MMR and Statistical Manipulation

Measles virus

When I was still at high school, way back in the late 1970s, there was a health scare that got a lot of media attention. Apparently, there was a perceived risk that the whooping cough vaccine could cause brain damage. The fall off in vaccination for this disease is claimed to have led to the widespread outbreaks of whooping cough in 1979 and 1982, there having previously been almost zero annual cases. At the peak there were some 60,000 cases.

Fast forward to the near present and you will recall similar scare stories about the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, the MMR, and claims by researcher Andrew Wakefield (Lancet, 1998) that MMR could cause autism in some children. It’s a topic guest blogger Michael Marshall covered on Sciencebase in November 2004. It seemed that, at the time, the debate was pretty much over. However, despite repeated demonstrations of the apparent inadequacies of the original research into a link between MMR and autism, the issue is resurrected on a regular basis. Most recently in a cover story in The Observer, which drew much flack, but also left the chattering classes once more in a flap.

Right now, I’m looking at an article from the print edition of The Times offering an answer to the Question of the Week – “Measles or vaccine?” – the article talks of how measles has reappeared and it is apparently all down to many parents’ reluctance to have their children vaccinated with the MMR jab. The article talks of “herd immunity” and how enough children have had a double dose of MMR which should stave off an epidemic. The emergence of herd immunity, of course, will be little comfort for a parent whose child experience any of the potentially severe side-effects of vaccination.

In the article, pictured alongside a blow-up of the measles virus and an image of a nasty-looking hypodermic needle, are two charts, one showing the number of cases of measles in the UK from 1940 to the present day and the other showing the number of deaths over the same period. Incidence of the disease ebbed and flowed during the period up to the early 1970s whereupon cases began to fall rapidly from a peak of 800,000 a year in the early 1960s to just one or two hundred a year by the mid-1970s.

The MMR vaccine was introduced in the US in 1971 and later in the UK, thereafter incidence of measles has pretty much fallen to levels close to zero. It seems that the pre-vaccine drop had another cause, presumably reduced overcrowding, improved nutrition, better hygiene and healthcare. No one knows at what point this fall would have reached a plateau.

In contrast, the second chart of death rates shows an exponential decline in measles deaths since the 1940s, by about 1970 measles deaths were also close to zero. The risk of getting measles is about one in three, assuming no vaccination coverage at all. The risk of serious consequences to this disease, which personally I had in 1972 or thereabouts, is somewhere between 1 in 5000 and 1 in 15,000. Compare that to the risk of death in a road accident. According to Transport2000 , the UK’s national environmental transport body, each of us has a 1 in 17 chance of being killed or seriously injured in a road crash during our lives. Such figures damn the disease statistics somewhat. Of course, vaccination does come with some risks, but adverse reactions, such as seizures with an associated risk of brain damage, exist at the 1 in 10,000 level.

There has been one UK death from measles since 1992 (as opposed to the several hundred each year during the 1940s). The unfortunate victim was apparently suffering an underlying lung disease for which he required long-term immunosuppressant drugs. He was very unfortunate to be exposed to the measles virus, and when he contracted the disease he was very unlikely to have recovered. This is one fatal case. Even with near 100% vaccination, there would still be a finite risk of any random member of the population contracting the disease. Unfortunate, but true. The statistics would not lie surely?

54 thoughts on “MMR and Statistical Manipulation”

  1. Any paper that purports to debate whether mercury is good or bad should a priori have measurements of mercury. I note all these papers to my understanding have not one single mercury measurement.
    How do you prove mercury is good or bad for us when you have absolutely no scientific basis for whether there is any or no mercury in patients or controls.
    It reminds me of many things
    1 Chemical company – our animals die with this new chemical. Regulatory authority – use more resistant animals. Chemical company – the new animals are just fine now. Regulatory authority – you are permitted to market your product.
    2 What or who actually allowed the most toxic non radioactive element mercury to be put in vaccines?
    Chemical company – 22 humans had no adverse reaction to mercury. Regulatory authority – fine use the stuff in vaccines. Later – weeks later all the 22 had died. Chemical company – Do nothing! Tell no one! 2008 – every adult should have a (mercury) flu vaccine, its not too late in the season to have yours.
    3 A leading epidemiologist was the late Sir Richard Doll ( how do you spell Sir?). His papers revealed he received a cheque for more than a thousand pounds from a chemical company for his services. How do you receive money and then judge their products fairly? Murders are known to have been committed for less than this.
    4 Professor Virginia Wong et al did do mercury levels in 2004 and find that mercury and autism were not statistically connected. The problem was their maths or statistics was wrong. When forced to change the figures to those that agree with the data they still insisted there was no connection although now statistically there was. How do you say this when your figures show there is a connection?
    5 It seems as if no connection will be seen even it is seen. I suggest we use the scientific traditon of just a few years ago and publish papers which show us something. Where is the benefit of every published paper meticulously showing us that nothing is happening?
    6 We need people today who can say yes X causes Y. The USA agencies tracked two deaths to one small field in some obscure corner of the country. The inability to track down 5 million deaths and illness to any cause let alone the most toxic non radioactive element present in every vaccine that the chindren ever had seems to be the best fairy story of the festive season I have ever heard.

  2. Hi Everyone

    Mercury is not the ‘primary’ cause of autism.

    Note that first of all this is one article which therefore by implication acknowledges that mercury is a nerve destroying toxin and must play a part in illness and death. A chemical and clinical exactitude.

    There is no doubt that mercury must be banned worldwide from vaccines. All those involved in vaccines agree but government and regulation lag years behind. Mercury is used to make Hep B vaccine and is recommended in other vaccines. The publicity that it is out and autism is not falling is bizarre. It is intellectually dishonest to talk about falling or not falling inicdence of an illness when the factor involved is still fulminating in vaccines.

