Alright folks, I'm back with another step in my deep dive into one of the most hotly debated, least clear topics in the public discussion right now: vaccines.
The purpose of this series is to start with very little knowledge on the topic of vaccines (where I was when I started), and go all the way down the rabbit hole. I realized that this is something I need to be much more informed about, and as I go it just makes sense to document and share what I find.
The first episode of Down the Vaccine Rabbit Hole took a look at nothing besides the US government's history of non-consensually experimenting on & intentionally poisoning humans on a massive scale. The research for that article was so disturbing & dark (and I was already in a bit of a shaky place), so I had to step away for a good long time after writing it for the sake of my sanity.
This time around, we'll be looking at exactly who "the government" is when it comes to vaccines: The CDC, the FDA, the HHS... Their history, their revolving door with big pharma, conflicts of interest, and various other things that seem relevant.
What government agencies are involved in vaccines?
This is quite an interesting question to tackle, because depending on where one looks, there are no less than a dozen separate federal agencies involved in the testing, prescribing, distribution, and marketing of vaccines.
Here is at least a partial list of those agencies, with links to each. Many of these were pulled from this NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center) page, which includes short descriptions of the agencies that they included in their list (about 60% of the ones I found all together).
- Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV)
- Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
- FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER)
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- Department of Defense
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
- National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC)
- National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
- National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO)
- Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
- Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)
Obviously this is WAY too many organizations to explore in this post, and many of them effectively serve the same purpose. For now, I'd like to take a brief look at two related pieces of this bureaucracy: the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program & the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) was passed. The act created a no-fault system, which effectively removed all liability from vaccine manufacturers, created a pool of funding to pay those who are injured, and pits those victims making claims up against the Department of Justice when they wish to seek damages. That's right, these citizens are actually forced to pay (through taxes) for the lawyers fighting against them.
Not only does this system keep the pharmaceutical companies from being found at fault no matter the number or severity of injuries, it is also not very well known by doctors or patients. This 1997 study of 226 doctors found that "Fewer than 50% were aware of a monitoring system for VAAE, and only 39% had had VAAE-related education during medical training. Only 28% knew the reporting criteria."
Here is a look at the injuries rewarded by the NVIC program, meaning the cases in which they found that the vaccine reaction was the/a cause of the injury:
The document I pulled this image from is many pages long, and goes into the total numbers, included those where the vaccine was found to be the cause but no award was given, those that were inconclusive, and those that the "court" ruled that there was not a link.
If you think these numbers are big, consider the fact that according to this study "fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported" and even the NVIC itself states that "Underreporting of vaccine reactions in the U.S. is a widely acknowledged weakness of VAERS."
Who makes the vaccines?
Through the next few sections, I'm going to be taking a look at a lot of the ways in which the lines between the government agencies tasked with regulating, investigating, and ensuring the safety of vaccines (and various other pharmaceuticals), and the corporations they are supposed to be keeping in check, have blurred.
Rather than explain what each corporation is known for, or what their main products are each time they appear, I'm just going to list out the major vaccine manufacturers here (on the CDC's site you can see list of all the vaccines they recommend including manufacturers):
- GlaxoSmithKline: see the whole list
- Merck: see the whole list
- Sanofi: see the whole list
- Pfizer: see the whole list
- Emergent BioSolutions (formerly BioPort): see the whole list
- CSL: current List & "in the pipeline" list
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals: product pipeline
- Bavarian Nordic: product pipeline
- Mitsubishi Tanabe: vaccine business strategy
When I began creating this list, I hoped it would end up with a list of all the vaccines created by each company, and the first few seemed more than happy to provide that information, but as I got farther down the list the websites and available information got more and more vague, so I've shared what I could find.
The Revolving Door
In this section, I'll be highlighting some of the most highly-ranked or controversial folks to take advantage of the US government's "revolving door". If you're unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the extremely common practice of government employees bouncing back and forth between jobs with private corporations and with the government agencies tasked with "regulating them. This can be seen in every industry, with folks shifting between Wall Street and the SEC, Halliburton & Boeing and the Department of Defense, and of course between pharmaceutical companies and the CDC, FDA, and HHS.
Dr. Vinay Prasad and Dr. Jeffrey Bien tracked 55 FDA reviewers in the hematology-oncology field from 2001 through 2010, using LinkedIn, PubMed and other publicly available job data. They found that of the 26 reviewers who left the FDA during this period, 15 of them, or 57 percent, later worked or consulted for the biopharmaceutical industry. They published this research letter
Here are just a small handful of those who have passed through the revolving door between the US government and the pharmaceutical companies who make BILLIONS in profit from their vaccines.
- Julie Gerberding is the president of Merck Vaccines, a position she has held since December of 2009. From March 2002 until January 2009, she was the director (top official) of the CDC. When the Obama Administration began, she was let go, and upon starting at Merck sold off $2 million worth of stock almost immediately.
In February of 2004, Gerberding received Dr. William Thompson's second confession letter, wherein he asked her to make some statement regarding the link the public statements regarding the link between autism & thimerosal and the CDC coverup of such before he gave a presentation on it to the Institute of Medicine (she didn't).
