Swine Flu, Squalene, and Gulf War Syndrome

November 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Dr Joseph Mercola, Media) (, , , , , , , )

I typed these terms into Google and picked three links from the first ten results. I found this video, this blog post, and this Daily Express article.

The video purports to be a list of ingredients in the swine flu vaccine and information about these ingredients. It actually contains misinformation (suprise, surprise) and some scaremongering cartoons. The misinformation relevant to this post is the alleged link between squalene and Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

The blog post turns out to be essentially a repost of something written by Dr Joseph Mercola, with some rather colourful blue, purple, and red text. How lovely. Again, it contains misinformation about squalene and Gulf War Syndrome. The blogger adds a note regarding the presence of ethylmercury (there have been some concerns about this ingredient, but they are based on a misinterpretation of the EPA and FDA guidelines.

The Daily Express article was written by Lucy Johnston, author of the appalling (and now deleted) Sunday Express article on HPV vaccination. It is every bit as bad as you might expect. Like the blog I link to above, it refers to the presence of ethylmercury (in thimerosal/thiomersal). It also raises the issue of Gulf War Syndrome.

Why am I so confident that squalene is not linked to Gulf War Syndrome?

The vaccines that were alleged to have contained squalene did not actually include this ingredient, which in any case, would appear to be safe. As the World Health Organisation writes of squalene and gulf war syndrome:

Squalene is a component of some adjuvants that is added to vaccines to enhance the immune response. A naturally occurring substance found in plants, animals and humans, squalene is synthesized in the liver and circulates in the human bloodstream. It is also found in a variety of foods, cosmetics, over-the-counter medications and health supplements.

They go on to point out that there is a vaccine that:

contains about 10 mg of squalene per dose. Over 22 million doses have been distributed since that time. Reported rates of adverse events and local reactogenicity are not in excess of those that would be expected with other inactivated seasonal flu vaccines, suggesting that squalene in this vaccine poses no significant risk.

And here is the passage that relates to Gulf War Syndrome:

A link between the health problems of Gulf-War veterans and possible presence of squalene in vaccines received by these soldiers has been suggested. One published report has suggested that some army veterans who received anthrax vaccines developed anti-squalene antibodies and that these antibodies caused disabilities. However, squalene was not added to the vaccines administered to these veterans, nor was it used in the manufacturing process. Various papers have been published outlining the technical deficiencies in that original report. [In all quotes, the emphasis is mine.]

It is frankly bizarre that these vaccines linked with Gulf War Syndrome on the basis of a non-existent ingedients that is, in any case, safe. I’m not sure how these myths are started or spread. I can almost forgive lone individuals writing blog posts or posting videos that contain such inaccuracies, but what are the Daily Express doing publishing articles with such untrue claims?

The Express are a newspaper, with an editorial team and (I think) an obligation to provide news. While I would define news as being, say, information about recent and important events, the Daily Express seems to have forgotten about the “information” aspect of news and are apparently happy to print untruths. Perhaps they would claim that they don’t have time for the luxury of fact-checking? I shall send them a link to this post, to save them having to expend time and energy on fact-checking prior to publishing future articles on squalene, vaccines, and Gulf War Syndrome.

I have also archived a copy of the Express article in case it disappears (as their article on HPV vaccination has done). The cached copy is here: http://backupurl.com/n2cbyv and a PDF is here: Express squalene and mercury.

EDIT, 23rd November 16.45: for completeness, here is the email I sent to the Express:

Dear Mr Marsh,

I note that this online article: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/122228 claims that there are “Gulf War Toxins in Swine Flu Vaccine” and would like to point out that this is false. As I point out in this blog post: https://jdc325.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/swine-flu-squalene-and-gulf-war-syndrome/, there was never any squalene in the vaccines alleged to be linked to Gulf War Syndrome – the World Health Organisation website states that “squalene was not added to the vaccines administered to these veterans, nor was it used in the manufacturing process“. I do hope that you will find time to correct the headline, and the text in the article to reflect the truth. I also hope that any future articles on vaccination will avoid reprinting the untruths in your above article.