    Lets get a universal and solid ban, wait 7 years and then look at figures.

    In the mean time people are not just getting ill from mercury they are dying. Worse the moms are being arrested and imprisoned to cover up the harm.

    A look at VAERS shows hundreds of thousands of examples of vaccine harm and predominantly and overwhelmingly mercury laced vaccines are those involved.

    I predict if action is not taken and truths admitted we will see an abandonment of vaccination except for those illnesses where there is a real need as opposed to a commercial profit need.

    The use of mercury vaccines for the elderly is more akin to eugenics than prophylaxis but is currently the biggest money earner.

    GSK, Aventis-Pasteur, Merck: Licensed to Kill? That was in 007 not 008. Lets move on please.

  3. Vaccination is good and I was more than happy not to be exposed to the threat of smallpox and polio.
    But you can’t overload people with vaccines and you can’t prove its safe then change the rules by giving it to younger people, different ethnic groups and not checking safety long term.
    Chemicals of any type toxic or good can have effects together. There was the famous grapefruit case where people used grapefruit to hide the awful taste and got awful results.
    Vaccinating at age 1 day can never be a good idea. The reason is blindingly simple and obvious. If the child screams for the next two months how do you know this isn’t your child. Conversely if your child sleeps 24 hours and wakes up for his feed how do you know this isn’t your child.
    Millions of adverse reactions go missed because the little infant can only sleep or scream he can’t tell you you are a blithering idiot to try to kill him or her.
    I remember getting all my vaccines and if they weren’t good for me I would be too young to take the consequences for any qction I took against my doctor.
    I thought doctors were brilliant though! But today well I would be more discerning.
    In my infancy I marvelled at how the doc knew I had measles before I stepped into his office.
    Today I can go with a pain enough to kill me and all he says is – how do you expect me to know what is wrong – take these pills.
    In the measles case I would be his 100 th patient for the day.
    In the second I was the only one with these symptoms.
    Yes OK measles vaccine but just the measles PLEASE.

  4. A University of Rochester study has suggested that streamlining the vaccination regimen for infants can cut down on the number of “pokes” a child has to suffer before their six month checkup without raising safety or efficacy concerns.

    To quote from the press release: “The study, recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics, shows that no efficacy or safety is compromised when clinicians administer a new combination vaccine that streamlines the process – in effect, tripling up three of the recommended shots to reduce the “poke” total from five to three, at each of three bimonthly, well-child checkups.”

  5. Posting this item has been an interesting experience from several different angles. It is amazing just how vindictive and vitriolic some people, who remain anonymous across the blogosphere when commenting on such posts, can be, especially in their accusations and attempts at character assassination. It would feel so much more worthwhile responding to their comments if they were to let readers know who they are and why their opinion should be considered any more valid than the author’s or any other commentator, for that matter.

    Comments are now closed, thanks for all your contributions.

  6. John,

    To summarize the first portion, you argue that mercury is the problem, because it could be the problem. This is the same argument you used before. What I want to know is why should an objective observer agree with you that the source is mercury as opposed to any number of other factors including genetics?

    Going to point 3 in your firsts section; you are echoing the analysis made by Geier and Geier (2006). The analysis, I would argue is not a good one, it involves statistical problems such as arbitrarily choosing the point of decrease. Also, the authors used the CDDS system data to help make the same point. It turns out though, that CDDS data do not show a decrease.

    Looking at the second part, in your reference to Dr. Verstraeten. He did not find colossal harm. There was an association in the early data set for all the disabilities. I mentioned why there might be this association last time. I also mentioned that even in this early set the autism specific finding was not significant. When more data were included the association disappeared.

    There was no “how can we fix the results” stance. I am certain you refer to the Simpsonwood transcripts. They show no dishonesty of any kind if one actually reads it.

    The “perpetrator” (I am not sure your stance looks objective here) did write a letter to the editor of Pediatrics discussing some of the aspects of his work after he took the pharma job. He addressed some of the more grievous charges against made by some parties, evidently his new employers were okay with this. Doctors as a whole, tend to value logic and objectivity. If one demands answers from such a doctor and the questioners use neither logic nor objectivity, then I could understand a doctor not having any time for such persons.

  7. One final comment to help close this thread. While we in the developing world may have seen amazing improvements in our standard of living with or without vaccination, the BBC leads today with a story about the developing world where, it reports, immunization has led to a significant fall in infant mortality. “Fewer children under five worldwide are dying than ever before, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, due to increased immunization.”

    That does not, nevertheless, detract from the fact that in the developed world the much higher standard of living impacts on the relative risk of immunization side effects versus the benefits. Previous commentators have remarked on herd immunity. What comfort is it to a parent whose child has suffered irreparable brain damage caused by a vaccine-triggered seizure, that their neighbors children will not be infected by a disease that is rarely fatal in the developed world?

  8. Heraldblog, I see lots of speculation on your blog…what *is* your qualification to discuss Iraq, 9/11, Bill Clinton, the internet, the blues, abortion, poetry, the Pope, Limbaugh etc etc? For instance, can someone who happens to listen to the blues be considered an expert in that field, what about playing it, does that count? What about someone who has only heard about happenings in Iraq from the media? Even if you’d visited and been involved would that make you an expert?

    Do you have the right to discuss those things? Well, in this country of course you do, elsewhere you would not be so fortunate.

    Whenever you express those opinions others have the right to support or contradict you. I don’t recognize anyone in this particular debate as being fully expert in all areas discussed in the original post. But, this is a blog, not the Royal Society. Blogs by their very nature are more akin to ad hoc discussion groups than the machinations of a learned society. But even members of learned societies can sometimes be wrong.

