Evidence Shows MeNZB(tm) Vaccine Is Not Working
Evidence Shows MeNZB(tm) Vaccine Is Not
Ron Law & Barbara Sumner Burstyn
"The Ministry of Health press release this afternoon is riddled with faith and false information," say risk & policy analyst Ron Law and writer/researcher Barbara Sumner Burstyn.
1. The heading demonstrates faith... the MOH says that the vaccine WILL work... this is a confession that they have no evidence that it is working. In fact, the evidence to date from Counties Manukau as shown on our Meningococcal Gold Rush, Second Edition, clearly shows it is not. The decline that had begun before the MeNZB(tm) vaccine was rolled out continues... with no increase in the rate of decline that would be expected if the vaccine was working.
Even the Ministry's principal meningococcal advisor, Dr Reid, states that the efficacy of the vaccine and the duration of protection following vaccination are, at present, unknown.
2. Claims on radio that there have been 15 cases in Waikato this year are meaningless without knowing what types they are. In fact, the MOH will know that many have not been due to the epidemic strain of bacteria targeted by the MeNZB vaccine. The Ministry should publish the breakdown of cases in the whole of New Zealand.
3. Despite the Ministry of Health's rhetoric, Phase III trials are the norm for new types of vaccines. When these trials have been established then trials demonstrating equivalence have been used for subsequent variations. If phase III trials were not the norm, why did Chiron undertake phase III trials for its Menjugate C vaccine in the USA before abandoning its application for license?
4. The Ministry claims that the MeNZB vaccine is protective against the epidemic strain of meningococcal disease and yet its own expert committee [MAAC] was concerned that there was no efficacy data; Dr Jane O'Hallahan has stated that the vaccine would be rolled out "without efficacy data," and the MOH principal adviser has recently stated, "The efficacy of the vaccine and the duration of protection following vaccination are, at present, unknown." The Ministry's statement of protection is junk science.
5. The Ministry states that about 75% of all cases of meningococcal disease are due to the epidemic strain, and yet a spread sheet circulated privately to Pro-MeNZB health workers last week reveal that since 1997 only 50% of cases have been confirmed as being of the epidemic strain and barely a third of all cases have been confirmed as being of the epidemic strain in under twenty year olds.
6. The Ministry says "The vaccine was licensed under The Medicines Act under Section 23. This section enables a license under provisional consent where the data provided meets Medsafe requirements on both safety and protection grounds and there is a clinical need for the vaccine in New Zealand."
This statement is totally wrong and can only have been made to try and muddy the debate. Section 23 is designed for exactly the opposite type of evidence... where there is insufficient evidence to warrant a proper licence.
7. If the Ministry of Health has worked with Medsafe (a division of the MOH) to ensure the consent form and other information prepared for the public met all requirements for ensuring people had the information they required to enable them to make an informed choice about whether to vaccinate, why did Medsafe write to Dr Jane O'Hallahan, head of the MeNZB vaccine programme, on August 3 2004, after the vaccine was licensed and launched, to instruct her to include the Minister's expert committee's concerns about lack of efficacy data in the consent form? Why are parents still not being told about those concerns, despite the fact that telling parents was a condition of provisional license?
8. If the Ministry of Health makes all information, including highly technical information prepared for doctors and nurses, available to the public through the www.immunise.moh.govt.nz website, why has it not published its report on the epidemiology of meningococcal disease in New Zealand in 2004, despite it being finished and distributed to selected health professionals in April 2005?
Why has it circulated privately to pro MeNZB health workers publications and databases that the Minister has declined to release under the official information act?
Why is the Ministry of Health knowingly feeding the public false information about the number of cases and deaths due to the epidemic strain of meningococcal disease?
On Close-Up last Friday the MOH Dr Jacob's made false statements denying that the number of deaths last year was the lowest since the epidemic began. He said, falsely, that it was the second highest.
On Morning Report this morning the Ministry of Health's Dr Matheson made false statements regarding the licensing of the MeNZB(tm) vaccine.
Whilst we are extremely disappointed at the Ministry of Health's continued distribution of false information, we believe that this is further evidence of the need for a full public inquiry for reasons outlined in our Meningococcal Gold Rush, Second Edition, investigation on Scoop. Until that occurs, the public can have every reason to have decreasing faith in the Ministry of Health.