Kind regards,
James Cole.

EDIT, 25th November 15.45: No response from the Express regarding their false “Gulf War syndrome toxin in swine flu” claim as yet. I shan’t hold my breath.

41 Comments

  1. endlesspsych said,

    Journalists generally don’t have time for fact checking. But when a story fits into their simplistic churnalism model of health scare or miracle cure then why bother?

    It’s not as of anyone other then a few enraged nerds are going to care about the acurracy of their claims and the validity of the pseudo-scientific nonsense they spout…

  2. Dr Crippen On Swine Flu Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] now expanded on this point about squalene in a new post, on Swine Flu, Squalene, and Gulf War Syndrome. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)How to protect yourself from a forced swine flu […]

  3. Jeb said,

    “The Express are a newspaper”?

    wow, your “english” is indicative of just how freaked up your disinformation is — there are totally credible research studies that link squalene to GWS…

    and yes, squalene is present in the human body, the problem is that when INJECTED into the body in the vaccine form it becomes very harmful to the human body…

    you must be a sinister shill for big pharma, how do you sleep at night — your are either terribly misinformed, hopelessly stupid, or evil…

  4. symball said,

    Jeb, Please enlighten us- what happens during the injection process that changes it from a harmless molecule into such a toxic substance?

    and have you ever read the Express? It isn’t even very good for lining the cat litter tray.

  5. jdc325 said,

    @Jeb:
    Thanks for commenting. You’re quite right about my poor English – I should have written that the Express is a newspaper. I apologise for my unintentional error.

    With regard to your claim that “there are totally credible research studies that link squalene to GWS…”, I would ask for evidence. If there are credible studies that link squalene to GWS, then please post references. I note that the WHO point to “One published report…”, of which there are stated to be “technical deficiencies”.

    Of this part of your comment: “you must be a sinister shill for big pharma, how do you sleep at night — your are either terribly misinformed, hopelessly stupid, or evil…”; I can only reiterate what I have said on many occasions previously (and have stated in the “About” section of my blog) – I am not a Big Pharma shill. If you can show me where I have been misinformed or hopelessly stupid, then I would be grateful.

    @symball:
    Thanks for commenting. I’ll be interested to see Jeb’s response to your question.

  6. Michael said,

    Jeb: “your are” not in any position to criticise typos – please re-read your final paragraph…

    I reiterate jdc’s call for you to provide some evidence.

  7. jdc325 said,

    Thanks Michael.

  8. Neuroskeptic said,

    “there are totally credible research studies that link squalene to GWS…”

    Ah. Where are these studies? Perhaps you just dreamed them?

  9. Neuroskeptic said,

    P.S. I do like the idea that a harmless substance can become harmful when it’s injected. That could be the basis for an interesting murder mystery –

    “We believe Dr Serialkiller was killing his victims by injecting them with tiny amounts of *their own blood*. You see it’s deadly if you inject it. Fiendishly clever, there’s no way of proving that he did it…”

  10. jdc325 said,

    Thanks Neuroskeptic. I might steal your murder mystery idea!

  11. Better the disease then the vaccine? « …and your electron microscope! said,

    […] and the implication of its involvement in Gulf war syndrome (JDC has an excellent blog about this here.) The gist of the matter being that squalene contained within vaccines was blamed for causing, […]

  12. Anti-vaccination march « Edinburgh Skeptics said,

    […] and the implication of its involvement in Gulf war syndrome (JDC has an excellent blog about this here.) The gist of the matter being that squalene contained within vaccines was blamed for causing, […]

  13. Sceptics Beware: The Dangers of Debunking Myths « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] recently wrote about squalene, an ingredient in some vaccines (including the swine flu / H1N1 vaccine). The post related to myths […]

  14. Cybertiger said,

    jdc532 said,

    “I am not a Big Pharma shill.”

