Mateja Cernic: We are expected to blindly believe in miraculous and comprehensive efficiency of vaccination

Mateja Cernic: We are expected to blindly believe in miraculous and comprehensive efficiency of vaccination

Photo: FUDŠ, author Jure Batagelj

Mateja Cernic, PhD, is the author of the scientific monograph Ideological Constructs of Vaccination, a systematic and detailed analyse of the regular myths of vaccination. Cernic received a doctorate degree at the Faculty for Applied Social Studies. Her research work consists mainly of topics on social power and ideologies and discourses in the field of medicine and everyday life.

 

For several years, you have been pointing out to the Slovenian public that the studies based on which vaccines obtain authorisations for sale are protected as trade secret. What does that say about the attitude towards public health?

Indeed, since 2013, I have been fighting with ARSZMPthe Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Medicines and Medical Devices, for public availability of safety and efficiency studies, based on which ARSZMP grants authorisations for sale to individual vaccines. We should point out that no one (with the exception of ARSZMP employees) has access to those studies. They are not available to the general public nor to the specialised public. Doctors are not concerned with this – doctors as individuals nor doctors as professionals have never (or at least not until 2013, when I made this initiative) demanded access to these studies. Furthermore, they never questioned the legislation which allows the safety and efficiency studies submitted in the procedure of medicine registration to be kept as trade secret. 

We should point out that no one (with the exception of ARSZMP employees) has access to those studies.

This has gone to court for the second time now, and the arguments used by ARSZMP are unbelievable. They believe that disclosing studies on safety and efficiency of vaccines would lead to “wrong” interpretations, which would contribute to large-scale rejection of vaccination. Further arguments state that disclosure of these information would cause significant damage, that manufacturers would leave the market, that individual manufacturers would be less competitive, etc.

ARSZMP is consistently working as a fierce advocate of the interests of the pharmaceutical industry and not as guardian of public health as stated in our legislation. At the same time, the Agency is vigorously defending itself – studies based on which vaccines obtain authorisations for sale (here and abroad) are methodological smears. The manner in which they are designed does not enable a realistic evaluation of short-term, let alone long-term effects of vaccines.

At the same time, the Agency is vigorously defending itself – studies based on which vaccines obtain authorisations for sale (here and abroad) are methodological smears.

The fight to gain access to these studies resembles a total farce, as the arguments presented by ARSZMP are truly unbelievable (they are presented in more detail in my book Ideological Constructs of Vaccination). However, the most shocking of them comes from the current Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik (the IC is also involved in a judicial procedure). In response to my note, in which I proved the methodological unsuitability of studies among other things, she stated the following (dated 14th November 2016): “In the continuation, the plaintiff states that an even more pressing issue is the fact that these studies are “methodological smears”. If made public, what added value in “informing the public on public health” would these studies provide if, according to the plaintiff, they lack sufficient expertise. (...). If subjected to assessment, would these studies contribute to responsible decision-making on vaccination of children, which is in the public interest?

In short, the Information Commissioner believes that if the studies are unprofessional, it is best to keep them unavailable for the public. Do I need to say anything else?

ARSZMP is consistently working as a fierce advocate of the interests of the pharmaceutical industry and not as guardian of public health.

Is this kind of data confidentiality acceptable for a democratic society?

Absolutely not. People have the right to know what medicines and vaccines contain and how their safety and efficiency were tested. As well as how well – or badly – the national institutions responsible for protecting public health are doing their job. Public availability of safety and efficiency studies is a fundamental prerequisite for transparency and actual public health protection. At this point, we should also point the finger at the doctors, who are, as mentioned, not concerned over the fact that they only have access to a summary of product characteristics (SmPC), which in no way allows them to assess the adequacy of a vaccine or medicine for an individual patient. Studies, published in scientific publications (which are of course available to doctors and others), are not a sufficient replacement for studies, based on which the authorisations for sale are granted.

ARSZMP is consistently working as a fierce advocate of the interests of the pharmaceutical industry and not as guardian of public health.

Do they even perform long-term monitoring of vaccinated children to determine potential long-term health consequences?

No, they do not. Most studies on safety and efficiency of vaccines are designed to monitor (just monitor, excluding any examinations, except for measuring the temperature) side effects only 5-30 days after receiving the dose. And that is all. Based on these 5 to 30 days of monitoring the vaccine is then declared as safe. Even more than that, the American Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) stated the following: “Long-term monitoring of vaccinated children to search for long-term health consequences would be impractical and unethical, as it would deprive other children of vaccines, which would be used to perform long-term studies."

