Vaccine Safety Consumer Group Cites Conflict of Interest in Government Report on Cancer & Contaminated Polio Vaccine Link
January 27, 1998
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Vaccine Information Center is criticizing an article published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) as an attempt by government officials with conflicts of interest to prematurely dismiss the role of polio vaccines contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV 40) in human bone, brain and lung cancers. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) cites incomplete data and methodological flaws in the government's analysis and points out that there is an inherent conflict of interest in having government officials lead investigations of health problems associated with vaccines which the government researches, regulates and promotes for universal use.
"There are huge information gaps in data used by the government to come up with the conclusion that simian virus 40 (SV40) contaminating early polio vaccines have not played a role in human cancers. It is another example of bad science by government officials using limited data to make the public believe they have the answers before all the facts are in," said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of NVIC.
Howard Urnovitz, Ph.D., a microbiologist and founder of Chronic Illness Research Foundation whose father died of one of the kinds of cancers being associated with SV-40 contaminated polio vaccines, calls the analysis by NIH official Howard Strickler and his colleagues "a misuse of statistics that disregards important published scientific data by independent scientists contradicting the government's conclusions. Once again, the US government is first making conclusions conforming with its policies and then using a civil servant to go out and find a database to support its conclusions. It is a great disservice to the American public."
Walter Kyle, author of a 1992 article in The Lancet entitled Simian retroviruses, poliovaccine, and origin of AIDS, said "I am surprised that JAMA would publish an article written by a government official whose conclusions were basically discredited in a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) documentary that took the time to independently analyze his data. In the US, killed polio vaccines are sold which still use monkey cell tissues for production but in Canada only killed polio vaccines grown on human cell tissues are sold. Canadian scientists have recognized the real risk of health problems associated with inter-species transfer of viruses which humans have already experienced with "mad cow" disease, the "bird flu" and AIDS."
NVIC maintains that the analysis by NIH official Howard Strickler and his colleagues was published in JAMA without any acknowledgment that there is strong scientific data contradicting the government's conclusions. NVIC points out that the government's analysis:
- ignores the fact that SV40 virus DNA is detected in cancers of children born during the past 5 years, suggesting that government scientists do not know how SV40 is transmitted from person to person or whether SV40 is a monkey/human chimera (hybrid virus) capable of being passed from parent to child;
- ignores the fact that the development of cancer never is caused by one factor (if so, all smokers would develop lung cancer) but is caused by a combination of co-factors; therefore, Strickler's analysis dismisses the fact that SV40 and asbestos could be co-factors in the development of mesotheliomas (tumors of the lining of the lungs and chest). Mesotheliomas were almost unheard of before the 1950's, when contaminated polio vaccines were first introduced and asbestos (which has been scientifically linked with mesotheliomas) began to be used in commercial building;
- ignores the fact that, in addition to children, millions of adult Americans received the contaminated polio vaccines in the 1950's and early 1960's and more than 2,000 Americans today are suffering from mesotheliomas compared to very rare cases of mesotheliomas in 1960.
- ignores the fact that mesothelioma rates increase with age and, therefore, children who got polio vaccine in 1955 would be under 50 years old in 1997 and would not yet have reached the high risk age for mesotheliomas;'
In addition, the government's analysis depended heavily on cancer statistics provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) which only began collecting data in 1973; therefore, children who received contaminated polio vaccines and died of cancer before 1973 were excluded from the data included in the analysis. Further, the NCI data Strickler relies upon only reflects approximately less than one-tenth of the U.S. population, so it is not a complete reflection of cancer rates in the entire U.S. population.
"Taxpayers should not be paying for government officials to investigate their own mistakes. Government funding should be given to independent scientists to compile and analyze epidemiological data and conduct basic science research on vaccine associated health problems without the inherent bias that characterizes so much of government led vaccine research. And, with mounting evidence that cross-species transfer of viruses can occur, the U.S. should no longer be using animal tissues to produce vaccines." concludes Fisher.
The National Vaccine Information Center in Vienna, Virginia, founded in 1982, is the largest vaccine safety consumer organization in the U.S. and a leading critic of federal health agency failure to fully inform the public about vaccine risks.
The National Vaccine Information Center is a non-profit educational organization founded by parents of vaccine-injured children in 1982.