MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

WHAT DOCTORS DON’T TELL YOU (WDDTY) is probably the most vile publication I know. It systematically misleads its readers by alarming news about this or that conventional treatment, while relentlessly promoting pseudoscientific non-sense. This article , entitled “MMR can cause skin problems and ulcers if your immune system is compromised” is a good example (one of a multitude):

The MMR vaccine can cause serious adverse reactions, researchers have admitted this week. The rubella (German measles) component of the jab increases the risk of infection from the rubella virus itself, and can cause serious skin inflammation and ulcers in anyone whose immune system is compromised.

The risk is highest among people with primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDD), chronic genetic disorders that cause the immune system to malfunction.

Although the risk for people with compromised immune systems has been known, and is even included in the package inserts supplied with the vaccine, it was theoretical, say researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who say they have uncovered “genuine evidence of harm.”

The researchers analysed the health profile of 14 people—four adults and 10 children—who suffered some form of a PIDD. Seven of them still had the rubella virus in their tissues, suggesting that their immune systems were too weak to get rid of the virus in the vaccine. The virus can damage skin cells and cause ulcers, and makes the person more susceptible to the actual rubella virus, the researchers say.

People with a poor immune system already have compromised T-cells—which are responsible for clearing viral infections—and the MMR makes the problem worse.

END OF QUOTE

And what is wrong with this article?

The answer is quite a lot:

  1. The research seems to be about a very specific and rare condition, yet WDDTY seem to want to draw much more general conclusions.
  2. The research itself is not described in a way that it would be possible to evaluate.
  3. The sample size of what seems to have been a case-control study was tiny.
  4. The study is not properly cited for the reader to verify and check; for all we know, it might not even exist.
  5. I was not able to find the publication on Medline, based on the information given.

Collectively, these points render the article not just useless, in my view, but make it a prime example of unethical, unhelpful and irresponsible scaremongering.

 

11 Responses to WDDTY on the anti-vaxx band-waggon

  • WDDTY give the source as: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2016; 138: 1436

    This is this paper: Rubella persistence in epidermal keratinocytes and granuloma M2 macrophages in patients with primary immunodeficiencies

    • thanks
      I am jet-lagged and must have overlooked the reference.
      having read the paper, I am even more puzzled and fail to see any connection to MMR.
      is it my jet-lag again, or what is going on here?
      this is the summary of the authors:
      In summary, our results demonstrate that RV can establish chronic infection in M2 macrophages and keratinocytes in patients with diverse T-cell deficiencies. Our study suggests that individuals with cellular immune deficiencies may be at risk for persistent RV infections that stimulate nonprotective immune response associated with chronic M2-type granuloma formation.

      • Edzard said:

        having read the paper, I am even more puzzled and fail to see any connection to MMR.

        MMR is mentioned in passing in Table 1, but I suspect McTaggart and Hubbard have simply search for new studies that have any vague mention of MMR and extrapolate what they want out of them, regardless of whether it’s relevant to the study.

      • The paper describes the presence of RV, detected by immunofluorescence, in granulomas in patients with various T-cell deficiencies. Whole-genome sequencing of viral RNA from the tissues of one patient showed 97.4% identity to the vaccine strain RA27/3. Table 1 lists 7 of the 10 RV-positive patients having received MMR vaccine. The implication (but this is not stated explicitly) is that vaccination with RV can lead to persistence of the virus in M2 macrophages and keratinocytes in patients with rare immunodeficiency diseases.

        WDDTY is, as usual, painting a respectable finding with a wide brush and, as you state in your post, extrapolating and generalizing without foundation. The senior author of the study, Kathleen E. Sullivan, is based at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which put out a press release (sigh!) that contains the words quoted in the WDDTY piece. The full statement reads as follows: “The vaccine’s package insert states that it shouldn’t be given to immune-deficient individuals. Our new study found genuine evidence of harm in a subset of patients with these rare disorders.”

        Note the difference between the statement in the press release and the four words from it quoted by WDDTY. From the full statement, the problem relates only to a subset of these already rare disorders. To find material for the study the authors had to trawl a dozen hospitals in the USA and one in Germany! As Prof. Ernst states in his post, WDDTY is indeed a “vile” publication: it consistently distorts reality to suit its own ends.

        • Frank, Thanks for your analysis of the paper.

          In my humble opinion as a layperson regarding immunology, the contents of Table 1 does not contain the data required to lead to, let alone support, the first two paragraphs of the paper: “Cutaneous granulomas are…”; “Patients with cutaneous granulomas…”.

          Obviously, sampling 14 carefully-selected cases from a population exceeding 7 billion is farcical. It is cherry-picking taken to the extreme.

          I also think that the paper is, perhaps, nothing other than an agenda-driven red herring, which seems to contain shedloads of obscurantism. As a layperson I compared it to the Wikipedia article on shingles (because shingles concerns me personally due to my age combined with my chronic health problems):

          Shingles is due to a reactivation of varicella zoster virus (VZV) within a person’s body. Chickenpox is due to an initial infection with VZV. Once chickenpox has resolved, the virus may remain inactive in nerve cells.[3]

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shingles

          My simplistic understanding of immunology is this:
          1. If, and only if, a serious disease has been completely and permanently eradicated from the planet would the risks of immunization wholly outweigh the benefits.

          2. Perhaps I’m being selfish [overly self-centred] in my thinking, however, the reason why I have my vaccinations is not just for the purpose of reducing *my* chances of contracting the illness (such as seasonal ‘flu), but also because I genuinely do not want others to suffer because I’ve infected them with my illnesses.

      • I remember, when it was launched, thinking that this must surely be a step too far, even for altmed gullibles.
        The websites, of course – like Healthy Holistic Living and Neon Nettle and Natural News- go a few steps further, linking this sort of stuff to every imaginable conspiracy theory, attacks on Obama and the Clintons- including accusing them of running a hit squad – and so on.
        Maybe if their sales drop, this publication will turn into an unholy kind of True Detective with homeopathic health tips.

  • I reviewed every issue of WDDTY up to 2014, most issues had at least one story mentioning vaccines and I was unable to find a single one that was not straight out anti-vaccine. It is probably the most stable feature of the publication.

  • Nothing we wouldn’t expect from Blessed Lynne and Uncle Bryan. Clueless, hapless misrepresentation and scaremongering.

  • Not to mention that even if everything claimed in this article was true that would be a reason to vaccinate more, not less. Immunocompromised people who have genuine vaccination reactions such as these so can’t be vaccinated, rely completely on the rest of us being vaccinated to protect them by means of ‘herd immunity’.

    Niall

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