In the years just prior to onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019-2020, there was a mysterious polio-like syndrome emerging among some children in the United States, as well as other countries such as India, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)—also sometimes referred to as acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking cases of AFM in August 2014.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
One hundred twenty confirmed cases of AFM were reported in the U.S. in 2014, followed by 22 cases in 2015, 153 in 2016, 38 in 2017, 233 in 2018, 47 in 2019, 33 in 2020, 28 in 2021 and 22 as Oct. 12, 2022. Usually, cases of AFM tend to spike upward during August-November.15 16
During the past three years, the attention given to AFM by public health officials and the media has been eclipsed by COVID, but the neurological condition which produces paralysis mostly in young children appears to be back on the radar screen.
AFM in the News Again
On Sept. 12, 2022, NBC News published an article titled “Virus associated with polio-like muscle weakness is spreading among kids, CDC warns” highlighting a CDC report confirming 260 cases of a virus known as “enterovirus D68” (EV-D68) in children in the U.S. from Mar. 1 through Sept. 20, which allegedly is linked to AFM. On Sept. 14, a similar article titled “A virus that causes polio-like symptoms is spreading among children, CDC warns” was published by Salon. Those articles and others published by the mainstream media took their cues from the summary of the CDC report that states that EV-D68 “caused biennial outbreaks of severe respiratory illness and acute flaccid myelitis.”17 18 19
Both the titles of the NBC and Salon articles and the intro to the CDC report leave the impression that EV-D68 has been confirmed to be the main cause of the AFM outbreaks in the U.S. since 2014. It’s important to understand, however, that a causal relationship between EV-D68 and AFM has not been scientifically established. The CDC report itself acknowledges that EV-D68 has not been confirmed as the cause of AFM. It states:
Clinicians should consider EV-D68 as a possible cause of acute respiratory illness and AFM in children and adolescents this fall…18
The Connection Between EV-D68 and AFM is Speculative
The most that can be said is that EV-D68 is suspected of being a possible cause of AFM. This is based on tests conducted by the CDC in which a “small number of patients with AFM” were found to have “coxsackievirus A16, EV-A71, and EV-D68” in their spinal fluid.18 In a June 2019 update by the CDC on its investigation into the cause of AFM, it stated:
We detected coxsackievirus A16, EV-A71, and EV-D68 in the spinal fluid of four of 570 confirmed cases of AFM since 2014, which points to the cause of those patients’ AFM. For all other patients, no pathogen (germ) has been detected in their spinal fluid to confirm a cause.7
In other words, more than 99 percent of the individuals confirmed to have had AFM as of June 2019 did not have EV-D68 or any other infectious microbe detected in their spinal fluid. Consequently, the most that could be surmised is that there may be an association between one or more of those three viruses in a very small number of the children found to have symptoms of AFM. There was no confirmation of causation or even correlation, which would mean identifying some sort of pattern or trend.
In a STAT article published in 2019, journalist Maggie Fox agreed on the lack of scientific evidence with regard to EV-D68. She wrote:
Doctors who have treated patients with AFM have long suspected that EV-D68 and perhaps other, similar viruses are causing the illness. But it’s been almost impossible to find the evidence they need to say so conclusively…20
Infectious disease physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Amesh Adalja came to the same the conclusion. He said:
I agree that EV-D68 is probably the prime suspect, and the evidence is getting clearer and clearer, but it may be very difficult to prove…21
A study published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases in October 2020 noted:
Scientific understanding of the etiology and the factors driving the biennial increases in AFM has advanced rapidly in the past few years, although areas of uncertainty remain.22
Areas of uncertainty remain. You do not have to be adept at reading between the lines to figure out what they’re saying here.
And yet, despite the lack of scientific evidence to causally link EV-D68 to AFM, there seems to be a kind of nuanced push by the CDC to solidify this link. It is a jump to conclusion that is more brazenly promoted by the media because, once a virus is identified as the culprit, then the quest to develop yet another vaccine to give to children can get underway.
But hold on, why even bother to wait for the scientific evidence to blame EV-D68 for AFM? Why not just assume a causal relationship and move forward with development of an EV-D68 vaccine for AFM?
