MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

There is much propaganda for homeopathic vaccinations or homeoprophylaxis (as homeopaths like to call it, in order to give it a veneer of respectability), and on this blog we have discussed it repeatedly. The concept is unproven and dangerous. Yet it is being promoted relentlessly. Currently, I get > 12 million websites when I google ‘homeopathic vaccination’, and there are hundreds of dangerously misleading books and newspaper articles on the subject.

One study that I therefore always wanted to conduct was a trial comparing homeopathic ‘vaccines’ to placebo in terms of immunological response in human volunteers. Somehow, I never managed to get it going. Thus, I was delighted when, a few weeks ago, I received an article for peer-review (I hope I am allowed to disclose this fact here); it was almost exactly the trial I had dreamt of doing one day: the first ever study to test whether there is an antibody response to homeopathic vaccines. Now I am even more delighted to see that it has been published.

Its aim was to compare the antibody response of homeopathic and conventional vaccines and placebo in young adults. The authors hypothesized that there would be no significant difference between homeopathic vaccines and placebo, while there would be a significant increase in antibodies in those received conventional vaccines.

A placebo-controlled, double-blind RCT was conducted where 150 university students who had received childhood vaccinations were assigned to diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, mumps, measles homeopathic vaccine, placebo, or conventional diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (Tdap) and mumps, measles, rubella (MMR) vaccines. The primary outcome was a ≥ two-fold increase in antibodies from baseline following vaccination as measured by ELISA. Participants, investigators, study coordinator, data blood drawers, laboratory technician, and data analyst were blinded.

None of the participants in either the homeopathic vaccine or the placebo group showed a ≥ two-fold response to any of the antigens. In contrast, of those vaccinated with Tdap, 68% (33/48) had a ≥ two-fold response to diphtheria, 83% (40/48) to pertussis toxoid, 88% (42/48) to tetanus, and 35% (17/48) of those vaccinated with MMR had a response to measles or mumps antigens (p < 0.001 for each comparison of conventional vaccine to homeopathic vaccine or to placebo). There was a significant increase in geometric mean titres of antibody from baseline for conventional vaccine antigens (p < 0.001 for each), but none for the response to homeopathic antigens or placebo.

The authors concluded that homeopathic vaccines do not evoke antibody responses and produce a response that is similar to placebo. In contrast, conventional vaccines provide a robust antibody response in the majority of those vaccinated.

I think this is in every respect an excellent trial. It should once and for all get rid of what is arguably the homeopathy-cult’s most dangerous idea, namely that highly diluted homeopathic remedies can protect humans against infectious diseases. On this blog, I once called it ‘a danger for both the public and the individual who might believe in it … promoting HP is unethical, irresponsible and possibly even criminal.’

I said it ‘should’ get rid of this nonsense, but will it?

As homeopaths have, for now 200 years, showed themselves utterly impervious to evidence, I for one am not holding my breath. Yet, thanks to this excellent study, we can, when confronted with the notion of homeopathic vaccinations, henceforth point out that it is not just totally implausible but that, in addition, it has also been experimentally shown to be false.

My thanks to the Canadian investigators!

53 Responses to Homeopathic vaccines do not evoke antibody responses

  • Before somebody complains that a 35% response to MMR doesn’t appear to be very good it is worth pointing out that the study is looking at antibody responses, not the degree of protection given by a booster vaccine in this age group. The
    authors found that this 35% response was actually higher than they were expecting since most of the participants had already received both doses of this vaccine in childhood; they also referenced another study showing that a large antibody response was not required for a booster dose of this vaccine to improve protection in adulthood. For tetanus and diphtheria, 98% and 88% of the participants already had protective levels of antibodies at the start of the study.

    This study provides robust evidence that homeopathic vaccines do not produce an immunological response against the diseases investigated.

    Arguably this is irrelevant of course, since my understanding is that the homeopathic model of disease is symptom-based, and while it might claim to address root causes of disease, it does not recognise what we know from conventional physiology, pathology, immunology or microbiology. I would imagine that homeopaths don’t regard a rising antibody titre as a prerequisite for protection, and indeed I am not even sure to what extent they recognise the existence of these infectious diseases in the way that we normally think of them.

    Hahnemann was aware of vaccination, of course, and regarded Edward Jenner’s introduction of this method of protection against smallpox (by infecting the patient with cowpox, a different but related virus) as validating his principle of like cures like; neither of them knew anything of antibodies or viruses.

