Sheep vaccine study – aluminum adjuvants alter their behavior

sheep vaccine study

Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve read a lot of vaccine research studies. Most, published in top journals by real scientists, are worthy of respect. And they provide powerful evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. Of course, there are a handful of studies that are pseudoscientific garbage. Or retracted. But today, I think I’ve seen it all – a Spanish animal research team published a sheep vaccine study that they claim shows that the aluminum adjuvants in the vaccine altered their behavior. And you just know that the anti-vaccine religion will jump all over it as “proof” that vaccines are dangerous. Yawn.

In case you missed it, yes, this is a sheep vaccine study.

To be fair, I have no idea whether these researchers are part of the anti-vaccine religion – it’s possible that they think they’ve found something, but they do rely upon some discredited anti-vaccine tropes and falsehoods as the premise of their studies. Moreover, this article furthers the false narrative about aluminum in vaccines. And we’ll keep seeing it repeated on anti-vaccine Twitter and Facebook posts because the anti-vaccine zealots have nothing else.

The sheep vaccine study by Javier Asìn et al., published in Pharmacological Research, investigated cognitive and behavioral changes in lambs that had received repeated vaccination with aluminum-containing vaccines.

Let’s take a critical look.

Sheep vaccine study results

I’m not going to spend much time with the results, because I find it very troubling that the author’s conclusions are based on a total study of 21 animals, seven in each group. I laugh at clinical trials in humans that don’t contain 1,000 or more patients or epidemiological studies that don’t include a sample population over 100,000. An animal study that includes 21 lambs ranks near at the bottom half of the hierarchy of biomedical research.

The researchers put those 21 sheep into three equal groups:

A. Control group

B. Adjuvant only group

C. Vaccine with adjuvant group

I will get to a criticism below, but based on the small experiment, the authors concluded that:

Animals in groups B and C exhibited behavioral changes: affiliative interactions were significantly reduced and aggressive interactions and stereotypies increased significantly. They also exhibited a significant increase in excitatory behavior and compulsive eating. In general, changes were more pronounced in the Vaccine group than they were in the Adjuvant-only group. Some changes were already significant in summer, after seven inoculations only. This study is the first to describe behavioral changes in sheep after having received repetitive injections of Al-containing products, explaining some of the clinical signs observed in ovine ASIA syndrome.

Aluminum in vaccines

For those of you who are unfamiliar with aluminum in vaccines, aluminum adjuvants are added to vaccines to stimulate the immune response to the vaccine’s antigen – however, they do not induce any immunity to anything by themselves.

Aluminum adjuvants have been used for over 70 years in vaccines without any evidence that they cause harm. Unfortunately, these adjuvants have only become an issue for the anti-vaccine world because they keep running out of real science to support their beliefs about the safety of vaccines.

There are a few key points to be made about aluminum adjuvants:

  1. The amount of aluminum in vaccines (and remember, only a few vaccines have aluminum) is measured in micrograms. The maximum allowable amount of aluminum in a vaccine is 125 µg.  Based on the recommended schedule of vaccines, the maximum amount of aluminum an infant could be exposed to over the first year of life would be 4225 µg (or 4.225 mg). Let’s put this into context – a newborn baby averages body burden of about 384 µg of aluminum. In addition, typical concentrations of aluminum in breast milk (10-49 µg/L), soy-based infant formula (460-930 µg/L), and milk-based infant formula (58-150 µg/L) mean that the dose of aluminum from these sources far exceed the dose of vaccines in just a few weeks. A baby also inhales several thousand micrograms of aluminum per day, unless they live in some bubble with ultra-pure air.
  2. As I constantly mention, the dose makes the poison. And these doses of environmental and vaccine aluminum are far below the minimum risk level for the body burden of aluminum.
  3. Only if you assume that the body cannot clear aluminum (usually only in the case of kidney failure), the cumulative dose of the metal doesn’t actually matter.
  4. There is a trope, pushed by the anti-vaccine world, that somehow injecting aluminum is much different than consuming or inhaling it. This is simply not based on any science known to the biomedical world. The kidneys filter out most of the aluminum salts way before it accumulates. Furthermore, inhaled and ingested aluminum occurs every single day unless your baby doesn’t eat or breathe, whereas the tiny dose of injected aluminum occurs infrequently.

