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Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4291 (Published 19 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l4291

Re: Response to John Stone (2019 Jul 24)

I wrote, "The question remains: if we are to be reassured, where are the trials? Larson et al cite none” [1], to which Joel Harrison replied [2]:

"No, Larson et al’s RR didn’t cite any. So what?"

Well, one reason is that they [3] (Heidi Larson, Paul Offit and Stanley Plotkin) are prominent advocates of the vaccine programme so we might expect from them the most solid evidence base for the safety of the products. If we trace this correspondence back to the beginning Christopher Exley [4] was echoing the question about the apparent absence of placebo controlled trials raised by myself (among other things) [5]. Following the intervention of Larson, Offit and Plotkin they were further challenged by Exley [6] and David Healey [7] but they have so far not responded.

Has the challenge been satisfactorily met by Harrison in their place? I still, for instance, do not see in his collection of references any pre-marketing double-blind placebo safety trials which support the safety of any of the component products of the routine UK vaccine programme. Harrison tells us [1]:

"Just to make it clear, in order to be approved, vaccines MUST undergo pre-marketing placebo-controlled randomized trials, required by UK, US, and WHO; however, if a previous vaccine has undergone such, then a newer vaccine is compared with it, not a placebo that would subject kids to the actual disease.."

But I am neither clear, if they exist, whether we have access to them or that they are safety trials. When myriad products are being administered on a population basis to our children a cast iron provenance for their safety ought to be available.

[1] John Stone, 'Re: Response to John Stone’s Re: Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance. Where are the placebo controlled trials? (July 22, 2019)', 24 July 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-32

[2] Joel A Harrison, 'Response to John Stone (2019 Jul 24)', 24 July 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-33

[3] Heidi Larson, Paul Offit, Stanley Plotkin, 'Re: Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance', 26 June 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-2

[4] Christopher Exley, 'Re: Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance', 24 June 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-0

[5] John Stone, 'Re: Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance', 21 June 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr

[6] Christopher Exley, 'Re: Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance', https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-3

[7] David Healy, ''Re: Vaccine safety: British are less sceptical than Europeans, but younger people need assurance', 27 June 2019,27 June 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4291/rr-4'

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 July 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
AgeofAutism.com
London N22