  • It is pity the design of this study was tangential to the point – which is, “does homeoprophylaxis act to protect those who use it from infection and poor outcomes?”

    This study does not ask or answer that question.

    Instead its outcome measure is a direct increase of antibodies to the vaccine intervention, rather than what happens when a population is exposed to a ‘wild’ disease threat.

    The level of antibodies is ~not~ a measure of unexposed immunity – that is a belief of the vaccinologist community, because it suits them to believe it, because that is what their stuff (presumably) does. By contrast, as we have seen from recent outbreaks, disease continues to spread in vaccinated populations (not least by ‘shedding’), and there is some indication that vaccinated populations have poorer general health.

    The “father of immunology” Emil von Behring (Nobel 1901) – an admirer of homeopathy and ~not~ a vaccinologist – took a more general view. viewhttp://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/07/08/emil-adolf-von-behring-and-homeopathy-2/

    A proper test then would have to see what happens (in detail) to the relative populations when exposed to wild target disease. Does one group or another react better and quicker than another, and does one group have better outcomes than another both in the short and long term, is the immunity conferred life-long, and what adverse outcomes attach to each intervention (a much discussed topic, with plenty of contentious results on both sides of the argument).

    This is not what was asked. I gather the original intent was indeed to disprove homeoprophylaxis, because it was an emerging danger to vaccine sales; it was designed from that perspective, using obviously rigged methodology. And I believe the primary intent was to bring false information to the public in order to affect policy and vaccine sales. Not doubt we shall see much trolling by pseudo-skeptics.

    I for one, out of sheer curiosity, would like to see the experiment done properly.

    As I am sure many are aware (even if they don’t like it and have instead untested alternative hypotheses) homeopathy as an approach has had notable successes in epidemics over the years. These approaches did not however generally use a tautopathic approach with specific nosodes. As EE ought to know if he had stood the course, nosodes are not used that way in general homeopathy – they are useful for other reasons.

    It should be remembered that homeoprophylaxis is primarily a study proposed and promoted by just one homeopath, Dr. Isaac Golden, the world authority on the subject. I have no idea if he is right.

    Incidentally, was he co-opted to the team for this, seeing as it is af major interest? Oh, it seems not. Was there a single homeopath on the team to advise? Could it be that this was a put-up job?

    Considering the ‘proper’ use of nosodes (which were added into homeopathy quite late on, and continued when many homeopaths were involved in early bacteriology), I suspect a secondary ambition inherent on this trial design may have been to prevent availability of such nosodes, thus hampering their use by homeopaths in the more commonly accepted manner, and preventing more people from being able to experience homeopathic cure.

    Incidentally, homeopathy has a long history of treating adverse reactions to vaccines such as vaccinosis. Here, nosodes would indeed be thought of as useful.

    So here we are again – the mainstream profit-motivated ‘pharma’ producing contrived “knocking” research (and bluster)in support of its own monopolistic intent.

    • ” I gather the original intent was indeed to disprove homeoprophylaxis, because it was an emerging danger to vaccine sales”
      why am I not surprised to see that someone makes this claim?
      [someone who clearly does not know that science operates by testing hypotheses]

      • someone who clearly does not know that science operates by testing hypotheses

        QFT.

        OP’s mockery of the experiment for not seeking to prove homeopathy reveals not an procedural error in the science but a CATASTROPHIC error in OP’s concept of what science is and how it works.

        Science knows its limits, and wears that humility on its sleeve. If it doesn’t, it’s not.

        The whole poing of experimental science is to DISPROVE hypotheses, not to prove them. “Proofs” are for mathematicians and religious fools only. In science, all interpretations of the available evidence (hypotheses) are provisional; it is impossible to prove a hypothesis True, because there is always the possibility of contradictory evidence being discovered in future.

        Thus the only way that science can become reasonably confident of a hypothesis’ correctness (within limits) is by first testing that hypothesis to destruction. A hypothesis that begins to splinter under stress may be modified to accommodate the new findings and re-tested, but a hypothesis that straight-up falls to pieces is clearly wrong and thus rightly discarded. The few hypotheses that successfully survive this baptism of fire go on to be named “theories”, reflecting the fact that they are the best explanations we so far have for all the currently available evidence, but even those are neither complete nor immune to criticism and correction.

        For instance, we knew from observation of Mercury’s Newton’s theory of Gravitation was incorrect long before Einstein came along with a better explanation, his [confusingly named] theory of General Relativity. And science found GR to be incorrect too, albeit less incorrect than its predecessor.

        .

