I love this. I love this so much.
Jim Carrey and his anti-vax comrades know literally nothing about vaccines, how they are developed, and how they work. Vaccines do not cause autism.
… But… what if a vaccine *did* end up having a pretty ‘bad’ side-effect (outside of something expected, high fever, allergic reaction, etc)?
How would scientists know?
Would it be covered up by Big Pharma and the League of Evil Immunologists?
Would The Truth come out when some post-doc henchman has a change of heart and runs to the internet to write a blog post Expose?
This is what happens when vaccines have an unintended negative side-effect:
There was un uptick in cases of narcolepsy in people who had gotten an influenza vaccine. Not any/every influenza vaccine, but a specific formulation, intended to battle H1N1 influenza (aka swine flu).
If you were vaccinated with a specific flu vaccine, Pandemrix, and if you have a specific genetic allele, HLA-DQB1*0602, you were at risk of developing vaccine-induced autoimmunity.
Your antibodies see ‘shapes’, not specifically ‘I am going to stop influenza!’ or ‘Im gonna blow up that E. coli!’. So when the shape of a component of the vaccine, influenza nucleoprotein, ‘looks like’ the shape of a normal human protein, hypocretin receptor 2, vaccination broke tolerance (‘This is what me looks like. Dont make antibodies that look like me.’), and you get autoimmunity.
In this case, the influenza/you cross-reactive antibodies, sometimes, stuck to normal humanhypocretin receptor 2, and resulted in narcolepsy after vaccination.
Vaccine–>neurological disorder. This means vaccines COULD cause autism, a different neurological disorder, right?
Not at all.
The relationship between this vaccine, a very specific genotype, and an increased risk of narcolepsy was seen in independent groups where Pandemrix was used. Different countries. Different scientists. Same observations.
No one, anywhere, has ‘evidence’ vaccines cause autism.
The scientists in this study fully elucidated the specific vaccine component, the specific genotypes of patients, and the specific antibody responses capable of generating a ‘narcolepsy’ phenotype.
The ‘vaccines cause autism’ crowd blame random vaccine components (changing to another random component, or not changing, when their component of choice is exonerated). They ignore/deny the genetic component of autism. They have no viable hypothesis for the biochemical pathway that would lead from ‘random vaccine component’ to ‘autism’.
Furthermore, the authors of this study in no way shape or form say ‘Vaccines are bad!’, even though they have evidence in hand that a vaccine did something ‘bad’. Their conclusions are:
1) People with this genotype could have had a *worse* reaction if they were infected with the actual pathogen, rather than just the vaccine. Infection leads to prolonged exposure to more of the influenza protein, and results in more cross-reactive antibodies. Even if there were no other options, the vaccine would be a lower risk than actually getting sick.
2) There are other options. People with this genotype can can get one of the other vaccine formulations that had 73% less of the offending flu protein. Most of us got this vaccine anyway, just because of availability. But it is best if they get this alternative vaccine before they are infected with an H1N1 virus.
3) Other people need to get vaccinated to protect HLA-DQB1*0602 people from getting infected–>acquiring narcolepsy. The relationship between HLA-DQB1*0602 and narcolepsy is, as the authors say four times in this paper, ‘tight’. If you have a different genotype, and you get the vaccine, you wont get sick/will have milder symptoms, and will lessen your chances of transmitting to a HLA-DQB1*0602 person. Classic herd immunity.
4) This data explains why there were cyclical cases of narcolepsy in China when H1N1 was simmering over there, before this flu variant went pandemic. Indeed, it might even explain “the observation of the seasonal “sleepy sickness” variant of encephalitis lethargica that followed the 1918 Spanish flu”. But there is no way to test that one.
5) This is not a complete answer to Narcolepsy. You can have narcolepsy and not have antibodies to this influenza protein. And, just because you have the antibodies doesnt mean you will have narcolepsy. The authors also hypothesize that there needs to be an additional infection, something that causes inflammation and allows lots of the cross-reactive antibody to cross the blood-brain-barrier and ‘attack’ the receptor, and maybe that second event never happens in some people. But this is a potential answer for why some people developed narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine or infection with a specific kind of influenza.
And in a breath of fresh air– These authors do not close the door on this topic. This paper is not perfect, and the authors do not pretend it is. There are things they wanted to look at, but they couldnt due to the nature of the samples they had stored for this study. Those of us who work with patient samples are slaves to availability. It would be great to have samples X, Y, and Z, but if you dont have them, you dont have them. These folks say ‘Hey, if you are making a cohort, these are the samples we wish we had, and could explain so much more.’
When scientists discover that a vaccine has actually resulted in a ‘bad’ side-effect, we analyze, in extreme detail, how and why the ‘bad’ thing happened so we can understand it and avoid it, while still protecting people from the pathogen the vaccine was designed for. Even better, in this case, figuring out what happened via the vaccine helped explain what was happening ‘naturally’ (increase in narcolepsy cases after H1N1 outbreaks), and how to stop those cases (alternative vaccines, herd immunity). They admit the limitations of this paper, and flesh out ideas they would like the field to investigate.
Anti-vaxers, on the other hand, have no idea how/why any vaccine could lead to autism. They have no evidence it does. They want all vaccines taken off the market. They have no viable alternative means of protecting anyone from pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and cancers. They have no answer for why people who havent had vaccines get autism. They admit no study weaknesses or limitations– Sample size of two or questionable statistics are The Gold Standard– while dismissing more rigorous data that doesnt agree with their claims.
Scientists cant explain everything, but anti-vaxers cant explain anything.