Friday, October 19, 2012

Swine flu vaccine linked to child narcolepsy/ AFP and Raw Story

From AFP/ Raw Story:
... In Finland, 79 children aged four to 19 developed narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine in 2009 and 2010, while in Sweden the number was close to 200, according to figures in the two countries.
Both countries recommended their populations, of around five and 10 million respectively, to take part in mass vaccinations during the swine flu scare. Pandemrix was the only vaccine used in both countries.
Meanwhile, a recent study in the medical journal The Lancet said that between five and 17 people in Finland aged 0-17 are estimated to have died as a direct result of the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic, while the same number for Sweden was nine to 31...
As I have noted previously, the vaccine in each country appears to have caused many more serious illnesses than the number of deaths it may have it prevented, given its roughly 50% efficacy.

But although the article acknowledges a much higher rate of narcolepsy in vaccine recipients (said to be 12-17 times greater than would be expected in the absence of vaccination), a study failed to find any increase in narcolepsy cases related to Pandemrix vaccine in Norway, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy and The Netherlands.  That simply makes no sense.  Ireland reported a high number of cases:  13 times as many as expected.  The US isn't talking (it did not use Pandemrix) but Canada used a close cousin to Pandemrix and said it only had two childhood cases.

According to the French agency for medicine safety
In the report yesterday, French investigators said 51 cases of narcolepsy were reported in French patients who were immunized against the pandemic virus; 47 received Pandemrix, but only 3 received Panenza (a nonadjuvanted vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur), and 1 received an undetermined product. All of the narcolepsy cases were confirmed by sleep study tests, and 38 involved cataplexy episodes.
During France's pandemic vaccine campaign, about 4.1 million doses of Pandemrix and about 1.6 million vaccinations with Panenza were administered, according to the report.
Researchers found that 22 of the narcolepsy cases were in people 16 years old and older and 28 were in children 8 to 15 years old. Symptom onset occurred from 2 days to 15 months after vaccination. Eight patients—6 adults and 2 teens—had a medical or family history that might explain the condition.
The investigators reported that overall the same signal seen in Finnish and Swedish children was found in French children, but the link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy was also detected in French adults.
Glaxo said there were only 162 cases of narcolepsy reported in those who had been immunized, while in the article above, Sweden had "close to 200."  One study claims the problem was the flu itself, not the vaccine.

Glaxo can't add, and the researchers from different countries are consistent only in the degree to which they fail to be consistent with each other.  The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC) claimed there was no relationship in France between vaccination and narcolepsy, but recommended a statistical study be done with more power.

Is the problem junk science, insufficient statistical power, or ?  When will epidemiology assume its rightful place as a reliable science?

Here is the complete ECDPC report, with its 3 country-specific disclaimers in Annex 1.  Enjoy it if you can.

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