  9. “So [ HeraldBlog], I am not an expert . Are you? If so, what makes you so?”

    I am not an expert in the economics of pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing. So I guess we have that in common. But I’m not the one engaging in uninformed speculation, so I guess we really don’t have that much in common.

    Are you trying to tell us that your opinion about drug company economics and marketing is valid because you have a problem with your eye? I have a bunion – does that qualify me to opine on podiatry?

    “…have you ever been IMPACTED by a vaccine?”

    I have a small scar on my upper arm from a smallpox vaccination, but I’m not getting an urge to market, package or manufacture drugs.

    “‘Nuff said.”

    There is a God!

  10. To Inter Verbal
    How can we be sure it’s the mercury that causes harm ?

    Well the short answer is we can see its effects from long history of its sinister and powerful effects. The history goes back thousands of years but lets begin when science was pure and uncorrupted or uncorrupible.

    1 Thimerosal was first made in the 19th century killing two of its makers and was abandoned for more than 50 years.
    2 In the 20th century search for the “Magic Bullet” to cure infectious illnesses its effectiveness to kill life forms would be self evident. Not so much selective as destructive of all life. By controlling the amount to a minute level it was patented on the back of fraudulent science of its 100 per cent safety. The so called 100 per cent safety being the death of all the participants in the trial. Expendable “guinea pigs” who should be grateful for a chance to get possibly a wonder drug to cure their illness that they might die from but in fact would have had some chance of survival without this new drug. This scientific search for drugs to kill infections replaced the previous “Snake Oil Salesman” with their natural products which probably were not effective with the new style chemically formulated drugs which had a guaranteed efficacy to kill the infections. That it killed the patient obviously didn’t matter as he was at least cured if dead.
    3 The VAERS shows clearly that the more mercury containing vaccines given the greater the risk of death ( leaving aside the huge numbers of injuries temporary or permanent). Withdrawal of mercury shows this carnage abating.
    4 Many other episodes of both mercury poisoning and other heavy metals from too many places and times to mention. Many are known to all; but one that typifies the struggle between people and chemical giants is the Bougainville Copper Mine which when open was the largest mine to supply the West with copper. The effects of mercury pollution in the rivers from purification of the copper affected most of the islanders and resulted in a battle and literally a war with thousands killed and the assassination of their president. Ironically as a teacher I praised and publicised the exploitation of our mineral inheritance. Somewhat older and wiser I have discovered the cost in life and quality of life was completely unacceptable.
    5 I should mention the single case never admitted but almost certain to have alerted chemists to the hazard and then chemists alerting vaccine regulators was the sad death of Karen Wetterhahn in 1997.

    Moving on to the vaccine regulators:
    Anecdotal evidence says that when confronted with the fact that mercury was in their vaccines the reply to a man was that the chemist who said this must be mad. It turned out that the chemist was not mad but the regulators were bad. The “mer” in thimerosal stands for mercury and these regulators had campaigned to remove tiny amounts of mercury being rubbed on hands of thick skinned patients but still allowed it to be injected in lethal amounts to 1 day old babies. They tried to sound credible by admitting they knew all along but while good at regulation their mathematics was non existent. When elementary arithmetic was explained to them they then retreated into “lets get this stuff out” while telling the world “it was probably safe” but “they would remove it slowly” because that’s what ignorant, silly people wanted.
    The next stage was to get an analysis of the harm it had caused and when it did come out that the harm was colossal they then retreated to the “how to handle” “don’t tell anyone” how can we fix the results” stance. This took 4 to 5 years but was masterly handled when the perpetrator was kicked through sliding doors to the vaccine industry – “I’ve got a new job and my boss says I am not allowed to discuss mercury anymore with you”. The database was put out of peoples prying eyes. The data was handled to prove that this mercury a known killer to neanderthal man was in fact protective to babies with no means of neutralising toxic metals. Wow 21st century applied science at work!
    Mercury – well with all this it got forgotten. Sell it to the Chinese. Today 2007 we see mercury vaccines recommended to babies again when they were never given these particular vaccines before. How long do these people have memories?

    So if this isn’t enough we know that mercury acts just like many other heavy metals and ties up -SH groups which after organophosphorus compounds are the most utilised reactive groups in our bodies chemistry to enable life to function. Unless we are chemists and use reactive compounds we die. Mercury turns these reactive compounds into useless compounds. Mercury ties up chemicals in us we don’t even know exist. Mercury ties up essential amino acids like cysteine which in turn compromises the pyruvate reactions which in turn compromises acetyl CoA which is also compromised by the nerve agents of the VX class (see the film “The Rock” for a film portrayal of what this stuff is like). VX is why we went after Saddam’s Iraq but that’s another long story. Mercury can tie up many major biochemical systems in our body. It also takes out vital organs like our kidneys and heart. Quite important for our well being. The power as Karen found out is qunitessently puissant and subtle taking months to begin its deadly work on destroying our brains. For Karen there was no let up as occurs for autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia et al. For Karen life ebbed away but not before turning one of the brightest brains in chemistry into a vCJD like death scenario.

    Again we mustn’t forget the work of the University of Calgary and its video of mercury actually destroying the brain but remember two things when you watch it: First it does the same thing at 1 000 times less than the mercury in vaccines and secondly, the vaccine regulators tell us this science is “junk science.”

    I think the regulators are mad, bad and silly. And laughing all the way to the bank no doubt.

    John Fryer Chemist

  11. Hear, hear Dr Williams!

    Experts are not infallible. Moreover, just because a particular person is not “accorded authority and status by their peers or the public” does not mean that they cannot present informed opinions (we have freedom of speech where I live…don’t you?).