There simply is no robust, peer-reviewed evidence that the amount of aluminum salts in vaccines are in any way harmful. But that never stops the anti-vaccine religion from making unfounded claims.

ASIA, not the continent

Asin et al. start out their paper by stating that autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) is an adverse reaction of vaccines. ASIA is a belief, pushed by Israeli immunologist Yehuda Shoenfeld, that certain autoimmune conditions are caused by aluminum adjuvants in vaccines.

However, ASIA has been thoroughly dismissed by most scientists and regulatory agencies. Numerous large case-control and cohort studies, both near the top of the hierarchy of biomedical research, have found no evidence of a relationship between vaccines, especially the HPV vaccine, and ASIA. For example, researchers looked at nearly 300,000 vaccinated and unvaccinated women (reviewed here) and found no link to ASIA. There are many more studies that show a similar lack of causal links.

Thus, before we even start critiquing this paper, the authors start with a bogus hypothesis that is unsupported by real scientific investigations. Unless, of course, you subscribe to anti-vaccine lies, memes, and tropes. Then you probably are a true believer.

Sheep vaccine study critique

Despite the fact that the paper has a couple of discredited claims, about aluminum and ASIA, there are other significant issues with the paper. Let’s review:

  1. The researchers only looked at a total of 21 sheep in 3 groups. Important clinical and epidemiological studies have thousands or even millions of data points. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine a causal link with such a tiny sample size.
  2. The animals in the two experimental groups, one vaccinated with the typical vaccines given to sheep and the other with just aluminum adjuvant. The animals received 16 vaccine doses within 12 months for a total of 70.861 mg of aluminum. These are the number of doses that a sheep receive over 6-7 years! Furthermore, if you’re prone to comparing sheep to humans, that’s 20X more aluminum adjuvant than a human receives over a year – of course, human infants are smaller. Nevertheless, even though I dismiss any link between injected aluminum and neurological issues, giving 6-7 years of vaccines over 12 months biases the results. In addition, I’m skeptical of the behavioral observations, but it is possible that the serum aluminum levels are so high that it exceeds the safe limit for aluminum.
  3. The study was not randomized or blinded (or they failed to mention it in the methods section). You might think that randomization on matters with humans, but the researchers could have biased the results by the way they treated the sheep.
  4. This study relied upon subjective observations of the sheep’s “behavior” post-vaccination. These are the type of issues that hinder many behavioral and neurological studies – a subjective analysis of change in behavior is almost impossible to quantify. And when there are just 21 animals, it’s almost impossible.
  5. Sheep are social animals and the process of vaccination itself, especially so many over a short period of time, may induce behavioral changes irrespective of any contents of the vaccine, although the control group did receive a placebo injection.
  6. This sheep vaccine study is a primary research article – that means it lacks any supporting data anywhere else. It’s like the old vaccines cause autism canard – one retracted study supported it. On the other hand, literally hundreds of clinical and epidemiological studies along with meta-reviews have debunked that claimed link. That’s why most real biomedical researchers ignore primary animal studies – they pique interest, but rarely form the foundations of science-based medicine. Since we have dozens of studies that show no behavioral changes post vaccination, how much does a very small, very poorly designed sheep study tell us? Next to nothing.
  7. In a 2013 study by the same research group, they observed that around 0.5-1.0 % of animals of a flock exhibit the type of behavioral symptoms, irrespective of vaccination, described in the newer paper – yet they conveniently ignore it. Given the tiny sample size, the lack of randomization or blinding, and other issues, it’s impossible to tell if this is background noise.

I’m done here

The anti-vaccine religion has pounced on this study, which doesn’t surprise me or any other pro-science person out there. Dr. Bob Sears (the California pediatrician on probation for some issues about vaccine exemptions) and the crackpot science denier Robert F Kennedy Jr have tried to abuse this pathetic study to further their pro-disease for children beliefs.

