Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Response

“Antivaccine Lobby” replies to the BMJ

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 27 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4001
  1. K B Saxena, former union health secretary1,
  2. Debabar Banerji, professor emeritus2,
  3. Imrana Qadeer, retired professor2,
  4. N J Kurian, former adviser, Union Ministry of Finance1,
  5. Ritu Priya, professor of community health3,
  6. Mira Shiva, co-convener4,
  7. Jacob Puliyel, head of paediatrics5,
  8. Gopal Dabade, co-convener4
  1. 1Government of India
  2. 2Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
  3. 3Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
  4. 4All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN)
  5. 5St Stephen’s Hospital, Delhi
  1. puliyel{at}

    We are a group of paediatricians, healthcare activists, teachers in public health, and bureaucrats who have championed universal immunisation in India throughout our working lives, so we were taken aback at being called an “antivaccine lobby” in the BMJ.1

    Studies funded by the World Health Organization show that the incidence of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in India is lower than projected.2 Furthermore, probe studies from Asia show that Hib vaccine does not significantly reduce the burden of disease compared with placebo.3 We discuss the anecdotal evidence and the farcical equity argument used to recommend the pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hib, hepatitis B) in India4 in our rapid response,5 and concentrate here on the safety issue.

    Meta-analysis shows that the combined vaccine is not as effective as single vaccines administered separately6; therefore it is not used widely in the West, where reporting of adverse events is reliable. Pentavalent vaccine was withdrawn in Sri …

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