Now, I don’t believe that around 200,000 people a year are dying because of What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine. But nor do I believe that in the region of 1700 young girls have been killed by the HPV vaccine. WDDTY, apparently, do believe this. They’re certainly happy to tell people that this is the case, in the highly misleading headline of this article. So, where did WDDTY get their figure of “up to 1700″ from?
Well, here’s what they did.
First, they used VAERS reports. Here’s what the VAERS website says about their data:
When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event. [...] A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.
If you want to know what that can mean in practice, here is a post on Left Brain / Right Brain that describes the process of submitting a report to VAERS and refers to the story of Jim Laidler (who submitted a report that the flu vaccine had turned him into the Incredible Hulk). The post backs up Laidler’s story, pointing out that “Anyone can enter any data into VAERS. Even someone from another country.” In this example, what the blogger told VAERS was that his daughter had been turned into Wonder Woman. VAERS really does accept all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine. So, even if there had been 1700 deaths reported following HPV vaccination this would not mean that the vaccine was the cause.
Secondly, they used the figure of 1700, which was for all “serious” VAERS reports – which includes “hospitalization, prolongation of an existing hospitalization, permanent disability, life-threatening illness, or death”. In the headline, this becomes up to 1700 deaths. Even in the body of the article, they claim in the first paragraph that “nearly 1,700 young girls in the US have died or suffered permanent disability after being given the HPV vaccine” (they list the types of report included as “serious” in the second paragraph).
How many deaths are likely due to HPV vaccine? Well, as the CDC report that WDDTY rely upon states, the peak year for VAERS reports regarding HPV vaccine was 2008 and the peak for the proportion of reports that were serious was 2009. Now, the CDC has another report that you can read about here. This covers the period June 2006 to December 2008 (which, you will note, includes the peak year for adverse event reporting). 32 deaths were reported. Even if reporting of adverse events had not reduced in frequency since 2008, I reckon the total number of deaths reported following HPV vaccination would be less than 100. (32 deaths over 2.5 years would equate to around 90 deaths over seven years – about one twentieth of the number in that misleading headline claim.)
Now, as pointed out earlier in the post, deaths following HPV vaccination are not necessarily deaths caused by HPV vaccination. Let’s see what the CDC said about those 32 deaths:
The 32 death reports were reviewed and there was no common pattern to the deaths that would suggest they were caused by the vaccine. In cases where there was an autopsy, death certificate, or medical records, the cause of death could be explained by factors other than the vaccine. Some causes of death determined to date include diabetes, viral illness, illicit drug use, and heart failure.
No common pattern suggesting that vaccination was the culprit. Where records were available, it was found that deaths reported following HPV vaccine were due to things like diabetes and illicit drug use.
This fits with what we know from trials of HPV vaccination. As Information is Beautiful pointed out, there were 18 deaths in the HPV groups and 15 deaths in the placebo groups during trials of the vaccine. Deaths included things like suicide and drowning. None of the deaths were judged to be related to the HPV vaccine or the placebo. People have died following HPV vaccination. However, I have seen nothing in any of the reports of trials or monitoring that suggests that any of these deaths were caused by the vaccine. I’ll tell you what does cause deaths though. Cancers caused by HPV. In fact, Information is Beautiful suggest that 160,000 lives a year could be saved if HPV vaccine uptake was 80% in females aged 12-13. Vaccine coverage that high is much less likely to be achieved if alternative health magazines mislead their readers than if they are careful to report accurately on the HPV vaccine.
Contrary to the WDDTY headline, there have been nowhere near 1700 deaths following HPV vaccination. Nor have deaths reported following the vaccine been shown to have been caused by it. The only thing in the headline that is likely to be true is the use of the word “safe” regarding the HPV vaccine… which WDDTY put in mendacity quotes.
If the comments on VAERS and HPV vaccination seem familiar, it could be that you’ve read one of my previous posts on WDDTY and HPV vaccination. Or one of the comments I left on Lynne McTaggart’s blog pointing out the dangers of using VAERS reports. Like this one:
As you say you are happy to “debate the issues like grown-ups”, perhaps you would like to discuss your article on HPV vaccination?
You use VAERS data to support your suggestion that the vaccine is dangerous. The VAERS website says that “it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established” and “VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.”
Do you accept that in using VAERS data, you are including adverse events that are coincidental and not caused by vaccination?
You also refer to deaths in India. These deaths included a drowning, a snake bite and the effects of malaria. Do you think it is reasonable to use the deaths in India to cast doubt on the vaccine’s safety?