This sheep vaccine study barely rises to the level of bad evidence – it provides us with nothing useful about the discussion regarding aluminum in vaccines. Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence, as shown in so many powerful peer-reviewed studies, that there simply is no link between aluminum adjuvants and anything.

Why do the anti-vaccine use this terrible sheep vaccine study to support their claims? Because they’ve got nothing else. Nada. Squat. Zilch.

Citations

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”

Autoimmune syndromes induced by adjuvants – another anti-vaccine myth

autoimmune syndromes induced by adjuvants

One of the enduring myths (there are so many) about the HPV vaccine is that it is linked to one or more autoimmune syndromes, an abnormal immune response to a healthy body part. These claims, pushed by an Israeli physician, Yehuda Shoenfeld, are called “autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA)” and, sometimes, Shoenfeld’s Syndrome.

Of course, ASIA is not accepted by the scientific and medical community (and see this published article), was rejected by the United States vaccine court as a claim for vaccine injury, and should not be accepted by parents deciding whether they should vaccinate their children. Furthermore, the European Medicines Agency, which is the primary regulatory body in the EU for pharmaceuticals, has rejected any link between the HPV vaccine and various autoimmune disorders. The science stands in direct opposition to autoimmune syndromes being caused by any vaccine.

Despite the lack of evidence supporting the existence of autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants, and even more powerful evidence that it doesn’t exist, the anti-vaccine religion still cherry-picks articles to support their preconceived conclusions that the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine is dangerous. Continue reading “Autoimmune syndromes induced by adjuvants – another anti-vaccine myth”

Fake science about Star Trek accepted by predatory journals – anti-vaccine researchers happy

fake science

One of my pet peeves, of which there are many, is when a fake science paper is published by a low ranked journal and trumpeted as if it is Nobel Prize-worthy research. You can read about anti-vaccine fake science published in these journals from notorious anti-vaccine “researchers” like Shaw and Tomljenovic, Exley, and Shoenfeld.

One of my pet loves is Star Trek, all versions, all the time. In fact, I occasionally have secret conversations with my fellow Big Pharma shills about Star Trek, in which vaccines are never mentioned. I am a self-confessed Star Trek Nerd, who has watched almost every episode of Star Trek ST: TOS through the current Star Trek: Discovery (see Note 1).

So when I get the opportunity, falling into my lap, to combine Star Trek and the anti-vaccine nonsense, I am happier than a pregnant tribble. And when a fake science paper about the Star Trek universe gets accepted by low ranked predatory journals, ones that are beloved by pseudoscience adherents across the world, it’s what I live for. Continue reading “Fake science about Star Trek accepted by predatory journals – anti-vaccine researchers happy”

Jessica Ericzon death blamed on HPV vaccine with no evidence

Jessica Ericzon

This post revisits another sad, sad tragedy, the death of Jessica Ericzon, was blamed on vaccines – this time, Gardasil, the vaccine that prevents infection with high-risk strains of HPV. Once again, the claim has no real evidence behind it. The concern, of course, is that these stories will lead to parents who are not already anti-vaccine refusing to protect their children against an infection that causes cancer.

Not protecting children against HPV infections that kill thousands and cause tens of thousands of cancer each year is putting them at unnecessary risk and setting the stage up for preventable tragedies. Doing it because of a painful death that no good evidence links to the vaccine, is doubly tragic. However painful, we owe it to future victims of preventable HPV cancers to set the facts straightContinue reading “Jessica Ericzon death blamed on HPV vaccine with no evidence”

Gardasil safety facts – debunking myths about the HPV vaccine

Gardasil safety facts

I’ve written nearly a metric tonne of articles about Gardasil over the past six years. Most of my posts covered peer-reviewed studies and meta-reviews that support the overall Gardasil safety and effectiveness profiles. We previously discussed the effectiveness of the vaccine to prevent cancer, so now we need to put together a quick review of the Gardasil safety facts.