        Perhaps one day science will finally come up with the Grand Unified Theory that 100% correctly explains all facts in the universe, at which point scientists will all be completely unbearable at the bar bumming drinks like there’s no tomorrow. (Which for science, there won’t be.) Until then, we get by on the best data and explanations we currently have. And the difference between “somewhat right” and “mostly right” is still nothing compared to the difference between “might just possibly have something to it” and “completely wrong”.

        Newton may not have been right, be he was right enough to put men on the moon. While medicine, which is vastly more complicated, and still very much imperfect and incomplete, nevertheless managed to wipe smallpox from the face of humanity; to name just one of its many remarkable achievements while evolving from “completely-wrong” to “not-completely-wrong [and getting less wrong day by day]”.

        Now, if homeopaths do not wish to submit to the same trial by fire that every other bit of scientific and medical knowledge we have went through on its way to acceptance, simply because they can’t face the possibility that their beloved hypothesis will fail when put to the test, that’s fine. Absolutely fine.

        Just admit to everyone that your beloved homeopathy is not science but a Religion, and you’re home free. Humans have an inordinate tolerance for even the most ludicrous belief systems when dressed in formal frocks, and will freely, delightedly, shower you in all the fame and money your little hearts desire. And as long it’s your funeral, not anyone else’s, science will not give a toss.

        But cross the line where your firmly-held religious beliefs begin to defraud, injure, and kill others, and if you are too cowardly or dishonest to test it for correctness first, then damn straight others will—and they will come for you when the truth unfolds.

        And Truth, my friend, is the domain of the Law; and I sincerely hope it nails your ass to the wall.

        • Quote: “While medicine, …. nevertheless managed to wipe smallpox from the face of humanity…” This is the fantasy mythology that medicine likes to use to to bum billions of dollars from the suckers in society.
          Read Dr Humphries book “Dissolving Illusions” where she does a deep dive into the history of vaccination. Quote “Smallpox vaccination has always correlated positively to epidemics in the countries that collected data in the vain hope of proving the vaccine’s worth.” Talk about a religion!

          Medical doctors have been doing scientific trials of homeopathy with positive results. “Skeptics” always find some way to ignore or deny them. I would challenge you to meet homeopathy on its own terms and do a well-conducted homeopathic blind proving, which is a scientific repeatable experiment.

          The numbers that are injured or killed by homeopathy are an extreme fraction of a rounding error on the number who are killed by conventional medicine, which are in the neighborhood of 300,000 each year in the USA alone, or about two 911-size catastrophes every week. Conventional doctors wear the white frocks while they administer the last rites. Not a peep about that out of cowards like you.

          • Read Dr Humphries book “Dissolving Illusions”

            Ahhh…No. Suzanne Humphries is an anti-vax, pro-homeopathy incompetent, grifter, and kook. Why should I put money in her pocket just to wade through yet more willful errors and malicious lies?

            Honestly, if I wish to fill my boots with anti-vax sewage, I can do that any time I like, completely for FREE, just by reading comments like yours.

            Quote “Smallpox vaccination has always correlated positively to epidemics in the countries that collected data in the vain hope of proving the vaccine’s worth.”

            An astonishing misrepresentation. Humphries doesn’t know know how ring vaccination works, in which case she’s utterly unfit to speak on the subject, or she does and she’s deliberately lying about it to sucker the rubes like you, in which case she’s utterly unfit to speak on the subject—and also an utter dirtbag to boot.

            For laypeople who wish to read a very easy, accessible account of the death of smallpox written by someone who was actually there, I can recommend Dr William Foege’s House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox.

            (Not to be confused with anything written by Suzanne Humphries, which should correctly be titled “Pants on Fire”.)

            The numbers that are injured or killed by homeopathy are an extreme fraction of a rounding error on the number who are killed by conventional medicine, which are in the neighborhood of 300,000 each year in the USA alone

            Your quoted number is, to use a technical term, “made up”. Here’s SBM ripping it apart. The real number’s probably a tenth of that; still too high, but it takes time and work to improve processes and reduce errors. At least medicine, more often than not, recognizes its mistakes and works to eliminate, or at least reduce, their incidence.

            All medicine is an exercise in benefit vs risk. For hypothetical instance, a treatment that kills 50% of patients might sound terrible to you, but if it cures the other 50% of a disease that otherwise proves 100% fatal then I’d call that a damn good start. (While being eager for future improvements to bring that failure rate down further.)

