Mike Adams turns his mad science skillz to analyzing a flu vaccine. Hilarity ensues.


It’s always jarring when I go to a scientific meeting, in this case the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, imbibe the latest clinical science on cancer, and then check back to see what the quacks are doing. On the other hand, there was a session at this year’s ASCO on “integrative oncology” (stay tuned for an…Insolent…discussion of it sometime in the next few days after I get a chance to watch the videos again and look up the papers cited in support of woo), so maybe it isn’t as jarring as it once was to come back into the real world.

Thus I saw in my Google Alerts this morning, as I was preparing to hit the road to head home from Chicago, this gem from one of the quackiest of the quacks, Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger, a.k.a., “I’m a real scientist, dammit!” It’s a post entitled EXCLUSIVE: Natural News tests flu vaccine for heavy metals, finds 25,000 times higher mercury level than EPA limit for water. You might remember that at the dawn of 2014 Mike Adams launched a canny marketing initiative in which he rebranded himself as a “food scientist.” How did he accomplish this? He bought himself a mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), put it in a corner of a room that he calls his laboratory, a room that, mysteriously, we never see the rest of, with camera angles for all his videos in the lab being very tightly controlled such that we never see anything other than the ICP-MS, the sample loader, and the fume hood. It’s not for nothing that I strongly suspect that there isn’t a real “lab” there, but nothing more than a corner, perhaps in a warehouse or in a room being used for something else. Or maybe it’s just a studio, with cameras permanently set up to focus on that corner of the room. If that weren’t the case, why on earthy would Adams not show the rest of his “laboratory.”

Sadly, Adams has been very successful using his equipment to generate numbers that let him trash his competitors in the supplement industry for having high levels of heavy metals in their supplements and even landed him an appearance on Dr. Oz’s show, leading me to label Dr. Oz as “America’s quack.” Hilariously, he’s finally turned his attention to vaccines, this time around looking at the mercury content in a flu vaccine:

Mercury tests conducted on vaccines at the Natural News Forensic Food Lab have revealed a shockingly high level of toxic mercury in an influenza vaccine (flu shot) made by GlaxoSmithKline (lot #9H2GX). Tests conducted via ICP-MS document mercury in the Flulaval vaccine at a shocking 51 parts per million, or over 25,000 times higher than the maximum contaminant level of inorganic mercury in drinking water set by the EPA.(1)

The tests were conducted via ICP-MS using a 4-point mercury calibration curve for accuracy. Even then, the extremely high level of mercury found in this flu shot was higher than anything we’ve ever tested, including tuna and ocean fish which are known for high mercury contamination.

In fact, the concentration of mercury found in this GSK flu shot was 100 times higher than the highest level of mercury we’ve ever tested in contaminated fish.

Adams then reports that he found 0.4 ppm aluminum in the FluLaval vaccine, to which I can only say, “Well, duh!” Similarly, it’s not a coincidence that FluLaval is one of the flu vaccines remaining that still uses thimerosal as a preservative. You can even see this on the CDC website in its Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary. On that table, FluLaval is listed as containing thimerosal, formaldehyde, sodium deoxycholate, and egg proteins. Adams also notes that there is no arsenic, cadmium, or lead in the vaccine. Imagine my surprise. Why would there be. Actually, I was a bit surprised, because I figured that Adams would find heavy metals in everything.

In any case, what I was interested in is the concentration of mercury and aluminum reported to be in FluLaval. That’s pretty darned easy to find out. All you have to do is to look up the FluLaval package insert, which is easily found either on the GlaxoSmithKline or FDA website:

Each 0.5-mL dose contains 50 mcg thimerosal (<25 mcg mercury). Each 0.5-mL dose may also contain residual amounts of ovalbumin (≤0.3 mcg), formaldehyde (≤25 mcg), and sodium deoxycholate (≤50 mcg) from the manufacturing process. Antibiotics are not used in the manufacture of this vaccine.

Adams could have saved himself the trouble of trying to get his hands on a vial of FluLaval and running the sample just by reading the package insert. Here’s a hint: 25 mcg per 0.5 ml equals 50 ppm. So in this case, at least, Adams appears to have been reasonably accurate with his ICP-MS.

Even more hilariously, Adams clearly even read the package insert. He goes on and on and on about the legalese in on the vaccine insert about how the vaccine has never been proven to decrease flu disease and how “safety and effectiveness of Flulaval have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children,” quoting directly from the package insert. It’s a gambit I like to call argumentum ad package insert. (Sorry, I don’t know Latin and have no idea how one would try to say “package insert” in Latin. Perhaps I can leave that as an exercise for my readers.)

Yes, republishing scary-sounding quotes from package inserts is a time-dishonored and cherished deceptive tactic used by antivaccine loons to try to paint a picture in which vaccines are portrayed as being not only ineffective, but downright dangerous. The FDA has very strict rules about what must be included in package inserts, and one of those rules is that any adverse reaction “for which there is some basis to believe there is a causal relationship between the drug and the occurrence of the adverse event.” As my bud Skeptical Raptor pointed out, the key word here is “believe,” rather than to be based on strong evidence. In practice, package inserts usually end up listing darned near every bad thing that happened to subjects in clinical trials whether causally related to the vaccine or not. Our skeptical reptilian friend also pointed me to a hilarious parody of a package insert for airline flight that I plan on citing any time I encounter an argumentum ad package insert as mind-numbingly stupid as Mike Adams’.

Of course, what Adams won’t tell you is that thimerosal- (and therefore mercury-) containing vaccines have been extensively studied for safety. Numerous well-executed study (as opposed to lousy studies by antivaccine quacks like Mark and David Geier or Andrew Wakefield) have failed to find even a whiff of a hint of a link between mercury at the doses used in vaccines and autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders. The idea that thimerosal in vaccines causes or contributes to causing autism is a failed hypothesis. None of this, of course, stops Adams from doing what Adams does best and bringing home the crazy:

Trusting a flu shot made by a corporation of felons is a lot like trusting the purity of heroin you buy from a street dealer. Both flu shots and street heroin have at least one thing in common, by the way: neither has ever been tested for safety.

We also know that flu shots contain neurotoxic chemicals and heavy metals in alarming concentrations. This is irrefutable scientific fact. We also know that there is no “safe” form of mercury just like there is no safe form of heroin — all forms of mercury are highly toxic when injected into the body (ethyl, methyl, organic, inorganic).

The only people who argue with this are those who are already mercury poisoned and thus incapable of rational thought. Mercury damages brain function, you see, which is exactly what causes some people to be tricked into thinking vaccines are safe and effective.

Technically, you’d have to be stupid to believe such a thing, as the vaccine insert directly tells you precisely the opposite.

No, you’d have to be stupid (or at least ignorant of actual vaccine science, which is not necessarily the same thing) to believe anything Mike Adams has to say about vaccines or that he is not antivaccine.