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How “aborted fetal cells” contributed to vaccines preventing billions of cases of disease and many million deaths

Antiabortion antivaccine activists like to claim that “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines mean that vaccines are contaminated products of evil. In reality, there are no “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines. A cell line derived from an aborted fetus in 1962 did, however, lead to huge advances in vaccine technology and the prevention of many millions of deaths worldwide.

Massive is the misinformation promulgated by the antivaccine movement, and many are its lies. For example, antivaxers claim that, in some way or other, vaccines cause autism, autoimmune diseases, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), cancer, and a wide variety of other conditions and diseases when there is no credible evidence that they do and lots of evidence that they don’t. One of the favorite tropes used by antivaxers to frighten parents out of vaccinating their children is known as the “toxins” gambit, in which antivaxers cite lists of scary-sounding ingredients in vaccines like formaldehyde to claim that vaccines are loaded with “toxins” and that it’s those toxins that are causing all The Bad Things for which they incorrectly blame vaccines. Of course the dose makes the poison and the amounts of these chemicals in vaccines is very small. One example in particular, formaldehyde, is even a normal product of human metabolism and present in the blood at levels far higher than any vaccine. The point is that these “toxins” are, at the doses present in vaccines, not harmful, but the chemical names sure do sound scary.

There is a variant of the “toxins” gambit that is designed to appeal to members of religions that equate abortion with murder, and that’s the claim that there are “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines or, more egregiously (and confusing cultured cells and actual tissue) “aborted fetal tissue” in vaccines. The idea is to paint a picture of vaccine makers grinding up dead fetuses to make their vile concoctions to put in vaccines, no doubt cackling evilly as they do it and demanding more abortions to provide them with their horrific raw materials. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.) The idea of course is to portray vaccines as not only contaminated with something disgusting but the product of evil.

As with most antivaccine tropes, there is a grain of truth distorted beyond recognition here. The virus stocks used to make some vaccines are grown in cell lines like the WI-38 cell line, which is a human diploid fibroblast cell line derived from a three month old fetus aborted therapeutically in 1962. Of course, there’s a huge difference between a cell line that was derived from a fetus 55 years ago and actual “fetal cells.” While it’s correct to say that WI-38 cells were derived from a fetus, they are many generations (replications) removed from the original cells from the original fetus. Even though that most anti-abortion of religions, the Catholic Church is not thrilled with vaccines made in WI-38 cells and urges scientists to develop vaccines that don’t use such cell lines, it recognizes the great good vaccines do and concludes that the extreme good of protecting children’s lives from deadly diseases far outweighs the distant evil that created the cell lines. I also note that, in the case of WI-38, the abortion was therapeutic; i.e., medically indicated. It was not elective.

But why is the WI-38 cell line used? And what has been the benefit? However unreasonable antivaxers are otherwise, these questions are not unreasonable. So it was with great interest that I read a study sent to me by a reader (and, as I was going over this one last time early this morning, I saw that my good blog bud Skeptical Raptor also covered this study, albeit from a somewhat different viewpoint), The Role of the WI-38 Cell Strain in Saving Lives and Reducing Morbidity/. It’s open access; so you can read it for yourselves. Basically the authors S. Jay Olshansky and Leonard Hayflick, of the University of Illinois at Chicago and UCSF, respectively, view the development of the WI-38 cell line as a seminal event in the history of vaccines, noting that with the rise of a new antivaccine movement we are poised to take a great step backward in public health:

If the anti-vaccination movement gains any additional traction, developed and developing nations will have taken a dangerous step backward in protecting public health, especially that of children. There are many ways to re-emphasize the health benefits of vaccinations, but one novel approach that represents a perfect example of applied demography in public health is to illustrate how many lives have been saved, and how many people are alive today, as a result of a single breakthrough in the chain of historical events that led to the development and successful dissemination of live attenuated viral vaccines. Here we illustrate how the discovery and use of a single cell strain used to grow most viral vaccines in use today (WI-38 [8] and a later derivative [9]), has already had a powerful impact on human life on an order of magnitude that is unprecedented in the history of public health. This direct application of applied demography will shed new light on (1) the importance of vaccines in saving lives, (2) the chain of fortuitous events that occurred to create a public health breakthrough of this magnitude and, (3) make clear that the anti-vaccination movement represents a serious threat to a proven public health intervention.

They also note that they are only covering one breakthrough and its effects:

We use WI-38 as a point of reference because of its specific link to certain vaccines early in the vaccine movement, and because its development in the early 1960’s served as a catalyst for the field. Full credit for the life-saving effects of vaccines belongs to the breakthroughs, scientific advances, and hard work of countless scientists and health care providers, all of whom together contributed to building the chain of vaccine development and use.

The authors begin with a brief history of vaccines. Before the WI-38 cell line was isolated viral stocks for vaccines like the polio vaccine were grown in cells isolated from monkey kidneys. However it was soon discovered that these monkey cells were often contaminated with simian viruses. The most famous of these is SV-40, which, scientists observed in the early 1960s, could cause tumors in experimental animals. It has never been shown that SV-40 in the vaccines used to make the live virus polio vaccine of in the 1950s and early 1960s has led to an increase in cancer, as I’ve discussed before, but it’s nonetheless a frequent theme among the antivaccine movement that SV40 in those batches of polio vaccine in the late 1950s and early 1960s is responsible for the “cancer epidemic,” or, more risibly, was the source of HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS. Conspiracy theories still abound to this day. In any event, at the time scientists didn’t know that the tumorigenic properties of SV40 observed in animal models at the time didn’t translate to humans, and so the development of SV40-free cells to grow virus stock in rapidly became a high priority. Basically, the development of WI-38 was part of a broader effort to find ways to eliminate SV40 from the polio vaccine.

