Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drops that paralyse!


Do Boond Zindagi Ke
This is the title of the popular advertisement encouraging parents to vaccinate their children with more and more doses of the live Polio vaccine. The Polio virus first enters the body through contaminated food and water, and infects the gastrointestinal tract. In about 1% of the infected , it enters the Central Nervous system. And in very small children, where the Nervous system is still developing it causes paralysis and weakness of muscles. That condition is called Acute Flaccid Paralysis.
The oral Sabin vaccine is developed by infecting Monkey kidneys, letting the virus multiply and then supposedly weakening it by passing through multiple Monkey kidney cells. The mechanism of the vaccine is supposedly this. Children are given 2 drops of the vaccine , containing two types of the live Polio Virus. The virus replicates in the gut but is not able to cross the CNS barrier. But what about children who are already ill or whose immune systems are already weakened? It stands to reason that they would be infected and possibly contract Polio and further paralysis. As it turns out, this is exactly what happens in some cases, and this condition is called VAPP . You can search the web for VAPP.
Even though it is described as rare, it is quite common in India. In fact , studies don’t really go into factors of hygiene and living conditions of the poor in India, where one child who is given the Oral vaccine passes the virus in his stool, and the virus would have mutated into a virulent strain. Other children, through consuming contaminated water containing the virus in this stool, can develop Polio, which could be incorrectly identified as Wild Polio.
Any claim that wild Polio has been eradicated should be benchmarked against actual harm caused by the vaccine. It is a pretty hollow victory when you congratulate yourself for elimination of a disease but ignore the significant harm done by the vaccine. Polio is after all , a disease spread by poor hygiene and nutrition.
The other interesting thing is that the vaccine can also be contaminated by viruses that infect monkey kidney cells , the most famous among them being the SV40 virus (short for Simian Virus 40) – so called because it was the 40th virus identified from monkeys. This virus is a known human carcinogen (cancer causing agent), that was linked to significant increases of blood cancer among children as young as 2 years of age. This has even been acknowledged by the creator of the Oral Polio vaccine, Dr Albert Sabin.
The SV40 foundation site
Now let us get to the present and see the truth or lack of it behind the claim of eradication of the Polio Virus.
Dr Jacob Puliyel, is a very reputed Paediatrician and Head of Paediatrics at St Stephen’s hospital , Delhi
( St Stephens Hospital ).
He is also part of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization. Someone who has been quite involved in our national immunization program. He obtained data about Polio and AFP (Acute Flaccid Paralysis) through the RTI. This data has measured polio cases, AFP due to Polio , AFP not due to wild polio , and number of doses of the vaccine administered. Here is a link to that document.
The data can be difficult to read, but I’ll try to briefly explain. Non polio AFP is typically considered acceptable if it is at the rate of 2 children per a population of 100000. Meaning if out of 1 lakh subjects, 2 could suffer from AFP. Columns number 6 contain non-polio AFP rates,and column 7, expressed as a rate per 100000.
The very last column contains the list of *excess* non-polio AFP cases, something that cannot be just explained away, since we are so aggressively vaccinating children with more and more doses of *live* polio viruses. If you just add up the figures of excess Non-Polio AFP from UP and Bihar for 2011, you get the rather encouraging number of 34977 cases of paralysis. You can also see that the number of cases is steadily increasing along with the increasing number of doses of the polio vaccine.
Without any real investigation of this number, how can you claim the routine vaccinations to be a success story? What is really left unsaid , from this data is that the Polio vaccine is causing paralysis for a rather extreme majority of the cases. It is really important not to be swayed by catchy advertisments of “Do Boond Zindagi ke”.

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