The following letter has been sent to the Australian human rights department because of concerns about the conflicts of interest held by government policy advisors. The references and attachments can be found in the letters sub-menu on the publictions page of this website.
To the Federal Human Rights Commissioner
Vaccination and chemicals injected into the human body are a human rights issue. I would therefore like to bring to your attention the selective presentation of the vaccination debate that is being presented to the public. Recently there have been many media reports about whooping cough vaccine that have been presented by two government officials, Professor’s Peter McIntyre and Robert Booy (NCIRS). These programs have been promoting the whooping cough vaccine on anecdotal evidence (in particular the death of one baby to whooping cough in 2009) and the mantra of ‘seeing sick babies gasping for air’. Whilst these cases are tragic, the promotion of vaccines on anecdotal evidence is inappropriate. Anecdotal evidence is evidence that is not representative of the risk to the community of individuals.
The government informs parents that using the evidence of a vaccine-damaged child to oppose vaccines is biased and emotional evidence. Yet the Australian Government is allowing a parent whose child died of whooping cough to promote whooping cough vaccine to the public. This type of evidence represents one child’s experience only and a public health policy must be designed to protect a community of individuals. Vaccination policies are designed for the good of the community. For this reason, government policy must be founded on the evidence that best represents the risk and benefits of a disease to the majority of individuals. This requires an independent assessment of the mortality and morbidity statistics for each disease within a specific community. The risk is then weighed against an assessment of the harm likely to be caused by the use of a vaccine in the same community of individuals.
With respect to whooping cough, Professor McIntyre has stated that on average there are less than 3 deaths to whooping cough each year 1. This is the evidence that should be used by the media to promote this vaccine to the public – not the evidence of 1 death in 2009. If a statement is made about the number of deaths to whooping cough in 2009 then there should also be information about the number of vaccine-damaged children in 2009. This would inform the public whether the benefits of the medical procedure outweigh the risks for the community of individuals.
A medical procedure should be promoted to the community on the risks and benefit of the procedure to the majority of individuals in the community. This is particularly the case as the government is recommending 12 vaccines before babies are one year of age – a schedule that has not been studied in controlled animal or human studies. Today Australian society is seeing an explosion of children with autism, allergies, anaphylaxis, autoimmune diseases and cancer and it needs to be emphasised that a scientific consensus on the cause of these diseases is not obtained by ‘selecting out’ scientific arguments.
Government Conflicts of Interest:
Professor Robert Booy, the co-director of the government National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) was an investigator involved in the trial for Panvax influenza vaccine. He receives support from CSL limited and other pharmaceutical companies to attend conferences and is on the vaccine advisory board for these companies 2. He receives funding from Roche, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth for attending and presenting at scientific meetings 2.
Professor Peter McIntyre’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) project for the study of pertussis vaccines for newborns was granted $1.5 million of which more than $750,000 in kind will be provided by GSK for monovalent vaccine and laboratory testing 3.
It is noted that many government officials now have conflicts of interest with industry (see attachment) and in addition vaccine trials and advisory boards are largely funded and influenced by pharmaceutical companies. Whilst this situation is not necessarily a problem it is important that the public is informed openly (and transparently) about funding from pharmaceutical companies and any financial ties officials have with industry.
It is also noted that health professionals and consumers are being investigated for discussing the risks and benefits of this procedure. The NSW HCCC recently retracted a false charge (after 2 years) that was made against a consumer group (the Australian Vaccination Network) for asking valid questions about the use of multiple vaccines in infants. This is compounded by media programs that do not present complete information about immunisation policies. The media is also not accountable to the Health Department for the information it provides on vaccination 4, 5.
It is everybody’s choice to use a vaccine if they believe it is beneficial but if we a living in a society that does not ensure the information the public receives on health issues is complete and accurate, then incentives such as tax benefits for parents and payments for doctors are unethical. These measures are being increased by the government on 1 July 2012. The government must also demonstrate that the advice it receives from policy advisory boards is balanced and unbiased.
At present the government has not proved that the increase in autism is not being caused by adding multiple vaccines to a developing infant before one year of age. Therefore there is no scientific consensus that the government‘s immunisation policy is safe and it is certainly not based upon scientific-evidence.