This is the second in a multi-part series of articles that will be published in The Vaccine Reaction containing updated information from a special report on vaccine strain virus infection, shedding and transmission originally published by NVIC in November 2014. The first article was “The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Virus Vectored Vaccines.”
For nearly 150 years, microbes, often referred to as “germs,” have struck fear into the hearts of medical doctors and scientists. After the discovery of bacteria, the “germ theory” developed by Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur in the mid-19th century quickly dominated the practice of medicine and public health policy.1 2 The discovery of viruses in the late 19th century3 added fuel to the notion that microbes are invisible enemies of the people and must be rooted out and, ideally, eradicated in order to protect human (and animal) health.
Smallpox is a virus, and the human-cow hybrid live vaccinia virus vaccine created by British country doctor Edward Jenner in 17964 set the stage for government health officials and medical doctors to wage a two century wage war on microbes using vaccines as one of the biggest guns in their arsenal. European chemical companies in the mid-19th century and, later, U.S. pharmaceutical companies in the 20th century were only too happy to embrace the germ theory that microbes are the leading preventable cause of human illness and death. These companies quickly volunteered to produce and sell weapons in the form of antibiotics and vaccines for doctors to give to people to try to control and “eradicate” microbes.5 6
In the past few decades, fear of viruses has been the subject of fiction and non-fiction books and movies.7 8 Fear of “germs” has led to doctors over-prescribing antibiotics and the sale of all kinds of antibacterial products that has, in turn, led to the evolution of pathogenic bacteria super resistant to antibiotics.9 Fear has led to global use of toxic pesticides and chemicals that have contaminated the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, causing damage to the neurological and endocrine systems of children.10
Fear of microbes has been used to justify “no exceptions” compulsory vaccination laws and denial of education and medical care, and calls for censorship of speech and imprisonment of those who refuse to use vaccines.11 12 And fear has powered the accelerated development of hundreds of new genetically engineered bacterial and live virus and viral vectored vaccines. Today, public health officials and CEO’s marketing vaccines talk in military terms about keeping viruses and other “bugs at bay,” if everyone will buy and use vaccines to protect “global health security.13
People are kept in a constant state of fear and anxiety by public health doctors frequently reminding us that unpredictable attacks by dangerous viruses are only “a plane ride away.”14 In the past six years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared three global public health emergencies and all have involved fear of viruses: pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (2009); ebola virus (2014) and Zika virus (2016).15 16 17
The relentless message is: We must kill them before they kill us.
What if this primitive fear of viruses and bacteria has been short-sighted because simplistic assumptions were made that are not true? What if the war on microbes is backfiring because two centuries of assumptions delayed the search for the kind of knowledge we need to truly protect our health?
Viruses: Enemies or Friends?
The vast majority of viruses and bacteria are not pathogenic, meaning they rarely make you very sick or kill you. Most viral infections are subclinical and cause few or no symptoms at all. Only when a viral infection damages or interrupts cell function and the immune system fails to eliminate infection from the body, does it lead to permanent injury or death.18
In fact, all life forms carry persistent viruses and most of them help sustain life or provide benefit, including preventing infection with other microbes.19 Viruses are integrated into the human genome and are thought to have contributed to the development of adaptive immunity that keeps us healthy.20 21
Viruses are part of the human microbiome, which is composed of trillions of non-human microbial cells and genetic material from bacteria, fungi and viruses that are present in and on the human body, including the nose, throat, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts and skin. Microbes add another 100 trillion cells to the 10 to 30 trillion human cells that make up the human body and resident microbes have about 8 million genes, which interact with 21,000 human genes to help our bodies grow, digest food, develop and mount immune responses and perform many other normal bodily functions.22 23
Maternal Microbiome Influences Infant Health
There is mounting evidence that the microbiome is a powerful ally in helping us to resist pathogenic infectious disease, as well as to resist non-infectious diseases like allergy and autoimmune disorders.24 25 26 The womb of a pregnant woman is not “sterile” but is swimming with microbes that give the developing baby a first immunological experience, followed by more exposure to microbes during the normal birth process and breastfeeding.27 The viruses, bacteria and other microbes populating the maternal microbiome play an important role in preparing a baby developing inside the womb for survival outside the womb.28
In 2014, researchers in Ireland studying the microbiome, stress, health and disease observed that the microbiome is established during the first three years of life. However, it continues to evolve throughout our lives as we constantly respond to changes in our environment, including diet, stress, infection and the kinds of pharmaceutical products we use:
The microbiome is a dynamic entity that is under continuous evolution throughout the host’s lifetime in particular during the first three years of life during which time a stable microbiome is established. It is sensitive to a whole array of manipulations such as diet, stress, infection, pharmacological interventions and thus is it clear that the composition of the microbiota is distinct at different milestones of life.29
One prominent physician writing about the importance of maintaining the integrity of the human microbiome from childhood said recently that “modern medical practices” have interfered with microbiome health and changed how children develop:
With the modern advances of modern life, including modern medical practices, we have been disrupting the microbiome. And there’s evidence for that, especially early in life, and it’s changing how our children develop… Just as today the kids are lining up for the vaccines, in the future, maybe the kids are going to be drinking certain organisms so that we can replace the ones that they’ve lost.30
The next article in this TVR series will be The Human Microbiome: Diversity Rules Human Health