Contrary to what antivaxers claim, there are a great many advantages to using WI-38 to grow virus stock for vaccines as the authors relate:

The first human cell strain used for the production of licensed human virus vaccines, was WI-38 developed by one of us (L.H.) at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia in 1962. Unlike primary cell cultures, WI-38 is passaged from one vessel to additional vessels ad seriatim, thus producing almost unlimited numbers of cells from a single source for the manufacture of many human virus vaccines. Because a single cell strain can be frozen for indefinite periods of time, WI-38 has been frozen for 55 years, which is the longest period of time that normal human cells have been frozen. Of great importance, and unlike primary cells, WI-38 was exhaustively tested for safety and efficacy before use [18]. Freezing primary cells for testing is impractical. Since the early 1960’s, the vast majority of human virus vaccines have been grown in WI-38 or its derivatives, making its discovery and continued use a critical innovation in the historical chain of events required for vaccine development [19]. Unlike monkey kidney primary cultures, the importance of WI-38 is that (1) it is derived from a single donor, (2) it is free from contaminating viruses, and (3) it can be frozen for indefinite periods of time and tested for safety and efficacy before use in large scale vaccine manufacture [20]. WI-38 was distributed by Dr. Hayflick gratis to the world’s human virus vaccine manufacturers.

It needs to be acknowledged that one of the authors of the article, Dr. Leonard Hayflick, actually developed WI-38, who wanted to know how many lives had been saved by vaccine derived from WI-38. That being pointed out, on to the study itself. Basically, in order to estimate the number of cases of disease and the number of deaths prevented by vaccines developed using W-38, Olshansky and Hayflick used existing published data on the incidence and number of deaths for each disease in the US in 1960, two years before WI-38 was developed. Assuming that prevalence rates would have remained constant without vaccines, they estimated how many cases of disease and death were prevented in the US and worldwide. They took into account the year of introduction of each vaccine, and analyses carried through 2015 to estimate the effects of the vaccines. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is it reasonable to assume that the incidence and death rates due to these vaccines would have remained the same without the vaccine? Certainly there’s little reason to assume that the incidence would have changed much, although certainly improvements in medical care might have reduced the death rate independent of the vaccine. There’s also the issue that incidence can vary year-to-year, sometimes (as in the case of polio before the vaccine) dramatically. So we have to view the results of this study as a rough estimate of the number of lives saved. It could overestimate the effect, or it could also underestimate how many lives were saved. It could even do both, underestimating vaccine effect for some diseases and overestimating it from others. Be that as it may, the results are staggering, as the key table from the study shows for the US (click to embiggen):

Lives saved in the US by WI-38-associated vaccines

Overall, the authors estimate that the total number of cases of poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, adenovirus, rabies and hepatitis A averted or treated with WI-38-related vaccines between 1960 and 2015 was 198 million in the U.S. and 4.5 billion globally (720 million in Africa; 387 million in Latin America and the Caribbean; 2.7 billion in Asia; and 455 million in Europe). In addition, the estimated total number of deaths averted from these same diseases was approximately 450,000 in the U.S., and 10.3 million globally (1.6 million in Africa; 886 thousand in Latin America and the Caribbean; 6.2 million in Asia; and 1.0 million in Europe). These are incredible numbers, and they are not out of line with other estimates. For instance, data from the Tycho Project indicate that in the US alone, the numbers are likely far higher. Of course, the Tycho Project didn’t restrict itself to just WI-38-associated vaccines; it looked at all vaccines. The point is that the Tycho Project used more rigorous methodology and came up with estimates in the same order of magnitude. Other estimates are also higher than that of Olshansky and Hayflick. The bottom line is that vaccines work. They’ve prevented billions of cases of disease and many millions of deaths. The only reason antivaxers can sound even the least bit plausible when they use the “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit is that, thanks to vaccines, today we aren’t seeing those huge numbers of cases of disease and death.

As self-serving as it might have been, what Hayflick and Olshansky contribute to the data is an estimate of just how important those evil “aborted fetal cells” have been to the overall reduction in disease, suffering, and death due to vaccines. The authors also note how other antiscience trends other than the antivaccine movement would have made the development of the WI-38 cell line difficult or impossible in the US and conclude by noting how many lives are saved by vaccines each and every year. It’s worth citing at length:

Each discovery or breakthrough in the chain of events that led to vaccines becoming a public health success story may have occurred eventually. However, timing is important, and there is no question that when the WI-38 cell strain became available in 1962, it was fortuitously discovered at the same time that the primary monkey kidney cells used to manufacture the poliomyelitis vaccines were found to have been contaminated. Thus, the use of WI-38 represented a catalyst for subsequent vaccine development. In fact, the success of the research that resulted in the development of WI-38 in 1962 occurred when federal research funds were not prohibited for use in studying the biology of tissue derived from aborted human fetuses. However, during several subsequent presidential administrations, that prohibition was enforced. If that prohibition had been in effect in 1962, it is unlikely that in the subsequent 55 years, there would be billions of people who benefitted from virus vaccines produced in WI-38.

A delay of even one year in the development of an uncontaminated cell strain for vaccine development would have cost humanity millions of lives and countless more cases of vaccine preventable morbidity. Today, a majority of the world’s 7.5 billion people have been vaccinated against viral diseases with the use of the WI-38 cell strain and its derivatives. Nearly everyone born in the developed world since 1962 received at least one vaccine manufactured with the WI-38 cell strain, along with a growing proportion of the population in developing nations. WI-38 and its derivatives are still in use for producing many viral vaccines that are distributed worldwide today.

Billions of people are alive today who would otherwise have either died in childhood or who would have been crippled or disabled by vaccine preventable diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that all immunizations now available avert about 2.5 million deaths among children every year, but many more lives could still be saved if vaccines were universally available. In fact, it is ironic that the rubella vaccine (which is produced in the WI-38 cell strain that originated from an aborted human fetus) is vigorously opposed by anti-choice advocates, even though this vaccine prevented over 633,000 miscarriages in the U.S. alone, and countless more across the globe, and it has prevented tens of millions of clinical health issues in children (e.g., encephalitis, autism, deafness, diabetes, etc.) linked to congenital rubella syndrome [27].

