CDC tightens controls on scientists’ communication with news mediaBMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k675 (Published 14 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k675
All rapid responses
US media outlets are comparing the current flu season to 2014-15 when the CDC estimated that there were 56,000 influenza deaths. (NY Times, NPR, FluView, etc) This is more than 10 times the annual number of influenza deaths reported those years to the National Center for Health Statistics. Such exaggerations have been routine since the CDC began making a concerted effort to sell flu shots. (Doshi, “Are US flu deaths more PR than science?” BMJ 2005; 331:1319)
While the CDC exaggerates the risks of influenza infections they downplay the risks of influenza vaccines. For example, when the CDC finally recommended in August 2016 that the use of FluMist be discontinued for US children, they cited “low effectiveness.” (Grohskopf, MMWR Recomm Rep 2016;65(RR-5):1-54) In fact, its “effectiveness” against A(H1N1)pdm09 was -19% (CI -133% to 33%). (Jackson, NEJM 2017;377:534) The fact that FluMist actually increased the risk of illness was never mentioned in news items about an 8 year-old Utah girl who died on February 14, 2016 from the H1N1 virus. (Lawrence, “Utah family hopes daughter’s death from influenza after FluMist vaccine leads to reform.” Fox13now.com/2016/09/10/Utah)
Recently, Rob Wipond has reported how the CDC and media outlets have attempted to sweep serious vaccine safety issues under the rug. (BMJ 2018;360:k15, January 5)
The poor performance of flu shots has reduced authorities to telling us, “The current flu vaccine is better than nothing.” (Quick, TIME, January 19, 2018) Is it really?
Upwards of 40,000 US children die every year from all causes, many of which are preventable. It is tragic that we spend vast resources on vaccines that provide marginal benefit and are sometimes harmful.
Often, the news releases emanating from the CDC are like “cuttlefish squirting out ink.” (George Orwell)
Competing interests: No competing interests