How to Lie With Statistics – that was a book many of us read in school. We often see great examples of this concept in the vaccine sphere every day.
All the talk about how vaccines have saved millions of lives when data from the western world clearly show that vaccines are NOT responsible for 90% of the decline in infectious disease mortality experienced in the 20th century – that 90% comes straight from US data but is mirrored in other developed countries.1
We do not have the same data for developing nations but it is clear that clean drinking water, improved nutrition, public sanitation systems, refrigeration, and improved hygiene practices are the true answer to reducing disease and disease mortality.2
So when we see research like this we have to take a deep breath and calm ourselves.
You see a new study has found that there were 40,926 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) across Latin America and the Caribbean from 1992 to 2011.3
The researchers were allegedly attempting to determine how many of those were actually vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP).
They go through all these machinations and use all sorts of assumptions and criteria to exclude thousands of these cases in order to conclude that we should all rest assured that the number of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis cases was actually lower than previously expected.
Oh joy! What a relief.
But before we get all excited, let’s just dig a little deeper.
First, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, “Nationwide AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) surveillance is the gold standard for detecting cases of poliomyelitis.” See: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Surveillance.aspx#sthash.20I9LV36.dpuf 4
What does that mean? It means that for all intents and purposes, AFP essentially is polio. That said, there are other causes of AFP but the number of AFP cases is a good proxy for polio.
So this area is supposedly polio free and therefore should be experiencing virtually no AFP. But it is.
What’s more, these nations in this region are still using the oral polio vaccine which was discontinued in the US and other developed nations because it was recognized that it was the only thing still causing polio.
Both wild polio and vaccine induced polio have similar symptoms, can resolve with no permanent paralysis, and be deadly.
So the real question is why did these researchers go through all the gymnastics excluding nearly 20,000 of these cases just because the paralysis resolved in 60 days?
Another salient point is that nearly 24,000 of the cases were documented to have received the oral polio vaccine so why not assume that all of them were vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis?
And why did the researchers exclude another nearly 14,000 (33%) cases just because the status of their paralysis was unknown?
If the outcomes of a third of the cases was unknown, wouldn’t that have a significant effect on the numbers?
It sure would, but this research like much vaccine research, seems more about defending belief in vaccines than finding the truth.
These folks assume that vaccine programs are good. That is the starting point. From there they employ cherry picked statistics to support that world view.
Because vaccines just have to be good. They just have to be. And they can’t let 60,000 cases of AFP in India or 40,000 cases of AFP in Latin America get in the way of that belief. They just can’t.