    Moreover, many times individuals that are not recognized experts in a particular field offer an independent perhaps contradictory viewpoint that is ultimately validated by the so-called experts.

  12. So [ HeraldBlog], I am not an expert . Are you? If so, what makes you so? But, I am well read, opinionated AND affected by vaccines. Evidence points to the loss of 40% of my retina to a cocktail vaccine. ( And, I DID purposely source split vaccines for my kids because I care more about them and less about money. So [HeraldBlog], have you ever been IMPACTED by a vaccine? Partially lost one of your senses to a vaccine? had it impact your life in a way that your concern is deeper than just being a stance on a subject and part of what I deem to be a political standing, vote for the Prez, anti-conspiracy theorist way. ‘Nuff said.

  13. John,

    Thank you for your response; I have a few more comments when you have time.

    Why does mercury in the vaccines “have” to take some of the blame for SIDS? Does the fact that something could potentially cause harm, mean it does? The cause of SIDS is unknown and while it may be multifactor (as you propose) one of those factors may not be thimerosal.

    You note that the definition of SIDS changed. Quite right, but not in a way that supports the argument you give. Previous to 1991, all that was required was an autopsy. As of 1991, an investigation of the crime scene was also required. The rate of infant strangulation did rise, but not in way that could even approximately take up the slack.

    So again, why is the SIDS rate decreasing if thimerosal is a factor/cause?

    As to Verstraeten, in the early data, (the so called Verstraeten 1 study) he found a slight increase in the rate autism in the vaccinated patients, but not enough to achieve statistical significance.

    Also, statistically speaking, whenever you lump multiple independent variables together you increase the chances that you will incorrectly find statistical significance. This is a flaw with claiming a 200x correlation in the early Verstraeten data.

    Further, I am not aware of any law in the books that suggests a 2x correlation is sufficient to make a decision on. However, I think judicially, there have been cases where 2x is enough. I think certain parties are banking on the fact that, because judges have ruled in favor of a 2x correlation in the past they will do so again in the future.

    What’s more, I can easily think of correlations that were stronger than 2x but were shown to be wrong e.g. (Coca-Cola causes polio). That is because correlational designs simply find correlation, not necessarily causation. Also, a legal ruling only dictates what happens legally. If history is any guide, then we know that the legal system can’t force scientists to accept an idea as fact or cause them to reject it e.g. (Scopes trial and evolution).

  14. To HCN
    You asked who the poor doctor was that alerted us to the fact that thalidomide caused the flipper arms et al. His name was Dr William McBride and he would normally have been ignored as every person who asks questions on drugs is denied. What helped him was first the condition was not death or something recognisable. It was a new disability. Even this on its own would probably not have been enough. Many who took the drug were fine. But the very man who was charged with the safety trials had a pregnant wife who took the drug every day. He knew that if McBride was right his son or daughter would be a victim. Which proved to be the case.
    The Frances Kelsey story runs parallel and again note the power of old brains here. She was cute enough to resist undue pressure and her luck was not that she knew of harm but more wanted to see more tests for safety done. In the event some parents got the drug and there were a few catastrophes in the USA.
    McBride was almost certain to be a target for his loss to the drug companies and the manner of his barring followed from his too nosy a regard for new drugs.
    The UK manufacturer of thalidomide did in fact get the knighthood for his services to humanity ie his drug production.
    The sequel is interesting and ironic. In 1998 the drug was rehabilitated as too good not to use and as a fop to McBride he got the chance to practice as a doctor again with certain conditions.
    So this drug still causes flipper children today but obviously as when originally marketed – this drug can be used for almost any ailment. Today it finds use for cancer for AIDS for anything to make a buck in fact. Who would dare deny this essential use?
    Oh yes the stuff that got the flipper children was not the good thalidomide that we see today but the bad impurity that should never have been allowed to be in this fine product.
    Go tell it to the fairies?
    As one case study I have a very dear friend who I believe is a thalidomide victim. No absolute proof of its use by her mum. therefore she is a charlatan and one with limb deformities not otherwise known. Great – no compensation for her. It gets worse, she tells me her twin brother was born dead. Now this gets better as dead we can accept as a fact of life. The authorities deny even this baby ever existed. It was just part of the afterbirth they say. How does this skew responsible studies into drug related harm?
    Imagine if you like flipper babies with people saying – lets accept them as they are valuable members of our society!
    The incidence would be very small as you need to take this drug almost on one and only one day of a pregnancy to get harm.
    But we have schizophrenia, autism, asthma all at alarming levels and its almost sure what the cause is – its drugs, not those illegal but those coming at us 1 new every week that are guaranteed good for us for at least 1 day 1 month or 1 year but a

  15. So [Antony] your level of non-expertise lies somewhere between “not an expert” and “uninformed”. To my mind, an expert is “someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public.” Would you agree with that definition?

