I often come across posts in some of the scienceblogs (like aetiology for example), about anti-vaccination lobby in the US. However I did not know about such groups which are active in India till I saw this post in Mutiny today.
While I am thankful to Mutiny for drawing my attention to such lobbies, I still am pained not only by the timing of the post at Mutiny (when a tragedy in Tamilnadu is already wreaking havoc on public morale with respect to vaccination), but also by some of the claims made in the post which are irrational and unscientific (and, border strongly on sensationalism, fear-mongering and conspiracy theories). Here is an example:
Do you think the government medical agencies/programmes are aware of the dangers of vaccination? If so, do you think there is some kind of hidden agenda in running this programme continuously?
There is no doubt that they are aware of the side effects. It is the WHO (World Health Organization) that develops such programme and implement it in third-world countries. And no such countries (like India) are conducting any quality check or screening test of these medicines. The multi-national pharma companies import the medicines with a certification and they pack and label the medicines in their units here in India.
The pharmaceutical companies already have a negative reputation all over the world for their political and financial connections. Are they exporting these medicines only to the under-developed nations?
Yes, they export it mainly to under-developed and poor nations. That is their best market. Only seven countries in the world conduct such vaccination programmes. All these eradication programmes are purely based on the business interests. No disease can be controlled with vaccines.
There has been a terrible incident today in Tamil Nadu today. Four little kids died due to an anti-measles vaccination programme and fifteen more are hospitalized. What do you say about that?
I haven’t learnt the exact details of the incident. But I see this in two ways. There is an initiative being done under the leadership of WHO and our government to shut down the vaccine producing factories in India saying that they do not meet the standards of WHO. They have decided to build a vaccine park in Chennai with participation of the private sector. This decision has invited protests from the people who watch the medical scene in India. So in the first reading of the news of Tamil Nadu incident, I doubt if it was contaminated vaccine distributed in this case to weaken the protests against the vaccine park.
Even if we ignore this thought, it is possible that the children died because of the side effects of vaccines (and it has happened before). As per the information that I received, it is not anti-measles, but chicken pox vaccine. But some evening newspapers reported that it is polio vaccine. We are in touch with Chennai and hope to get the right information by tomorrow morning (25th April).
Apparently the Dr. Hari, who is being interviewed, is a homeopathic doctor, and he claims, that no disease can be controlled with vaccines, and the interviewer at Mutiny is willing to publish, blithely, everything that the doctor has to say, without ever even mentioning that there might be other opinions, and even prompts some of the answers with his questions (like the ones about reputation of pharmaceutical companies and the hidden agenda of the government etc).
I was once a member of Mutiny, and have lots of respect for several of the contributors there; however, this kind of stupid (and, worse — wrongly timed) posts need to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
By the way, the wiki page on polio vaccination discusses some of the science — why oral vaccines are used, in which places they are used, what are the problems associated with such viruses, why oral vaccines are administered the number of times they are administered etc. The short answer: in places where polio is not completely eradicated, oral vaccine is the way to go — but, if the immunization rate is very low, then such oral vaccines can cause outbreaks; when polio is completely eradicated, then it is possible to switch to IPV. This piece by Dr. Balasubramanian in the Speaking of Science in the Hindu published a couple of years ago is also relevant in the present context.