In an interview with Sanjay Gupta she said this: "Now, we all know that vaccines can occasionally cause fevers in kids. So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines, and if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism." Further Reading: Truthwiki, Wikipedia, ScienceBlogs
- Alex Azar was confirmed on January 24, 2018 as the US Secretary of Health & Human Services. From August 2001 until January 2007 he was the General Counsel of the Department of Health & Human Services, putting his as second-in-command to the former secretary. The interesting part comes right in between those two... From June 2007 until January 2017, he went to work for Eli Lilly & Company, holding the positions of "Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications" (top lobbyist & spokesman), Vice President of U.S. Managed Healthcare Services (during which time the company settled almost $1.5 Billion in criminal charges having to do with its promotion of Zyprexa from 1999-2005), and finally President of Lilly USA, running the entirety of the conglomerate's US operations. During that time he also served as a board-member for Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobbying company. Further Reading: Slate, Bloomberg, USA Today, CNN
- Michael Friedman was the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Operations from 1995-1999, and was the Acting Commissioner from 1997-1998. From there, he went on to be Vice President of Searle (a Monsanto subsidiary) from July 1999 to September 2001. From September 2001 until April of 2003 he held the position of Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Medical and Public Policy for Pharmacia. Prior to all this, from the 70s forward (I've had trouble finding exact dates) he was part of the Public Health Service in various roles, including Assistant Surgeon General. Further reading: PhRMA, Oncology Times, MannKind Corporation
- Wellington Sun is the most recent government official in the vaccine world to make the switch over to the private sector. From 2006 to 2008, he led a CDC field research lab in Puerto Rico, from August 2008 to August 2018 he was Director, Division of Vaccines and Related Product Applications/Office of Vaccines/CBER/FDA... which is a really wordy way of saying that he managed "review process spanning pre-clinical through phase 4 development of vaccines and related biologics". Just one month after leaving the FDA, he joined Moderna Therapeutics as the Head of Vaccine Strategy & Regulatory Affairs. Further Reading: Moderna, LinkedIn, The Vaccine Reaction
- Thomas Verstraeten was on the CDC's EIS (Epidemic Intelligence Service) from July 1999 until June 2001, then went on to work at GlaxoSmithKline from 2003 until 2011 as their Head of epidemiology, Head of Pharmacovigilance, and finally VP, Head of Health Outcomes. Thomas is best known for being lead author on a CDC study that claimed to find no relationship between thimerasol/mercury-containing vaccines and autism. Hisis own previous studies found direct links between mercury & autism, but he was pushed to manipulate the information to get rid of that link, as can be seen in an email he sent titled "It just won't go away". Further Reading: LinkedIn, Russell Blaylock, MD, Senate Report on Misconduct
- Brenda Fitzgerald was the director of the CDC for all of 6 months, starting in June of 2017. She resigned in January 2018 after Politico reported that she held thousands of dollars of stock in Merck, Bayer, Humana, and Japan Tobacco, all corporations that she (in theory) was responsible for regulating. She resigned shortly after the article was published. At the moment, she doesn't technically qualify as part of the revolving door, but I felt that this kind of activity certainly shows the tendencies involved, and let's just wait & see who her next employer is. Further Reading: NPR, Wikipedia, New York Times
These are just a few big names, here's a list of a few others who have used the revolving door, if you wish to investigate further
- Dr. Eddy Bresnitz (New Jersey State Epidemiologist -> Merck)
- Paul Offit (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices -> Merck)
- Elias Zerhouni (Director of the NIH -> Sanofi-Aventis’ research labs)
- Thomas Laughren (FDA -> His own consulting firm, helping pharma companies deal with the FDA)
If you expand your search to those who worked in government outside of the pharmaceutical side of government, before heading into the pharmaceutical sector, you'll find HUNDREDS.
Down to the foundation: what is government?
So, this article has focused on the ways in which the US government exists to serve, and is in many ways run by, corporations. (specifically pharmaceuticals in this example, though it certainly applies to agriculture, military industrial, etc.) Now, let's take a look at what government actually is, at its core: organized, institutionalized violence
What gives someone the right to say, “I believe people should (or should not) do this thing, therefore I believe that a group of people should use violence and the threat of violence to force others to do (or not do) this thing”? If you think the state does not use violence and the threat of violence to accomplish everything it does, just ask yourself how it responds to something as harmless as smoking cannabis (in most places), not getting the proper “permit” or “license” to do or sell something, or not paying “property taxes” on land that you already bought and now inhabit & care for.
As put by Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter:
Law professors and lawyers instinctively shy away from considering the problem of law’s violence. Every law is violent. We try not to think about this, but we should. On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.
I guess what I find most terrifying is that there are people who have this awareness, that acknowledge the inherent violence of the state... and yet still go along with it, and even argue for the "necessity" of it (kind of like this professor). I guess I just find it easier to empathize with someone who is ignorant than someone who has chosen to go along when they do have the knowledge.
This is basically what all interaction with the state looks like:
Contact you: “Hi there, we’ve decided that you owe us money for something you did (or did not do).”
Contact you again: “Hey, us again. We’re going to need that money soon, or bad things may start happening. We’d really hate if you made us do bad things.”
Contact you again: “Hi. Bad things are starting now.”
Do any number of minor bad things to you, including revoking your “driver’s license”, charging you “fines”, “garnishing your income” (read: forcing your employer to steal money from you, for the state), etc.
Contact you again: “So that was a little taste of the bad things we can do, how about you just give us our money and we can all move on with our lives in peace… because if we can’t all move on, things are going to get much worse for you.”
Do any number of major bad things to you, generally involving some combination of: sending men with guns to your house, having those men violently kidnap you and keep you in a concrete box, going through all your personal belongings (and phone records, texts, and emails), stealing your property, convicting you of a “crime” (thus limiting your ability to obtain work, housing, or financing).
I feel at this point we've covered enough of the general system & setting in which the conversation about vaccines needed to be happening. I feel like it's very important for us to all be on the same page about who's involved in these decisions about which vaccines are approved, which are recommended, and which are mandated, as well as who makes the money from them, and the consistent track record of both of those groups on showing little to no concern for the consent or well-being of those receiving their "medicine."
The next episode of this series will finally be diving into more of the science, the studies, and in this case the history of vaccines. Be sure to follow my blog to catch: Down the Vaccine Rabbit Hole, Episode 3: The Birth & Rise of Vaccines