Why aren’t the US Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration speaking with one voice on flu?BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h658 (Published 05 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h658
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Re: Why aren’t the US Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration speaking with one voice on flu?
Disheartening!.....That was the effect of Jeanne Lenzer's report on our CDC's campaign urging the use of Tamiflu during the current flu season, and their financial connections to the manufacturer. I was not completely surprised, but the tangled web she traces between public health officials, commercial interests, medical researchers and publishers takes one's breath away!
In the U.S. the propaganda juggernaut starts rolling every summer with announcements about the new flu vaccine; it accelerates in the fall and winter with journal articles and news releases about influenza and vaccine statistics and flu deaths in unvaccinated individuals. I was not surprised by last month's headlines from the CDC urging everyone to get flu vaccine and "...calling for more antiviral use." Still, I thought their chutzpah would have been toned down some by this season's vaccine mismatch. Not so.
The general public and most doctors do not appreciate that a headline stating, "Flu Vaccine Only 23% Effective" hides even more unpleasant news. For example, vaccine effectiveness in adults over 50 was only 14% with a confidence interval including the possibility that the vaccine increased their influenza risk as much as 31%! (MMWR 1/16/15). In Canada overall VE was minus 8% (an 8% increase in risk) with a CI of minus 50% to 23%. In children 1 to 8 years vaccine receipt nearly tripled their risk of illness from influenza (CI minus 679% to 9%). (Skowronski et al, Eurosurveillance 1/29/15). In adults over 65 the vaccine increased their risk of hospitalization by 25% (CI minus 65% to 4.6%)! (McNeil, et al, Eurosurveillance 2/5/15). No mention is made in any of these studies of the effect of flu vaccines on illness from other respiratory viruses.
It seems to me that using Tamiflu (with uncertain safety and effectiveness) compounds the felony of using a vaccine that does more harm than good.....
In general, Public Health Canada and Canadian researchers seem more objective, more temperate, and more complete in their reporting of illness from influenza and other respiratory viruses. This also seems true of their vaccine studies and attitude toward Tamiflu.
Competing interests: No competing interests