In the three articles written by Chloe Johnson in the Herald on Sunday, March 3, 2013, (here, here and here) there was a ton of misinformation. I pulled her up on all her mistakes, which she refused to accept, and maintains that her articles were balanced and she is proud of them. The Herald on Sunday editor’s contribution to my attempt at redress was .... to tell me that he had told Chloe to stop corresponding with me.
So let's discuss the truth, from New Zealand's provaccine medical literature – as opposed to the medical profession's propaganda fed and regurgitated willingly by the Herald on Sunday. The only “plus” in Chloe’s articles, was that Dr Huang admitted that there was no evidence that the flu vaccine actually worked.
The problem is that while that single statement was true, most of the rest of the article was opinion, and did not even answer the questions asked. Possibly the worst piece of misinformation given by Chloe stating that the influenza vaccine had a 75% effectiveness.
Most astonishingly, Chloe consulted all the members of the SHIVERS (Southern Hemisphere Influenza and Vaccine Effectiveness Research and Surveillance) group, yet was sucked in by their words, and didn’t appear to even look at the black and white information on what SHIVERS has found.
So first, what is SHIVERS?
SHIVERS is a 5 year study funded by the USA CDC, with objectives and “expected” outcomes. Interesting how you have expected outcomes before you even start a five years study. However, the CDC has supposedly put $9 million dollars into ESR to do this study. SHIVERS became operational on 30 April 2012, and community based surveillance will start in 2013.
When I challenged Chloe about her article statement that in healthy adults, the vaccine had a 75% efficacy, she replied saying:
“… the fact about 75% effectiveness came from a link you sent me. Please see 4th paragraph under DISCUSSION.
Perhaps the problem was that she didn’t read past the first sentence.
Here is the whole paragraph. Black highlights (mine) and text is Cochrane, my deconstruction in red.
“While the parenteral vaccine efficacy against seasonal (i.e. non-pandemic) influenza is around 75% for the WHO recommended and matched strain, its impact on the global incidence of clinical cases of influenza (i.e. ILI) is limited (around 16% in best case scenario). (What don’t you understand about these two parts – “limited” – and – “16% BEST case….” because that’s your real figure, 16%.... ….NOT 75% ) The universal immunisation of healthy adults should achieve a number of specific goals: reducing the spread of the disease, reducing the economic loss due to working days lost and reducing morbidity and hospitalization (note the word should. Not does or will. And if the “best case real life” impact is 16%, clearly it doesn’t). None of the studies included in the review presented results evaluating the ability of this vaccination to interrupt the spread of the disease.(Did you miss this bit, and let Dr Lance Jennings sucker you into printing that the reason for flu being so high in NYC was because not enough people were vaccinated?) Some studies presented data on reduction of working days lost and showed a very limited effect. (75% would not be “very limited” 75% would be superb) Similarly a very limited effect was found on morbidity and no effect was found on hospitalization. (a very limited effect on what, Chloe?) Given the limited availability of resources for mass immunisation, the use of influenza vaccines should be primarily directed where there is clear evidence of benefit."
The whole point of the Cochrane Review on healthy adults, is that there is no CLEAR evidence of benefit anywhere. While the 75% figure is a fictitious theory of what SHOULD happen, the rest of the paragraph details that what should happen, doesn’t work out in practice.
The 75% only applies if the vaccine is assumed to match whatever NON PANDEMIC viruses hit your country that are the same as is in the vaccine, and IF the vaccine actually does work..
However, in the USA last year the H3N2 matched perfectly…. but didn’t work. I provided Chloe with detailed information (Table 2) which showed:
Officially in the USA the vaccine had an effectiveness of (minus) -118 to 34 for >65 year olds for H3N2... stunning... especially given the fact that this is the 'bad' flu virus... and you can be sure that this is actually the upper limit of how “good” they think the vaccine is.
Please note the data below:
• 673 (99.4%) of the 677 H3N2 influenza viruses tested have been characterized as A/Victoria/361/2011-like, the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.
• 4 (0.6%) of the 677 H3N2 viruses tested showed reduced titers with antiserum produced against A/Victoria/361/2011.
The question is, .... "how will the NZ spin doctors rework their computer risk models to produce less embarrassing results?... especially since this H3N2 vaccine is the nearest to perfect match in recent history... “ The answer is that they have studiously ignored it, and opted to go nowhere near such inconvenient facts.
So there Chloe had an example that the H3N2 was as perfect a match as was possible, and the vaccine didn’t work. Even worse, Chloe stated that USA data showed an effectiveness of 9% but never showed the wild confidence intervals, which proved that before the data was ‘evened out” the elderly had a 20% increased chance of getting influenza due to H3N2 DUE to being vaccinated.
But the way Chloe put it, what all “healthy adults” would have heard, was : 3 out of 4 of us who are vaccinated, WON’T get the flu, period.
Chloe also said without putting her own brain into first gear..., "Lucy hadn't had a flu jab because she considered herself healthy. And she paid the price:..."
I emailed her saying that, “this was “a very significant piece of misinformation you put out there, particularly as the girl you focused on, whose lung baked, wouldn’t have been protected, because what she got, didn’t match the vaccine, yet in your article you INFER that the vaccine would have protected her.”
Of course, if last year’s evidence in USA vaccine is anything to go by, the H3N2 component of New Zealand’s vaccine might not work either.
So let’s look at what I think you should have read in the Sunday on Herald: Part Two.