Our nearly seventy combined years of practicing medicine [note: this piece is coauthored by Len Saputo, MD and Stacia Lansman, MD, with Byron Belitsos] has taught us this, if anything: Be wary whenever “big pharma” is part of any health campaign from which it stands to profit. And this is all the more true when it comes to emergency immunizations like the coming swine flu vaccine. Like most everything else in modern medicine that concerns pharmaceuticals, the swine flu scare is surrounded by worrying signs of questionable science, corporate-dominated politics, and obvious conflicts of interest—in this case on a global scale.
The first and cardinal point to understand is that, at the moment, the current strain of swine flu is not more dangerous than the average flu; in fact, if corrected for seasonal variation, far more people die from regular influenza virus every day. About 100 people on average die daily from the ordinary flu in the U.S. according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics. Yet this number is more than ten times the rate of death from H1N1 worldwide since its outbreak in April. (1)
Further, there is no firm evidence that a more virulent strain of H1N1 is likely to evolve. And even if such a new strain does emerge, the current vaccine soon to be distributed worldwide will most likely be useless against it. That scenario would require the creation of a new vaccine to fight this new strain. Manufacturing and distributing such an updated vaccine, even under emergency conditions, would take at the very best four months. This doesn’t even take into consideration the safety issues with a vaccine that is hurried into use without sufficient testing.
Thus, for these and other reasons we detail below, we counsel readers—as we do our patients—to avoid participating in the vaccination program soon to be under way, even when it is directed at your children. Further, in light of the outbreak that is expected this fall, bear in mind that the best Rx for preventing or dealing with any sort of infection is to follow well-known guidelines to boost one’s own immunity, as indicated later in this article. As you begin to confront the decision to get immunized against the H1N1 virus, get yourself and your family to peak health, do your own research, and ask probing questions of public health officials and the media before getting inoculated with these largely untested vaccines.
DOUBTS ABOUT THE SAFETY OF SWINE FLU IMMUNIZATION
Among the questions we all need to ask is: Is it possible that the new H1N1 vaccine now in production may be more dangerous than the swine flu itself? One thing is for sure: By the time it is administered in October, we will not have had sufficient time for adequate clinical trials. We can also be sure that the vaccine will contain potentially dangerous “adjuvants” (such as squalene) that manipulate the immune system to boost its potency.
In statements made to health professionals in late August, the CDC openly admitted a significant safety problem: It told them to assume that one in every 100,000 vaccine recipients will suffer serious side effects, resulting in as many as 30,000 serious or potentially lethal adverse reactions to the H1N1 vaccine.(2)
Warnings like this bring to mind a chilling precedent: During the great swine flu scare of 1976, 46 million Americans took the vaccine offered at the time, and over 4,000 ended up seeking damages which amounted to $3.5 billion. The situation that led to this shocking scenario in 1976 is eerily similar to the current scare. In those days, the CDC pushed for nationwide inoculation while yet admitting there were no confirmed cases of the flu. The program was suspended after it became clear that the vaccine was far more dangerous than the threat of the flu itself; only one person died from the flu, while 25 people perished because of the vaccine, and hundreds suffered from a debilitating type of paralysis known as the Guillain-Barre Syndrome. (3)
The current mass campaign is even more ambitious than the ill-fated 1976 effort. In the coming weeks, health officials will almost certainly deploy the setting of local schools as the locus of swine flu vaccination for Americans, beginning with children. The last time such a drastic nationwide immunization program occurred was in the mid-1950s, when the Salk vaccine was introduced. This is a truly historic moment in public health.
The problem is that we can’t completely trust public health officials. Dr. Len Saputo’s new book, A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine, documents how pharmaceutical companies routinely profit off of unsafe and ineffective products—usually with complicity from government officials, who are easily manipulated. And now Congress is doing it again. It gave $1 billion to swine flu vaccine makers in May, while granting them an exemption from the normal FDA licensing process. Pharma has learned lessons from numerous class action suits, so it also made sure that the swine flu legislation grants it immunity against liability for side effects from the new vaccine. The result is that these vaccine makers stand to make between $10 and 20 billion in the global market for swine flu vaccines, with no responsibility for tens of thousands of likely casualties! Increased sales of Tamiflu will also no doubt result from the scare tactics used by World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC.
