Annual flu vaccination and the influenza industry

hPeople in countries such as Australia and the US continue to be pressured to have annual flu vaccinations, even though reviews of flu vaccine studies challenge the supposed benefits of this questionable medical intervention.

The Cochrane Reviews “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults” and “Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly“, and the systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Lancet “Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines” indicate the evidence supporting widespread flu vaccination is poor.

In an article published in The Vancouver Sun (15 November 2012), Cochrane’s Dr Tom Jefferson said: 

“For the past two decades, I have been involved in the writing and periodic updating of Cochrane reviews on influenza vaccines in children, healthy adults, the elderly, and healthcare workers who care for sick people. My group and I also carried out a review on 270 influenza vaccines studies on all types of populations published from the 1940s up to 2007 and found near universal poor methodological quality. We also found that pharma-funded studies were more likely to be published in the top journals and be more often quoted than their non pharma counterparts, but the quality and size of the studies were the same as the others. Their conclusions were not surprisingly far more optimistic on the vaccines’ performance. Their publication in top journals was probably a result of the fatal attraction of pharma sponsorship for big journals and their publishers.” (My emphasis.)

So much for the pharma-funded ‘peer-reviewed’ literature…

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????And in a bizarre twist, in 2012 it came to light that the US National Institutes of Health is funding research into making bird flu (H5N1) more transmissible (i.e. ‘gain of function’ research), ostensibly to pre-empt Nature and facilitate production of vaccines…

I made submissions regarding the ethical implications of ‘lethal virus’ development, also questioning fear-mongering in the influenza industry i.e.:

An interesting article by Peter M Sandman titled “Science versus Spin: How Ron Fouchier and Other Scientists Miscommunicated about the Bioengineered Bird Flu Controversy” provides a very useful summary of the ‘lethal flu virus’ debacle.  Sandman concludes: I find it outrageous – though not really that surprising – that the flu science guild has united in defense of the reputation of one of its own.  This protective response may well have been augmented by the fact that Fouchier had become the poster child for unfettered scientific publication.  Scientists who wanted to advocate on behalf of publishing Fouchier’s paper would have found it awkward to criticize discrepancies in how he had described the work.  Scapegoating the media for misreporting and the public for misunderstanding is an easy cheap shot.  Several virologists (and two NSABB members) have told me privately that they and many of their peers are outraged at Fouchier.  But unlike the freely expressed outrage of scientists at the threat of publication censorship, the outrage of scientists at Fouchier’s miscommunications has been almost entirely suppressed.”

Articles on the Virology Blog are also pertinent re controversial H5N1 influenza research and the influenza industry,