Sunday, 1 March 2009

Anaphylaxis, Vaccines, & Truth-telling - or Not

"If the truth be known..."

As is not uncommon for me, I wrote a 'letter to the editor' of one of the newspapers we take here in my home base in life (a community setting), last week. It didn't get published; which is also not uncommon for me. (I can be very opinionated about issues that in the expression often seems to run against the grain of the established order of things. But then, maybe I wouldn't have bothered to write about it otherwise. Anyway: so much for a truthseeker's eye.) But what was decidedly uncommon about the matter was that I didn't receive the customary acknowledgment of receipt of my letter.

And therein lies a tale, I feel...

From the top, then. My letter was occasioned by a remark in her column in the (Scotland) Sunday Times of 22 February of one India Knight, a regular in its stable of such commentators on the human/political scene. Her main theme was on another subject in the news (since you asked: 'Men's lust, women's pride: twin forces of the vice divide', in comment on a recent Jesuit study; the article adorned with a decidedly eye-catching photo of Raquel Welch in her customary, but particularly fetching, state of dish-abille. Would my eye have been caught to this column otherwise? Pah. Is the Pope Catholic? Now where was I...Oh yes:), but she mused on a sub-theme, also in the news that week. Her comment opened thus:

"A preliminary clinical trial at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge suggests it may be possible to modify an allergy by desensitising the sufferer. Researchers gave a group of children with severe peanut allergies a small daily amount of peanut flour over a six-month period. By the end of the trial, the children could eat up to 12 nuts a day without suffering anaphylaxis.

"This is great, obviously, but I wish somebody could explain where peanut allergy has come from and why. In my childhood it was unheard of; today you have to check that a cake doesn't contain even a whisper of nut before allowing your child to bring it to school..."

My letter to the editor in response:

"Dear Editor,

"India Knight wishes that 'somebody could explain where peanut allergy has come from and why' (Comment, 22 February). It's very simple, really.

"Such allergic reactions come either from the proteins that were in the infant's mother's milk when they were vaccinated - and thus sensitised to them as well in temporal association - or from the proteins that were used in the manufacture of the vaccines, which the body's immune system then recognises as foreign along with the other ingredients. These can the very proteins (eg, peanut oil has been used as an adjuvant in some vaccines), or similar proteins by molecular weight, in a process called molecular mimicry.

"How come all this isn't better known? Well; indeed.

Yours sincerely," etc.

Two comments. The first is simply in a generic way, as it were. The conversation that took place - if any - might have gone something like this:

'No. Don't print it.' [Or even acknowledge its receipt?] 'People might not let their kids get their jabs.'

[Continuing, hypothetically:] So...don't let them know the truth abut vaccines: that their side effects are far more extensive and severe than the medical profession lets on?

'No. Because the average person can be swayed emotionally, one, and two, doesn't know how to calculate the relative risks and benefits of them.' do? And when, for an example, the relative risk of getting type 1 diabetes from the application of the Hib vaccine is greater than the risk of serious damage from the microbe involved - what then, Lord Pooh-Bah?

'Look, layman. The doctors know what's best for the public. You don't.'

And the parents. They don't?

' - Right. Actually. They don't have all the facts at hand.'

And you do? When many doctors don't know the extensive literature on this subject, are not fully aware of the facts?

'That's it. Conversation over.'

My mind's made up, don't confuse me with the facts?

'What's your name?'

My name is Everyman. And I will be heard. No thanks to your (apparent) attempts at censorship. Where your attempts to control the conversation, and information available to the public, are as noxious as any dictatorship that ever came down the pike. So be warned, Overlord. And be afraid. Be very afraid, of the power of The People, once they get moving to knock you off your corporate perch. Perched up there on high, controlling the debate, from your economic and political control over the mass media.

Except for the internet.

So far.

The second comment is specific to the Sunday Times, and its (apparent) editorial inclinations.

A little history here. A Dr Andrew Wakefield and associates in the UK ran a study on the gut damage of a number of children whose parents felt that the MMR jab was involved in their subsequent slide into autism. Their results - as announced in 1998 - did not specifically blame the MMR jab, but Dr Wakefield opined in public that until further studies could be undertaken, it might be best for parents to consent to single vaccines. Bad career move; occasioning a move to the US to continue his research in the subject, of gut damage associated with autism and with in particular the measles component of the MMR jab. The US, because he was finished in the UK professionally.

How did it come about? Well, for one interesting thing, a head editor in the Sunday times Newsroom commissioned an investigative journalist - name of Brian Deer - to, er, investigate Dr Wakefield; the article - published in 2004 - not only finishing Dr Wakefield professionally in the UK, but occasioning an investigation by the General Medical Council of Dr Wakefield and 2 of his co-authors, who wouldn't recant (and which investigation is just concluding). The link? The commissioner, name of Paul Nuki, is the son of a Professor George Nuki, who sat on the committee oversighting the safety of GSK's MMR vaccine.

Any problem here? Not necessarily. Maybe the safety of the MMR vax is not an issue, and it is above reproach, and so are all those associated with it. But that would also include the boss of the editor of the medical journal involved - The Lancet - whose editor, Dr Richard Horton, decided to regret publishing the study after the article by Deer was published. His boss? One Sir Crispin Davis, who was appointed a non-executive director of MMR court defendant's GSK in the summer of 2003, only a few months before the Sunday Times article in February 2004 that accused Dr Wakefield of a conflict of interest (relating to the families of the damaged children). And lo and behold: the high court judge who dismissed the MMR-autism cases just a few days after Dr Horton's accusation of Dr Wakefield's irregularity was: Sir Crispin's younger brother, Nigel Davis.

All in the family...

Am I accusing anybody of anything? I am accusing the power elite of this country, in particular the medical-pharmaceutical-government complex, of being in cahoots financially to the detriment of Truth - the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, about vaccines.

Their benefits. And their risks. And let the chips fall where they may. Because nothing is more important than truth.

At least to this Everyman.

ADDENDUM - 9 March

To be fair, a followup report:

When my letter did not appear in the following week's edition, I decided to give the Sunday Times another chance to at least
acknowledge receipt of my letter - to be crystal clear on the matter, so as not to accuse them of anything improperly. So I resubmitted my letter, on 1 March, underneath a covering letter, stating:

"Dear Editor,

"Below is a copy of an e-letter that I sent to you on the date indicated [ie, 23 Feb].

"I never received your normal notification of receipt of a submission.

"Could you please do that this time, as I resubmit it for consideration?

"Thank you, [etc]"

Interestingly enough, I not only subsequently received their normal notification of receipt, from the Office Manager of the Sunday Times in their Glasgow office, but also an email from the Times's Letters Editor, stating:

"Dear Mr Stanfield,

"Thank you for your letter. I have ensured that the points you raised were drawn to the attention of India Knight and the Editor responsible.

"Yours sincerely, [etc]"

My letter was not printed in this past weekend's edition of the Times either. But at least India Knight will get an answer to her question. If no one else. Except you, dear reader, of this attempt at truth seeking, and telling.

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