Primun non nocere. This is still the sacred promise of every medical school graduate across the country as he or she accepts the diploma, the title and the rank of healer in our culture. It is the core of the Hippocratic Oath. However, in a world of unreasonable speed, in which new discoveries and new pharmaceuticals are being produced in measures of seconds, not years, it may be more than doctors can promise us anymore.
What Does Do-No-Harm Require?
One, beyond the obvious deliberate misdeeds or malicious negligence being called to "do no harm" requires at the very least a reasonable skepticism. This means that a physician—or any professional providing a treatment, especially a pharmaceutical one—should question whether that treatment has the right stuff to do what it's touted to do. Does it cure what it says it's going to cure? Or do people have one symptom go away only to have another (often more dangerous) one appear? Is there an actual need for the pharmaceutical or is it a drug being sold because of a massive fear campaign? Do the independently financed studies back up what the marketing departments say?
Two, the physician ought to be capable of weighing the risks and balancing the promised benefits against the delivered dangers. Does it reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis but give you a statistically significant chance to get cancer? Does it give you a longer-lasting erection but negatively impact your cardiovascular system? Does it give you a shorter menstrual period but lead you towards ovarian cysts?
And finally, the physician MUST ask: Is this safe? Will this product or procedure actually harm my patient?
The Current State of Harm
On July 13th of this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) presented the global media with their recommendations on the H1N1 vaccines. A small part of their "guidance" as George A. Ure called it in his piece, Calm Before the (Cytokine) Storm, were three points that are pertinent to this article:
1. All countries are being called upon to forcibly immunize health care workers as a tier-one strategy to guard the infrastructure should a pandemic materialize.
2. Since current production is insufficient, they are recommending a laddered approach to "immunization" starting with pregnant women, children of 6 months old with one of a few specific medical conditions, healthy young adults 15 - 49 years of age, then healthy children, then healthy adults 50 - 64 years of age and finally the elderly.
3. Because some of the pandemic vaccines have been created with new technologies which have not yet been properly studied for their safety in certain population groups, the WHO is strongly urging post-marketing surveillance.
What do these recommendations mean? How does a physician who has promised to do no harm interpret then act on this information?
Let's take the first recommendation: ""should a pandemic materialize." That is a fair statement on the surface, but our track record on these things is not very good.
As a psychotherapist and homeopath
in NM, I am presented with a fair amount of anxiety on a broad range of topics from the people who come to see me. However, they are usually afraid of far more than they should be and do far less about the things they should be afraid of. People are afraid of ordinary household germs as if a serial killer were hiding in their basement, but they (as we saw recently) stand on rocky shorelines as hurricane-force waves batter the boulders they're standing on and drag them out to sea.
An example of this sort of misplaced anxiety is one instance in 1976 when the US government vaccinated 45 million people for a swine flu outbreak that never materialized. In its wake 500 people developed a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome which left many people in comas and 25 dead.
Recommendations numbers two and three are important to read together because in effect it says: we are targeting specific populations, but we don't know what it's going to do to these specific populations because the vaccines produced with new technologies have not been properly tested on them.
If I had taken an oath to do no harm, I would be properly worried at this point.
Read The Ingredients!
Particularly when we consider what vaccines are made of. Most Americans know about Thimerosal. But few know that aluminum is now being added to a number of vaccines to make them "work better." The FDA has made the limits of ingestion clear on its website which documents aluminum toxicity from the dextrose patients receive in hospitals when they are hooked up to IV's. No studies have been done to determine what the effects of the aluminum in vaccines are, especially when given to infants.
Dr. Robert Sears, a pediatrician, researched the dearth of information in his article, Is Aluminum the New Thimerosal? (www.mothering.com) and what he reported was staggering, particularly in light of Primun Non Nocere. Although the FDA requires that all injectable solutions be limited to 25 mcg, the load of aluminum for infant vaccines is often 10 times as high.