            Now, what’s the benefit vs risk of homeopathic treatments? Let’s hypothesize the US outlawing all real medicine tomorrow and replace it with homeopathy. How many would die each year due to homeopathy working exactly as designed? Answer me that (or don’t bother responding at all).

      • What’s funny is that “homeoprophylaxis” also technically, by meaning of the word, refers to not only the supramolecular use, but to the molecular use of the “immunogen”, as in the use of cowpox serum to immunize against smallpox.
        The reigning medical “authorities”, skeptical of anything but their own reign of terror, are to be congratulated for their sloppy nomenclature and the Alice in Wonderland thinking that spawns it.

    • What a pleasure to read Will’s response…and needless to say, Ernie chose to ignore the crushing critique you gave to this “study” (strawman). It is fun to watch Ernie and his ilk skirt around the real scientific issues and instead use smoke and mirrors while insisting that they are “scientists.”

      • thanks for posting yet another idiotic comment.
        even in their abstract, the authors stated “We hypothesized that there would be no significant difference between homeopathic vaccines and placebo, while there would be a significant increase in antibodies in those received conventional vaccines.”
        and that’s what they did.
        if you believe that homeopathic vaccination is effective, it is YOU who has to show us the evidence.
        YOURS FAITHFULLY
        ERNIE
        [PS I am delighted you chose to use this name; it suggests you are a greater fool than previously assumed]

        • Edzard said:

          it suggests you are a greater fool than previously assumed

          Woah! Don’t jump to conclusions there…

          • Non-specific immunity is well-known basic information about the immune system. The vaxxers dont seem to want to dwell on it much because vaccines bypass it, to our peril.

          • “The vaxxers dont seem to want to dwell on it much because vaccines bypass it,”
            No they don’t

          • Are YOU really saying that the immune system doesn’t have non-specific immunity? Really!?

            How truly embarrassing, not only for you but for ALL of the people here who don’t question the deep ignorance of your fellow wackos who call themselves skeptics. No irony here at all (NOT!).

          • are YOUUUUU really saying that there can be an effective vaccination without a specific immune response?
            HOW EMBARRASSING FOR YOU!

          • Is there evidence to show that there _has_ to be a specific response in order for a vaccine to be effective?

      • what a homeopath calls a ‘crushing critique’ is in fact a lot of BS that I did not consider worthy of a response.

      • @ Dana,

        It is Earnie & his ilk and not Ernie & his ilk. No spelling mistakes here.

    • I was looking forward to reading the skeptical (sic) responses from the homeopaths…the design of the study was necessarily limited because of ethics. These were all students who were due for boosters and no one was deprived of their vaccine. And the use of nosodes represents actual homeopathic practice, which is always claimed to be safe and effective. That is, it’s a test of a real and common intervention claimed to be safe and effective.

      Also homeopaths do make money on nosodes and have an incentive to lie about. Vaccine manufacturers have less incentive because they have to pass a peer review.

    • “Vaccinosis is the term applied to the state of energetic imbalance and mild to life-threatening illness occurring after an animal or person receives an administration of an immune system stimulating substance (i.e., a vaccination).”

      It’s a not a term recognised outside of homeopathy etc. Vaccinosis was often cited by Tinus Smits before he came up with CEASE therapy. Many Dutch lay homeopaths still use the term in conjunction with CEASE therapy rather than “vaccine injury”. Tautopathy is the branch of isopathy that uses remedies made from medicines/vaccines that purportedly cause symptoms. Isopathy is not liked by many homeopaths – it’s not “homeopathic” etc. It’s not difficult to find the likes of J T Kent criticise it.

      Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare, serious reactions even rarer. No vaccine is 100% effective. But homeoprophylaxis has no evidence of efficacy. The marketing of homeoprophylaxis is illegal in many jurisdictions even if the nosodes are not (hence why Boiron’s Oscillococcinum doesn’t claim to prevent flu in most markers). Vaccines don’t have high profit margins. Homeopathic remedies can have very high profit margins.

    • Brilliant response, Will! Touche’ ! There is no evidence mainstream immunology knows how disease is presented or prevented. They are still bumbling around in the molecular phase when the direct cause of action is supramolecular, in the plasma phase. They can’t even reckon what they want placebo to mean! Is “placebo” measure or pleasure?
      The first question before the neophyte is, or should be, “are non-molecular diluents capable of stimulating a biochemical response?” And the answer is YES, revealed by dozens of tests (see Witt’s review of biochemical experiments of homeopathy).
      If they still don’t believe it they need to man up and conduct their own tests, like Benveniste did . . and take a walk on the wild side.