Indeed. WI-38 is an excellent example of the sorts of discoveries that ill-advised restrictions on federal funding of research into fetal cells could inadvertently delay and the hypocrisy of some anti-abortion antivaccine activists, who mischaracterize the use of WI-38 cells in vaccine manufacturing as “fetal cells” or “fetal tissue” in vaccines. More recently, perhaps realizing how silly this mischaracterization is, some have started fear mongering about incredibly tiny amounts of “fetal DNA” (i.e., DNA fragments from WI-38 cells that can, if you do really, really sensitive PCR, be detected) as though it were somehow dangerous. The isolation of WI-38 cells is also an excellent example of serendipity in science in that its discovery just so happened to coincide with a time when the safety of the existing vaccines in use was being questioned because of the discovery of SV40 contamination. If not for SV40, vaccine scientists and manufacturers might have had much less incentive to change (or at least to change rapidly) their methods of producing vaccines to using WI-38 cells to grow the viruses used.

So when an antivaxer asks why “aborted fetal cells” are used to make vaccines, point them to this paper. The reasons are simple. Using WI-38 cells to make vaccines against viral diseases facilitated manufacturing huge quantities of much more standardized and safer vaccines that have saved millions and millions of lives and prevented billions of cases of disease over the last 55 years.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

336 replies on “How “aborted fetal cells” contributed to vaccines preventing billions of cases of disease and many million deaths”

Tangentially related, but how do they keep the cell lines from mutating over time? Is it because they are fetal stem cells that they remain static? My understanding is that cellular mutation is pretty common in people over 30, so a cell line that has had 55 years worth of cellular reproduction should run the risk of bearing little resemblance to the originals. Is it something as simple as spot-checking and destroying mutated cultures?

Somewhere along the way, we seem to have miss-placed the well-educated and knowledgeable part of the requirement for a well functioning democracy. Easily swayed idiots are making the decisions on things they know nothing about, and do not care to educate themselves about. It sounds scary/icky/unnatural/technical and I’m against it.

The way cell lines are usually maintained, cells are usually grown up through a few passages (replatings at lower density to allow them to grow) until there are enough of them to freeze down for stocks. It is those frozen stocks that are periodically thawed and replated to grow up more. In any case, cells can be compared genetically to the parent stock from which they were derived to assure they haven’t changed detectably.

From the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, which supplies these cells:

The WI-38 cell line was developed in July 1962 from lung tissue taken from a therapeutically aborted fetus of about 3 months gestational age. Cells released by trypsin digestion of the lung tissue were used for the primary culture. The cell morphology is fibroblast-like. The karyotype is 46,XX; normal diploid female. A maximum lifespan of 50 population doublings for this culture was obtained at the Repository. A thymidine labelling index of 86% was obtained after recovery. G6PD is isoenzyme type B. This culture of WI-38 is an expansion from passage 9 frozen cells obtained from the submitter.

the hypocrisy of some anti-abortion antivaccine activists

It’s possible that anti-abortion activists who aren’t hypocrites exist, but I have never actually observed one in the wild.

It’s bad theology, too, according to my go-to source for such things, Fred Clark of Slacktivist. As he points out, Protestant denominations that claim anti-abortionism as a core belief have only acquired that belief during the lifetime of anybody who is over 40 (including Orac and me). Jesus himself never said anything on the topic, and there are Old Testament verses that can be (and are, among observant Jews) interpreted to require abortion under certain circumstances.

Clark himself is pro-choice. The history of WI-38 and vaccines is one more argument in favor of his position, and a practical one at that.

There’s a new book Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman that tells the story of the Hayflick cells in detail. It’s interesting reading.

“How “aborted fetal cells” contributed to vaccines preventing billions of cases of disease and many million deaths”

Orac is right, but, they also likely created millions of cases of asthma.

Injecting CNS tissue causes “neuroparalytic accident”.

“Neuroparalytic accidents were initially thought to be
caused by the vaccine’s viral component although later it
was recognised that they could have resulted from the central
nervous system (CNS) tissue contaminating the vaccine. This
is supported by a much reduced incidence of post-vaccination
encephalomyelitis, now that most vaccines are no longer
prepared from in vivo infected CNS tissue, and the similarity
with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). EAE is
induced by inoculating myelin or myelin antigens into a
suitable experimental animal to produce a disease that
clinically and pathologically closely resembles ADEM. Postvaccination
encephalomyelitis continues to be seen after
rabies vaccine containing neural tissue, such as the Semple
preparation (extracted from rabbit brain and used particularly
in developing countries), and duck embryo vaccine,
which also contains minimal amounts of neural tissue.”

EAE is also known as experimental AUTOIMMUNE encephalomyelitis.

Varicella and MMR/MMRV vaccine antigens are cultured on human lung
tissue and the vaccine is contaminated with human lung tissue proteins.
What accident would one expect? Asthma?

That source does not say vaccines cause asthma at all, and in fact points out modern vaccines don’t even cause the problem it discusses.

There are several large studies that asks whether vaccines cause asthma and found no link.

The claim above is no better supported than other anti-vaccine claims that vaccines cause problems they don’t.

Varicella and MMR/MMRV vaccine antigens are cultured on human lung
tissue and the vaccine is contaminated with human lung tissue proteins.
What accident would one expect? Asthma?

No. According to yourself, it should make us allergic to lungs. Or our own bodies. Or other people.

likely created millions of cases of asthma

If you believe this, feel free to procure some research funding to prove this claim. The article you present does nothing to advance the notion, which I don’t yet think merits the label of “hypothesis”.

IANAD and am not familiar with the relevant literature, so I don’t know for sure this idea is wrong, but that’s the way I’d bet. Feel free to show evidence proving otherwise.

@Eric Lund:
I don’t want to spam the thread with links, but here is one study on MMR – since rubella is one of the viruses grown on these cells:

“Two outcomes were included: hospitalizations with asthma diagnoses and use of anti-asthma medications (for a subset of the cohort only). Poisson regression was used to estimate rate ratios according to vaccination status. MMR-vaccinated children were less often hospitalized with an asthma diagnosis (rate ratio (RR) = 0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.73, 0.78) and used fewer courses of anti-asthma medication (RR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.92) than unvaccinated children.”

