Japan Health Ministry pulls recommendation for HPV vaccination

The comments have been closed for this article. Please comment at the revised article.

I was going to put some snarky comment in the title like, “but wait, what about the statistics.” Because we know that this isn’t a good decision, and that the vaccine deniers will be all over it like MrAndy Wakefield’s fraudulent and retracted study claiming that vaccines cause autism. But let’s move on to what happened.

According to a English newspaper in Japan,

The health ministry decided June 14 to withdraw its recommendation for a vaccination to protect girls against cervical cancer after hundreds complained about possible side effects, including long-term pain and numbness.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is not suspending the use of the vaccination, but it has instructed local governments not to promote the use of the medicine while studies are conducted on the matter.

So far, an estimated 3.28 million people have received the vaccination. However, 1,968 cases of possible side effects, including body pain, have been reported.

The ministry’s task force discussed 43 of those cases. However, a cause-and-effect relationship between the vaccination and the pain and numbness could not be established, so the task force members called for further studies by the ministry.

The ministry’s investigation is expected to take several months. It will then decide whether to reinstate or continue to withhold its recommendation for the vaccination.

So, the health ministry is going to withhold recommendation of the HPV vaccination because they notice 43 cases for which they couldn’t establish a causal relationship to the vaccine. In other words, 0.0013% of cases, a number so small that it’s pretty close to impossible to affix any statistical significance to it. In fact, random background “noise” (that is that some whole body pain could be expected in any random sampling of vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals) of this type of observation is as plausible as correlation (let alone causation) to the vaccine. In fact, the Health Ministry failed to provide us with data concerning the level of these side effects in the general population. Nor how soon after vaccination. Nor anything potentially useful in a scientific analysis.

What’s worse is that, according to the same article, about 2700 women in Japan die every year from HPV related cancers. So, because of complaints from the antivaccination lunatics in Japan (didn’t know they had any, but I shouldn’t be surprised), and bad statistics (43 potential cases of “body pain” out of 3,280,000 vaccinations), the Health Ministry stops recommending the vaccine. Exactly what were these people thinking?

Finally, let’s be clear here. The vaccine hasn’t been pulled from the market nor has it been outlawed; teenagers can still get the vaccine. And this was a very unusual move, since only 3 years ago, Japan’s parliament added the HPV vaccine to the mandatory schedule. Hopefully, this committee will look at the numbers from a statistical and scientific point of view and fix this stupidity.

By the way, the World Health Organization still recommends the HPV vaccine.  Because the HPV vaccine saves lives by preventing future cervical cancers.

 

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Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

34 Replies to “Japan Health Ministry pulls recommendation for HPV vaccination”

  1. That would sure help reduce population overcrowding by killing off so many more children. Great idea. Do suggest any other ways of killing children?

  2. That would sure help reduce population overcrowding by killing off so many more children. Great idea. Do suggest any other ways of killing children?

  3. Even if we lived in a strange universe where anecdotal evidence became fact and correlation equalled causation, I'd still choose "body pain" over cancer any day.

  4. First of all, questioning a consensus without evidence qualifies as nothing. Evidence counts. Rhetoric doesn't.

    Secondly, where did you get those cancer statistics. The rate of most cancers is unchanged from and the death rate has dropped significantly. The only cancer that is much higher today is lung cancer thanks to smoking and probably pollution. I wrote about this in the past couple of weeks. The data for cancer prior to 1940 is really bad, because there was little post mortem analysis, many cancers weren't known, and people died young. The cancer rate now is the same, if not lower, than it was 100 years ago. You just can't quote numbers without providing solid evidence, not shit you picked up in a natural news article.

    Quantum physics is perfectly scientific. I do not know how you think it's logic defying.

    Finally, science is merely a methodology to identify cause and effect in the natural world. If you can't show your effect with science, then it's not proven. And is useless.

    Come on. If you're going to argue this stuff, you're going to have to bring better info to the discussion.

  5. Michael, I think the general community would agree with you.

    People who have interests in alternative therapies, holistic and spiritual practices often question this consensus though.
    Holistic health practitioners often choose to refrain from using chemicals in their bodies as the rates of cancer has risen from 1 in 50 to 1 in 3 over the last 100 years.

