence, of course) by the vaccine deniers as being very high, and one of the major reasons to avoid vaccines. The news reports about deaths after HPV vaccines (bogus, of course) often focus on deaths, without even considering general background mortality of teens and young adults, even for relatively rare conditions.
Moreover, deaths attributed to vaccines are often not causally related. It may feel like one event that follows another event is related – but there may not be any correlation, let alone causality between the first event and the second.
Those of us who accept the fact that vaccines are very safe, and indeed, not really a risk for causing death, have found no evidence that there has been a single death attributed to vaccines over the past couple of decades. But that’s just examining the high quality scientific and medical literature, which may or may not be 100% inclusive of all post-vaccination mortality.
But, that has changed with a new study that was published on 1 February 2015. Continue reading Vaccination mortality risk – there’s nothing there
In August 2010 Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski (“the relators”), former Merck virologists and often called “Merck whistleblowers,” filed suit in the name of the United States – a so-called qui tam action, where the prosecution shares any fines or penalties with the two virologists – against Merck.
They claimed that by faking effectiveness testing, Merck misled the United States government as to the effectiveness of the mumps component of its MMRII vaccine (a vaccine which protects individuals against mumps, measles and rubella). In 2012 a clinic and two MDs filed a class action against Merck claiming violation of the Sherman Act – monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior resulting from the fraud – and violation of various state laws. (U.S. v. Merck and Chatom v. Merck). The suits were handled together. Continue reading Merck whistleblowers – mumps and motions – updated
As anyone who reads this blog regularly, it doesn’t take a genius to know I have little or no respect for science deniers. Over time, I’ve come to understand that dedicated science deniers don’t know or understand science, and live in a world of delusion that keeps them firmly planted in their anti-science dogma. And there are certain science denier indicators that can help you see the worst of the offenders.
I realize that there are lots of people out there who are legitimately confused by the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations, the obvious reality of anthropogenic climate change, the fact of evolution, or the safety of GMOs. And there are plenty of blogs out there that try to gently walk them through the logic, helping those who are confused with knowledge.
However, the Skeptical Raptor is more of a carnivore. The goal of this blog is to mock, belittle, annoy, ridicule and taunt the true science deniers. Those deniers who form a cult of science denialism while bathing in their Dunning-Kruger cognitive biases.
These science deniers, who are on both the left and right of the political spectrum sadly, are generally hateful, with a good dollop of antisemitism thrown in frequently.
And don’t let science deniers co-opt the word “skeptic.” Let’s be clear – real skepticism is based on real science. And a denialism is not.
There are three really good science denier indicators – which are used by my science denier radar (patent pending) – that can be used by anyone to separate the naive or innocent, still looking for information, and those with dogmatic opinions. Please keep this checklist handy.
Continue reading Science denier indicators – the pseudoscience bullshit meter
A recent article that came up in my Google Alerts – regarding NVICP compensation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome – gives me a chance to address a few important misconceptions about NVICP and its decisions. The headline read:
The headline is misleading in a number of important ways. I thought that this was a good lead-in to examine the decision and the surrounding issues.
Continue reading NVICP compensation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome – facts