According to yourself, it should make us allergic to lungs. Or our own bodies. Or other people.

Don’t forget haggis.

I wonder those who have an objection to using fetal cells for vaccines or research would also have a similar objection to using organs from murders victim for transplant, since that seems to me to be ethically very similar.

Eric Lund writes (~#5)

Protestant denominations that claim anti-abortionism as a core belief have only acquired that belief during the lifetime of anybody who is over 40 (including Orac and me).

MJD says,

Should it be written (including Orac and I)?

Me would like to compliment Orac on an excellent post today!

AP writes (~ #1),

It sounds scary/icky/unnatural/technical and I’m against it.

MJD says,

It sounds relaxing/pleasant/natural/simple and I’m for it. – Integrative medicine!

There’s a new book Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman that tells the story of the Hayflick cells in detail. It’s interesting reading.

As it happens, she’s currently on the second half of the Larry Meiller Show. I haven’t been listening too closely, but they archive the audio. Maybe Travis J. Schwochert will call in to make an ass of himself.

No. According to yourself, it should make us allergic to lungs. Or our own bodies. Or other people.

As an introvert, I am allergic to other people. Must be the vaccines.

@13 Nick Theodorakis
If that is the case, you must have a serious problem with all women who are not perpetually pregnant. Also you must take issue with women who have miscarriages. Termination of a fetus unable to survive outside of the womb on its own is just as much murder as a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle is. That being said, as long as someone has signed their organ donor card, I do fully support using a murder victims organs, as long as it does not interfere with the murder investigation. You know, catching someone who has committed an illegal act, unlike an abortion.

Perhaps I was not clear. I don’t have an issue with the cells. The analogy was a type of thought experiment.

@17 Nick Theodorakis
If that is the case, then I apologize for jumping down your throat. I have seen far too many wack-jobs use that same line of thought as justification for their idiocy. For some reason the vast majority of them are god-fearing folk.

I think that’s a great analogy, myself. A murder is a horrible thing, but using the organs afterwards save lives. If you believe abortion is murder, that does not necessarily mean that using the organs after to save lives is bad, either.

About how long before we run out of WI-38 cells capable of more doublings? If that’s coming up in the next 100 years or so, we better start figuring out now where the new cells will come from.

I was surprised to learn all tuberculin has the same lot number because it comes from a single batch made in the 1940’s. I wonder how big that batch was, and when we expect to run out of that.

That being said, as long as someone has signed their organ donor card, I do fully support using a murder victims organs, as long as it does not interfere with the murder investigation.

I would also require that the means of death did not render the organs unusable. For instance, even if Alexander Litvinenko had been an organ donor, I’d have hesitated to transplant any of his organs in another person due to fears of polonium-210 contamination. But that would only apply in a handful of cases; most of the time, if a murder victim’s organ has been rendered unsuitable, it is directly relevant to the investigation because the fatal injury is what rendered the organ unsuitable.

@22 Eric Lund
The organ donation from a murder victim would have to be due to some manner that does not poison the corpse and ruin the organs, and also a method that does not require an extensive autopsy to discover. Someone who suffers massive trauma to the head, or traumatic removal of multiple limbs leading to death via exsanguination would be a perfect candidate. The CoD is fairly self explanatory, and organ donation would not impede an investigation.

I would also second Mark Thorson’s question. And add to that, what is the issue with acquiring a new batch of embryonic cells for use? Other then the religious wack-a-doodles distaste for medical use of embryonic tissues, is there some valid reason we have stayed with the limited batches we have now?

I wonder why children seem so much less healthy now than they did 40 years ago? So many on prescription drugs, inhalers, carrying epi pens. Asthma, severe allergies, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, neurological disorders, learning disabilities–all much more common, almost accepted as “normal” now.

The body is very complex, and so much is not understood about how it works. There are so many unnatural substances in our food, water and air, and even being injected into our bodies. In the case of vaccines, substances being injected that would never enter the bloodstream naturally, like foreign DNA. There are always powerful interests behind it, with enormous incentives to convince us they’re no problem.

Unfortunately, conflicts of interest are endemic in medical and scientific research. Researchers live and die by funding. Many have exposed this problem. It makes it impossible to accept any information we are being given at face value, no matter how “authoritative” it sounds, or how cleverly they construct their arguments, or how viciously they smear their detractors.

I wonder why children seem so much less healthy now than they did 40 years ago?

The boldfaced word makes the rest of your tediously repetitive bloviation superfluous.

…substances being injected that would never enter the bloodstream naturally, like foreign DNA

Toll-like receptor 9 would like a word with you…

Mark Thorson, and anyone else who wonders about this: “About how long before we run out of WI-38 cells capable of more doublings?”
I ain’t no mathematician, but I do know that 2 to the 50th power is one hell of a lot of doublings. And if they started with more than one cell from the same source the line will stretch out to the crack of doom.

Make that 2 to the 49th power, since the count would start with the doubling of a single cell.

NWO: “So many on prescription drugs, inhalers, carrying epi pens. Asthma, severe allergies, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, neurological disorders, learning disabilities–all much more common, almost accepted as “normal” now.”
So many more children having access to medical care. So many who in earlier years would have died in infancy. So many more parents surviving to reproductive age because of constantly improving medical care.

[email protected]: I agree, that word is doing a lot of work in that sentence. Not so long ago, children with many of those conditions would not have survived, and in many other cases they were less likely to be diagnosed.

I have mentioned this previously: my mother was the youngest of seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood. Her brother who died in a prairie fire probably would have died anyway, but the other three died of things that would probably be survivable today: a rattlesnake bite, a congenital heart defect, and an automobile accident (cars didn’t have seat belts in those days). This was not in some third world hellhole but in the United States (South Dakota, to be exact).

The rest of his rant doesn’t get much better. He goes straight for the toxins gambit, ignoring that much of that stuff entered our bodies and bloodstreams before (news flash: infectious diseases pretty much by definition involve foreign DNA entering the bloodstream–the same foreign DNA, in the case of vaccine-preventable diseases, that is injected by the vaccine.

