Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vaccine hysteria

There are rumors floating around the "conservative" Catholic blogosphere about the Catholic bishops in Kenya claiming that a World health organization push to vaccinate women is using a vaccine with "HCG" that will make them infertile.

One only has to wonder about these people, who seem to be getting more paranoid with a new "liberal" pope. Why hasn't it hit the "Human rights" folks in the liberal Catholic  blogosphere? Maybe because too many of them, like myself, actually have hands on experience in the third world hellholes.

Well, the story has hit "GetReligion", and they wonder why the press hasn't picked up on the story, especially since the bishops claim they had the vaccine tested and it shows contamination.

reality check:
These rumors are not unusual: usually in the past they were spread by the communist disinformation machine to discredit western aid groups or Christian, especially catholic, medical care.

Now they seem to be spread by the rabid Islamicist mullahs who read stories about polio vaccine spreading HIV or measles vaccine killing children in the UKGuardian, and voila, years later they repeat the same lies (and get ridiculed by an anti Muslim press) but the result of all this hysteria is to  get health care workers killed by the Taliban and children dying from these diseases.

These anti HCG vaccines were in phase one testing back in the 1990s and nothing came of it: indeed, a quick check of the literature shows most of the articles date before 1994.

 but a quick search of the medical literature shows... two new articles this year about early testing.

this article

mentions the early testing:

 International Committee for Contraception Research played a historic role in testing its immunogenicity, safety and reversibility in women in Finland, Sweden, Chile and Brazil. The Population Council also conducted valuable long-term studies (5 years) in New York in 63 rhesus monkeys, which demonstrated the lack of pathological consequences of antibodies cross-reactive with species luteinizing hormone. The first-ever efficacy trials on a birth control vaccine established high efficacy (one pregnancy in 1224 cycles) of anti-hCG antibodies at and above 50 ng/mL titers. Fertility was regained in the immediate next cycle, at titers falling below 35 ng/mL. A recombinant vaccinehCGβ-LTB, has been made, which is highly immunogenic in mice. It is due to undergo toxicology studies prior to resumption of clinical trials. An additional utility of this vaccine is likely in advanced-stage terminal cancers expressing hCG/subunits.

and this article

 Vaccines based on GnRH have found application in immuno-castration of male pigs for prevention of boar-taint. Vaccines based on zona pellucida glycoproteins have shown promising results for population management of wild horses and white-tailed deer. Phase II clinical trials in women with β-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG)-based contraceptive vaccine established proof of principle that these can be developed for human application. Block in fertility by β-hCG contraceptive vaccine was reversible. Further research inputs are required to establish the safety of contraceptive vaccines, improve their immunogenicity and to develop novel vaccine delivery platforms for providing long lasting immunity.
What has changed in 20 years is the ability to get a better immune response by combining the first vaccine with a second toxin or vaccine.

My take on the HCG vaccine continues to be that this is an urban legend, since these studies are still in their early phases.

But this brings up another question: Who made the vaccines? Problems with counterfeit medicines is a huge problem in the third world....and if the vaccines are contaminated, either accidentally or deliberately, there will be a paper trail.

The problem? It wouldn't be the first time that third world women were used as guinea pigs by the rich western elites.

So why give mainly women of childbearing age the vaccine? Well, the problem is neonatal tetanus.

the local midwife cuts the cord with unsterilized scissors, or the mom puts local herbs or clay on the drying cord. (unlike the US, usually the cord is left long: often 2 to 3 inches long, with multiple ties for safety).

The tetanus germs has spores, so often contaminates the herbs or cutting materials to give people the disease. Hence the stress on giving people tetanus shots if cut with a dirty knife.

Some of these kids develop neonatal tetanus, a terrible disease that even with medicine kills half of them.

So we routinely gave out tetanus shots in our prenatal clinic. When mom has antibodies against tetanus, she "gives" them to her newborn child, who is then immune for awhile to the disease.

But in some countries, there are not enough clinics or trained midwives, so the disease continues. Hence the vaccine push.

The result of this kerfuffle will be dead kids, similar to the kids dying of whooping cough and measles in the "first world", or the kids dying of polio and measles because some half educated Mullah has read the anti vaccine stuff in the UKGuardian and forbids his people to let their kids get shots. In Pakistan, this has resulted in the Taliban killing medical workers.

So my take is that this is an urban legend, but some third party does need to look into it before more kids die.

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