Diane Harper, star of anti-vaccine memes, supports HPV vaccines

Diane Harper

If you have any interest in HPV vaccines, you’ve probably heard about Diane Harper, who the anti-vaccine religion claims was a “lead Gardasil researcher” who came out against the vaccine. Many of us were never convinced that she was really anti-vaccine, although she seemed to have vacillating views on the HPV vaccine depending on a variety of random factors, including who was feting her at any particular point in time.

Dr. Harper was a frustrating character in the conversations about the HPV vaccine. Although some (but certainly not all) of her comments about the vaccine could be construed as an anti-HPV vaccine, her publications, and many other public comments, seemed to clearly show that she was a supporter of the vaccine.

A few writers in the scientific skeptic blogosphere have contacted her, either in person or through interviews, and most have come away with the impression that she was solidly in support of the vaccine. However, and I have no evidence of this whatsoever, she always seemed to be biased against Gardasil, manufactured by Merck, so maybe she had some personal vendetta. We will probably never know, I suppose.

But a recent announcement should put an end to the Diane Harper anti-Gardasil meme – well I’m more cynical than that, I know the vaccine denier mob will keep bringing it back like a zombie. So, let’s take a look at Dr. Harper and her announcement. No one should be surprised. Continue reading “Diane Harper, star of anti-vaccine memes, supports HPV vaccines”

HPV vaccine affects pregnancy rate – laughable anti-vaxxer study

hpv vaccine affects pregnancy

I thought I had read it all, but here comes one out of recesses of the anti-vaccine mind – where logic and science disappear into a black hole. This time, an economist, with absolutely no background in science, writes a lame article that claims that the HPV vaccine affects pregnancy rate. Somehow, because of reasons, unknown to modern science.

The anti-vaccine religion definitely hates the HPV vaccine more than any other one out there. They invent more lies about it while ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. But relying upon facts is generally not something found in the anti-vaccine wheelhouse.

Of course, the false claims about the HPV vaccine often rely upon pseudoscience produced by anti-vaccine shills like the oft-retracted Shaw and Tomljenovic, the infamous Lyons-Weiler, and the preposterous Shoenfeld. Because the anti-vaxxers lack any evidence to support their dislike of the HPV vaccine, they require the appeal to false authority to claim that these discredited pseudoscientists’ work is somehow more important than all of the body evidence, from real, respected scientists, that supports HPV vaccine safety and effectiveness.

So, let’s take a look at this new study from a non-scientist claiming that the HPV vaccine affects pregnancy rates. I almost thought about ignoring it, but it’s just too funny. Continue reading “HPV vaccine affects pregnancy rate – laughable anti-vaxxer study”

Autoimmune diseases unrelated to HPV vaccine – new Canadian study

autoimmune diseases

There are so many outlandish and unsupported claims about the HPV vaccine, it’s difficult to keep up with them all. One of the most outrageous lies about the HPV vaccine is that it causes autoimmune diseases, despite the robust epidemiological or clinical evidence that firmly establishes the safety of the HPV vaccine, especially with respect to autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the immune system has an abnormal response to normal cells in the body. Celiac disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions are as a result of an autoimmune disorder. We don’t know what causes the autoimmunity, but there is almost no biological plausibility that any vaccine could induce the disease.

Despite the lack of a reasonable biological mechanism leading from the HPV vaccine to any of the multitudes of autoimmune diseases, the anti-vaccine forces continue to try to establish a link. For example, Yehuda Shoenfeld has pushed a ridiculed hypothesis that the vaccine causes something he calls autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). Not a single respected scientist buys into ASIA, and Shoenfeld has presented no vigorous clinical or epidemiological evidence supporting its existence.

Not to pile onto the anti-vaccine tropes about the vaccine, but a large, and new, Canadian study has once again shown us that there are no links between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases. This adds to the body of evidence that, for real science, reinforces the conclusion that the HPV vaccine is an incredibly safe vaccine. Continue reading “Autoimmune diseases unrelated to HPV vaccine – new Canadian study”

Vaccine court myths – instead, here are facts about the NVICP

vaccine court myths

The anti-vaccine world loves its myths, because, lacking any real scientific evidence supporting their outlandish claims, fairy tales are all they have. Not that I like picking and choosing the worst of the anti-vaccine urban legends, but the vaccine court myths are among the most egregious and ridiculous.

Although there are a lot of vaccine court myths, though this article will focus on just three:

  1. The vaccine court vs. civil courts.
  2. Vaccine manufacturers are immune to lawsuits.
  3. Billions of dollars have been paid out to “victims.”
  4. The vaccine court said that vaccines cause autism.

Let’s get to the article. Continue reading “Vaccine court myths – instead, here are facts about the NVICP”

Vaccine refusal by a healthcare worker – is it a disability?

vaccine refusal

On June 5, 2018, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a District Court’s decision to dismiss a case filed by a nurse who alleged she was terminated for refusing a Tdap vaccine for medical reasons. The focus of the decision was not the vaccine refusal per se; the focus was what are the pleading standards in a claim alleging a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation of a disability. While the specific claim of the nurse’s vaccine refusal is unconvincing in many ways, I think the Third Circuit (“the court”) was right to allow her case to proceed at least a bit further. 

For the purpose of the discussion of any motion to dismiss, the assumption is that the plaintiff’s factual allegations about her vaccine refusal choices are true.  Therefore, what I am describing as “the facts” is the nurse’s version. Fact-finding may show that not all these allegations are provable.  Continue reading “Vaccine refusal by a healthcare worker – is it a disability?”