    Reducing artificial exposures as much as possible could be one way of readdressing this problem.
    Perhaps we could expand our awareness and include holistic practices into our life and then use the best of both worlds. However as you demonstrate in your reply, the scientific world is very threatened by these medicines and hastens to marginalise them.
    They are threatened because the methods at times are considered unscientific. Quantum physics is also logic defying and yet perhaps holds the key to the understanding of the universe itself. The same strange and charmed logic can also be used to understand holistic healing. Some of my favourite books, which you might enjoy are: The Dancing Wuli Masters by Gary Zukav, Shroedinger's Cat by John Gribbon(There's also a great trilogy by Rober Anton Wilson)and The Tao of Physicis, Fritjov Capra. All the best, peace R

  6. Actually, you are using false balance. There are not that many Ph.D.'s and MD"s who question vaccines. But, the fact is, science is NOT a democracy. They don't get together and vote on things. A scientist who provides evidence, in the form of peer-reviewed research that has been repeated by others, gets 100000X times more weight than any authority that has NO evidence whatsoever.

    There is no equivalence here. Anti-vaxxers lie, cherry pick data, and in general, have no scientific backing whatsoever to their beliefs.

    Moreover, science doesn't deal in "truth". It deals in evidence and how that evidence is obtained. Anti-vaxxers are child abusers who refuse to examine evidence with a scientific eye. They lie. They harm. There is nothing in them that is similar to the brilliant scientists who are researching anything in science, including vaccines.

  7. Jack, I don't push opinion, which isn't evidence-based. I use evidence. Controlled epidemiological studies do NOT confirm your lies. Give me a break. Go troll an anti-science website, because you are a lying liar who lies. Period. End of case.

  8. I'm actually in Japan an the moment and this article is clearly an opinion piece, not designed to inform, rather to push a certain idea. A special task force examined 43 cases of widespread pain after HPV vaccinations, This means that they examined each case separately and in detail. The panel concluded that given the timing of symptoms they could not rule out a connection between the adverse events and HPV vaccines. The Rate of adverse reactions is
    Cervarix – 245.1 per 1 million vaccinations
    Gardasil – 155.7 per 1 million vaccinations
    It's not only about the numbers, it's about the severity of the reaction. And I guarantee you that if it was a case of simple aches and pains, it would't register here. There are cases of paralysis with at least one girl in a wheel chair. The panel considered both the timing of the onset of symptoms and the consistency of the conditions. They consider a possible genetic predisposition with the vaccine being the trigger, as is the case with some other vaccines (DTP and oral Polio). They are unable to determine an exact interaction at a cellular level, hence no 'smoking gun' as the Americans like to phrase it.

  9. I just want the truth to emerge. To be honest, while each group (pro and con) has its loonies, for the most part very intelligent and educated people are questioning this and that is true at least, count the PHds and MDs amongst them. I wish as humans we could debate this without turning on each other in a way that is quite devastating, more devastating perhaps, historically speaking, than the effects or non effects of the vaccines. When humans fight no one wins. Lets search for proof and do more testing, with respect to all life. Less animosity more humanity. Peace.

  10. I just want the truth to emerge. To be honest, while each group (pro and con) has its loonies, for the most part very intelligent and educated people are questioning this and that is true at least, count the PHds and MDs amongst them. I wish as humans we could debate this without turning on each other in a way that is quite devastating, more devastating perhaps, historically speaking, than the effects or non effects of the vaccines. When humans fight no one wins. Lets search for proof and do more testing, with respect to all life. Less animosity more humanity. Peace.

    1. Actually, you are using false balance. There are not that many Ph.D.'s and MD"s who question vaccines. But, the fact is, science is NOT a democracy. They don't get together and vote on things. A scientist who provides evidence, in the form of peer-reviewed research that has been repeated by others, gets 100000X times more weight than any authority that has NO evidence whatsoever.

      There is no equivalence here. Anti-vaxxers lie, cherry pick data, and in general, have no scientific backing whatsoever to their beliefs.

