The following article is the first of three excerpts from a report, WHO, Pharma, Gates & Government: Who’s Calling the Shots?, which was published by the National Vaccine Information Center on Jan. 29, 2019.
On Jan. 16, 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report ranking “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top “Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019”, alongside air pollution and climate change; noncommunicable diseases; global influenza pandemic; antimicrobial resistance; and infectious diseases such as ebola, dengue fever and HIV.1 Throughout history, the greatest contributors to disease and early death in human populations have been poverty, poor sanitation and poor nutrition,2 3 4 yet infectious diseases with pharmaceutical solutions dominated this list. And there was no mention of the major opioid addiction crisis crippling and killing tens of thousands of people in the U.S. and Europe,5 6 or the iatrogenic medical error epidemic that every year claims more than 750,000 lives in Europe and 250,000 lives in the U.S., where it is the third leading cause of death.8
The immediate mainstream media response to the WHO’s announcement was to focus on “vaccine hesitancy.” On Jan. 19, the Editorial Board of The New York Times declared that “anti-vaxxers” are “the enemy” and called on the U.S. government to “get tough” by waging a “bold and aggressive” pro-vaccine campaign that includes “tightening restrictions around how much leeway states can grant families that want to skip essential vaccines.”9 By Jan. 23, The Hill announced that Washington state had declared a state of emergency because of 23 cases of measles reported in an “anti-vaccination community” near Portland, Oregon,10 and there was a public call in the UK for social media platforms to “clamp down on fake news” and censor “misleading information and negative messaging around vaccination.”11 12
The New York Times editorial headline “How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers” was a theme repeated in articles reacting to the WHO’s suggestion that people wanting to make informed, voluntary decisions about vaccination are a global menace. One doctor suggested that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are selfish: ”… it’s a matter of ‘I don’t care about other people in the community, I only care about the health and welfare of my own child.’”13
No Discussion About Major Vaccine Issues Concerning People
There was no discussion about institutionally acknowledged gaps in vaccine safety science14 15 or the fact that most parents dutifully follow the advice of pediatricians and public health officials and only became vaccine safety critics after the risks of vaccination for their children turned out to be 100 percent.16 17 No discussion about the fact that since 2011, pharmaceutical companies have no liability for injuries and deaths caused by government recommended and mandated vaccines they sell in the U.S.18 Instead, parents of vaccine injured children and others concerned about vaccine safety, who for decades have been asking government and industry to produce better quality vaccine science and more humane vaccine policies that respect genetic and biological diversity, were stereotyped as “anti-vaxxers” and demonized as a “threat” to public health.
The Editorial Board of The New York Times explained, “It’s no mystery how we got here. On the internet, anti-vaccine propaganda has outpaced pro-vaccine public health information.” Authoritatively, “the Board, its editor and the publisher” of The New York Times stated that, “Scientists are uncomfortable with black and white statements, because science is all about nuance. But, in the case of vaccines, there are some hard truths that deserve to be trumpeted. Vaccines are not toxic, and they do not cause autism. Full stop.”
There was no discussion about why people are legitimately concerned about vaccine ingredients19 and Pharma paying the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast track new vaccines to licensure without adequate testing.20 No discussion about the fact that doctors are giving children 69 doses of 16 vaccines starting on the day of birth21—three times as many vaccinations as they got in 1983—22 and cannot explain why so many highly vaccinated children in the U.S. are sicker, not healthier today: 1 child in 6 learning disabled23 and 1 in 40 with autism24 and millions more suffering with asthma, diabetes, severe allergies, epilepsy, cancer, schizophrenia, depression and other chronic disease marked by chronic inflammation in the body. The CDC states that, “90 percent of the $3.3 trillion in annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions.”25 The largely unexplained chronic disease and disability epidemic in the U.S. is bankrupting the U.S. health care system and there is no research being funded to investigate the role that ever increasing numbers of vaccines given to infants, children and adults may be playing.
