In winter 2009, large numbers of people resisted the pressure to be vaccinated against swine flu, and governments were left with big stocks of unused vaccines on their hands. Now, the European Medicine Agency has approved a combined seasonal/swine flu vaccine. Many of those receiving a seasonal flu vaccination don’t even realise they are being given the swine flu vaccine at the same time.
Dr Marc Girard is an expert in pharmaceutics, who has campaigned widely against the swine flu vaccination programme. Here he answers questions about the dangers of the new combined vaccination.
Q. In Europe this year (2010), are people being offered the seasonal flu vaccine in combination with the swine flu vaccine?
A. To the best of my knowledge, it is currently impossible in Europe to find a vaccine against seasonal flu that is not associated with the swine flu vaccine. As far as I know, the approval for the combined vaccine was given by the European Medicines Agency. Given the suspected risks of the swine flu vaccine (narcolepsy, the Guillain-Barré syndrome¹, and miscarriages, among others) as well as its poor efficacy rate, and taking into account the recognized benignity of the H1N1 virus, this is an irresponsible choice by corrupted health authorities.
Q. Are people being informed beforehand if the seasonal flu vaccine they are being given is combined with a swine-flu vaccine?
A. The issue of misinformation is a worrying one. For example, the media most often report that the new vaccines do not contain adjuvants, which is not true. Official recommendations regarding “risk populations” (pregnant women, elderly people, and asthmatics, for instance) are not substantiated and, on the contrary, there are significant elements indicating that these groups could be more sensitive to the hazards of flu vaccines than other sectors of the population.
Q. Are people being given the choice of just having the seasonal flu vaccine?
A. To my knowledge, it is simply not possible to receive just the seasonal flu vaccine. In any case, there is a lack of proof as regards the benefit/risk ratio of this seasonal vaccine, as has been repeatedly documented by the reviews of the Cochrane Collaboration. ²
Q. Do these combined vaccines contain adjuvants such as squalene?
A. Based on what I see on the European Medicines Agency website, these new vaccines do contain squalene. ³
Q. How would you sum up the risks of these combined vaccines?
A. The Cochrane Collaboration didn’t produce any reliable data about the safety of the vaccines against seasonal flu. As regards the vaccines against H1N1 (swine flu), there are good reasons to suspect that they could induce serious hazards such as narcolepsy, the Guillain-Barré syndrome, and miscarriages and could even lead to death. Given the relative benignity of flu overall, and swine flu in particular, and taking into account the complete lack of data supporting the efficacy of these vaccines, it is not being anti-vaccination to state that the risk/benefit ratio of these products is atrociously imbalanced.
Q. Would you recommend this combined vaccine to anyone?
A. Until we have reliable epidemiological data about the benefit of these vaccines for particular subpopulations, I would not recommend them to anyone. Even if you were to show that certain people were at risk of flu complications, you would still have to show that the vaccine would effectively prevent these people having those complications, and this has not been done.
Q. What would you say to someone who has asthma, who considers themselves at high risk if they get the flu?
A. There are plenty of reasons to believe that people suffering from asthma are also particularly at risk of experiencing a severe reaction to the immune stimulation induced by the vaccines.
Q. What would you say to a pregnant woman who is being offered the combined vaccine?
A. There is evidence that, in 2009, the number of miscarriages after swine flu vaccination was far higher than normally expected, especially taking underreporting into account. There was a disgraceful reluctance among health professionals to report the vaccine hazards as they should have done.
¹ The Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system.
² The Cochrane Collaboration is an international non-profit organisation that publishes summaries of evidence of the effects of healthcare interventions. These are known as the Cochrane Reviews and are published online in the Cochrane Library. The organisation, which has 28,000 contributors from more than 100 countries, has already published more than 4,000 such reviews. The Cochrane Collaboration
³ While plants and animals naturally produce squalene, and it is naturally present in the human body, there is serious controversy about the squalene-based adjuvants produced by the pharmaceutical companies Novartis (adjuvant MF59) and GlaxoSmithKline (Adjuvant System 03). The adjuvants are added to flu vaccines to help stimulate the human body’s immune response. A study published in 2000 in the American Journal of Pathology demonstrated that a single injection of the adjuvant squalene into rats triggered “chronic, immune-mediated joint-specific inflammation”, also known as rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr Marc Girard is a member of AEXEA (the Association of the Approved European Experts) and author of the book ‘Alertes grippales – Comprendre et choisir’ (Flu alerts – Understand and Choose). He is an advisor on the side-effects of medicines and the epidemiological evaluation of the effects of pharmaceutics. Between 2000 and 2006, he was commissioned as an expert by French judges in several litigation cases involving drug manufacturers.