His last paragraph is basically the pharma shill gambit. Yes, research costs money, and the funding has to come from somewhere. That’s why scientists are expected to disclose their funding sources in the acknowledgements of published papers (this is not limited to biomedical research: I am in physics, and I am expected to identify the grant or grants that paid for the research I publish). More importantly, any co-author with a financial interest in the outcome of the research (read: substantial ownership in or salary directly paid by a company intending to market the product, or an immediate family member with such financial interests) is expected to disclose the fact, and failure to do so can result in editorial retraction (this was one of the rules Andrew Wakefield violated in his 1998 Lancet paper).

I somehow submitted #29 before I was done.
So many fewer deaths in infancy to age 5 because other disorders and diseases have been reduce or eliminated altogether, So much greater understanding of learning disabilities in kids who would have been marginalized in earlier days.
If you think you’re seeing more of some of those things you may be right. Or you might not have been aware of them in the past.

I ain’t no mathematician, but I do know that 2 to the 50th power is one hell of a lot of doublings.

2^50 is about 1.1 quadrillion. Which sounds like a lot, but you have to remember that you need a lot more than one cell per vaccine dose, and of necessity some of the cells are used long before they have had the chance for 50 doublings, or die off for other reasons. So it may take a few decades to use up a cell line, but unless it’s something like the HeLa line, it eventually will be used up. I’m not sure whether the number of doses you can get will be closer to a billion or a trillion (it probably depends on the protocol), but I expect it to be somewhere in that range.

And since the ADA was passed, many children who would have otherwise been institutionalized, homeschooled or sent to special schools for the developmentally disabled are instead mainstreamed as part of the implementation of the law.

Speak to my grandparents, they could identify a number of “odd” kids when they were growing up who, today, would be considered on the spectrum.

Those kids never went to “normal” schools…hence, why they didn’t have the visibility that they do today.

Tedious twit really is tedious. Has he offered so much as a picoidea that we haven’t heard multiple times before?
donated blood – WBCs – foreign DNA!
grafts, transplants, porcine valves, bovine bits and pieces, usw

“So many more children having access to medical care. So many who in earlier years would have died in infancy. So many more parents surviving to reproductive age because of constantly improving medical care.”

I don’t know how “old” you are, Old Rockin’ Dave, but that was not the case 40 years ago. Children were not dying off and they were not “undiagnosed.” I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. There was one child throughout grades K-12 who got cancer, one who had asthma, and a handful with learning disabilities or behavior problems.

But I knew someone would claim what you did–they always do. Anyone with integrity who was around 40 years ago will say the same thing I did, because it’s very obvious. 🙂

Asthma…–all much more common, almost accepted as “normal” now.”

Asthma incidence and mortality haven’t changed much in the last 50 years.

vinu, I wonder why you bother to come here. Your posts have a feature in common with OCD (I am not diagnosing you with it). You started with a premise about vaccines; perhaps it was vaccine-caused autism. When that was shot down you went to, I don’t know, the dreaded toxins. You recently went through anaphylaxis, asthma, and I vaguely recall a few others. Every time you run into a brick wall, you say “Yes, but what about…”. You just load up the antivax shotgun and blast away with whatever comes to mind, even if your source absolutely contradicts your claim for it, even when your ability to understand what you’re talking about is absent.
Give up. You are so determined to find something bad about vaccines that you will clutch at any straw. All you’re really accomplishing here is beclowning yourself.

NWO, I predate 40 years by a good bit. I knew more that one classmate with asthma, cancer, polio (yes I was diagnosed with possible polio but I was lucky) and many other issues.

Your BS that diseases like MMR, Chickenpox were no big deal is like being an ostrich with his head in the sand in all his glory. Real studies show that until the vaccines were developed these were devastating diseases.

Currently, India has started a vaccination program to vaccinate 410 million 6 month to 15 year olds over the next 2 years with measles/rubella vaccine. Approximately 59,000 Indian children die every year from measles.

While in some parts of India sanitation is below what one would have expected in the 1900-1950s USA but for the most part it is equal to then or actual up to our standards now.

Once the effects of this vaccination program become apparent, the decreased death rate will be from the vaccinations not sanitation.

Oh, by the way I am a professional Environmental Health Officer.

Sounds like we grew up on different planets. Afraid of chickenpox? That made me chuckle. 😀

I’ll take a wild guess and say you think the explosion of Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis in India is entirely unrelated to the alleged “eradication” of polio with the vaccine.

There’s all kinds of manipulation of statistics in the cancer industry, especially with the 5-year survival rates. The search for “cures” will continue forever, while the search for “causes” and their elimination will never happen. The cancer industry is big business.

If you’re a true believer in the medical cartel, that’s fine, as long as you don’t impose your choices on others, or wittingly or unwittingly participate in medical deception.

@NWO Reporter #35

You weren’t paying attention, then. My guess is we’re close to the same age given I was in public schools 40 years ago. There were several kids I knew who had asthma, including my own brother (he outgrew it).

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but I wasn’t diagnosed as a child. I was, however, evaluated for developmental issues and learning disabilities a couple of years before AS was reported in the recent literature . . . and my file is filled with all the AS red flags. The people who evaluated me knew I had a problem. They didn’t know what to call it, so I didn’t get the label until years later when I got evaluated again.

I have no doubt a lot of people my age have similar stories.

We were those odd kids who never quite fit in, who sucked at sports, because our issues were mild enough not to attract enough notice from practitioners of the time who simply didn’t know to look for it, what to look for, or what to do if they found it.

I just don’t see how anyone who was around 40 years ago could honestly contend that children are just as healthy or healthier today. That they were dying off or seriously ill back then, just “undiagnosed.” I’m sure you could find some cases like that, but widespread? No way.

It doesn’t surprise me to hear it on this blog…but I’ve talked to many, many other people, teachers, etc. out there in the real world, and they are saying the same thing I am. Thank goodness…I’m not living in some kind of alternate reality. 😀


This is why I come here. I didn’t know this was a word, and, well, I feel sorry for y’all, because I plan to use it.