But clearly, it is perfectly ethical to vaccinate millions of children with vaccines, whose safety and efficiency have never been adequately tested. By the way, the passive systems for recording side effects are also useless, as they only record a few permilles to percents of the anticipated level of side effects. All this is analysed in detail and supported with adequate sources in my book.

In Germany, they have many measles epidemics, but vaccination remains voluntary. Does that reflect the higher quality of their medical system?

Germans understand, probably also because of their experience with Nazism, that the absolute right to decide on one’s own body is one of the fundamental and sacred human rights that should never be violated. It is also clear to them (and after the Nuremberg Trials it should be clear to all of us) that no medical procedure should ever be performed without a voluntary and informed patient’s consent. As to the actual healthcare system, German doctors may in addition to allopathic medicine legally and with no problems perform alternative medicine, such as homeopathy, acupuncture, etc., which contributes to a higher quality of the system. Here, the situation is frankly absurd, as the doctor who starts practising homeopathy immediately loses their licence, even though the legislation states that homeopathy should only be performed by doctors. They regain their licence only if they quit practising homeopathy and “return to the old ways”.

Are doctors who are critical to vaccines discredited? For example, the arguments of Andrew Wakefield, who disclosed the connection between the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) and autism, are being debunked in several ways?

Yes. Most of those who in any way doubt the vaccines, or even dare to criticise them, are faced with harsh formal and informal sanctions, discrediting attempts, threats to end their careers, lies, etc. What happened to A. Wakefield (no, his research was not false) is one of the saddest and most embarrassing stories of our time.

But the operation of the system and the pressure imposed to all “heretics” (i.e. critics of vaccines) are best reflected in the case of the Austrian doctor Johann Loibner. Dr. Loibner, who is also a court expert for post vaccination injuries, had his licence removed for issuing public warnings against vaccination. He organised professional symposiums, at which he educated doctors on vaccination. He, along with many other critical doctors, was reported to the Medical Chamber and after refusing to comply and end his lectures on vaccines, the Austrian government took away his licence in 2009. In an interview for Natural Immunity (Naravna Imunost), Dr. Loibner stated the following: “They have permanently erased me from the list of doctors. Following my complaint to the Supreme Court, the court has after four years withdrawn the explicit prohibition. There was another doctor that was in a similar situation, but in her case, it was a conditional prohibition. Meaning that she would lose her licence if she ever discussed vaccination anywhere in public. Thanks to this judgement of the Supreme Court this cannot happen to her. (...) With this claim to the Supreme Court we ensured that doctors may publicly state their opinions on vaccination!”

We often hear the term “anti-vaccinators”, but is this an adequate term for a group of people who advocates for voluntary vaccination?

That depends on how we interpret the term “anti-vaccinators”. The media is trying very hard to attribute to this term as many negative connotations as possible. Anti-vaccinators are presented as selfish, blinded, uneducated, and irrational fanatics, which of course is a complete nonsense and intentional manipulation. An even more serious manipulation is when the media tries to show anti-vaccinators as people “who want to ban vaccines”. This is a vile lie, used to turn the masses against those criticising vaccines. Anti-vaccinators are in no way trying to “ban vaccines”, but rather strive for freedom to decide if an individual will get vaccinated or not. We fight for the personal and healthcare freedom of everyone as opposed to the rule of one pole over the other. That is significantly different. In response to the media manipulations, some of the anti-vaccinators now call themselves “freevaxers”, which may or may not be a more appropriate term, depending on how we interpret the two terms.

Mass media tends to view criticism of vaccines as conspiracy theories. Why do they react differently when it comes to the disclosures such as the ones of Snowden or Assange?

Vaccination is the holy grail.  It is actually the holiest grail of our time. You can doubt anything, you can criticise everything, but as soon as you say anything against vaccines, you are burned at the stake. This on its own is telling enough.

If there is no public debate on vaccination, are we not forced to just believe in the efficiency of vaccines? Can we even call that science? Recently, you have posted on your Facebook page that your comments were deleted from the page of the Slovenian Ministry of Health?

Yes, we are expected to blindly believe in miraculous and comprehensive efficiency of vaccination There are virtually no public debates with substantive arguments and counterarguments. The provaccination party (including doctors and institutions) usually counters the arguments of the anti-vaccination party with censorship and attempts of personal discreditation, avoiding actual substantive counterarguments. An example of this strategy is also the mentioned censorship that the Ministry of Health performed on their page. It is very telling that they chose to erase the comments (mine and of others) which contained specific arguments, numbers, sources, etc.

Germans understand, probably also because of their experience with Nazism, that the absolute right to decide on one’s own body is one of the fundamental and sacred human rights that should never be violated.
 

The interview was originally published in Slovene.

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