The U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (DHHS) enlisted the help of a controversial corporate-funded think tank, RAND Corporation, to conduct a “systematic review of the literature” on the safety of federally recommended vaccines. Authors of the DHHS-funded RAND review concluded that “the evidence showed that vaccines are very safe” and serious vaccine reactions are “extremely rare.” The review, which was requested and funded by the National Program Office (NVPO) in the Office of the Secretary for Health through the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was published July 1, 2014 in Pediatrics, a journal published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
RAND/DHHS Vaccine “Safety” Report: Ignoring Evidence Gaps
An executive summary of the 750-page report prepared by RAND for AHRQ states that the report “will be used by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) to identify the gaps in evidence.” The “evidence” used to write the report extended beyond peer- reviewed studies published in the medical literature and included data sources such as “Scientific Information Packets requested from vaccine manufacturers.”
No Public Transparency or Diversity: Unlike reviews of vaccine safety science funded by DHHS and conducted by Institute of Medicine (IOM) committees, whose members are drawn from a diversified pool of experts and include public workshops to ensure transparency, RAND and DHHS did not hold public workshops. Instead, they confined their vaccine safety review to information controlled by industry and government.
In the DHHS-funded and RAND conducted vaccine safety review, 9 out of 10 study authors were employed by RAND, which has served primarily as a Department of Defense contractor since the corporation was founded in 1948. Among RAND’s many corporate and government funders are GlaxoSmithKline, a major vaccine manufacturer, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which partners with international vaccine corporations and is one of the leading funders and promoters of global mass vaccination programs.
National Media Campaign Fails to Disclose Conflicts of Interest
During the July 1, 2014 holiday week, DHHS and RAND spearheaded a national media campaign to promote the study’s “sweeping” conclusion that federally recommended vaccines are “very safe.” What the public did not know is that the vaccine safety review was significantly influenced by federal government officials with a big stake in finding no significant vaccine safety science gaps.
- Of the seven members of the Technical Expert Panel assisting with design of the federally funded study, two are high ranking DHHS officials responsible for ensuring vaccine safety; two are employed by health care maintenance corporations that partner with DHHS to provide electronic patient medical records for DHHS to conduct vaccine safety studies; and one is an academic vaccine researcher with significant DHHS funding ties;
- Of the four peer reviewers asked to review the federally funded study, two are DHHS employees (one is a high ranking CDC official responsible for ensuring vaccine safety) and one is a Department of Veteran Affairs employee;
- A conflict of interest disclaimer for technical experts and peer reviewers of the report stated that those individuals “must disclose any financial conflicts of interest greater than $10,000 and any other relevant business or professional conflicts of interest. Because of their unique clinical or content expertise, individuals with potential nonfinancial conflicts of interest may be retained.”
There was an interesting analysis published in The Daily Sheeple on July 2, 2014 analyzing media “spin” around the RAND/DHHS vaccine “safety” review.
Future Vaccine Safety Research: Not Really a Priority
In the report’s conclusion, there is more than enough evidence to conclude that federal health officials have little intention of making vaccine safety science research a priority in the future so that biological high risk factors can be identified in order to identify and spare the lives of those more susceptible to vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths:
“Careful consideration should be given to the investigation of research gaps, including patient risk factors that may be associated with adverse events; however important factors must be taken into account when determining whether studies are warranted, including the severity and frequency of the adverse event being studied and the challenges of conducting sufficiently powered studies when investigating rare events.”
The DHHS/RAND review of vaccine safety science does nothing to reassure educated health care consumers that vaccine reactions are rare, that most federally recommended vaccines are safe for everyone and that there is no urgent need for additional vaccine safety research to be conducted.
AHRQ Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization in the United States.
Maglione MA, Das L, Raaen L, Smith A, Chari R, Newberry S, Shanman R, Perry T, Goetz MB, Gidengil C. Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization of US Children: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics July 1, 2014; 134:1-13.
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