  16. oops
    Multiple harm from one particular vaccine.
    Also twins dying at the same time of their jab not once but several times cannot but put the blame on the vaccine or on the paraphanalia of the administration, storage and use of vaccines.
    When this goes to court and the dead infants get the blame it tells me that far from disbelieving these passive systems we need to appreciate the errors might in total be in the other direction and there is evidence not so much for delayed death as delayed injury or even injury which is never attributed to vaccine harm.
    John Fryer

  17. To Strange but True
    Your question about MMR single vaccines or the three is the research of Andrew Wakefield who suggested at one time single vaccines with one year between them as the best option to avoid vaccine adverse effects.
    With approaching 1/4 million adverse effects in 17 years in the USA who can say he should not be taken seriously?
    An MMR vaccine with protection for chicken pox ie 4 vaccines in one, needed ten times the amount of chicken pox to obtain the same efficacy as the single vaccine. What kind of interactions are going on in this mix?
    What kind of interactions are going on in MMR which has been trialled for safety?
    And what is going on with pick and mix where doctors in UK and USA seem to give whatever is needed to catch up, with maybe 7 different vaccines at the same time.
    The “we can withstand 10 000 at once without overload” hardly matches the 1/4 million approaching adverse reactions which often climb precipitously when given in precisely these ad hoc untested ways by “doctors” who don’t have the first idea about adverse reactions but do know how to cut corners and make a few bob.
    And for a medical world that claims not to know the origin of AIDS, SIDS or autism and possibly the day of the week? How in heavens do they know about the effects of giving 3 vaccines in one or 7 vaccines at one shot?
    They must know the action of 50 different toxic chemicals, bacteria and virus and its effects on every organ and 100’s of biochemical pathways but seem unable to understand that a brain destroying chemical in vivo or in vitro might just do what it has been known to do for a 1 000 years.
    Funny perhaps if it wasnt killing 10 000’s of innocent victims and injuring millions of others.

    John Fryer MSc BSc Chemist

  18. Reply to Interverbal
    The investigation of SIDS and a vaccine connection is not always evident as causes for death can be many and it is certain that such a violent outcome may be the coming together of many factors. A brain destroying chemical in a vaccine must count as a factor for harm and even death.
    So mercury in vaccines has to take some of the blame and its removal is not “just in case” but to remove one more potential of harm.
    This in fact happens all the time so the figures for death have fallen with the removal of a hazard to life and the further you go back in time the greater this becomes apparent. If you look at 100 years ago the death rate is unbelievably bad but obviously the norm for the time.
    If France can have less deaths than the UK and the UK less deaths than USA for the same years there must be no complacency.
    The definitions of SIDS change as explained in your link. In the UK the more fashionable “unascertained” partly replaced SIDS and not only helps to cause apparently less SIDS but puts pressure on parents rather than vaccine companies to explain the deaths.
    However if you look at the claimed deaths due to vaccines and the SIDS you get similarities that demand explanations.
    Vaccine claimed deaths and SIDS are a mirror of each other with 92 per cent of SIDS in the first 6 months of the first year and for vaccine claimed deaths this figure is 86 per cent.
    The idea that the deaths coincided and by chance you would expect the deaths does not wash. Death to a healthy baby is not normal and the fact that this brain destroying chemical was injected into the now dead body hours earlier perhaps must be put forward as a serious contender for one factor that brought about the death. If the baby was unwell the vaccination would be delayed. Why then do we not do toxic analysis for mercury in the dead body? We have almost no idea of what this mercury does or where it lodges in the dead babies bodies.
    Levels of just 1ppm have been found in dead adults. We are putting a torpedo like shot of 100ppm something like enough to kill 100 adults let alone one little baby. This is not millions but trillions of molecules per shot. The knowledge that little babies are at risk is in direct line with known toxic action which relates to body mass as one factor.
    The study of Dr Verstraeten is a big topic but he found for example a 200x correlation between all neurological illness and autism. 2x would be enough for the law so 200x was something that “had to be handled.” So we have epilepsy, autism, SIDS, asthma groups all chasing down different avenues when according to the unearthed Verstraeten research they should be working to a common cause.
    John Fryer M Sc B Sc Chemist

  19. Answering the question “Antony, I appreciate your candor when you tell us you are not an expert in the economics of pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing. Does that mean your comments about the economics of MMR are uninformed speculation?”…

    My comments are based on many hours of conversation over appropriate beverages with experts in the field of pharmaceuticals. As Chief Science Officer for a cheminformatics company I have had the opportunity to mix with some of the most experienced members of the industry and hypothesize. So, I would call it speculation…but definitely not uninformed.

  20. John,

    So, to summarize; the 900s infant deaths per year that you attributed to bad vaccines, is currently only theory that you subscribe to.

    You strongly advocate this theory (obviously) so I have a question for you that should be fare.

    if in fact the vaccines are resulting in delayed deaths, when given to babies why is the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome decreasing, especially during the years the number of vaccines rose?

    The VAERS, is an interesting system. The first step to having sound epidemiological conclusions is to have good epidemiological data. To have good epidemiological data, you have to first have a data collection system that controls for statistical errors. The VAERS is a passive system; the people have to know about the system and have to take the time to make a report. There have been anecdotal reports that some lawyers who represent clients claiming vaccine damages, tell the parents to make a report to the VAERS as a first step in a legal case. If the VAERS is to be used for sound epidemiology it would have to find a way to control for this type of statistical threat. And at the moment it simply doesn’t.

    Even many of the people who fervently advocate a thimerosal based etiology of harm, over here, acknowledge the flaw of VAERS and instead push for access to the Vaccine Safety Database (VSD) which Verstraeten et al. used in their research.

    As to Dr. Verstraeten, you have offered no critique of his methodology or his data sources. Can you think of a reason why we should accept the premise that his work was incorrect?

  21. I’m looking to find the answer to a connected question – is there a reason, other than economic, the three vaccines are given as one. Is it not better for the child’s immune system to have them separately?

  22. Thanks for bringing VAERS to Sciencebase readers’ attention, by the way John. If there were something like this in the UK then a whole lot more people would trust the system and not be tarred as malingerers when they tried to claim that an adverse reaction to a drug/vaccine had affected their health seriously. In a sense, we have a system in the UK that tries to shame people into having vaccinations rather than arguing for their use positively.

