Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swine Flu Deja Vu

Margie Bernard

“There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” Dr. J. Anthony Morris (formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the Federal Drug Agency at the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, 1976)

I met Dr. Anthony (Tony) Morris during the autumn of 1977, when he made an appointment for a consult at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Washington, DC. GAP was a project initiated by Ralph Stavins, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Stavins had hired me as GAP’s first Director in October 1977, and I was charged with setting up the first conference on Whistleblowing in National Security Agencies to be held May 19-20, 1978.

Morris had come to GAP seeking assurance of our continued support in his attempt to overturn his dismissal as Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the United States Food and Drug Administration of the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services). GAP agreed to champion his legal battle against FDA by publicizing his case and making available the film made about this matter, The Swine Flu Caper, directed by Saul Landau, another IPS Fellow.

Nearly two-years before, the US public had been warned that a likely Swine Flu (New Jersey H1N1), pandemic was on the 1976-77 horizons. At that time, the major pharmaceutical companies raced to develop a vaccine to counter its presumed devastation. Once a vaccine was approved for use by the FDA, President Gerald Ford had his inoculation witnessed via major-time television news as encouragement for others to do the same. Based on his research Morris disagreed with the rush to vaccinate the masses.

Dr. Morris had long been a critic of all flu vaccine. Based on test results obtained in his laboratory research, he had cautioned his colleagues at the Agency that in his expert opinion these inoculations were a major factor in triggering various neurologic illnesses ranging from GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) (1) to encephalitis to paralysis and in some instances death. In the case of the new Swine Flu serum, Morris felt that aside from his usual misgivings about flu vaccines in general, he felt there had not been adequate testing undertaken to justify its use in this instance. Interestingly Morris had one unlikely ally—the Federal Insurance Company. This principal underwriter for pharmaceutical companies refused coverage to the four manufacturers of the swine flu serum stating: ‘it was not convinced that there has been time enough to test the vaccine for side effects’. (2)

Furthermore, there was general speculation as to whether there was such a disease as Swine Flu. And, if there were, did the proposed deterrent present a greater danger to the public than the illness itself? When Dr. Morris reported his professional concerns about this particular serum to FDA hierarchy they were ignored. Then in the interest of public safety he went public with the information in a July 1976 article in the Washington Post. He was then summarily fired for ‘insubordination and inefficiency’ by FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt and government agents entered his lab, killed all the animals used in his vaccine research and confiscated all his and his lab assistants’ research papers.

At the end of the day there was no Swine Flu epidemic in 1976 and the vaccination program was ended ten-weeks after it was initiated due to increased concern as to its safety.

The current observation is that we face another potential Swine Flu (2009 H1N1 virus), pandemic and although such observation may be political/social fact, ‘whether it becomes a scientific fact and a policy fact is yet to be seen’. (3) As to the speculation of a new pandemic, MSNBC has reported:

The Center for Disease Control has found that rapid tests to diagnose the “swine flu” can be wrong as much as nine times out of ten. The “best” test was wrong half the time, the CDC found. The government study indicating that rapid tests to diagnose the “swine flu” could hardly distinguish between the “swine flu” and normal seasonal flu gives support to those medical experts who say the “swine flu” is a harmless, ordinary flu that is being hyped by the WHO and the vaccine companies to justify a pandemic level 6 declaration and mass forced vaccinations. (4)

In the past, health care workers had a choice whether or not to get inoculated against flu—whether the annual seasonal virus or a unique variation. This year, however, many medical centers, hospitals and clinics are mandating their personnel to be inoculated or face disciplinary action. This has raised concerns among health care professionals themselves as well as their unions and professional associations. During the annual flu season, only about one-half of health-care workers get the shot. As one clerical worker in Washington Hospital Center stated, “I don’t think I should be forced to take something I don’t want to take”. And, in Great Britain, a survey of 1,500 nurses disclosed that one-third would not get the vaccine due to safety concerns. (5)

During the 1976 Swine Flu scare, numerous law suits were filed by people alleging they had suffered various side effects as a direct result of being inoculated. Several of these litigations were successful and large payouts were made by the pharmaceutical companies and the US government as settlement. This month, September 2009, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius signed a document that grants legal immunity to federal officials and the vaccine producers from similar claims.

As for myself, I plan to follow Tony’s 1976 advice and forgo the Swine Flu shot this year but will get the seasonal flu jab just as I have in years past as this serum has been through more rigorous testing prior to its release.

And what happened to Morris’s efforts to overturn his 1976 FDA dismissal? After a seven-year legal battle, James S. Turner’s tireless defense of Morris successfully proved that all FDA charges against Morris were false.

NOTE: These are my citations, however, the referant numbers have been somehow eliminated in this cut-n-paste version so I've added them thus (n).

(1) There were reports of GBS affecting some people who had received swine flu immunizations in the 1976 U.S. outbreak of swine flu. Overall, there were about 500 cases of GBS—25 of which resulted in death from severe pulmonary complications— which, according to Dr. P. Haber, were probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the 1976 swine flu vaccine. Haber P, Sejvar J, Mikaeloff Y, Destefano F (2009). Vaccines and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
(2) Business Insurance, May 1976
(3) Spencer, D., Millar J.D., Reflections on the 1976 Swine Flu Vaccination Program. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006
(4) An Interesting Article on the Swine Flu. The Flu Review, http://theflureview.com/an-interesting-article-on-the-swine-flu/ January 29, 2009.
(5) Mandatory Flu Shots Hit Resistance, Rob Stein, The Washington Post, September 25, 2009

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