Back in May 2018, I wrote an analysis of a new HPV vaccine systematic review that clearly showed that not only was the HPV vaccine very safe, but it was also effective in significantly reducing the risks of cervical cancer. This was powerful and robust evidence that the HPV vaccine is one of the best tools in reducing HPV-related cancers. And that the vaccine is extremely safe, possibly the safest of all the very safe vaccines on the market.
For those who aren’t science nerds like me, you should know systematic reviews are at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research. These type of reviews are one of the foundations of science-based medicine (SBM).
The idea of SBM is …to answer the question “what works?” we must give more importance to our cumulative scientific knowledge from all relevant disciplines.
Now I’ve said that systematic reviews are not perfect. For example, the Cochrane Database is considered one of the premier organizations that perform systematic and meta-reviews in the biomedical sciences. If I am looking to determine if there is evidence supporting a medical claim, I look there first. As a scientist, I don’t take their conclusions at face value – for example, they have made egregious errors in systematic reviews of acupuncture quackery in the past. Like all scientific literature, one must examine a systematic review (whether published in Cochrane or any other journal) with a critical eye. Is there bias in including or excluding data? Do they overstate the conclusion? Do they rely upon unusual or bad statistical analyses?
Recently, one Cochrane group has attacked the aforementioned HPV vaccine systematic review, written by another Cochrane group. Time to take a look at that. Continue reading “HPV vaccine systematic review – anti-vaxxers and Cochrane”