Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


HPV vaccines are effective and safe and work best in young women, review finds

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 09 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2059

Rapid Response:

Re: HPV vaccines are effective and safe and work best in young women, review finds

Further to my letter of 9 May [1] I notice that in table Fig. 10 of Cochrane Library publication [2,3] "Sensitivity analysis of Analysis 7.6 on severe adverse effects restricting to data extracted from publications in peer-reviewed journals" all control group trial subjects are said to have received "placebo". Apart from anything else it is hard to see why being injected with saline (if that was what was happening) would cause any serious or severe adverse reactions at all, but in fact they generate an equal number of cases of serious or severe reactions to the vaccinated groups, and the terminology would appear to be misleading. As we have read the rate of severe reaction is 656 in 10,000 in the vaccinated groups, and in Table 4 it states that the quality of evidence is high (based on slightly different figures) [4]. The fact that there were as many serious adverse reactions in control groups should not and must not be used to discount this risk, which is likely to be replicated in the population at large.

I note, for example, the comment of Dr David Elliman to Science Media Centre regarding the review [5]:

“The group also looked at the incidence of side effects, following the vaccines. They found that, as expected, a number of people had local reactions but there were no serious side effects following the vaccine.”

This statement is hard to account for, particularly since I cannot find anything in the paper about long term follow up where serious adverse reactions were reported. This would not be so worrying if there was not a massive international outcry about the severe effects and long term harms of the vaccine [6]. In fact, the paper supports the former and has nothing to say that I can see about the latter - apart, of course, from the excess deaths.

The fact that a rate of 1 in 15 or 1 in 16 serious adverse reactions from the vaccines can be ignored (was known about before the vaccines were even marketed) poses the most troubling questions about our present vaccine culture.

[1] John Stone, 'Re: HPV vaccines are effective and safe and work best in young women, review finds' 9 May 2018,

[2] Marc Arbyn, Lan Xu, Cindy Simoens, Pierre PL Martin-Hirsch, 'Prophylactic vaccination against human papillomaviruses to prevent cervical cancer and its precursors',




[6] Medwatcher Japan and victims’ associations in Colombia, Spain, UK, Ireland, and Japan released "Joint Statement 2018 for the Victims of HPV Vaccines" on April.26th, 2018.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 May 2018
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22