…lost shipments of bubonic plague…

Who needs bio-terrorists with immunology researchers like we have?

But many epidemiologists and public health experts say poor handling inside laboratories, rather than bioterror, is the real threat. More than 100 accidents in high-security labs took place between 2003 and 2009, involving everything from flu-infected ferret bites to dropped vials of encephalitis, slips with Ebola needles and lost shipments of bubonic plague. The 1977 “Russian flu” epidemic may have involved a lab escape. Less accidentally, anthrax used in the 2001 attacks almost certainly originated in U.S. military laboratories.’

Of course, there have been a lot of questions about the origins of some recent epidemics:  say, from Mexican neighbourhoods right next to immunology research facilities….

In the mainstream media, we have – of course – not heard enough to put the pieces together, and only those epidemics for which there were already developed vaccines got any press at all, even though some much more virulent and deadly epidemics occurred.  (Example:  4 strains of hemorrhagic fever epidemic occurred almost simultaneously at one such Mexican neighbourhood a few years ago…thousands got sick, hundreds died – but most press has not deemed this news-worthy.)

From when, in my student days, I had an opportunity to peek into immunology labs, I have been a strong critic of their lack of rigorous adherence to proper scientific procedures and their flawed governance.  But, if I start ranting on that topic, I will be typing for days and never post this…

Let me just say that it was sufficient to make me highly skeptical of the scientific validity of any claims to come out of specifically ‘medical’ laboratories.  Most people working there have such an inflated sense of purpose that they don’t think that regular rules of proper science apply to anyone of such exulted status as theirs.

On a related note…

Have you ever read a novel where some rogue group develops a deadly virus in a dastardly plot to kill everyone but the chosen few, whom they protect with a vaccine?

No immunologist would go for this!

Why?

Because vaccines just aren’t that effective.

The best estimates are that the efficacy rate (how they actually protect people in the real-world) of vaccinations is less than half their effectiveness as measured under laboratory conditions.  In Canada, vaccines with as low efficacy rates as 17% have been approved. (Yes, I cannot support these numbers, but know this directly from an immunologist who resigned in disgust over the approval…and who is still active in the field, so it is imperative that I protect this source.)

That means that less out of 10 people vaccinated, between 2  and 5 will actually derive any protection as a result of having been vaccinated.  (Since the efficacy rate is about half the rate in labs, so even the best vaccine will not give any protection to half the people who receive it.)

Remember, the purpose of vaccination is sufficient ‘herd immunity‘ to slow down transmission, not individual protection!

While even many run-of-the-mill MD’s are unaware of these statistics, most immunologists are.  So, the novels with the ‘vaccinate ‘our people’ and release a deadly virus’ would not be carried out by any immunologist, because they understand the limitations of vaccination.

Which, really, is something we should all be educated about.

After all, if we think we are protected from a disease, we will not take the same precautions against catching it as if we were aware that we may – or may not – be protected…a very important distinction with real-life consequences.

Don’t get me wrong:  I am convinced that vaccines are a very powerful tool.  I just think that any tool, if used improperly, has a potential to do more harm than good.  Vaccines are no different!

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