Anyone with integrity who was around 40 years ago will say the same thing I did, because it’s very obvious.

I was in school 40 years ago. I was aware that some of my classmates had asthma. I was aware that some of my classmates had allergies, and at least one had to carry an epi pen (or the equivalent at the time) because he was allergic to bee stings. Today there is much more awareness of these things, but I am not aware of evidence (note that the plural of anecdote is not data) that these things are significantly more prevalent today, or that any increase in prevalence is not explainable by increased diagnosis.

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders has increased significantly since then, and the law requiring such children to be mainstreamed if possible was not in effect back then. There has also been increased diagnosis of learning disabilities. In the latter case, it should not surprise you that some of that is due to parents gaming the system in order to get more resources devoted to their special snowflakes.

There have been significant advances in cancer treatment during the last forty years. Many kids who survive cancer today would have died of it forty years ago.

Most of the vaccines that kids today get were given to me back in the day. A couple of exceptions: varicella (chicken pox) and hepatitis vaccines were not available when I was a kid. But I was vaccinated against smallpox; that one has since been dropped from the schedule because smallpox has been eradicated in the wild.

I’m a got a few years on you, NWO. You undermine yourself with your description of your upbringing.
“I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood” = probably there were few if any people of color, few if any poor people. You were a kid. You had no reason to keep track of these things, and are now peering through the fog of memory to recall what you had little awareness of then.
You are presumably referring to your childhood when you say that “that was not the case 40 years ago. Children were not dying off and they were not “undiagnosed.””
Forty years ago the extent of autism spectrum conditions was unknown, so yes, not diagnosed because there was no diagnosis. I know, I was one of those who were missed until well into adulthood. I was also missed as learning disabled, which wouldn’t happen today.
“a handful with learning disabilities or behavior problems.” Funny, in my nice middle class suburb, our very good school system had sufficient kids with learning disabilities that my father had a classroom full of them.There were enough that my mother had a room full of learning disabled kid in the 2nd grade that she taught arithmetic to. Some kids with ADD/ADHD, in fact many that I saw, were classed as problem kids of one kind or another. Having three relatives and many family friends teaching in the same district I went to school in probably made more aware than most. Also, around thirty years ago I was a physician assistant training and later working at Harlem Hospital and working at Rikers Island, the main jail for New York City. I also have asthma. I can confirm that pocket inhalers were few and far between and not then very effective. I can also confirm that at least in central Harlem, there was one f**k of a lot of asthma and statistics show that there was and is a very large number of cases especially in poor African-American neighborhoods. Back then ERs had asthma rooms. I worked it sometimes.
I have close up and personal knowledge that you are wrong.

So…are you acknowledging that middle-class children were, in fact, much healthier then, as I remember? That it was only poor children who were dying off and “undiagnosed?”

Eric Lund: As I said, not a mathematician, don’t even play one on TV. I think it’s a safe assumption that new cell lines are under development now, and that within a few decades some other technology will make the use of natural cell lines obsolete.

I had 2 uncles die in their teens of status asthmaticus. This was in the 1940’s. They must have travelled in time to get their immune systems overwhelmed by all the current vaccines.
Nowadays, they would probably survive with asthma under control with modern treatments, but considered “casualties” by the antivax contingent.

The main reason we see problems in kids today can be directly correlated to the rise in obesity (which is also a primary cause of juvenile diabetes).

So, in one aspect you are correct – kids are fatter today than they were in the past.

NWO, I am saying no such thing. I am saying you have no grounds to generalize and your awareness of the bigger picture was probably limited then and is further confounded by the rosy glow of childhood recollection.
As I said, I know first had about the misdiagnosis and nondiagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and related problems. My folks took me to a string of Fraudian (spelling intentional) analysts, and I kept hearing in one form or another that I was rebelling against my parents and my poor school performance was because they were teachers, or I just had to apply myself, and I had to ignore the bullying and mocking that I was ill-equipped to handle. As for guidance counselors, they were a waste of carbon altogether. I knew all the kids who were like me, who got none of the help we needed, help that is available today, for conditions that went unrecognized then.
And yes, middle class children were on the whole much better off than their poorer counterparts, especially if those counterparts were not particularly white, and often even when they were, and that’s still the case today.
I am older than you, and I have had a fair bit of “clogs-on-the-ground” health care experience with the poor and the medically indigent and I know how kids were lumped together as learning disabled or even just plain bad kids.
I am confident that the statistics will bear me out.

Check out any engineering or IT department in the Fortune 500 & you’ll find plenty of older adults who fall on the spectrum…..

So…they are navigating successfully through life, working at a Fortune 500 company, but somehow they would have been better off if they had been “diagnosed” with a “disorder” as a child. That’s a huge leap of faith. I can’t say that I share it.

I’ve a fairly extensive family tree, started by my parents, that extends from my sister’s grandchildren, back thru the Civil War, and all the way back to the founding of this great country.

I have a population of 1,414 to draw from. It is not a good ‘core sample’, as it does tend to more heavily represent more modern times, say 1950 onwards, than prior to 1850. I have DOB for 1075, and 533 born prior to 1895, and 542 born 1895 and later.

I have DOB and DOD for 535 of them.

Of that 535, 29 died at an age < 5 years old. 10 were born and died in the 20th century.


Tell me again how kids today are sicker and dying off more often, you beclowned SOB. (Hey, I warned y'all.)

And this is an anecdote, so you have to believe it.

I have no idea what you are talking about….it is anti-vaxers who claim that adults with autism don’t exist.

Point of fact, again, you can find plenty of adults (and senior citizens) who would be considered autistic using the current DSM definitions.

There is also the unfortunate reality as well, that people with autism don’t have the same kind of life expectancy of the average person, which means they tend to die sooner, which also limits the total number of very old people with autism.

Sarah A: Yay, TLRs! Sadly NWO doesn’t seem to know anything about TLRs, which is too bad because they are so interesting!
I’m starting to wonder if NWO even knows the difference between a T cell and a B cell.