    No, jdc523 is a little one. In other words, jdc235 is a little sh*t.

  15. jdc325 said,

    Thank you once again Cybertiger for your insightful and intelligent comments, they are as relevant as ever to the post you comment on. The anti-vaccine lobby must be delighted to have someone such as yourself putting the case against vaccines for them.

  16. Cybertiger said,

    jdc532 kindly said,

    “Thank you once again Cybertiger for your insightful and intelligent comments …”

    Why thank you too, jdc253! As always, I aim my comments to match the blog and the blogger.

  17. jdc325 said,

    I’m sorry to see that you feel my blog lacks insight and intelligence – perhaps you could point out where I have fallen short of the standards you desire in a blogger?

  18. Exposed You said,

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10640454

    YOU ARE A SHILL IF YOU COULDN’T FIND THIS STUDY

    SHILL SHILL SHILL

    HOPE THEY PAY YOU WELL DEMON

  19. jdc325 said,

    Exposed You – would that be the very paper I discuss in my post above? The one that had technical deficiencies that were reported on by several papers? Thanks for commenting anyway.

  20. draust said,

    Amazing. A commenter even more stridently irrelevant and abusive than ShabbyTabby.

    You couldn’t make it up.

  21. Neuroskeptic said,

    Exposed You: A shill for Big Pharma, casting doubt on vaccines so that people get ill and have to buy drugs.

    HOPE THEY PAID YOU WELL? HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY (by encouraging them not to get vaccines)?

  22. jdc325 said,

    In response to Exposed You, I would just like to repeat this section of my post:

    “One published report has suggested that some army veterans who received anthrax vaccines developed anti-squalene antibodies and that these antibodies caused disabilities. However, squalene was not added to the vaccines administered to these veterans, nor was it used in the manufacturing process. Various papers have been published outlining the technical deficiencies in that original report.”

  23. The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Sceptics Beware: The Dangers of Debunking said,

    […] recently wrote about squalene, an ingredient in some vaccines (including the swine flu / H1N1 vaccine). The post related to myths […]

  24. Doctors And Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] is untrue. As I pointed out in this blogpost on squalene and Gulf War Syndrome, the link between vaccination and Gulf War Syndrome was based on a report that suffered from […]

  25. Paul Turner said,

    The World Health Organization falsely claimed H1N1 (swine flu) as a pandemic in order to line the pockets of Big Pharma. How can anyone trust their information to back up a debate concerning vaccines?

  26. Paul Turner said,

    “The Protective Bureau proved in court that there WAS NO EPIDEMIC before the vaccinations!! The court records show that the Medical Society manufactured vast amounts of posters, fliers, newspaper stories and ads featuring horrific and lurid pictures of diseased children covered with massive smallpox sores and open wounds. Some pictures actually showed children’s corpses covered with the same ugly sores. The PANIC-DRIVEN message was clear — VACCINATE EVERYONE, or face a deadly public disease. There was a “sweeping epidemic” in the city; the disease was “highly contagious” and would “strike anyone who was not vaccinated” was the bill of goods sold! (Does this sound at all familiar today ­ 88 years later??)”

  27. Paul Turner said,

    An estimated 200,000 Gulf War veterans are believed to suffer from Gulf War Syndrome. I wonder how many people will end up with “Gulf Oil Syndrome”. Perhaps the medical mafia will find a way to sell the public a vaccine for it.

  28. jdc325 said,

    Some remarkable claims there Paul – but no evidence offered to support any of them. Would you care to provide some? I’m particularly interested in your claims that “The World Health Organization falsely claimed H1N1 (swine flu) as a pandemic in order to line the pockets of Big Pharma” and that “An estimated 200,000 Gulf War veterans are believed to suffer from Gulf War Syndrome”. I’d be interested in knowing your sources for these claims.

    I note that your second comment matches text found on rense.com, a website that covers 9/11 conspiracy theories, UFO reporting, paranormal phenomena, Holocaust denial, Zionism and CAM (among other things). It appears to have originally been written by a naturopathic doctor and owner of Mother Earth Minerals.