There have been several recent stories about the claimed dangers of the HPV vaccine, like Colton Berrett’s tragic suicide after contracting transverse myelitis, which the parents blame on Gardasil. Of all of the vaccines on the market, the anti-vaccine world appears to reserve their most unscientific hatred for Gardasil.

With all of the information that I have posted on this website, I wanted to focus on five pieces of evidence that support Gardasil safety facts. This article’s purpose is to take all of those 100s of thousands of words across those nearly 200 posts and digest them into a simple set of discussion points whenever you run across some of that Gardasil hatred.

Or maybe you’re on the fence about protecting yourself or your loved ones from cancer, but you have heard all of those claims about Gardasil safety and effectiveness. This article is for you. Continue reading “Gardasil safety facts – debunking myths about the HPV vaccine”

Aluminum toxicity in vaccines – here we go again with bad science

Aluminum toxicity

This year I got a special birthday gift; someone sent me a piece about vaccine aluminum toxicity written by the noted anti-vaccine activist, J B Handley. In part, it reads:

While you were (hopefully) enjoying the winter holidays, a study was published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (it went online on December 27th) that could change the autism debate permanently.

I’d actually already been alerted to the paper, which is linked here. Some blogs of which I am a fan do a tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summary at the end. I’m going to break with this and do it at the start.

This paper by several authors, including the anti-vaccine Christopher Exley and Romain K Gherardi, published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (which has been a subject of this blog before) has one of the worst introductions I have ever read. The first paragraph is basically copy/pasted from others and then twisted to fulfill the anti-vaccine tone of the paper. From there on in it doesn’t get any better.

Many of the references don’t say what the authors want you to think they do. Genuinely, the authors introduce papers which conclude that there is a lack of evidence for causality, but the authors act as if they conclude the opposite.

Many other references are items by the authors – the self reference is rampant. They, apparently and willfully, misrepresent the current state of play regarding the EMA and certain members of the Nordic Cochrane group –it is almost unbelievably poor.

Time to take a look at this paper in detail. Continue reading “Aluminum toxicity in vaccines – here we go again with bad science”

HPV vaccine causes infertility and primary ovarian insufficiency – myth

HPV vaccine causes infertility

The HPV vaccine causes infertility through primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) – a belief unsupported by evidence. And the claim appears to be based on anti-vaccine ideology instead of real science.

Yes, I know, this story seems to repeat itself, but stay tuned, this is a good one. So let’s examine this myth from a scientific aspect and show how the HPV vaccine is actually unrelated to POI. Continue reading “HPV vaccine causes infertility and primary ovarian insufficiency – myth”

HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases – no link in new 2 million patient study

HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases

The link between HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases is one of the enduring myths about Gardasil. It is regularly debunked by scientists in large scale case control studies, but that never appears to be enough to silence the critics.

For example, the so-called autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) pushed by an Israeli physician, Yehuda Shoenfeld remains a trope that pervades the anti-Gardasil community. Shoenfeld claims that the HPV vaccine is causally linked to various autoimmune syndromes. However, ASIA is not accepted by the scientific and medical community (and see this published article), and was rejected by the United States vaccine court. It should not be used by parents as a reason to reject the HPV vaccine..

Large studies (and this large study) continue to reject links between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases. Now, we’re going to take a look at a recently published article that continues to reject any link.

Continue reading “HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases – no link in new 2 million patient study”

HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases – more evidence that they are unrelated

HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases

The HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases link is one of the enduring myths about the vaccine, which is regularly debunked by scientists everywhere. The so-called autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) pushed by an Israeli physician, Yehuda Shoenfeld. He claims that the HPV vaccine are causally linked to various autoimmune syndromes. However, ASIA is not accepted by the scientific and medical community (and see this published article), was rejected by the United States vaccine court, and should not be accepted by parents deciding whether they should vaccinate their children.

And, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines do not increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases (ADs). More evidence that there is no link between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases.

Continue reading “HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases – more evidence that they are unrelated”