  23. Somebody asked where I get my figures from for deaths from mercury.
    The primary source is my knowledge as a chemist. The mercury kills and we know how. It destroys brain nerve cells at concentrations found in old vaccines with mercury. The reason why it ever was in the vaccine is politely called in the medical world a ‘mishap’. My own words would be more along the lines of a catastrophe. The action may even be catalytic but that is my own hypothesis but it certainly explains why harm takes months to occur and death often follows months after first symptoms. People with little babies have them dying months after and not knowing why.
    Why don’t we all die, well simply because of our ability to remove harmful chemicals.
    There is no excuse for this chemical ever being in our vaccines and the history of even this is distorted. It did not arrive in the 1920’s but actually was put into vaccines at the end of the 1960’s causing almost immediately sudden unexplained deaths. Deaths in fact from the new mercury vaccines.
    I went to the UK government on this over ten years ago and the record of admittal of harm is on a political level but has resulted not only in deaths and illness but wrongful accusations for SBS, MSBP and even murder when the real culprit was and has been the brain destroying toxic chemical in our vaccines.
    The story needs to be told as the law courts effectively consume all the litigants funds and eventually cruelly rejects their well founded claims leaving everyone rich except those injured.
    Medical experts who try to put sense into this are roundly condemned for biting the hand that feeds them.
    So we lurch from one catastrophe to the next which I predict will be OGM or GMO food causing not cheap food but catastrophically expensive food.
    Oh the figures are blazingly clear in the VAERS. Calculate the deaths with mercury vaccines and then predict the deaths with good vaccines and you come up with 1 000’s of infants not dying that should be if figures stayed the same. And remember the reporting of adverse events is going up not down.
    Removing nerve destroying chemicals has made our vaccines safe – sorry Dr Verstraeten your reults are not correct.

    John Fryer Chemist

  24. HCN, I caught this email in the spam filter for the blog just by chance. Others may have slipped through. One of the criteria Akismet and other systems use to spot spam is an inappropriately completed comment form. I.e. an incomplete, name, email, or address field. There were almost 400 spams trapped yesterday, so it becomes a time-consuming task to try and pluck out those comments from contributors who post using a single-word pseudonym or who are unwilling to reveal their email address.

  25. John Fryer,

    There is no thiomersal in the MMR. Thiomersal was removed from American vaccines over 5 years ago. They were removed from vaccines in the UK, Denmark and Canada several years earlier. You’ll have to explain more clearly what data you are using for deaths of children from mercury.

    And you still have not answered my question from I asked at:

    Could you please do that?

    Also, you brought up thalidomide… how many thalidomide cases were in the USA? And why?

  26. John Fryer:

    Which vaccines in which country are full of mercury? The USA removed thiomersal about 6 years ago, and the UK even before then. Do you have any statistical evidence on thiomersal being the cause of infant deaths when it actually was used to keep bacteria out of vials of vaccine?

    Of course, that is a completely seperate subject in regards to the MMR. Since the MMR has never ever… absolutely never contained thiomersal (it is a live virus vaccine which would be rendered useless with a perservative… it is stored as a dried powder that is hydrated with sterile water before use — again, something a person would know if they read the measles, mumps or rubella chapters of the CDC Pink Book).

    Thalidomide? How many American women took thalidomide? Who was that poor doctor drummed out of the medical field? Obviously not Frances Kelsey working for the Federal Drug Administration who blocked its sale in the USA. She received honors for her work:

    You may read about the main developer of the MMR vaccine in this book:

    In it you will learn why the mumps component that is considered much better than the Urabe strain is named “Jeryl Lynn”… and you will also learn that the MMR vaccine that is being discussed was approved for use in the USA in 1971.

    Can you explain why after decades of use in the USA and other countries (though not Japan), its safely only became an issue when it was approved for use in the UK? And after a decade of use in the UK?

  27. Donal, I was using the figures from the last major outbreak between 1989 and 1991 in the USA (it is in the measles chapter of the CDC Pink Book, I linked to it). There are updated stats reported here:
    J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S69-77.
    Acute measles mortality in the United States, 1987-2002.Gindler J, Tinker S, Markowitz L, Atkinson W, Dales L, Papania MJ.

    I also used the figures from Japan in the year 2000 (I even included the numbers, 200000 cases with 88 deaths).

    Are either the USA or Japan developing countries?

    Thank you, Donal for the stats… It shows about a dozen deaths per year before the MMR (by the way there was another measles vaccine being used). I took one year where there were 140000 cases and 26 deaths, that is 1 in 5400. So you guys are cool with a dozen people dying from measles each year?

    Oh, and do please answer the question on how bringing back measles for everyone, mumps for over half the population and disabled kids from congenital rubella syndrome is supposed to SAVE money! Did you read the cost analysis I linked to?

    Do you know what oophoritis is? Do you know why Roald Dahl had to buy a child sized coffin?

    Wait, you do know who Roald Dahl was? Let me help you:

  28. “My prognosis of gloom is that mercury in vaccines can kill the babies injected with them.
    No one seems to have realised this…”

    It would be easier to realize if there was proof. Since there isn’t, your ‘prognosis’ of gloom” looks like just another uninformed conspiracy theory.

  29. Thank you David for your post..

    I would like to bring up some points on measles in the US. Not because I wish to be Amerocentric, but because I think they illustrate something about the nature of this disease.

    In the US, we experienced a measles epidemic from 1989-1991. 123 people died, the majority of the cases were minority pre-school aged childlren who were unvaccinated. The death to case ratio is usually quite low, less than 1%. However in this case it jumped to 22 per 10,000. I think what this shows
    is that even now, measles can resurge among unvaccinated populations and can still kill people.