NIAID Awards Contract to Dutch Firm to Develop Vaccine for AFM
That was probably the thinking at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 2020 when it awarded pharmaceutical company Intravacc BV of The Netherlands a contract (No. 75N93020C00037) that may end up totaling $9.4 million to develop a vaccine for EV-D68. In a press release, Intravacc said it would develop an “inactivated” EV D68 vaccine, based on its “proprietary Vero cell technology, from early product selection through to Phase I clinical testing.”23
“We are gratified to enter into this co-development contract with the NIH/NIAID for an inactivated EV-D68 vaccine to protect children from AFM in foreseen EV-D68 outbreaks,” said Intravacc CEO Jan Groen, PhD.23
In a study published in the journal Expert Review of Vaccines in 2017, Vero cell technology was described as being useful for rapidly developing “inactivated whole virus vaccines for emergency viral diseases.” The study noted:
Use of this platform can substantially accelerate process development and facilitate licensure because of the substantial existing data set available for the cell matrix. However, programs to provide vaccines against emerging diseases must allow alternative clinical development paths to licensure, without the requirement to carry out large scale field efficacy studies.24
It appears that NIAID and its director Dr. Anthony Fauci may be aiming to fast-track an EV-D68 vaccine for AFM. No time to waste performing those cumbersome “large scale field efficacy studies.” Or the safety trials either, for that matter.
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Just like the COVID shots.
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Click here to view References:
1 Cáceres M. Will AFM Quickly Go Viral Like Microcephaly? The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 31, 2018.
2 Cáceres M. AFM Not Transmissible from Human to Human Says CDC. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 7, 2018.
3 Cáceres M. Under Siege by Critics, CDC Moves to Blame a Virus for Polio-like Cases of AFM. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 14, 2018.
4 Cáceres M. AFM Compared to Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 21, 2018.
5 Cáceres M. Will AFM Cases Decline in 2019? The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 16, 2019.
6 Cáceres M. How Quickly AFM Has Been Overshadowed by Measles. The Vaccine Reaction May 15, 2019.
7 Cáceres M. EV-D68 Virus Pushed as Cause of AFM Paralysis. The Vaccine Reaction July 29, 2019.
8 Cáceres M. Viral Link to AFM Sought in University of Alabama Study. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 14, 2019.
9 La Vigne P. Mysterious Polio-Like Illness Plaguing Children Stumps CDC. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 17, 2016.
10 NBC Nightly News. Polio-Like Condition May Be On The Rise In U.S. The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 18, 2018.
11 Piper-Terry M. Acute Flaccid Myelitis and Routine Childhood Vaccinations: This is Nothing New. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 3, 2016.
12 TVR Staff. ‘Modern Polio’ Cases Confirmed in 16 States. The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 10, 2018.
13 TVR Staff. CDC Investigates 155 Cases of ‘Polio-like’ AFM, Confirms 62. The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 24, 2018.
14 TVR Staff. CDC Creates AFM Task Force. The Vaccine Reaction Nov. 28, 2018.
15 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). Oct. 13, 2022.
16 Wikipedia. Acute flaccid myelitis.
17 Bendix A. Virus associated with polio-like muscle weakness is spreading among kids, CDC warns. NBC News Sept. 12, 2022.
18 CDC. Increase in Acute Respiratory Illnesses Among Children and Adolescents Associated with Rhinoviruses and Enteroviruses, Including Enterovirus D68 — United States, July–September 2022. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report October 7, 2022; 71(40): 1265–1270
19 Farah T. A virus that causes polio-like symptoms is spreading among children, CDC warns. Salon Sept. 14, 2022.
20 Fox M. New evidence points to possible cause of puzzling paralysis in kids. STAT June 14, 2019.
21 Adalja AA. Q&A: Is the CDC’s delay in linking AFM to EV-D68 warranted? Healio Apr. 18, 2019.
22 Kidd S et al. Enterovirus D68–Associated Acute Flaccid Myelitis, United States, 2020. Emerging Infectious Diseases October 2020; 26(10): e201630.
23 Press Release. Intravacc Receives US NIH/NIAID Contract to Develop Enterovirus D68 Vaccine. Intravacc BV Sept. 8, 2020.
24 Barrett PN et al. Vero cell technology for rapid development of inactivated whole virus vaccines for emerging viral diseases. Expert Rev Vaccines September 2017; 16(9): 883-894.