Multi-national pharmaceutical corporations26 27 in command of a global 34 billion dollar vaccine market28 29 are holding billion dollar contracts with mass communication companies30 and public-private partnerships with governments to purchase vaccines and create vaccine marketing campaigns31 32 33 34 that dwarf the relatively small number of websites and blogs labeled “anti-vax” simply for criticizing vaccine science and government policy.35 Yet, there is no recognition by mainstream media articles of the fact that wealthy corporations and philanthropic foundations with political agendas,36 37 well paid medical doctors,38 39 40 and government health officials in charge of operating the vaccine system41 are in privileged positions of power with a distinct advantage over ordinary people subjected to vaccine laws that place an unequal risk burden on individuals with genetic and biological susceptibility to suffering harm from vaccination.42 43
“Bio-Populism” Blamed for Vaccine Hesitancy in Europe
In the UK, The Economist published an article entitled “The campaign against vaccination,” in which an anonymous author declared, “Across Europe, the rise of populism is damaging public health. A common feature is skepticism of vaccines.”44 Pointing to Italy, Austria and France as hotbeds of political support for “parental choice” about vaccination, the author attempted to politically tie growing public support for vaccine choice to a fear of migrants and coined a new term: “bio-populism:”
It is increasingly clear that Europe’s populists want for the body what they want for the nation: purity, unity and self-governance. Populist health policies mean citizens being free from outside influences—whether vaccines devised by doctors, regulations invented by politicians or diseases supposedly carried by migrants—and in control of their own epidemiology.
He (or she?) went on to explain that bio-populism is a “combination of me-first libertarianism and anti-expertise herd mentality.” Quoting Italian medical professor Dr. Roberto Burioni, who has stated authoritatively that ”Vaccines are not an Opinion” and offered an explanation for “Why Science Can’t be Democratic,” The Economist article ended with a warning that, “At least one pandemic will probably sweep the interconnected world in the next decade…Viruses, after all, know no borders.”
There was no discussion of the fact that most parents and physicians calling for better quality vaccine science and informed consent protections in vaccine laws are ideologically diverse and do not all identify with one particular political party. In fact, a 2015 Pew Research Center survey revealed that age and parenthood had more to do with vaccine hesitancy, with young adults and parents with children under age 18 being less supportive of mandatory vaccination.45
Vaccines, Autism, Erosion of Trust in Drug Companies & Doctors
In the U.S., Live Science trumpeted: “Anti-Vaccine Movement Joins Ebola, Drug Resistance on List of Top Global Threats.”46 A doctor at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security was quoted as saying the reason that noncommunicable diseases and not infectious diseases made the WHO’s top ten global threat list is “a testament to how powerful vaccines are.” Pointing to the jubilant public response to the release of polio vaccine in the 1950s, he commented, “We need to get back to that era when vaccines were celebrated the way a new iPhone [is].”
The headline People Magazine chose was “World Health Organization Names Anti-Vaxxers As a Top Threat to Global Health in 2019.”47 At the beginning of the article, the following statement appeared: “There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.” It ended with the statement “To tackle the rising levels of vaccine hesitancy, WHO plans to push forward with the goal of eliminating cervical cancer with greater application of HPV vaccine…”
U.S. News & World Report ran this headline: “WHO: Anti-Vaccine Movement a Top Threat in 2019.”48 That author stated, “So-called anti-vaxxers refuse the required shots for their children on religious or philosophical grounds. An increase in unvaccinated children has, in part, been tied to the medically discredited belief that vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder.” Pointing out that a recent U.S. survey found that public trust in vaccination is on the decline, she added, “The heightened mistrust, researchers said, was especially prevalent in small pockets of people in insular communities or like-minded communities online.”
Pacific Standard asked “Are Anti-Vaxxers A Major Health Threat? The World Health Organization Says Yes.“49 This article included a quote from a pediatrician:
The ongoing erosion of trust in the medical establishment as a whole is also to blame, as frequent reports of dubious financial relationships between physicians, professional medical societies, and the pharmaceutical industry leave many questioning whether or not physicians can be trusted. Unsure of what to do and whom to listen to, many seek answers to their questions elsewhere, or simply rely on their gut feeling…
Salon created the most sensational headline that asked the foreboding question, “The anti-vaxxocalypse” What happens to humanity if vaccine hesitancy continues?”50 The author explained to readers, “In other words, the anti-vaccination movement, which has inspired many in first-world countries to refuse or hesitate vaccination for easily-preventable diseases, is now a threat to global health and, ergo, stability.”
The exaggerated response to the WHO announcement by corporations owning mainstream media outlets has been curiously uniform. Often using identical talking points, perspective from parents and physicians in the U.S. and Europe rationally calling for reform of the vaccine policies and laws is left out.51
The politics of vaccination is in full swing, but where is the money coming from to fund these vaccine marketing campaigns using name calling, threats, shaming and misinformation to demonize and call for discrimination against those who criticize vaccine science and government policy?
The rest of this report can be read here on NVIC’s main website.