NWO: “So…they are navigating successfully through life, working at a Fortune 500 company, but somehow they would have been better off if they had been “diagnosed” with a “disorder” as a child. That’s a huge leap of faith. I can’t say that I share it.”
No. 1: Yes, there are people with autism spectrum conditions working in well-paid responsible jobs. There are far too many more who are working at jobs well below their intellectual capacity, and even more not able to work at all.
No. 2: Your use of “scare quotes around diagnosis and disorder is viciously insulting and idiotic. I resent it on both grounds. Autistic conditions are real, and are real diagnoses. Or who knows, maybe you know more about it than people who live with it and the professionals who have diagnosed us. There is a “diagnosis” for what is wrong with you, but, sadly, so far there is no cure. I suggest a proctology consult to determine just what kind of a sick asshole your are.
No. 3: Yes, every one of us not diagnosed until adulthood would be better off today if diagnosed early in life, better off emotionally, materially, socially, and likely physically as well.
Don’t preach your idiocy to me, schmuck. They talk about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. If you tried it you would be crying for your mommy in the first ten minutes.

I’d just like to point out that NWO Reporter isn’t just misrepresenting the past by generalizing from his own rosy and limited recollections. He’s also misrepresenting the present, and we should not overlook this, as it’s a major thread in the advertising of alternative medicine providers. They want everyone to believe that modern living is horrible and we’re all terribly sick and desperately need their help, but it’s not really true. NWO Reporter said, at 43, “I just don’t see how anyone who was around 40 years ago could honestly contend that children are just as healthy or healthier today. That they were dying off or seriously ill back then.”

He thinks kids today are much sicker than they actually are. He isn’t just wrong on one end of his comparison, but on both. Bear that in mind. It is a common problem of perspective; our childhood always looks better than the present, especially as we get into middle age. It’s a phenomenon scholars have reported all the way back to the Ancient Greeks, who also complained that things in their time just weren’t want they were when they were kids. Yet objectively, human existence has only become easier and more prosperous and more productive over the centuries (overall, anyway) so this tendency to look poorly on today and favorably on the past seems to be a natural human tendency.

NWO @41: “Afraid of chickenpox? That made me chuckle”

I doubt you’ll still be chuckling when that chicken pox virus crawls back out of your neurons someday. Maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll never happen. Maybe you’ll have average luck and it will give you a horrible painful rash. Or maybe you’ll have terrible luck and it will destroy your cornea.

Callie Arcade @62: NWO also seems to have missed the massive improvement of survival of childhood blood cancers. (From a 5 year survival rate of 33% in 1971 to 79% in 2000.)

“Childhood leukaemia: long-term excess mortality and the proportion ‘cured’. ” PMID: 18594545


I’m starting to think that NWO is a mouthpiece for some group. In fact watching the writing style, it maybe more than one person using this Nym.

I’ve decide he/she/it is no longer worthy of replies.


Wow–your powers of discernment are incredible! You’re partially right. I’m actually a time traveler from 28 years in the future. The technology for time travel on the internet is now a reality. I’m part of a small but committed group of radicals struggling to preserve the last remaining traces of independent thought. Our only hope was to travel back in time–too many people are too far gone by the year 2045.

JustaTech, I remember some 55 years ago when I had the chickenpox and how miserable I was. I got the shingles vaccine as soon as I could. If shingles is worse than chickenpox, I’m not going there.

Having suffered through a bout of Shingles late last year, I can say that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone….

@ NWO Reporter:

You should be afraid of chickenpox if you’re an unvaccinated adult who never had it as a child. I’ve cared for two such adults who got it . . . and got sepsis. Not fun.

I didn’t say anything about death rates 40 years ago. You said very few children 40 years ago had cancer, diabetes, allergies, asthma or developmental problems. I’m tell you they did, regardless of whether or not they died.

Not everyone with asthma or diabetes dies, you know and kids with developmental problems certainly do. Leukemia is the most common cancer of children and it certainly is lethal. But pretty much everything you mention in #25 was around 40 years ago. You think it was “so obvious” these kids weren’t around. I disagree because I knew plenty of kids when I was growing up who had these conditions. They weren’t hidden, and they weren’t in special ed.

If you seriously want me to believe kids with these conditions didn’t exist in some kind of numbers 40 years ago, provide me with data that says so (since you made the original claim).

Rich @67: Not everyone gets it to the same extent. My friend’s mom had a really painful rash. My FIL got it as a teenager in his eye, had to be restrained so he didn’t claw the eye out, and lost most of the sight in that eye.
Oh, and he still gets outbreaks. I’m constantly hassling him to get the vaccine (and my MIL too) but FIL’s doctor is an idiot, so I’m still not sure he’s gotten it.

Aren’t herpes viruses amazing? (/s)

Travis, there’s a big difference between being told you have a problem and being told you’re worthless.

Kids who have a problem KNOW they have a problem. They already know it. They know they’re not the same as the other kids. They want to know why. With the support of understanding and kind adults, especially their parents, they see this knowledge as empowering to find solutions and adaptations that lead to success.

But if the adults around them view those kids as unworthy and weak, the kids will take their tone from the adults and it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

That doesn’t have to happen. Kids are much more resilient than you give them credit for.

Returning to today’s topic, a question for those who know about regulations (FDA and corresponding agencies elsewhere):

Presumably there would be comparatively little difficulty, ignoring political issues, in starting a new cell line like WI-38 either as backup against catastrophe or from concerns about eventual limitations of availability due to the replication limit. Would use of a new cell line require that each vaccine produced using it go through a “complete” requalification?

doug @71: That’s a good question. Since you wouldn’t be creating totally new vaccines, you’d just be making comparable vaccines you might only have to do a comparability trial rather than a full RCT.
But that would depend a lot on the strength of your pre-clinical (lab-based) data.
Or the FDA could say that vaccines are too important to approve a new manufacturing method without a full clinical trial. The FDA is subject to pressures beyond science, so it might want to be more cautious.
Or if there are major changes to the agency’s goals and mandate they might not require much at all beyond lab and animal studies. (If the Yelp guy becomes head, for example.)

