Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gardasil Kills 1 out of 912. True or False?

GARDASIL® is a vaccine manufactured by MERCK which is used to prevent certain strains of HPV (human paploma virus), a virus which has infected 79 million Americans, with 14 million new cases per year, and is a major cause of cervical cancer (70%), as well as several other cancers. Gardasil was approved in the U.S. in 2008 and has been approved for use in 120 other countries.

As with all vaccines, there seems to be an ever increasing fear of them and people love to spread dramatic and scary memes across the interworlds to "prove" the evils of the anti-vax flavor of the month. The fight against Gardasil began immediately, but I'd like to take the time to address a specific claim.

The "Common Sense Show" and "Liberty Beacon" websites have "fact" laden articles about the dangers of Gardasil and attack the evil pharmaceutical industry for making money off the corpses of your slaughtered daughters. Most of the outrage seems to stem from page 8 of the Gardasil product information pamphlet. And their conclusion is that the vaccine kills 1 out of every 912 patients.

So, let's look at page 8.

The results of clinical trials reported looked at 29,323 patients. Of those, 15,706 were actually given the vaccine, 13,023 were given a control, and 594 were given a saline (salt water) placebo. The control was amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate (AAHS), which is a commonly given drug to enhance immune activity.

Of the 258 "adverse effects" listed, 128 (0.8%) were from those given the vaccine and 130 (1%) came from those given the control. Now, the definition of "adverse effects" is anything from a simple rash or headache, all the way up to infection and death. During clinical trials the entire health of the patients are looked at and they do not make the distinction between specifically proven connection and non-proven, because these particular studies aren't for that determination. They only allow you to see if there is a statistical likelihood of connection.

The most common adverse effect for those given the vaccine was appendicitis, with 5 cases or 0.03% of the total trial population.

For the deaths, there were 40 reported. Out of 15,706 people given the actual vaccine, 21 died or 0.1%. However, 38% of those deaths were NOT caused by the vaccine. As I said, they must report all injuries & deaths during these studies including: 5 from car crashes, 2 from suicide, and 1 from somebody getting shot. So really, the death rate that conceivably could be related to Gardasil (but not proven to be) was 0.08% - or 1 out of every 1,208.  For context, the overall death rate for the United States is 8 per 1,000! Cancer death rates tend to be far higher.

Plus, of the remaining 13 non-accident/self-inflicted deaths, five were from other types of cancers, 1 occurred after a surgery, and 1 died from some kind of chemical poisoning.


I cannot stress this enough, based on this report alone you can't make a determination that the vaccine caused the deaths. Which, makes the 1 in 912 figure completely out of context and false for the purposes of the claim that Gardasil caused these deaths. I'm also not sure where the 1 in 912 figure comes from: as noted, the death rate for those given the vaccine (21 out of 15,706) is 1 out of 1,208, and the death rate for the whole trial (40 out of 29,323) equals 1 in 1,396.

As I discussed in my flu vaccine entry, there is no such thing as a perfectly safe drug, be it man-made or naturally growing herbs. By definition, a drug/medication is any substance which alters the internal chemistry of the body to elicit a healthy outcome. There is no way to ensure a healthy outcome. It all boils down to risk vs. benefit. Each year, 225,000 women die from cervical cancer and a further 470,000 will develop the disease. Even in the United States, the fiver-year survivability rate is 68%, meaning you still have a 32% chance of dying.

You tell me which is the greater risk?

Regardless, I'm not here to debate anything other than the specific claim that Gardasil kills 1 out of every 912 people. The judgement is a resounding FALSE.  

Jacob Bogle, 6/21/14