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2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases. MMWR July 30, 1999.
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5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic? Jan. 22, 2019.
6 Toich L. Opoid Epidemic Ravages Europe. The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits June 22, 2017.
7 Minemyer P. Medical errors officially the third leading cause of death in the U.S., study finds. Fierce Healthcare May 3, 2016.
9 Editorial Board. How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers. The New York Times Jan. 19, 2019.
10 Gstalger MM. Washington declare public health emergency as measles hits anti-vaccination community. The Hill Jan. 23, 2019.
11 The Irish Times. Social media spreading ‘dangerous information’ about vaccines – report. The Irish Times Jan. 23, 2019.
12 Iacobucci G. Vaccination: “fake news” on social media may be harming UK uptake, report warns. BMJ 2019; 364.
13 Stratman J. Doctors react to WHO adding anti-vaccination to ’19 global health threats. 14 News (WFIE) Jan. 24, 2019.
14 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Evaluation of Biologic Mechanisms of Adverse Effects: Increased Susceptibility. (p. 82). Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 2012.
15 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Supports Three of Five Recommendations of New IOM Report on U.S. Childhood Immunization Schedule Safety and Calls for Transparency. Business Wire Jan. 16, 2013.
16 Fisher BL. The Moral Right to Conscientious, Philosophical and Personal Belief Exemption to Vaccination. Presentation to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) May 2, 1997.
17 Fisher BL, Williams K, Wrangham TK. NVIC response to an inquiry from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the implementation of the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) after passage of the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. National Vaccine Information Center July 11, 2014.
18 Fisher BL. End Pharma Product Liability Shield Endangering Public Health and Human Rights. National Vaccine Information Center Nov. 8, 2016.
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20 Drug Companies Pay FDA and NIH to Fast Track and Market Vaccines. The Vaccine Reaction Sept. 28, 2018.
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27 Statista. Top 10 pharmaceutical companies based on global vaccine revenues in 2017 and 2024 (in millions of U.S. dollars). 2019.
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30 Oster E. GSK Sends $1.5 Billion Media Account to Publicis. Ad Week Oct. 5, 2018.
31 Drug Companies Pay FDA and NIH to Fast Track and Market Vaccines. The Vaccine Reaction Sept. 28, 2018.
32 Angelmar R, Morgan PA et al. Vaccine Marketing. In: Innovation and Marketing in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Springer 2014.
33 Upton J. Merck’s Latest Shot Against Shingles. Pharmaceutical Executive 2017; 37(5).
34 National Vaccine Advisory Committee. Strengthening the Effectiveness of State, and Local Efforts to Improve HPV Vaccine Coverage in the United States: Recommendations of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. Public Health Reports Aug. 9, 2018
35 Cáceres M. The Moran Team Study of 480 “Anti-Vax” Websites. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 7, 2015.
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38 Fisher BL. Class and Race Profiling in the Vaccine Culture War. National Vaccine Information Center July 17, 2017.
39 Revealed: Doctors Are the Highest Paid Workers in EVERY state in the nation. Breaking News Time Jan. 18, 2019.
40 MD Salaries. Potential Salaries for Faculty at University of Texas-Austin’s New Medical School. Feb. 11, 2013.
41 Fisher BL, Wrangham TK. NVIC Public Comment to the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) on the federal vaccine safety system. National Vaccine Information Center June 6, 2011.
42 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Evaluation of Biologic Mechanisms of Adverse Effects: Increased Susceptibility. (p. 82). Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 2012.
43 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Vaccine Injury Compensation Data from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
44 Charlemagne (anonymous). The campaign against vaccination. The Economist Jan. 19, 2019
45 Anderson M. Young adults more likely to say vaccinating kids should be a parental choice. Pew Research Center Feb. 2, 2015.
46 Rhettner R. Anti-Vaccine Movement Joins Ebola, Drug Resistance on List of Top Global Threats. Live Science Jan. 17, 2019.
47 Mazziotta J. World Health Organization Names Anti-Vaxxers As a Top Threat to Global Health in 2019. People Magazine Jan. 17, 2019.
48 Trimble M. WHO: Anti-Vaccine Movement a Top Threat in 2019. US News & World Report Jan. 16, 2019.
49 Wheeling K. Are Anti-Vaxxers a Major Health Threat? The World Health Organization Says Yes. Pacific Standard Jan. 16, 2019.
50 Karlis N. The anti-vaxxocalypse: What happens to humanity if vaccine hesitancy continues? Salon Jan. 17, 2019
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