And if you want to make a *better* vaccine then all bets are off and you’d have to do full Phase I, II and III trials.

Old Rockin’ Dave @ 48:

Back when everybody lived in filth and raw sewage (according to NWO) and I started 3rd grade in 1959, they moved several portables on the school property to handle the “Special” classes–the term “Mentally Retarded” was already so radioactive as to be unusable then.

This was in a small suburban Elementary School–enough students to fill up three or four portables. They were there, all right.

OK, the first try on that was the third comment I’ve had disappear completely, not even a moderation notice. I used my obsolete email address this time and it went through–fair warning: that service no longer exists.

Has my name been taken in vain and trashcanned?

TVRBoK: I don’t remember you specifically having been zombie-socked, but there have been so many and they get taken down pretty quickly so it’s possible.

It’s getting tedious. I hope the puppeteer gets a new hobby.

NWO @41: When you say things like this:
“I’ll take a wild guess and say you think the explosion of Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis in India is entirely unrelated to the alleged “eradication” of polio with the vaccine.”
are you intending to sound racist and Eurocentric, or is just that you can’t conceive that India has thousands of scientists and doctors who are perfectly capable of diagnosing polio?

Are you intending to cast aspersions on every doctor, medical researcher, and public health worker in India? Or are you completely unaware of the contributions of Indian doctors, scientists and public health professionals to the world?

Not all of them–since some have been raising the alarm about it. My aspersions are limited to the doctors, medical researchers, and public health workers who are silent about it–whether Indian or otherwise.

@ Orac:

De nada. Just remember, if you need to email me to yell at me or something, the blocked address is the correct one.

I wonder how the idiot gets people’s email addresses, if they’re not just , for example?

Yet another reason why I am glad I have a ridiculously common name. If I forget a wee bit of something on one email address it ends up in the inbox of someone in the UK.

You were impersonated. Your old e-mail was therefore blocked. I had no choice.

*koff*IP blocking*koff*

Bloody hell. How ignorant do you think I am?

Let me spell it out for you. I. HAVE. BEEN. DOING. THAT. From the very beginning. From his first appearance back in October or November. However, Travis is using a different IP address almost every time. I’ve already collected several dozens of IP addresses that I’ve added to filters based on catching Travis socks. Occasionally he’ll screw up and use the same one twice, in which case one of my filters catches him up. (Indeed, as the number of IP addresses I’ve collected has grown much larger, this is happening more and more often, thankfully.) He keeps coming though, and he seems to have a near-inexhaustible supply of IP addresses. So, sooner or later, he always manages to succeed. I’ve been getting much better at recognizing him and much better at shutting his socks down fast, but it’s a hell of a lot of work that I don’t need, and he knows it.

Do you understand now? IP blocking would not have stopped the impersonation. In WordPress, the only way to do that is to block based on e-mail.

Having suffered through a bout of Shingles late last year, I can say that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone….

You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. I’ve had shingles twice and I have an entire list of people I’d love to see come down with them.

Speaking of unintended consequences, I’m not convinced they are unintended. The link between natural infection with measles in childhood and a lower risk of certain cancers later in life is well established. Yet parents are not given this information, which is certainly important for weighing the risks of vaccination against the potential benefits. Here’s a list of some of the studies.

The incidence of shingles has risen dramatically since the chickenpox vaccine was introduced. The theory is that exposure of adults to children with chickenpox may provide a natural “booster” to help prevent shingles. The chickenpox vaccine is a failure compared to natural immunity.

Yes, the law of unintended consequences ….
Who’s looking at the big picture? … no one …

Interaction of allergy history and antibodies to specific
varicella-zoster virus proteins on glioma risk

“In a comprehensive analysis of
familial and personal medical histories in adults with glioma,
we previously showed that history of chickenpox and=or
shingles was inversely correlated with case status.36”

The potential role of subclinical Bordetella Pertussis colonization in the etiology of multiple sclerosis

NWO Reporter,

“I wonder why children seem so much less healthy now than they did 40 years ago? So many on prescription drugs, inhalers, carrying epi pens. Asthma, severe allergies, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, neurological disorders, learning disabilities–all much more common, almost accepted as “normal” now.”

This may be of interest:

Dorit #8,
“There are several large studies that asks whether vaccines cause asthma and found no link.”

Those studies are a joke. It is a fundamental immunological fact that injection of antigens causes asthma. Taught to every medical student in medical school.

Medical Immunology notes from the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.

pg. 157:

“A guinea pig can be sensitized by intramuscular injection of an antigen, say OVA

(ovalbumin). Its immune system responds by producing antibody to OVA, including (but not

exclusively) IgE. Some of this circulating IgE will be fixed onto mast cells in various tissues,

including the vasculature and respiratory tract. Three weeks later, the same animal can be

challenged either with an intravenous dose of OVA or by exposure to an aerosol containing

OVA. Following IV injection, the animal will rapidly develop severe vascular shock and die

within a few minutes (the combination of venule constriction and capillary dilation results in

pooling of blood in the peripheral circulation and a drastic drop in blood pressure). If

exposed to the aerosol, it will equally rapidly die from bronchial constriction, an

experimental model for human asthma.”

The guinea pig is considered the “experimental model for human asthma” because it is REPRESENTATIVE of human body behavior.

Doctors today inject numerous food protein contaminated vaccines into babies. When they predictably develop food allergies and asthma, the doctors INEXPLICABLY claim, they DON’T KNOW what caused these diseases! And inexplicably, DO NOT report this to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

“”Our immunity naturally wanes over time, and once it wanes enough, that’s when the virus can reactivate,” said Hales. “So, if we’re never exposed to children with chickenpox, would we lose that normal immunity boost?”

“To answer this question, Hales and his colleagues reviewed Medicare claims data from 1992 to 2010 that included about 2.8 million people over the age of 65.”

“They found that annual rates of shingles increased 39 percent over the 18-year study period. However, they didn’t find a statistically significant change in the rate after the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine. They also found that the rate of shingles didn’t vary from state to state where there were different rates of chickenpox vaccine coverage.”

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