By Arjun Walia
On March 12th, 2020, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta held a global town hall on “Corona Facts and Fears.” During the discussion, Anderson encouraged the audience to get a flu shot, suggesting that it may help with the coronavirus. Is this true?
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Greg. G Wolff, an Epidemiologist with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch recently published a study in the Journal Vaccine titled, Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017–2018 influenza season. The study examined virus interference in a Department of Defense population, this refers to the increased risk of other respiratory viruses as a result of, in this case, the influenza vaccine. The study found that virus interference varied among vaccinated individuals for individual respiratory viruses, and found that for coronavirus in particular, in this study, those who had been vaccinated with the flu vaccine had a 36 percent higher risk of contracting it
The study compared the vaccination status of more than two thousand people with non-influenza respiratory viruses to more than three thousand people with pan-negative results. The vaccination status of more than three thousand cases of influenza were compared to three different control groups, and appropriate adjustments were made.
The study points out that recently published studies have “described the phenomenon of vaccine-associated virus interference; that is, vaccinated individuals may be at increased risk for other respiratory viruses because they do not receive the non-specific immunity associated with natural infection.” The study goes on to emphasize that “There has been limited evidence that the influenza vaccine may actually be associated with the virus interference process. Other studies have found no association between influenza vaccination and increased respiratory virus risk.”
Other studies have found no association between the flu vaccine and an increased risk for other respiratory viruses, but when looking specifically at coronavirus, Wolff’s study found that “Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.”
Metapneumovirus causes both upper and lower respiratory disease in all ages.
Out of the 6120 people in the study with respiratory viruses other than influenza, those who received an influenza vaccine actually had a decreased risk of having other respiratory pathogens compared to the unvaccinated group. Again, it’s important to be specific with what respiratory pathogens one may have an increased risk of contracting as a result of being vaccinated against influenza. This is why for some pathogens, no increased risk was observed, and in some cases a decreased risk was observed. But again, specifically for coronavirus, a significant increased risk was observed.
With regards to the coronavirus and human metapneumovirus, the data in this study showed an increased risk of contraction within vaccinated individuals to be 36 percent greater.
The laboratory data in our study showed increased odds of coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in individuals receiving influenza vaccination…In our disease specific investigation, virus interference trends were noticed for coronavirus and human metapneumovirus…Examining non-influenza viruses specifically, the odds of both coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher when compared to unvaccinated individuals (OR = 1.36 and 1.51, respectively)
The study concluded that:
Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. Examining virus interference by specific respiratory viruses showed mixed results. Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.
But overall, the results showed “little to no evidence supporting the association of virus interference and influenza vaccination.”
Furthermore, a study published in the same journal, Vaccine, found that“Among children there was an increase in the hazard of ARI (acute respiratory illness) caused by non-influenza respiratory pathogens post-influenza vaccination compared to unvaccinated children during the same period…Patient perceptions of illness following influenza vaccination may be supported.”
The Department of Defense has a Global Respiratory Pathogen Surveillance Program (DoDGRS), it’s a DoD-wide program established by the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS). This is how Wolff was able to gather all of his data with regards to who had been vaccinated with the influenza virus, and what other illnesses they experienced. The Defense Health Agency/Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch – Air Force Satellite Cell (DHA/AFHSB – AF) and United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) also provided access to the data.
Further Thoughts About Flu Vaccination
According to the study above, “significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.” So, it does point out the benefits of influenza and suggests it’s effective. It also sites multiple studies that show it’s effective as well.
But there is conflicting research on the the flu vaccine and its effectiveness against influenza. For example, Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal) and also an assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.” In it, he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”
He goes on to state:
But perhaps the cleverest aspect of the influenza marketing strategy surrounds the claim that “flu” and “influenza” are the same. The distinction seems subtle, and purely semantic. But general lack of awareness of the difference might be the primary reason few people realize that even the ideal influenza vaccine, matched perfectly to circulating strains of wild influenza and capable of stopping all influenza viruses, can only deal with a small part of the “flu” problem because most “flu” appears to have nothing to do with influenza. Every year, hundreds of thousands of respiratory specimens are tested across the US. Of those tested, on average 16% are found to be influenza positive. (fig 2).⇓ All influenza is “flu,” but only one in six “flus” might be influenza. It’s no wonder so many people feel that “flu shots” don’t work: for most flus, they can’t.
Dr. Alvin Moss, MD and professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine emphasizes in this video:
The flu vaccine happens to be the vaccine that causes the most injury in this country. The vaccine injury compensation program, 40 percent of all vaccinations in this country are flu shots, but 60 percent of all the compensations are for the flu vaccine. So a disproportionate number of vaccine related injuries are the flu shot. I think many of you it’s been recommended to you that you get the flu shot, I don’t know if you’re aware of the fact, the CDC statistics are, that every year they look at vaccine effectiveness, for this particular year the vaccine effectiveness is 48 percent, so that means it’s not highly effective. It’s not even all that effective, if you look at the scientific literature…the evidence to support giving the flu vaccine is moderate to weak. It is not strong evidence. They say the evidence to support giving the flu vaccine to people over the age of 65 is not there, it’s inconclusive. So a lot of the things we’ve been told as Americans about vaccinations are not really based on the science. (source)
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury (NCVIA) has already paid out approximately $4 billion to compensate families of vaccine injured children. As astronomical as the monetary awards are, they’re even more alarming considering HHS claims that only an estimated 1% of vaccine injuries are even reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).
Something to think about. The information in this article shows that’s it’s ok to question, and that the science on vaccine safety is not ‘settled.’ We must ask ourselves, why are there terms like ‘anti-vax’ and why does big media constantly try to ridicule any information that paints vaccines in a concerning light? Surely the questioning of vaccine safety is in the best interest of all parties involved?
At the end of the day, it’s not about who is right and who is wrong, and it’s not about one side or the other. It’s about coming together in a peaceful manner and understanding the concerns that are being raised, and dealing with them, addressing, and responding to them appropriately. We cannot hold hate in our own being if we want to rid the world of it, and we cannot use ridicule and judgement against, otherwise we are simply perpetuating what we are trying to get rid of. Operating from a place of peace is essential, it helps to see things in a clearer way, and it’s something that needs to become a necessity for all parties involved, whether you support vaccination or do not.