The annals of “I’m not anti-vaccine,” part 9 (The first volley of 2012)

One of the most common retorts that antivaccine activists like to make, usually in the most wounded, self-righteous tone with the most wounded, disgusted expression on their faces that they can manage, is that they are “not antivaccine but rather pro-safe vaccine.” There may be a tiny minority of antivaccinationists who really are “pro-safe vaccine,” but if they exist I have yet to encounter one yet. In any case, what maes an antivaccinationist and antivaccinationist is an unrelenting hostility to and fear of vaccines, coupled with an even more unrelenting refusal to admit that vaccines do any good and ann amazingly slippery avoidance of answering the question of what, exactly, it would take to convince them that vaccines are safe enough for their children. Periodically, I like to provide examples that help illustrate this difference and why the claims of antivaccine activists that they are not, in fact, anti-vaccine are nearly always bogus. So it was that I came across the website and this gem of a post Excuse Me Waiter – There’s a Fly in My Vaccine Soup!

A more blatant example of the “toxins gambit” with so much idiocy concentrated in one post that it’s a veritable black hole of antivaccine information at least as dense as the last black hole of vaccine misinformation I encountered. Maybe the two of them will consume each other. Rationale people and the children endangered by antivaccine rhetoric should be so lucky.

In any case, it’s hard not to consider how hilarious the name “VacTruth” is in the context of what is actually on the website in general and this post in particular. To get an idea of the “quality” of this article, just check out the first couple of paragraphs:

We can laugh at the waiter’s reply to our complaint about the fly in our soup: “- Never mind, it won’t eat much!” However it is no joke that vaccines may contain residue from insect cells, yeast, mouse brains, tissue from pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, calf lymph, hens’ eggs, chick embryos, monkey kidney and testicle cells, retinal cells, aborted human fetal cells and cancer cells!

These are amongst the many substrates present in the huge cultivation soup tanks which are used in vaccine production. The implications may be horrendous.

Apparently, VacTruth’s definition of “horrendous” is different than my definition of “horrendous,” just as an antivaccinationist’s definition of “toxins” is different from a scientific definition of “toxins,” which neglects all consideration of basic pharmacology (i.e., dose-rsponse). What vaccines do do is to prevent childhood diseases at an incredibly low risk. Arguably vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical intervention conceived by the human mind. Yet that doesn’t prevent the author of this post, written by Sandy Lunoe, from laying down huge swaths of napalm-grade flaming stupid. She trots out the old “monkey virus in the vaccines” canard. It’s an old and favorite tactic used to sow fear and doubt about vaccines that sometimes works because it has a grain of truth. But it’s just a grain, a grain that the antivaccine loons who parrot this canard try to make that grain grow into a whole farm full of wheat. It doesn’t work.

Basically, it’s true that the SV40 virus was identified in early polio vaccine in the injected form of the vaccine. In fact, SV40 was completely removed from the seed strains used to grow the vaccine viruses in the early 1960s. In fact, extensive measures were taken to make sure that SV40 was eliminated:

SV40 was completely removed from the seed strains of the vaccine viruses in the early 1960s.The polio vaccine currently used in the U.S. (inactivated polio vaccine, or IPV) is no longer prepared in primary rhesus monkey kidney cells. It is produced in human or African green monkey cell lines that have been extensively tested for contaminants, including SV40.The poliovirus used in IPV is killed with formaldehyde. This procedure also kills viral contaminants, such as SV40. Formaldehyde was also used in the SV40-contaminated vaccine, but in 1961 researchers found that the process killed 99.99% of SV40 and 1 in 10,000 SV40 particles survived (Hilleman, 1998).Today’s testing methods are better. Any live SV40 would be detected by these methods.

Add to that the conflicting evidence regarding whether SV40 even causes cancer in humans or not, and this is a non-issue. Basically, it’s a story of scientists finding a potential problem with vaccines that might compromise their safety and then going to a great deal of trouble to eliminate that problem. It’s also a story from 50 years ago. Vaccine safety and production techniques have advanced considerably since then. The 50 year old story of vaccine contamination says very little about how vaccines are manufactured today or how safe they are today, other than that it demonstrates that scientists are indeed very careful about vaccine safety and, when a potential problem is found with vaccines, they act to correct it. It’s very much unlike the parody that antivaccine activists paint of scientists concerned about nothing but money or ideology. Moreover, since the early 1960s, polio virus stocks have been tested for the presence of SV40, which is not hard to do using modern techniques.