  29. Cybertiger said,

    jdc532 said,

    “… no evidence offered to support any of them. Would you care to provide some?”

    jdc352 is a smug evidence based git … all the offered evidence supports the fact. Twat!

  30. JT said,

    The emotions are running wild with this one. I think if your gonna call someone out because they do not agree with your opinion then at least supply the rest of us with links to credible resources, preferably studies that are not done by pharmaceutical companies or by the offending governments who would are mutually benefited financially. If you say its a bunch of crap created by quack medical researchers, then link it. Likewise for the opposing view too.

    I’m fairly sure most of us have seen the pharmaceutical commercials that show 20 seconds of a cure-all medication followed by 3 minutes of how that same med will cause catastrophic damage to the rest of your body. I personally do not trust companies that are in the business of profit-for-lives, especially if they are aiming needles at me. Especially when those same groups are notorious for straight-face lying to the masses. Remember when the asbestos companies withheld mesothelioma data for decades while publicly denying the existence of any health risks whatsoever? Do we really believe that government-created corporations will admit wrongdoing when huge profit is at stake? It might be cheaper just to submit disinformation to our ‘trusted’ media outlets to induce public uncertainty instead.

    Its probably impossible to really know what is real and what is being fed to us in order to keep our trust in these ‘companies’ and our money flowing their direction. If the military was caught responsible for causing GWS in our soldiers AND our children, what would they stand to lose if we no longer trusted or believed in them?
    As for the reported 12k children used as guinea pigs for the ‘pig flu’ vaccine, how many of them are now diagnosed with the same postwar stress syndrome? Or would that be considered one of the many possible side effects like we see in med commercials?

    Lastly, in reply to the above bickering in the comments, perhaps one difference in the standards of journalists versus random bloggers is the control and expression of written emotion. Replace the cute insults with intelligent links instead. Argue effectively.

    *http://deceitanddenial.org/reviews/nejm.pdf

  31. HaizyDaiz said,

    Oh wow, some of the comments to this blog are HILARIOUS!

    Wish my blog provoked this level of lunacy, I might update it more often.

    Keep up the excellent work!

  32. jdc325 said,

    Squalene:

    Nearly a decade ago, squalene was supposed to be the experimental anthrax vaccine ingredient that caused the onset of Persian Gulf War syndrome in many veterans, since antibodies to squalene were detected in the blood of most patients affected by this syndrome. This evidence has raised a widespread concern about the safety of squalene containing adjuvants (especially MF59) of influenza vaccines. Nevertheless, further clinical evidence clearly suggested that squalene is poorly immunogenic, that low titres of antibodies to squalene can be also detected in sera from healthy individuals, and that neither the presence of anti-squalene antibodies nor their titre is significantly increased by immunization with vaccines containing squalene (or MF59) as an adjuvant.

    Anthrax vaccine:

    Variations in the frequency or severity (as judged by hospitalization and/or loss of duty) of reported AEs did not suggest a significant problem with (1) a particular lot of AVA, (2) recurrent AEs after multiple doses or (3) vaccination of persons with a concomitant illness or those given other vaccines or medications.

  33. jdc325 said,

    There’s also a piece by SBM here that people might find interesting:

    …pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and hospitals stand to make a lot more money from an uncontrolled pandemic than from its prevention. The money spent on antivirals, antibiotics, sedation and pain medications, physician and hospital billing for the 200,000 people hospitalized in the US during a normal flu season would compensate them far better than profits from vaccine sales. It’s almost as though, against our financial interest, all of our efforts are designed to keep people from getting sick…

    EDIT, 9:30pm Here, there is an NEJM article that includes an economic analysis for flu vaccination in the US.