"In other words, a newborn who gets a Hepatitis B injection on day one of life would receive 250 mcg of aluminum. This would be repeated at one month with the next Hep B shot. When at two months, a baby gets his first big round of shots, the total dose of aluminum could vary from 295 mcg"to a whopping 1225 mcg" These doses are repeated at four and six months"But the FDA recommends that premature babies and anyone with impaired kidney function, receive no more than 10 to 25 mcg of injected aluminum at any one time."
He goes on:
"As a medical doctor, my first instinct was to worry that these aluminum levels far exceed what may be safe..."
That instinct was correct, but because he had been trained to trust the AMA and the FDA, his second instinct, which was wrong, was to assume that the issue had been thoroughly researched and resolved. His third instinct, which proved disappointing at the least, was to search for the studies that supported that assumption. He found none.
The American Academy of Pediatrics did publish a policy statement in 1996 that alerted us to the fact that aluminum is a known danger to human neurology (and we can assume to other mammals as well) and that the threshold of aluminum is far lower than what is currently being used. But that doesn't seem to hold any sway over the pharmaceutical companies who are not only selling the product but funding the research.
Gardasil, the latest must-have vaccine for young women who are now being told to be afraid of cervical cancer, has just been forced to update their label warning to include expanded risks for those "immunized." These include seizures, miscarriages, genital warts, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune disease that can result in permanent paralysis. In their ads, Merck has even said it will not necessarily prevent many types of cervical cancer.
Why, if the evidence is so scanty, the research so distorted or unavailable, do we continue to vaccinate?
The Current State of Alarm
The only real virus we need to pay attention to, it seems, is the Viral Fear being seeded on every form of media. There is hardly a newscast these days without some biological terror being headlined. Most frequently we are hearing about H1N1 and its potential to reach "pandemic" levels. We are terribly worried about contracting and dying from the flu, but not terribly concerned about the proposed prophylactic treatments or how safe they are.
The US Centers for Disease Control released its latest statistics on the "novel flu" this past July. While it was apparently fairly transmissible with 37,246 cases reported, the death toll was only 211. That's 0.56%. And one researcher notes (jsonline.com) that the actual mortality rate may in fact be much lower than the CDC figures because almost every flu death is reported, while many illnesses that could be swine flu are going unreported. There is currently no testing for non-fatal swine or novel flu.
What we might pay more careful attention to is the real, imminent and subtle danger of the prophylaxis: the vaccine that is being rolled out in preparation for this season.
The Canadian Vaccination Risk Awareness Network website has published information that suggests that vaccines themselves are damaging to a child's developing immune system and brain, "leading to debilitating and life-threatening disorders like autism, ADHD, asthma, peanut allergies, juvenile diabetes or to SIDS" and death itself. Since the 1970's when vaccinations among infants and young children were increased, autism has increased by 6000%.
While there is a building demand amongst pharmaceutical companies, lobbyists, certain universities (which are amply funded by pharmaceutical companies) and public health officials for vaccination, there simply aren't very good reasons for the panic and many, many reasons NOT to vaccinate. (See ThinkTwice.) For true protection, many Americans might consider their diets, their sleep and rest habits, their exercise levels, the toxins they regularly ingest that inhibit immune response and lower their vitality,not to mention the drugs they take that make them more susceptible to infection of all kinds. In fact, lately the evidence seems to be mounting in favor of a very simple, very inexpensive, and very effective prophylaxis: Vitamin D. (But that is yet another article.)
The fact that no one speaks about is that there's nothing to suggest that these vaccines and chemicals are in any way helping us. One study reported by Science Daily (10/2007) stated that the flu vaccine was not associated with reduced hospitalizations or even outpatient visits among young children. Furthermore, vaccine effectiveness couldn't be demonstrated for any season, age or setting. Were there some specific risk groups that were statistically safer for the vaccine? No.
True Protection: Legal Immunity
Last month the Associated Press reported that a legal immunity will be set for the makers of swine flu vaccines so that any profits which proceed from making the vaccine will be unencumbered from any future claims. Currently, those profits are nearing $2-billion prior to distribution and medical training, which will bring with it other costs and, naturally, other profits.
There seems to be little to say after that, except --permaneo exsisto vulnero. At least one group of us will be solidly protected and free from harm.