Next up, Lunoe invokes a more recent (and, quite frankly, brain-dead) antivaccine trope, namely the claim that there”s actual–gasp!–DNA in the HPV vaccine. This, too, is a highly brain dead antivaccine gambit as well, one that I had considerable fun deconstructing it a few months ago. To make a long post short, basically a pathologist named Dr. Sin Hang Lee claimed to have found a more sensitive test to detect HPV DNA in Gardasil and to have used this test to find, well, HPV DNA in Gardasi. Even assuming that Dr. Lee did what he claimed, the worst that could be said about the HPV vaccine is that a new, highly sensitive test found something that couldn’t be detected using previously used methodology. Alternatively, Dr. Lee used nested PCR in order to produce a false positive, probably inadvertently.

Next up on the antivaccine hit parade is the dreaded “aborted fetal cells” gambit, in which it is claimed that there is “aborted fetal tissue” or that there are “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines. This is, as I have described many times before, a distortion, an intentional misunderstanding of how cell lines are generated. It is true that some vaccine viral stocks are grown in human cells derived from an aborted fetus. However the cell lines involved were isolated back in the 1960s and passaged (allowed to double) many, many, many, many times since then. Moreover, there are no cells left in the vaccines, even though the vaccine viral stock might have been grown in these cell lines isolated 40 or 50 years ago, but that is not the same thing as there being “fetal cells” in vaccines. Let’s put it this way. Even the Catholic Church has stated that until there are alternatives, Catholics should vaccinate. If even the Catholic Church can reconcile itself to the use of these cells, it’s hard not to view the bleats of antivaccine groups as anything more than pure cynicism.

Lunoe finishes with a bunch of fear-mongering quotes that are so over-the-top that I can’t resist quoting them verbatim, for the edification of my readers:

” – DNA is used from such organisms as animals, animal viruses, fungi, and bacteria. It has been documented that injecting foreign DNA in a human may cause it, or a portion of it, to be incorporated into the recipient’s DNA. The horrendous implications for the unborn defy the imagination.

“- most vaccines are contaminated with a number of known and yet-to-be discovered viruses, bacteria, viral fragments, and DNA/RNA fragments. And, further, our science demonstrates that these contaminants could lead to a number of slowly-developing degenerative diseases, including degenerative diseases of the brain.

“- The risks of residual retinal DNA and stray viral contaminants from the animal tissues getting into flu shots are real. DNA snips are classified as either “infectious” or “oncogenic” (tumour causing) by researchers who worry that the stray DNA is being incorporated into the recipient’s DNA …”

Interview with Dr. Suzanne Humphries. (Regarding contaminants from 33 minutes):
“- DNA particles from disease matter can get into our DNA and alter us and in my opinion these vaccines are turning us into genetically modified organisms.”

Rather dubious sources, don’t you think? Rabid antivaccine loon Sherri Tenpenny and Dr. Suzanne Humphries (one of whose videos I had some fun with a while back). Particularly amusing is the claim by Tenpenny that the “vaccine, no doubt, contains snips of insect DNA. No doubt she’s trying to conjure up images of The Fly. Certainly Lunoe is. She even makes it almost explicit in the title of her post and the parroting of Tenpenny’s claims about “insect fragments” bypassing the “body’s intricate defense mechanism.”

It’s definitely a hunka hunka burnin’ stupid.

As this post by Sandy Lunoe demonstrates once again, these sorts of arguments are purely antivaccine, not “pro-safe vaccine. The fear mongering is all designed to sow fear and doubt about vaccines. Whatever notion people like Lunoe come up with, it’s always first and foremost all about the vaccines, which are portrayed as the root of all evil. Always.

If that isn’t antivaccine, I don’t know what is.