    On the basis of the outcomes observed in the trial, direct savings in medical costs were estimated to be $5.99 per person vaccinated ($599 per 100 persons), and indirect cost savings were estimated to be $40.86 per person vaccinated ($4,086 per 100 persons). Combined cost savings were estimated to be $46.85 per person vaccinated ($4,685 per 100 persons).

  34. jdc325 said,

    Back to pubmed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12062677

    17 lots of Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed administered to members of the US Armed Forces. No squalene has been detected in any lot. The results of these analyses provide direct evidence for the absence of squalene as an ingredient or a manufacturing contaminant in Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16762524

    The overall results of this investigation provide direct evidence for the absence of squalene in nearly all of anthrax vaccine preparations tested.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19379786

    We found no association between squalene antibody status and chronic multisymptom illness (p=0.465). The etiology of Gulf War syndrome remains unknown, but should not include squalene antibody status.

  35. Another Sunday Express Article On Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] First, let’s take a quick look at some of Johnston’s previous articles on vaccination. There was the infamous piece on HPV and Natalie Morton. There was also an article on Swine Flu, Squalene and Gulf War Syndrome. […]

  36. The Wrongness of Dr Sarah Myhill « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] is not an adjuvant, it’s a preservative. Squalene (a favourite bugbear of the anti-vaccinationists and said by Dr Myhill to be “a toxic […]

  37. GMC Complaint Regarding Dr Sarah Myhill « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] is not an adjuvant, it’s a preservative. Squalene (a favourite bugbear of the anti-vaccinationists and said by Dr Myhill to be “a toxic lipid”) […]

  38. Sonia said,

    There’s alot of shit on the net and on magazines that’s so insensitive to real issues. There getting so desperate for a headline its sick. How the fuck do you know the truth its so sublime. And as I said especially insensitive to serious genuine issues such as in regards to you’re Health, you’re families Health. How are you meant to know. I saw a magazine the other day whilst waiting for my bus stating Peter Andre ‘Plagued by Cancer’ When he might not even have it..Its disturbing the way they use their words and totally out of line for those that genuinely have the Illness. I know it gets readers but really

  39. Sonia said,

    I WANT THIS TO BE SOLID.The problem with media is it blinds us from the truth. What can we trust? Who can we trust? Especially when it comes to serious things that involve our health, our families health. its really fucking wrong cos we should be able to trust what is said to us from the hospitals, doctors, for instance fair enough other media stories but when concerning Health it SHOULD BE SOLID not all this indecisiveness. The underlying concern being that any corruption via government or health board its a worry one doesn’t want to have. I worried myself to bits lately over my family in the UK because they had those injections. the whole unpopulation thing connecting to the health board it made me sick for my family..the vulnerable people in our social class system that should be CARED FOR? VALUED THE MOST. The Elderly, the children, the disabled, those aged over 65, THEY ARE IN OUR FAMILIES… Like the EU budgets here where the first fucking few parts to be cut off were the most vulnerable. The disabled so they could go to school and join in society for instance. Even if on the extremes of overpopulation or a so called RECESSION its SICK and FUCKED UP. A Government is supposted to reflect our choices and did we want that?????What the FUCK?? THESE PEOPLE IN OUR FAMILIES WORKED THEY’RE BUTTS OFF FOR US. DO WE NOT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THEM?? If you do start waking up QUESTION YOU’RE GOVERNMENT THAT REPRESENTS YOU AND QUESTION YOU’RE VALUES.. the class divides, the competition for status, What’s that REALLY about???????? who gives a shit how many shoes, cars, dresses you fucking have..your’e still the same person inside good or bad! You can’t take all that stuff with you while we watch you leave you’re trail of you’re unwanted shit! ITS SHALLOW!!!!!!! EVERYTIME YOU BUY THIS SHIT YOU’RE FUNDING WAR but do you care??? No cos supposedly all that shit makes you happy. BULLSHIT . Again I repeat your’e still the same person inside good or bad no matter all that shit around you! I’m really beginning to hate the way people don’t value money. I saw a 23,000 fucking diamond necklace you could buy in the Hello magazine it’s such a piss take for those that are sick and need medical help but can’t afford it, or that need support to get an education what ever. I really believe those that have lots of money and don’t know what to do with it.. they’re SICKER then you think they are. If the fucking queen in the Uk can live till 100 or any of those Aristrocrats over that age, fucking any person..member of our families should be able to fucking have the same opportunity as they are.. as a given human right not a fucking option for some Its SICK. I hate them so much and if they’re in any way MESSING WITH PEOPLES HEALTH, MESSING WITH WHAT WE’RE EATING.. MESSING to keep the RICH alive in ANY UNLAWFULFUL WAY FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR STATUS..TO GET THEM A PICTURE IN THE HELLO MAGAZINES TO SHOW OFF THEIR MONEY I am gonna fucking make some shit for them. I want to see them dead. And shut down. I mean that with all my heart.
    And anyone that wants to join If you value your family, you’re health, you’re Education, OVER YOU’RE EGO. If you don’t, you live a life and a conscience just as bad as them. You’re choice.
    TECHNOLOGY HAS THE ABILITY TO GIVE US ALL THE RESOURCES WE WANT, THERE IS NO LIMIT There is if we keep doing things these ways.. Jacque Fresco speaks of a RESOURCE BASED ECONOMY. There’s no Political Agenda, No Religious Agenda none of that shite AND YES ITS THERE FOR OUR TAKING IF YOU JUST TOOK THE TIME TO READ INTO WHAT HIS IDEAS ARE ABOUT. THERE IS AN AMAZING ALTERNATIVE IF YOU GIVE IT THE CHANCE IT DESERVES. PEOPLE SPEAKING OUT ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN ANY GOVERNMENT BELIEVE THAT.