1 Harvard University Library. Contagion, Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics: Germ Theory.
2 Senior K. How and When Were Bacteria Discovered? Typesofbacteria Jan. 27, 2016.
3 Rett R, Siddell S. One hundred years of animal virology. J Gen Virol 1998; 79: 2871-2874.
4 Harvard University Library. Contagion, Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics: Vaccination.
5 American Chemical Society. The Pharmaceutical Century (1800s to 1919): Patents and Potions. ACS 2000.
6 American Chemical Society. The Pharmaceutical Century (1940’s): Antibiotics and Isotopes. ACS 2000.
7 Peters CJ. Virus Hunters: Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World. First Anchor Books 1998.
8 Ebert R. Review of Contagion. Roger Ebert.com Sept. 7, 2011.
9 Rettner R. Super-Superburgs: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria May Be Deadlier. Livescience July 22, 2015.
10 National Library of Medicine. Tox Town: Pesticides. NLM Dec. 15, 2015
11 Fisher BL. The Vaccine Culture War in America: Are You Ready? NVIC Newsletter Mar. 8, 2015.
12 Humphries S. Dissolving Illusions: Diseases, Vaccines and the Forgotten History. 2013.
13 Berkley S. Infectious disease vaccines: A new approach to global health security. Fox News Jan. 29, 2016.
14 Szabo L, Weintraub K. Ebola only a plane ride away from USA. USA Today July 28, 2014.
15 Pellerin C. World Health Organization Declares Global Pandemic for H1N1 Flu. IIPDigital June 11, 2009.
16 Kennedy M. WHO Declares Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency. The Guardian Aug. 8, 2014.
17 Fox M. WHO Declares Zika a Public Health Emergency. NBC News Feb. 2, 2016.
18 National Academies of Sciences. How Infections Work: How Pathogens Make Us Sick. NAS 2016.
19 Roossinck MJ. Changes in Population Dynamics in Mutualistic Viruses versus Pathogenic Viruses. Viruses 2011; 3(1): 12-19.
20 Villareal LP. The source of self: genetic parasites and the origin of adaptive immunity. Ann NY Acad Sci 2009; 1178-194-232.
21 Nelson PN, Carnegie PR, Martin J. Demystified… Human endogenous retroviruses. J Clin Pathol: Mol Pathol 2003; 58(1): 11-18.
22 Conniff R. Microbes: The Trillions of Creatures Governing Your Health. Smithsonian Magazine May 2013.
23 National Institutes of Health (NIH). Human Microbiome Project.
24 Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. Bad Bugs Need Fear Gut Microbiome. Dec. 11, 2013.
25 Ryan L. Having friends over? Think again! Each guest brings ’38 MILLION bacterial cells into your home. Mail Online Jan. 6, 2016.
26 Fujimura KE, Slusher NA, Cabena MD, Lynch SV. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev AntiInfect Ther 2010; 8(4): 435-454.
27 Grens K. The Maternal Microbiome. The Scientist May 21, 2014.
28 Zimmer C. Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden. The New York Times June 18, 2012.
29 Maloney RD, Desbonnet L, Clarke G et al. The microbiome: stress, health and disease. Mamm Genome 2014; 25: 49-74.
30 National Public Radio (NPR). Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors. Apr. 14, 2014.