  • The study that we are really waiting for, using real placebos, is the one on pharmaceutical vaccine safety, so as we can evaluate if pharmaceutical vaccines are bringing a net health benefit.

    We are told that such a study would be unethical, hence leaving scientific progression with its hands tied and pharma vaccines as no more than shots in the dark.

  • The antibody response is only the third level of immune response – the specific response, adaptive immunity. There are two levels of non-specific response or innate immunity that normally precede it. They are in the skin, mucus membranes, phagocytic leukocytes, antimicrobial proteins, inflammatory response and fever. These are actually more important than the antibody response. That is one of the problems with injecting antigens past the skin and mucus membrane barriers. It bypasses these more important and more powerful levels of the immune system. Its probably why vaccines dont have long term effectiveness compared to the normal routes of antigen entry and dont have such a broad spectrum protective effect. Could it be that homeopathic vaccines work on strengthening the non-specific immune response? This study does not show one way or the other.

    Wow! They tested one (of the many) or even a few vaccines against a real placebo. How comforting. But it only takes one negative study to show that “[all] vaccines are safe and effective”, to be a false statement. Unfortunately there are many such studies. But we are all meant to be subjected to this one-size-fits-all faith-based medicine.

    • @Roger

      You write lots of comments and seem to have information that is different from, sometimes very different from what is known and established facts. So it would be interesting to know your sources, I somehow doubt you are making all this up by.youreslf, or…? What is your level of education and professional experience?

    • You are throwing about techinical terms from immunology but what you say isn’t actually true and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Unfortunately you haven’t used the word “quantum” to warn us off.

      • So enlighten us. How does injecting something past the skin and mucus membrane barriers Not bypass a significant part of the non-specific immune system?

        • Because innate immunity involves macrophages, monocytes and neutrophils as well as passive infection barriers like the skin and mucous membranes. These white cells circulate in the bloodstream and lymphatics and are the first things attracted to the site of a microbial invader that has bypassed external barriers by whatever means. Macrophages are also antigen-presenting cells, just like like the dendritic cells found mainly in body surfaces.

          In other words, the ‘non-specific’ immune system (anyone who actually understands immunology would prefer ‘innate immune system’) is to be found everywhere. And in case you’re about to repeat the totally incorrect statement in a recent comment: vaccines are not injected intravenously.

          • So you are wiser than the human body and know that the skin and mucus membranes are extraneous when it comes to immunity? Just a bag to cover it all. Any proof of that?

          • Roger.
            Please tell us where you get your knowledge from and what your background is. Did you finish school? Have you any experience from health care? It would be verry interesting to know a little more about how someone gets to believe he knows more than professional experts but seems to get most things wrong. Where are you getting all this information from? Surely you cannot be making all of it up?

          • so you are positive that the living cells in the skin and mucus membranes are just passive barriers? Sounds like you are imagining that.

          • I don’t think anybody has been saying that the skin and mucous membranes are just passive barriers. However, they do form a sufficient barrier to keep vaccines away from the macrophages and dendritic cells which they need to interact with in order to stimulate a specific immune response. Hence most vaccines are given by injection in order to get them to where they can function.

            The integument is a vital protection against infection, which is very clear to anybody who has managed burns, or dealt with wounds of any kind. However, they don’t stop everything.

            By the way, please note the distinction between the words mucus and mucous, which have different meanings.

        • @Roger: I’d love to hear some comments from you on other topics of science to which you must also be equally “adept”…..perhaps you can share some of your arcane wisdom on geology, anthropology and astrophysics. I’m sure your responses will be equally enlightening to those of us that don’t know everything about everything like you apparently do.

          • Sorry, but not everyone here is as arrogant as the majority of people at this website who pose as skeptics, when they are simply hyper-arrogant people who have problems socially and therefore prefer to take their aggression out on others who do not share their limited worldview.

          • “… hyper-arrogant people who have problems socially… ”
            OH DEAR, Dana!!!

          • No, Instead I’d like to hear your exposition on the ins and outs of how to do ad hominum attacks.

        • In any case, the purpose of vaccines is to stimulate a specific immune response. If the vaccine were prevented from getting to where it can do that by skin and mucosal barriers etc. it wouldn’t achieve anything.

          The contagious infections we vaccinate against still have to breach these barriers in a healthy person and run the gauntlet of the non-specific immune system, and despite that they are very good at causing serious infections. Once the specific immune system has been recruited, however, the body can fight them more effectively, and with future exposures they have trouble getting established. The aim of the vaccine is to put the body into a similar state to that of someone who has successfully fought off a previous infection.

