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Hilary's Desk

An insurance policy to the Global Immunization Agenda against Rotaviruses

Hilary Butler - Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It makes logical sense that very high IgA levels of rotavirus neutralizing antibodies in breast-milk, would result in babies not developing high levels of antibodies against an oral rotavirus vaccine, right? The conclusions of a recent study was that lots of studies should look at stopping mothers breastfeeding before and after vaccination, to overcome this "negative effect”.  

Researchers funded by the American National Institute of Health, and Center for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at antibody profiles and neutralizing activities against rotavirus vaccine strains, in 202 samples of breastmilk from women in India, Vietnam, South Korea and United States. Women in India had very high levels and women in USA, lower levels, even though almost all women had IgA antibodies in their breast milk.

The higher the level of neutralising antibodies in the breastmilk, the more the interference with vaccine viruses in the lab. The researchers said, “Our data suggests that the depressed immune response to RV1 in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa, and the ~50% efficacy of the vaccine in Malawi might be explained, in part, if infants consumed breast milk with high neutralizing activity at the very time of immunization.” 

But what do the researchers mean by “lack of efficacy”?

Apart from not defining “efficacy” they don’t say amongst whom the “low efficacy” exists. In babies of mothers with low levels of neutralizing activity? In babies of mothers with high levels of neutralizing activity? Malnourished babies?  Babies who had been sick with something else as well?

At no time do they appear to have attempted to find out which children under what circumstances, are most likely to get sick, as part of understanding why this vaccine doesn’t work very well in SOME children. Extraordinary, isn’t it. 

Do they mean that babies with mothers who breastfeed and who have high levels of neutralizing antibodies actually go on to HAVE ROTAVIRUS infections? The study doesn’t tell us.

Guess what? There’s a truck load of medical articles which show that long term breastfed babies don’t get rotavirus infections, and by the time they’re weaned they have natural immunity, because of repeated infections while being breastfed. If a mother has high neutralizing activity in her breastmilk, which prevents infection during repeat exposure to the rotavirus itself, then her baby is one that doesn’t NEED the flipping vaccine in the first place!

Back to this studious nonsense.

Anyone with an ounce of logical thinking would also assume that the lack of neutralizing antibodies in the breastmilk of those mothers, wouldn't interfere with the vaccine in the first place.  Which is exactly what this study concluded. 

So... anyone with an ounce of logical thinking could assume that it’s the babies of mothers with low neutralizing activity in breastmilk, who are likely to get rotavirus infections.  So are you confused yet? 

What's the real problem with this study?

Tucked away, right at the end of this article, the researchers admit: “Finally, we did not assess other factors such as interference of multiple bacterial and viral agents and different enteropathology in the gut of children in poor developing countries that might also potentially inhibit vaccine performance.”

Well duh?!!  Touche.

In other words they turned their backs on fundamental science which would have defined the real problems. After all, they already know gut flora competition is the key factor in the “lack of efficacy” (failure to produce serum antibodies) to oral polio vaccines, in children in third world countries! So why not assume and study the same problems with the Rotavirus vaccine? 

This article proves yet again, that vaccine "science" isn’t about working out what any "real" problems are, or studying babies to address real issues, to make a real difference to the lives of  real families in developing countries. 

The proof that grant grabbing isn't about making a meaningful difference, comes in their conclusions which only offer two future options to keep researchers paid, and they are:

 

  • Do lots of clinical trials to see if "transiently delaying" breastfeeding before and after oral rotavirus vaccination improves the immune response in these countries.  

 

  • Develop an injectable vaccine to by-pass such inconveniences, to provide - in their own words....  an insurance policy to the global immunization agenda against rotaviruses.”

 

 

 

 

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