  30. Interesting comment John, thanks for contributing, I wonder if research into this aspect of the issue is readily available…

  31. David
    The whole vaccine issue is complex and simple.
    MMR is given first perhaps at age 1 and at this time the infants may have received many vaccines and their mother perhaps just before or during pregnancy.
    The simple point is that these may be harmful to the unlucky few.
    The complex point is how exactly this harm occurs.
    For thalidomide we are lucky and grateful to one and only one person in the world who spotted the connection chemical to harm. His career lasted for less than 2 years when he was kicked out of the medical profession for his prognosis of gloom.
    My prognosis of gloom is that mercury in vaccines can kill the babies injected with them.
    No one seems to have realised this and we export mercury vaccines to the third world and we now prescribe mercury containing vaccines again to small babies in the form of flu vaccines.
    The bilan or total amounts to more than 900 dead infants from this excess every year of bad vaccines given to young.
    John Fryer

  32. Thanks for that link Donal, I was just about to post it myself. As readers will see some years the ratio is 1 in 10,000

  33. If you answered HCN’s question, I didn’t see it so I’ll ask it again:
    “And how does NOT vaccinating for measles, then vaccinating only half of the population for mumps and rubella keep money away from the pharmaceutical companies? Wouldn’t giving two MMR vaccines to most children keep costs down? Under your plan Big Pharma would benefit bigtime between hospital equipment due to increased incidences of pneumonia, meningitis, encephalitis and oophoritis… Then there would be the increase of sales for hearing aids, plus the subsequent cost of educating kids who get neurological disabilities from the actual diseases. Oh, and don’t forget the funeral industry getting to sale pediatric coffins. (remember, Roald Dahl had to buy one of those for his first born child)”

    You might want to look up some information on herd immunity, and no that’s not just about cows.

  34. Did you know that the chicken pox vaccine was developed in Japan? It has been used in the USA for over 10 years (unfortunately after my kids got it!). Chicken pox does kill kids. So why hasn’t the UK started to vaccinate for varicella? Is it because the vaccine was developed in the Far East? Or do the English take a more cavalier stand on vaccine preventable deaths? Before the varicella vaccine from Japan was available in the USA there were about a hundred deaths due to the actual disease. Is this in the realm of acceptable losses in the UK?

  35. Perhaps HCN is using a different set of figures. I would say that amongst the most reliable figures for the epidemiology of measles are those from the Health protection agency here in the UK:

    Perhaps he’d like to justify where he got his figures of relative mortality as the above suggest that its of the order of 1:5000 to 1:10,000. Of course that ignores serious long disability from the disease, but these figures will tend to exagerate the death rate as many cases of less serious measles will probably not be recored.

    But when the lobbyists talk about the need vaccination, in almost every case the fact that the boy who died had significant qualifying factors is ignored and its just cited as being the return of people dying from measles. Strange that selectivity of facts is okay for the pro-vaccination lobby, but is heinous crime for people who have a contrary view.

    But this is about residual risks in life an how we handle them. I don’t foresee anybody being hauled into a doctors surgery and being told to drive your kids around less in the car because they will have a 1:1000 chance of dying of a road accident by the time they’re 10, but the govenment was considering that to be a plausible scenario to increase the uptake of MMR to prevent a disease which has tenth the probability of killing them. SO please lets have a real debate here rather than just revert to trying to bully your way through the arguments by implying that people are racists.


  36. Antony, I appreciate your candor when you tell us you are not an expert in the economics of pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing. Does that mean your comments about the economics of MMR are uninformed speculation?

  37. Tom, that’s an interesting point. Not being a practicing scientist does not mean a science writer does not have access to the opinions of those who do have standing in this area of expertise. You cite reduction in incidence of disease following introduction of vaccine in the US, but the point I was making is that morbidity and mortality are not equivalent and consideration of morbidity due to vaccine should be taken into account when an individual makes a judgement as to whether or not to have their children vaccinated.

    What is the mortality rate for infected individuals who are warm, well fed, and generally healthy? In the 2000-2001 period there were 30-40 million cases of measles which gave rise to 777,000 deaths (see However, the vast majority were in the developing world (see for example) as opposed to the regions that enjoy the relatively high standard of living and access to healthcare that is available, fortunately, to you and I.

  38. Science writers are not scientists. You have no standing in this area of expertise.

    Do you not realize that risk/benefit has been thoroughly explored in this area by qualified scientists? Are you aware that in the US in 1983, 1,500 cases of measles were reported, down from 3 to 4 million cases 1 year prior to the widespread use of vaccine?

  39. I think nothing of the sort. Like I say, this is all about relative risk of infection and serious complications compared with potentially severe side effects that have been associated with vaccines. You are reading far more into this blog post than is warranted. My intention is simply to raise an issue that gets very little airtime, as opposed to providing a critical full-length peer-reviewed review of the complete medical literature.

  40. You think that girls should only get the rubella vaccine. (sarcasm on) Of course it is only important to protect any fetus a woman would have… since they are only good for having babies. Who cares if they become deaf or otherwise disabled from mumps, or rubeola… they aren’t worth anything except as babymakers! (sarcasm off)

    I was made aware of your statistical analysis from the Kristina Chew’s blog from this hub:

  41. HCN, I don’t recall any of that, only one post from you appeared in the queue…

    As to being racist. I never said it didn’t matter that the boy died. It is a tragedy, of course it is. Nor, I am not, nor sexist. Nor do I have a “plan”. This whole argument is about relative risk and statistics, individual anecdotal cases, such as the one you cited are just that, as you say, anecdotes not data. Certainly tragic for those involved but they don’t stack up to an epidemiological study.

  42. Unfortunately the story on the man who kept getting mumps was a newspaper article. My apologies if I cannot find it (I hate that I remember a news article and then canNOT find it! Aargh). But that was just on illustrative anecdote. The plural of anecdote is not data… but I did provide links to actual data (did you miss the link to the report on the mumps in the American Midwest last summer?)

