a few new flu vaccine studies

WHAT ABOUT THE LATEST IN FLU VACCINE RESEARCH?

Flu Vaccine Research

“Recently, results of a multi-center hospital-based test-negative design case-control study conducted in the 2016-17 season in 27 hospitals from 10 countries, including Italy, confirmed low vaccine effectiveness among the elderly.  Hospitalizations were slightly more common among subjects who were vaccinated than among the others. When analyzing the effectiveness of the tetravalent and of the intradermal vaccine separately, adjusting for sex, age, Gagne’s comorbidity score, and pneumococcal vaccination, none of the outcomes was significantly associated with influenza vaccination, except hospitalizations for pneumonia and influenza, that were 47% more likely among subjects who received the tetravalent vaccine as compared with those who were not vaccinated.”  The cherry-picked conclusions from the third and final study being discussed below

One of the dirtiest of the DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS in all of medicine is not simply that it is ineffective, but just how ineffective the ANNUAL FLU VACCINE really is.  For instance, just a couple of months ago I showed you that 200 people would need to be vaccinated to prevent a single case of the flu (HERE).  Furthermore, there is not a single group for whom the flu vaccine is truly effective (HERE) — a fact verified in a national publication by my brother, an MD (HERE).  This is why looking at flu vaccine research can be so interesting.  With every passing month it gets harder to explain away those pesky studies.  Today we are going to talk about three of them from the first quarter of this year.

The January issue of Frontiers in Immunology published a study from Iceland (Age and Influenza-Specific Pre-Vaccination Antibodies Strongly Affect Influenza Vaccine Responses in the Icelandic Population whereas Disease and Medication Have Small Effects) that came to some fascinating conclusions.  The authors began with the standard medical line…  “Influenza vaccination remains the best strategy for the prevention of influenza virus-related disease and reduction of disease severity and mortality.”  They then warned readers that, “However, there is large individual variation in influenza vaccine responses.”  We already know they are going to drop something big on us, so how much variation are they talking about?  After studying the effects of flu vaccination on nearly 2,000 citizens of a wide age range, the authors (nine researchers, at least two of whom were employees of big pharma — GSK and AMGEN) came to some rather interesting conclusions — particularly about those “pre-vaccination antibodies” that they said to have the strongest bearing on response to the vaccine. 

“Of the variables tested, the strongest association was with level of pre-vaccination titer….  Increasing pre-vaccination titer associated with decreasing fold change and increasing post-vaccination titer.  Taken together, our results show that previous encounter of influenza vaccination or infection, reflected in high hemagglutination inhibition and microneutralization pre-vaccination titer has the strongest negative effect on vaccine responses measured as fold change  and the strongest positive effect on post-vaccination titer.  Increasing age had also an effect.”

What does this mean in English?  Only that as we’ve seen in study after study after study, a flu shot this year means that next year’s shot will be that much less effective (HERE).  And as we’ve seen in virtually every study looked at, we saw yet again that the older you are, the less effective the flu vaccine is.  The quote also means that high pre- or post-vaccination antibody titers don’t mean you aren’t more likely to get the flu — probably because in similar fashion to the viruses that cause the common cold, it’s constantly mutating.  Let’s shift gears for a moment.

Because decades of studies concerning the validity of vaccinating healthcare workers against the flu have shown them to be essentially worthless (see earlier link to my brother’s short letter), industry has been working feverishly to set up studies in ways to prove that vaccinating healthcare workers saves lives and prevents flu.  Despite their best efforts, this hasn’t worked out very well.  Scientists from the Netherlands published a study last week (The Potential Economic Value of Influenza Vaccination for Healthcare Workers in the Netherlands) in a journal called Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, for the express purpose of creating a vaccine-related “cost-benefit model using a societal perspective.”  What did they learn? 

For the average “extended stay” for flu-related illness (in America it’s a few hours under 11 days), the savings was less than 400 bucks.  Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t complain about having an extra four bills in my pocket.  Unfortunately, 375 dollars isn’t much of a savings considering the cost of an “extended” hospitalization (in America, about forty grand).  This fact was noted by the authors, who listed several supposed vaccine (ahem) ‘benefits’ before having to admit that, “the effects of the hospital immunization program slightly outweigh the economic investments.”  In this case the math was easy to do in your head — less than 1%.

What I thought was most interesting about this study, however, was the flu vaccination rate for Dutch healthcare workers.  Considering no one understands the risk/benefit aspect of flu vaccines better than the people on the front lines (healthcare workers), you would assume that if the vaccine was both safe and effective, the folks working in hospitals would be lining up around the block for their flu shot — kind of like a significant portion of our brainwashed GERIATRIC POPULATION does here in America (similar to the way they might line up for tickets for the next stop of the TOM JONES WORLD TOUR).  What do we see instead? 

Despite the clinical evidence, influenza vaccination coverage of healthcare workers remains low.” 

This begs the question….  How low?  Barely over (gulp) 15%.  Think about the reasons for this.  If this vaccine were that big a deal (you know; safe and effective), healthcare workers would be first in line to get it.  But as I have repeatedly shown you (HERE for instance), that’s simply not the case. Healthcare workers who still tout flu shots are either brainwashed or simply unaware of what the preponderance of research (you know; the “evidence”) really says.

And finally, the March issue of Italy’s Annali dell’Istituto Superiore de Sanità (Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in an Italian Elderly Population during the 2016-2017 Season) looked at the effects of vaccinating a cross-section of a north-eastern portion of Italy’s over-65 population against the flu.  Over half of the population received vaccinations, but the authors concluded that, “No significant effect was observed on the likelihood of Emergency Department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths from pneumonia and influenza.”  In other words, the flu vaccine didn’t do jack squat — a recurrent theme seen not only in the geriatric population, but across the board in all populations.  But wait; a closer look reveals that maybe it did do something to these people…..  Get a load of this.  Out of a total of nearly 65,000 folks studied, we can see exactly how things broke down between the two groups

UNVACCINATED GROUP

Total Number in Group: 30,456
Emergency Room Visit: 148
Hospitalization: 217
Death: 44

VACCINATED GROUP

Total Number in Group: 34,398
Emergency Room Visit: 276
Hospitalization: 391
Death: 72
Although there were not quite 4,000 more people in the vaccinated group (11% more), they accounted for 46% more ER visits, 45% more hospitalizations, and 39% more deaths.  Besides the quote from the top of the page, the authors had this to say about these numbers; “After adjusting for sex, age, and co-morbidity score, none of the outcomes was significantly associated with the influenza vaccination.”  I’m no statistician, but it looks like something is rotten in Denmark (oh wait, Denmark is where the previous study came from).  Bottom line; flu vaccine efficacy is so pathetic that if you see a study touting it’s benefits, you had better start looking for financial conflicts of interest — who’s funding the study, how many drug companies the researchers are lecturing or working for, etc (HERE).   Yep; the nature of EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE has shown us that things really are that bad.

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