  • Of course it won’t put an end to this nonsense. Homeopaths will say their nosodes etc work via the vital force.

    • Well, it seems that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. You (again) either haven’t learned that the “vital force” is simply an old name for non-specific immune response or innate immunity. Can you get over your own spin?

      • Ahahaha. Dana, you are priceless. Any reputable evidence to back up this assertion which you appear to have pulled out of your arse?

        • @Lenny
          Dana seems to be borrowing sciency word combinations from professor Roger. It is very interesting how he often parrots words and phrases that have been going around and tries to sound intellectual using them 😁

          • echolalia

            noun

            1. meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder.

            2. repetition of speech by a child learning to talk.

      • Priceless.

        “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

  • A real “scientist” knows that immunity is not a measure of antibodies. There is cell-mediated immunity as well. In fact, Wikipedia (surprisingly) has a good article explaining it. IOW, lack of antibodies does not equate to lack of immunity. It’s only the pro-vax community that insists that antibody level equals immunity. It doesn’t and never has.

    • Aw shucks, Joy, you’re taking away the joy that these skeptics have from pretending to be smart. The good news is that they don’t have to pretend to be arrogant. Thanx Joy!

      • Arrogant definition: 1. unpleasantly proud and behaving as if you are more important than, or know more than, other people.

        The key words being AS IF.

        You know. Like some ignorant homeopath believing he knows more about physiology, biochemistry and immunology than a bunch of doctors, surgeons and biomedical scientists.

        Dana. You’re demonstrating your stupidity to one and all on a public forum again and will once more run away with your tail between your legs having been shown to be factually incorrect.

        Will you learn from it? No you won’t. Because you never do. Such is your foolishness an arrogance.

    • Joy. How interesting that you are happy to so blithely display your foolishness and ignorance on a public forum.

      Now then. Explain to us, with links to appropriate studies, exactly how homeoprophylaxis activates the cell-mediated system. Then demonstrate its effectiveness with appropriate studies.

      Oh.

      You can’t, can you.

      Well there’s a thing.

      Almost as if you’re talking a load of imaginary cobblers, isn’t it?

      Meanwhile we in the “pro-vax community” (aka The Real World) can demonstrate exactly how vaccines work and exactly how effective they are.

      How inconvenient the truth is.

      Well there’s another thing.

      That the delusional antivax loons put their fingers in their ears and go “LALALA” to this is their problem, not ours.

    • Joy,

      It takes more than reading a Wikipedia article to make you an immunologist.

      The immune system is an immensely complex entity, and it is true that antibodies are only part of it. Indeed, invertebrates do not have a specific immune system at all and yet this hasn’t prevented them from being very successful as a group. Specific components of the immune system all have a part to play, and the body responds to different types of infection in different ways, whether it be to viruses, gram-negative bacteria, gram-positive bacteria, mycobacteria, parasites, fungi…

      Disruption of the immune system leads to susceptibility to infection, but which infection depends on what is missing. A lack of neutrophils (e.g. in the middle of a chemotherapy cycle) can lead to rapidly progressive and life-threatening infections from the sort of bacteria that cause sore throats, bad teeth and skin infections. A deficiency of CD4 cells (e.g. in AIDS) leads to opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, cytomegalovirus, cryptococcal meningitis, Mycobacterium avium intracellulare and others. Immunosuppression by corticosteroids can lead to candida, blindness from herpes eye infections, disseminated herpes and many others.

      With regard to antibodies, I entirely disagree with your contention that lack of antibodies does not equate to lack of immunity. I have personal experience of this. Following my diagnosis of multiple myeloma a bit over two years ago my antibody-making apparatus has been entirely given over to producing useless antibody fragments (what we call paraprotein) secreted by the malignant plasma cells and I have been unable to make any antibodies at all. I frequently have low-level infections which hit me very hard, and I have had five hospital admissions for serious infections with bacteria and viruses which most people would shrug off (including RSV, two strains of parainfluenza and probable Haemophilus). One of these put me into Intensive Care for a week and very nearly killed me. I was unlucky to encounter the Haemophilus as babies are now vaccinated against this routinely in the UK.

      I don’t know what you mean by the pro-vax community. Are you referring to public health officials, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, perhaps, or maybe the researchers (epidemiologists, microbiologists, immunologists etc.) who have given us the science their policies are based on?

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