DISTURBING QUESTIONS REMAIN
The WHO has labeled the H1N1 virus “unstoppable” and calls the threat a Level 6 pandemic, its highest possible classification; it is in fact the first influenza pandemic since 1968. But the term pandemic only refers to prevalence, that is, the spread of the virus to multiple countries and regions. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of the rapid spread of H1N1 has led many to overlook a key distinction: the difference between the threat posed by the appearance of a disease in multiple locations, and its severity. It would be terrifying if this pandemic was causing widespread morbidity and mortality; however, it appears that WHO and the CDC are tracking an illness that is no more severe than an ordinary cold!
Clinical experience also raises questions: Dr. Stacia Lansman, MD, a pediatric integrative specialist, describes this swine flu as one of the mildest she has seen in years. She states, “the children I have seen with swine flu this summer are just not that sick. To consider a mass vaccination program aimed at children is dangerous and misguided. The safety of this vaccine is not proven and children, with their developing brains and organ systems, are among the most vulnerable when it comes to vaccinations. I wouldn’t give it my children or recommend it to my patients.”
Many have charged that this mandatory vaccine is a thinly veiled attempt to exaggerate and capitalize on a relatively innocuous pandemic in order to enrich the coffers of US pharmaceutical and security corporations. While not necessarily supporting such allegations, we once again invite Americans to stand back and question the prevailing government line.
Nor would we entirely dismiss internet rumors that point to the possibility that the swine flu is a genetically engineered virus. This virus continues to be an unprecedented enigma for virologists. In the April 30, 2009 issue of Nature, a virologist was quoted as saying, ‘Where the hell it got all these genes from we don’t know.’” Extensive analysis of the virus has revealed that it contains the original 1918 H1N1 flu virus; the avian flu virus (bird flu); and two new H3N2 virus genes from Eurasia—a rather unlikely blend of elements.
Last but not least is the issue of the safety of Thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound used to keep multiple-dose vials of swine flu vaccines sterile. While it is important to keep the spread of infection down, using a known neurotoxin as a disinfectant that is also an immunosuppressant seems unwise. You should be advised that there is an ongoing battle between the CDC and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) about the safety of mercury-containing disinfectants, especially in young children, where the relationship between autism and Thimerosal remains unresolved.
Through the coming months, debate will continue over how it is possible for this unlikely combination of viruses to have evolved naturally, and especially over the trustworthiness of our own government and the pharmaceutical companies who will be calling upon each of us to make an important decision about our own health, and that of our families and loves ones.
SWINE FLU PREVENTIVE MEASURES FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS
Dr. Lansman has had excellent results in preventing and managing flu symptoms with a range of vitamins, supplements, herbs, and homeopathic preparations. Her basic recommendations include 1000 IUs of vitamin D each day for infants and toddlers, 1 teaspon of cod liver oil/day for all kids, and 2500 IU daily for older children. She also recommends Elderberry once daily and one dose of homeopathic Oscillococinnum each month. Dr. Saputo’s recommendations for adults include the following:
• Adopt a healthy lifestyle: adequate sleep, good diet, regular exercise, avoid stress
• Get plenty of sunshine, or supplement to keep vitamin D levels adequate
• Wash your hands frequently with water
• Consider boosting immunity with vitamin C, beta glucans, echinacea, vitamin A, maitake and shitake mushroom extracts, minerals such as selenium and zinc, certain herbs such as olive leaf extract and garlic, and homeopathic remedies.
(1) See current statistics and official background information on H1N1 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at this link:
(2) Herb Newborg, “CDC States H1N1 Vaccine May Maim and Kill 30,000 Americans, FDA Requires Minimal Efficacy,” Global Research, August 28, 2009.
(3) For the whole story, watch this video of a 1979 episode of 60 Minutes:
(4) Declan Butler, “Swine flu goes global: New influenza virus tests pandemic emergency preparedness,” Nature 458, 1082-1083 (April 29, 2009). http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090429/full/4581082a.html
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
By Len Saputo, MD, a graduate of Duke University Medical School, is founder and director of the Health Medicine Center, Walnut Creek, CA, and author of A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine (Origin Press, 2009). See www.AReturnToHealing.com.
Stacia Lansman, MD, a graduate of Tufts University Medical School, is founder and co director of Pediatric Alternatives in Mill Valley, CA. See www.pediatricalternatives.com.