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Minister's Meningococcal Claims Puzzling

Press Release

Minister's Meningococcal Claims Puzzling
Ron Law & Barbara Sumner Burstyn

"Claims by the Minister of Health that former Associate Health Minister was 'privy to all the [meningococcal] information, the papers, the debate' have been proven wrong by papers released under the Official Information Act," say risk & policy analyst Ron Law and writer/researcher Barbara Sumner Burstyn.

"Much of the information provided to Cabinet by the Ministry of Health was false or grossly exaggerated," says Ron Law. "For example, Cabinet was told Phase III trials were unnecessary as data from the Norwegian parent vaccine could be bridged. But new information reveals the only ingredient common to both vaccines is aluminum. Further new information reveals that the Norwegian two dose vaccine was only trialed on 13 - 16 year olds.

"The lack of commonality between the Norwegian and New Zealand vaccines and trial demographics undermines the Ministry assurances of safety. Tariana Turia, like many others is responding appropriately to new information," says Sumner Burstyn.

That new information includes a denial from the a World Health Organisation regarding the MOH claim that New Zealand's figure of 3 cases per 100,000 meets WHO definitions. The WHO has no such definition.

Ms Turia may also be responding to the evidence that shows the disease was already in steep decline before the vaccination campaign began and the fact that the Ministry has grossly overstated the disease impact on Maori compared to common causes of morbidity and death with just 1.5% of deaths in Maori infants in 2000 due to meningococcal disease.

In 2000 there were 2 deaths of Maori for all ages due to all strains of meningococcal disease. In the same year, the Ministry of Health advises that 500 Maori died of diabetes.

"Ms Turia has every reason to challenge the lack of equity regarding efforts to prevent diabetes among Maori and to question the accuracy of information provided by the Ministry of Health about the MeNZB vaccine," says Ron Law.


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