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Childhood vaccines aren’t tested against placebo
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not making the mainstream media happy. The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed that calls him a liar and a deceiver. MSNBC calls him a “peddler of widely debunked claims.” Science, long presumed to be one of the top two science journals in the world, calls him a “merchant of doubt” and an “anti-vax charlatan.”
Kennedy’s alleged crime—one of his many alleged crimes, none of which hold up under scrutiny, but boy is the list of his alleged crimes a long one—is that he does not simply accept the pronouncements of public health authorities regarding vaccine safety. Kennedy’s crime is that he would like to see the drugs that we inject into our children tested for their safety.
During Covid, we learned that all one has to do to render something a vaccine is to call it a vaccine. Abracadabra!—you’re a vaccine! And anything that has been labeled a vaccine must be accepted, nay—loved—by all, lest they be labeled an anti-vaxxer.
This is the third rail that a huge number of us would not have considered touching until the Covid vaccine roll-out. Vaccines—I still hold, and have written into my co-authored book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21stCentury—are one of the triumphs of Western medicine. That does not mean that they are a cure-all:
Combine a tendency to engage only proximate questions, with a bias toward reductionism, and you end up with medicine that has blinders on. The view is narrow. Even the great victories of Western medicine— surgery, antibiotics, and vaccines— have been over-extrapolated, applied in many cases where they shouldn’t be. When all you have is a knife, a pill, and a shot, the whole world looks as though it would benefit from being cut and medicated.
Until the Covid vaccine roll-out, I figured that the people questioning vaccines were simply wrong. “Anti-vaxxer” was a powerful enough epithet to still nearly any dissent.
Well. As it turns out, epithets lose their power when you discover that they’re patently false.
I’ve been called a racist, a fascist, a TERF, and more. I have also, due to my rejection of the mRNA treatments for Covid, been called an anti-vaxxer.
Realizing that you are hearing lies about yourself encourages a person to look around and wonder: If I’m not an X, I wonder if that guy isn’t either?
I am not an anti-vaxxer. And neither is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
He would like to have vaccines safety-tested before injecting them into people, particularly children.
Sure sounds like a dangerous lunatic to me.
A year ago, I said on DarkHorse that “I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’m a trad-vaxxer.”
I like my vaccines old school. As in, actual vaccines. Unlike the experimental treatments that got passed off as vaccines during Covid. Trad-vaxxer.
Except…what if many of the traditional vaccines aren’t what we were told either?
Last week on DarkHorse, I said the following:
"I don't know what is true about childhood vaccine safety. What I do know is that the vaccines that we are giving our children have not been tested in the way that everyone, if they thought about it, would assume they had been tested."
What I mean by that is this: none of the vaccines that the CDC has put on the vaccination schedule for American children have been tested against placebo.
We are assured that, before vaccines reach market, they are thoroughly safety tested. It seems that this must surely mean testing vaccines against placebo—injecting the treatment group with the new vaccine, and injecting the control group with saline. But they are not.
Why aren’t vaccines tested against placebo?
Ask that question, and you will tend to get circular arguments in reply: We don’t test new vaccines against placebo, because we know that vaccines are safe and that they save lives. It would therefore be unethical to keep vaccines from children, so in testing new vaccines, we have to compare their safety and efficacy to older vaccines1.
The problem with this approach is that it presumes the conclusion, which has never actually been tested: that the previous vaccines were safe and effective. If the older vaccines had themselves been tested against placebo, that might well suffice. But those older vaccines have also not been tested against placebo. Neither any of the current childhood vaccines, nor any of their predecessors that the newer ones have been tested against, have been tested against placebo. Placebo has not been part of the safety testing for childhood vaccines. Instead, new vaccines are tested against prior vaccines, those prior vaccines were tested against older vaccines yet, sometimes for entirely different diseases, and the original ones were often not tested against anything at all.
As the authors of an important and deeply saddening and maddening book of the same title suggest, it’s turtles all the way down2.
There are all sorts of strawman arguments of course. The Nation’s hit piece on Kennedy cites an article titled “The vaccine study you’ll never see” as an explanation for why vaccines aren’t tested against placebo. In this piece, a Doctor Hayes imagines a world in which the safety testing that us crazies are asking for requires that there be a giant cohort of children who not only never receive any vaccinations, but also don’t appear to be eligible for other medical interventions, and are excluded from the standard of living that so many people attained in the 20th century. “It’s going to be a germ fest because, well, that’s just life,” says the doctor.
I wonder why Doctor Hayes thinks that conducting actual safety testing on vaccines would also disappear all of the other public health advances of the 20th century: clean and cleanable lavatories; expectations of handwashing with hot water and soap, by doctors and food service workers and, well, everyone really; clean(er) burning fuels and a concomitant rise in air quality. To name just a few.
Many health interventions have gone too far. Good ideas—excellent ones, even—when applied too strenuously, or without frequent evaluation, can become bad ideas, and dangerous. There is, for instance, strong support for the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that we cleaned our homes too much, and that children who have greater exposure to dirt and germs have more mature immune systems, and are less prone to asthma and allergies. Medical personnel being present at births has saved countless mothers and babies, but the medicalization of birth has led to higher numbers of C-sections, less immediate bonding between mother and child, and lower rates of breast-feeding, which in turn creates health problems for the baby down the line. And when sparingly administered, antibiotics save lives; but when overused, they create supergerms, resistant to all of our best interventions.
Given these other medical truths and errors, it is time for all of us to wake up to the possibility that the rapid expansion of the childhood vaccine schedule, and the failure to test these vaccines against placebo, is not in the best interests of children.
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In some cases, the new vaccines are compared to just the non-antigen part of the new vaccine—that is, the toxins and other adjuvants that are in there specifically to aggravate your immune system into having a fierce enough response to develop immunity to the pathogen being immunized against. There is literally no possible justification for this, from the perspective of the health of the people being injected.
Turtles All the Way Down: Vaccine Science and Myth. O’Toole and Holland, eds. Published in 2022 by Children’s Health Defense. The book has >1,200 references, including both citations for research in the primary literature, and links to the pharmaceutical package inserts that accompany all of the vaccines currently on the childhood vaccination schedule, which support the claim that none have been tested against placebo.