      Moreover, science doesn't deal in "truth". It deals in evidence and how that evidence is obtained. Anti-vaxxers are child abusers who refuse to examine evidence with a scientific eye. They lie. They harm. There is nothing in them that is similar to the brilliant scientists who are researching anything in science, including vaccines.

    2. Michael, I think the general community would agree with you.

      People who have interests in alternative therapies, holistic and spiritual practices often question this consensus though.
      Holistic health practitioners often choose to refrain from using chemicals in their bodies as the rates of cancer has risen from 1 in 50 to 1 in 3 over the last 100 years.

      Reducing artificial exposures as much as possible could be one way of readdressing this problem.
      Perhaps we could expand our awareness and include holistic practices into our life and then use the best of both worlds. However as you demonstrate in your reply, the scientific world is very threatened by these medicines and hastens to marginalise them.
      They are threatened because the methods at times are considered unscientific. Quantum physics is also logic defying and yet perhaps holds the key to the understanding of the universe itself. The same strange and charmed logic can also be used to understand holistic healing. Some of my favourite books, which you might enjoy are: The Dancing Wuli Masters by Gary Zukav, Shroedinger's Cat by John Gribbon(There's also a great trilogy by Rober Anton Wilson)and The Tao of Physicis, Fritjov Capra. All the best, peace R

    3. First of all, questioning a consensus without evidence qualifies as nothing. Evidence counts. Rhetoric doesn't.

      Secondly, where did you get those cancer statistics. The rate of most cancers is unchanged from and the death rate has dropped significantly. The only cancer that is much higher today is lung cancer thanks to smoking and probably pollution. I wrote about this in the past couple of weeks. The data for cancer prior to 1940 is really bad, because there was little post mortem analysis, many cancers weren't known, and people died young. The cancer rate now is the same, if not lower, than it was 100 years ago. You just can't quote numbers without providing solid evidence, not shit you picked up in a natural news article.

      Quantum physics is perfectly scientific. I do not know how you think it's logic defying.

      Finally, science is merely a methodology to identify cause and effect in the natural world. If you can't show your effect with science, then it's not proven. And is useless.

      Come on. If you're going to argue this stuff, you're going to have to bring better info to the discussion.

  11. Seeing this article, here's what I see: No mention at all of how many "adverse reactions" to the vaccine actually occurred. It only says, "several adverse reactions to the medicines have been reported" — reported, not confirmed — and that an anti-vaccine group there is pushing for it, and crowing loudly that they convinced the health minister to remove this recommendation. Politics, lack of hard data, and more anti-vax propaganda, complete with a picture of teary-eyed mothers.

  12. Seeing this article, here's what I see: No mention at all of how many "adverse reactions" to the vaccine actually occurred. It only says, "several adverse reactions to the medicines have been reported" — reported, not confirmed — and that an anti-vaccine group there is pushing for it, and crowing loudly that they convinced the health minister to remove this recommendation. Politics, lack of hard data, and more anti-vax propaganda, complete with a picture of teary-eyed mothers.

    1. I'm actually in Japan an the moment and this article is clearly an opinion piece, not designed to inform, rather to push a certain idea. A special task force examined 43 cases of widespread pain after HPV vaccinations, This means that they examined each case separately and in detail. The panel concluded that given the timing of symptoms they could not rule out a connection between the adverse events and HPV vaccines. The Rate of adverse reactions is
      Cervarix – 245.1 per 1 million vaccinations
      Gardasil – 155.7 per 1 million vaccinations
      It's not only about the numbers, it's about the severity of the reaction. And I guarantee you that if it was a case of simple aches and pains, it would't register here. There are cases of paralysis with at least one girl in a wheel chair. The panel considered both the timing of the onset of symptoms and the consistency of the conditions. They consider a possible genetic predisposition with the vaccine being the trigger, as is the case with some other vaccines (DTP and oral Polio). They are unable to determine an exact interaction at a cellular level, hence no 'smoking gun' as the Americans like to phrase it.

    2. Jack, I don't push opinion, which isn't evidence-based. I use evidence. Controlled epidemiological studies do NOT confirm your lies. Give me a break. Go troll an anti-science website, because you are a lying liar who lies. Period. End of case.

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