  40. Cybertiger said,

    Screwed up, screws loose, and in need of a good screwing. That’s our Sonia. Screwball!

  41. caprinescene said,

    I have to put my own experience in here. I did not receive the pandemrix vaccine – but two of my kids did through the school, one DID have a reaction – He came home as someone in shock, shaking, tremors, ticks, trouble sleeping, tiredness and so much more. He has not gotten better. I am up every night. Nobody listened to us. Till it hit the media, He attempted physical sports at school and his muscles would go . I would be left to help carry a large lad as his arms and legs flailed everywhere , He was 13 when he got the shot, he is 16 now. He has gained weight, he can’t do so much and so many doors are now closed. Now in saying this – we did alert to the possible family history of fish allergy. My father could not eat any type of fish without getting ill, fresh, sea, or shell. During a kidney exray in the 70s at a local hospital – I went into a coma because of a reaction to the iodine. We were told that if he didn’t get the vaccine he might not be able to go to school and the attitude was “chance it”. We are currently undergoing several tests, to try and get narcolepsy – but chances are we have been told it is not. So far – What I call Severe , Sleep apnea, his breathing stopped 18 times an hour during the night, at the hospital during the sleep study. We have no insurance and have to save up for each visit, as we don’t have insurance and the government won’t help. What scares me- is that I could have gone in to my sons room and found him DEAD, and nobody would have cared. GSK, The Irish Governments, etc. He was fine previous to this. My gut points to the squalene – if we had been informed that this ingredient was in the vaccine – there is no way I would have allowed either of the children to have it. Thankful that my daughter so far – 3 years later has not experienced any side effects. We were told initially told it was physcological and they didn’t want to know – . … Sorry a child’s breathing stopping during sleep is not mental. So anyone suggesting there is no link between the Squalene and reactions, etc, have never experienced this , or has not had a child with a reaction, and I will pray that they never do. I am not against vaccines, but we never experienced these reactions till we got that pandemrix vaccine. I will state that vaccines probably do save lives – but I ask – what about those who are effected adversely? What about them, I think these companies who are making the money off them, should step up to the mark and help those who are effected instead of leaving them to the wayside to be forgotten and told they are crazy.
    I also think that genuine medical professionals should stop being afraid of these big corporations.

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