Anti-vaccine quiz gets it all wrong – silliness from Wisconsin anti-vaxxers

Wisconsin anti-vaccine quiz

Every week, I come across some amusing and frustrating anti-vaccine website. Most of them are laughably ignorant of any scientific facts, but that doesn’t stop them, as we all know. Today, I present to you an anti-vaccine quiz brought to you by the Wisconsin Coalition for Informed Vaccination. And by “informed vaccination, ” they mean “misinformed,” since they provide little but ignorance and pseudoscience.

Having nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon, I thought I provide legitimate answers to the anti-vaccine quiz, because that’s the solemn duty of this skeptical feathery dinosaur. I’ll quote their question and answer, then rip the answer into little bite-sized pieces, as is the style of any carnivorous raptor. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine quiz gets it all wrong – silliness from Wisconsin anti-vaxxers”

Pharmaceutical drug development – providing facts about vaccines

pharmaceutical drug development

I might be over-exaggerating, but I’ve always thought that the anti-vaccine religion believes in their heart that the development of vaccines includes throwing a bunch of stuff in a blender along with dollops of mercury, formaldehyde, aborted babies, and aluminum, which is poured into a vial and sold for billions of dollars. Despite those anti-vaccine myths, pharmaceutical drug development (including vaccines) is a difficult process that fails 99% of the time.

Despite the fact that pharmaceutical drug development is so complicated and failure-prone, I sometimes get the impression that many people think it is easy. And that any claims for a new drug or medical device fly through this process, with Big Pharma’s lust for profits taking precedence over science.

The myths about pharmaceutical drug development are filled with controversy, false claims, and conspiracy theories. Yes, occasionally, we can point out problems with the process. Unless you’re using confirmation bias,  you will see that the vast majority of pharmaceuticals are very safe and very effective (or at least the benefits outweigh the risks).

One of the largest myths is that there really isn’t any regulation – Big Pharma owns the FDA (and other regulatory agencies), and does whatever it wants. But let’s look at the process of pharmaceutical drug development carefully, including how most drugs are investigated and brought to the market. Let’s try to separate the myths of from the facts of pharmaceutical drug development.

Continue reading “Pharmaceutical drug development – providing facts about vaccines”

Vaccines and autism – science says they are unrelated

vaccines and autism

Vaccines and autism are not linked or related according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by top scientists and physicians.

But this false claim is in the news again. Probably as a result of reports that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. So let’s take a look at the science.

On 26 April 2018, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that new data showed a continued rise in the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is considered to be a disorder of neural development, usually appearing before the age of 3 years, characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior.

Predictably, the anti-vaccine community jumped on this information (despite their hatred of the CDC) to make unfounded claims, not backed by science, that this was all the fault of vaccines. Of course.

Continue reading “Vaccines and autism – science says they are unrelated”

Anti-vaccine fraud gets four papers retracted – who is surprised?

anti-vaccine fraud

Earlier in May 2018, I wrote an article about an anti-vaccine paper published by someone named Lars Andersson, who turned out to be essentially a scam artist. This lying anti-vaccine fraud published a scientifically-challenged online article in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.

The article itself was really bad. As Vince Iannelli, MD, at Vaxopedia put it:

…the author came to bogus conclusions, as although there has been an increase in rates of cervical cancer in some of the smaller counties in Sweden, it is thought to be due to differences in regional cancer prevention. To put it more simply, if it was due to getting vaccinated, then since immunization rates aren’t that different in those counties (just like immunization rates vs autism rates in the United States), then why didn’t rates of cervical cancer go up everywhere?

That alone should have gotten the article to be immediately retracted, but the story about the anti-vaccine fraud author gets worse. He used a fake name, fake credentials, and fake institutional association – that’s like three out of three fakes for an anti-vaccine fraud.

Andersson claimed that he was in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Swedish Karolinska Institute, one of the most prestigious medical universities in the world. An author with that type of background would be impressive, and the research would have been taken somewhat seriously. But what we found out is that Andersson was a con artist – he used a fake name, he did not work at the Karolinska Institute, and he didn’t have any credentials that he claimed.

Laughably, and probably, ironically, Andersson whined that “he used a pseudonym because he believed the use of his real name would have invited personal repercussions from those opposed to any questioning of vaccines.” First, what a coward. Second, the anti-vaccine religion takes great pleasure in attacking scientists and vaccine advocates by sending lying emails and phone calls to employers, families, and friends trying to discredit them publicly. These ad hominem personal attacks usually contain strong elements of racist hate speech, because the anti-vaccine mob lacks any evidence in support of their pseudoscience.

Did I mention that Andersson is a coward? Along with being an imposter?

But my loyal readers are here for the retractions, and that’s what I’ll give you today. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine fraud gets four papers retracted – who is surprised?”

Aluminum in vaccines – new paper dismisses anti-vaxxer claims

aluminum in vaccines

Trying to have a reasonable discussion with the anti-vaccine religion is usually very difficult. To these militants, scientific evidence is unimportant – well, unless it’s a cherry-picked article from an obscure, predatory journal that has been retracted. Part of the problem is the moving goalposts of the anti-vaccine arguments. First, it was mercury (no mercury in vaccines). Today, the argument is that aluminum in vaccines is dangerous. What next, the water in vaccines causes something because of reasons?

A new paper published recently provides solid evidence that the tiny amount of aluminum in vaccines is biologically irrelevant. Not that a peer-reviewed paper in a top journal would convince most anti-vaccine zealots, since they have a pre-conceived conclusion, and only accept evidence that supports their beliefs. By the way, that’s the very definition of pseudoscience. Continue reading “Aluminum in vaccines – new paper dismisses anti-vaxxer claims”