First, a brief note about the lack of a seasonal message this year – I was just too ill. Profoundly depressed too and, between the two, not a little surprised to still be here.That’s why this post is a little delayed – it was so badly written I’ve just had to rewrite the entire thing. It’s not particularly time-sensitive, though.
Right, on with the show:-
Flu surge alarms doctors as virus hits children shrieks the Guardian, and doubtless other media too. What does that mean in reality? 27 deaths.
OK, if you, or a loved one, are one of the 27 it’s still too many, but it sure as hell isn’t any cause for media hysteria. People die from flu (well, more often than not from complications, like pneumonia), but in an average British winter, some 10,000 to 12,000 people can be expected to die from annual flu or its complications so, seriously, perhaps we should be grateful that so far it’s only 27, and not panicking?
And by the way, this year’s “swine flu” vaccine is simply Human Type A H1N1 – it contains neither the avian flu nor the swine flu components of last year’s vaccine.
The Guardian, at last, says something I’ve been saying for quite some time “The chief anxiety is that the predominant strain is H1N1 swine flu, which triggered last year’s pandemic and is now coming around for a second season. Most over-65s are protected, because the strain is similar to one that circulated years ago…”. My bold, and note the error – H1N1 is NOT swine flu, it’s human Type A, it is simply a major part of the tripartite virus tagged as “swine flu” last year.
But it still fails to explain why the swine and avian components are absent. Could it be that the “swine flu” was nothing of the sort, but mainly plain vanilla H1N1, which is why it failed to follow the pattern of previous swine flu pandemics? Just a thought… That would certainly explain the death rate among younger people who had probably never met H1N1 before.
Vaccines, by the way, are NOT perfectly safe, as many medical staff would have you believe – they just carry what is considered to be an acceptable level of risk. If you’re one of the poor schmucks who happens to be outside of the norm, as I am, you’re pretty much screwed, vaccine or no.
I’m in a high risk group (severe COPD), and the annual flu vaccine has never failed to make me extremely ill for several months (my first flu shot, in 1968, actually gave me flu for the first time in my life).
The pneumonia vaccine** I was persuaded to have in summer 2009 was in a totally different league, and made me so profoundly ill that I have not yet recovered, nor do I believe I am going to do so.
**The pneumonia vaccine apparently contains 20-odd attenuated (or killed, I misremember), pneumonia bacteria. I wasn’t aware that one could vaccinate against bacteria, only viruses which, by their nature, you can contract only once** (flu needs annual vaccinations as the viruses constantly mutate). It explains why I was, and continue to be, so ill, as my immune system is known to be impaired and yet it was subjected to a massive bacterial insult, attenuated or not.
**There’s a small number of viruses that set up home (herpes, for example), and repeatedly re-infect the patient, but for the most part once you’ve had a virus you can’t catch it again, as you’re immune. Flu constantly mutates, hence the need for annual re-vaccination.
And as one can contract the same bacteria repeatedly, what the hell was the point of the vaccination, other than to totally fuck up my life by locking me into a constantly-repeating side-effect loop?
Despite that, I would have accepted the annual flu vaccine on its own this year, but that’s not permitted.
This is the result of an edict from the WHO, whose credibility after the “pandemic” non-even is pretty much zero. But in every country which has a flu vaccination programme people have no choice – they either accept the “swine flu” vaccine (which as we’ve seen is nothing of the sort, just a piece of it), or they are denied the annual vaccine.
How criminal is that?
Of course, the annual flu vaccine isn’t universally effective – it’s around 70% effective (and that’s just a guess as not everyone who gets flu, whether vaccinated or not, sees their doctor, and so are excluded from the statistics). It’s quite possible that the efficacy of the flu vaccine is lower than 70% – maybe much lower, because the fact is that nobody knows how many people who get the flu self-medicate. Let’s face it, there is no treatment other than antipyretics, analgesics (both combined in Paracetamol), keeping warm and keeping your fluid levels up.
And there are times, of course, when flu virus predictions, made in the spring, are way off beam. The assessment, and virus production, is based on flu outbreaks on the other side of the world months before those viruses, in theory, reach these shores. Of course, the predictions are riddled with variables, which often refuse to conform to the statistical norm, and so the vaccine doesn’t protect against the entirely different virus which eventually arrives. They’ll still stick it in your arm, though, with its attendant risks for an unknown number of people, for zero benefit. How often does that happen? Good luck finding out.
By the way, I have discovered that reporting a serious adverse reaction to the flu or pneumonia vaccine will do you no good at all – the official position is that they are utterly harmless, and contrary opinions will not be entertained, as I mentioned in the post linked to below.
And there has been some very sound research conducted in the US which shows that older people (65+), derive little or no benefit from the annual flu vaccine. The FDA’s response to that was to double the size of the shot for over–65s, though I have been unable to find any research that suggests this will be in any way more effective.
Think about that – a vaccine fails to trigger the requisite immune response – by what possible mechanism will a larger dose change that? It doesn’t bloody work that way! If you ingest a small number of flu viruses, you get flu; if you ingest a large number, you get the flu. There is no difference in either bout of flu – you’re not going to be worse because you were seeded with a large dose of the virus. The same thing applies to vaccines.
Of course, if the vaccine is of very poor quality (so poor that some – maybe many – samples are virus-free), a double dose might actually work. Hmm…
You’ll find links/citations for much of the above in this blog post
One final thought. You can’t fail to have noticed – every winter it’s the same – the TV adds claiming that a Dettol product wipes out 99.9% of bacteria, and the flu virus. I’ve no idea about the flu virus, but the surviving 0.1% of bacteria actually represents a decent population for re-infection (when it comes to bacteria, you’re dealing with many thousands, maybe millions in some cases). You only need to touch the surviving 0.1%, and accidentally transfer it to a medium suitable for growth – a baby, as featured in the ad, would be perfect – and off it goes.
And if a viable population of bacteria survive the Dettol** onslaught, it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to expect the same from the flu virus, does it?
**There may well be other products, but Dettol dominates.