    But it still stands that the mumps vaccine only gives only about 88% to 97% of the recipients immunity. See page 5 of

    So even if you only vaccinated boys, you would have 100% of the girls and 3% or more of the boys susceptible to mumps… with all its complications. Say for instance, if you have a school disctrict with 50000 students (a midsized city of about half a million — like the one I live in)… Under your plan that would leave 25000 girls as a mumps resevoir, and if all 25000 boys were vaccinated for mumps, between 750 to 3000 boys would be susceptible to get the actual disease.

    Funny, I thought you would be more offended because I accused you of being racist (oh, it didn’t matter that the kid who died was from a travelling family) and sexist (oh, yeah… let the girls suffer through mumps, it is okay dokay — who cares if they get meningitis or deaf, what worth are they anyway).

    I am still aghast that you think it is okay dokay to go back to the days where EVERYONE got measles, and a dozen to hundreds of people died per year. Yikes!

    Well, of course you thought that the MMR was from 1957, so you probably were completely unaware that there is an actual death rate of 1 in 500 due to measles… it is not like you have done much reading on the subject. So do go through the list I left, because I tried to reference most the statistics I used. Like the report on the almost 2700 cases of mumps in the American Midwest last summer. How many were hospitalized? How many were deafened? Did you find out what oophoritis is?

    And how does NOT vaccinating for measles, then vaccinating only half of the population for mumps and rubella keep money away from the pharmaceutical companies? Wouldn’t giving two MMR vaccines to most children keep costs down? Under your plan Big Pharma would benefit bigtime between hospital equipment due to increased incidences of pneumonia, meningitis, encephalitis and oophoritis… Then there would be the increase of sales for hearing aids, plus the subsequent cost of educating kids who get neurological disabilities from the actual diseases. Oh, and don’t forget the funeral industry getting to sale pediatric coffins. (remember, Roald Dahl had to buy one of those for his first born child)

  43. David…you’ve hit on a conversation of significant personal interest with this one. However, I AM biased based on personal experience with vaccines as explained at . That blog explains my own experiences around MMR and sourcing separate vaccines.

    Friends have accused me of being anti-vaccine and willing to have 1000s die instead. Far from it. I am not against vaccines. What I am for is looking at the data, listening to the questions, searching for answers, minimizing risk and not putting fairly nominal cost differences above health. The biggest piece is the necessary conversation between doctor and parents. Here’s what I’d like to see happen right now based just on many of the reports..whether those of overly conservative parents or conspiracy theorists. Educate the doctors to offer the CHOICE to parents that says “Here are the stories about MMR as a cocktail vaccine. It is possible to have each component of the vaccine separately. Here are my comments as your doctor. The choice is yours”. Wat has not happened, in my experience, and in that of many of my friends, is that the doctors share some of the perceptions of the cocktail and let the parents choose. In fact MANY doctors I know of do not offer the choice and even discourage it.

    Relative to your question “but isn’t MMR less expensive than the three vaccines given separately” and so the pharma industry doesn’t make much money so it would be more profitable for them to have them separate. I am not an economic expert in this domain and judge you may be right but it’s really about profit. What does it cost to produce the single vaccine versus three…relative to the sales costs and the associated profit margins. These are likely fairly comparable. The bigger push is on the parents to not have their child cry three times, visit the doctor three times, pay doctors fees three times etc. In fact the cost benefits are likely more for the HMOs than the pharma companies. The HMOs SAVE money by having the vaccination done in one hit.

    My preference remains separate the vaccines. Intuitively I wouldn’t want to challenge the immune system of my child with three components simultaneously (as well as all of the preservative chemicals) when I have the option to separate. And..I DON’T like having my children cry when they get choice is short term tears over long term debilitation.

    Just for clarity in my biases I am also on the side of questioning fluoridation ( as I have expressed elsewhere ( My consultation with experts one included here ( and a growing movement in the USA right now suggests the days of fluoridation may be limited too. I personally believe good oral cleanliness is way more important. We have twin five year olds…not one cavity in their mouth. We are on a water well, non-fluoridated toothpaste and no fluoridated drops when they were babies. Time will tell whether we are right. For now…brush, brush, brush….

  44. HCN, thanks for your comment. Interesting. I kind of take issue with a statement like this though:

    “last summer there was a news report of a doctor who came down with mumps several times”

    Have you got a link, why is a single case important to us. Important to the doctor and perhaps a small cluster of patients, but was this single case likely to trigger an epidemic any more likely than the case of the one boy who died of measles…?

  45. More flaws with this statement ” Maybe take up as outlined above with no measles vaccination, boys only mumps, and rubella for girls, would chew deeply into the profit margins.”

    While not only will this bring measles back up the levels seen in Japan (where dozens of people die of measles each year, and several college campuses were closed this past sping)…

    It protects less than half of the population. Not half, LESS than half.

    Even if you feel that it is just okay dokay for girls to go deaf or suffer inflamation in their ovaries, just vaccinating boys will not protect all of their precious fluids. The vaccine is not 100% effective. You will always have a certain percentage who will always be vulnerable to the actual disease no matter how many times they are vaccinated (last summer there was a news report of a doctor who came down with mumps several times, he was vaccinated for it, but still got the disease… he would get better and then get exposed again from a patient!).

    So with mumps going through the population of girls, there will still be boys who will get mumps… with the chances of all the complications. Not just the dreaded sterility, but also deafness and meningitis.

    The same goes for rubella. If only girls are vaccinated, it will be kept alive and well in boys… and some of these boys have a good chance of infecting a pregnant woman who did not become immune to rubella even if vaccinated.

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