A peer reviewed medical paper cited in the CHS article Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries Of Official Statistics confirms that “Measles mortality rates were inversely related to median family income”: Englehandt SF, Halsey NA, Eddins DL, Hinman AR. Measles mortality in the United States 1971-1975. Am J Public Health 1980;70:1166–1169.
In simple terms that means as people become better off year on year, measles mortality could be expected to keep on falling.
The following graph supporting that conclusion already appears on CHS covering the 20th Century – from 1901 to 1999: see Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries Of Official Statistics
[CLICK ON GRAPH TO ENLARGE IN NEW TAB/WINDOW]
The red trendline is exponential. It is created using the trendline function in professional commercially available software. As can be seen 2007 is the year when the trendline cuts below a chance of there being one death per annum in England and Wales, based on a population of 55 million.
What a straight line exponential trendline on a logarithmic graph demonstrates is that the fall in measles mortality over the 100 years of the last century has been exponential.
In simple terms this means the rate of fall in mortality has been like throwing something off a cliff and watching it go faster and faster and get smaller and smaller as time passes until you can hardly see it at all.
And particularly, the fact that an exponential trendline results in a straightline is an immensely strong indication that measles mortality would continue to fall exponentially irrespective of the introduction of vaccines.
If we look at the standard “analogue” plotted graph, as in the example immediately below, we might be able to use our judgement and decide in our opinion the vaccine made little or no difference:
[Click Graph to Enlarge - Opens In New Window]
But is there any way we might be able to tell more precisely whether vaccines had any effect? Or to put it another way, what is the position for the trend ignoring when any measles vaccine was in routine use?
So here is the same ONS data but plotted only up to 1967 – before the introduction of the measles vaccine – and with the trendline plotted forward to where the chance of mortality falls below 1 in 55 million.
Putting it simply this graph immediately below shows the rate of decline of mortality prior to 1968 and what might be the position after 1967 if things carried on as they were. So data for the years 1968 to 1999 are excluded.
Or the more complicated explanation: by eliminating data after 1967 from the graph the trendline should show the trend unaffected by any potential effect [confounding] by a measles virus containing vaccine affecting the natural rate of decrease in measles mortality associated with natural measles infection. It is intended to show the likely trend from 1967 for the future, on the assumption the same rate of fall before 1968 applied after 1967. [And we can check because we have the entire data set pre 1968 and post 1967 to do the comparison.]
[CLICK ON GRAPH TO ENLARGE IN NEW TAB/WINDOW].
Again, we still see that the year 2007 is the point at which the probability of mortality from measles infection falls below one in 55 million per annum. This is just as the graph for the data from 1901-1999 does. This seems to suggest strongly that not only did measles mortality fall exponentially before the introduction of the single measles vaccine, it continued to fall exponentially and at the same rate after – even with the position up to 1999 it might seem.
Data from the Health Protection Agency shows there have been 76,000 reported cases of measles in the UK since 1992 and no deaths in adults or healthy children from acute measles. There was one death in a 14 year old on immunosuppressant drugs for a lung condition and one in an immunocompromised child [according to the HPA] since 1992. That gives a chance of nil deaths per annum in healthy children since 1992 over the entire population of England and Wales – which is roughly 55 million – give or take – such as for annual fluctuations etc and 0.1 deaths per annum in immunocompromised children.
Prior to 2006, the last death from acute measles was in 1992.”
“In 2006 there was one measles death in a 13 years old male who had an underlying lung condition and was taking immunosuppressive drugs. Another death in 2008 was also due to acute measles in unvaccinated child with congenital immunodeficiency whose condition did not require treatment with immunoglobulin. “
According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2008 death is now doubted to have been a measles death.
Regardless of these two deaths in over 20 years, the trendline on both graphs presents a fairly reliable picture showing the chance of measles mortality falling below 1 in 55 million per annum, if there were no vaccination. And we can see that by 2007 actual mortality is in line with the trend shown by the graphs.
As UK measles vaccine coverage was well below 55% in the 1970′s and early 1980s what these graphs show is not unexpected. It is claimed now that the level of vaccination coverage required to achieve the theoretical concept of herd immunity is 95%. So any lower rate of vaccination clearly was not achieving that so according to that theory, the disease would still circulate and it clearly did.
The average UK mortality between 1968 [when the single measles vaccine was introduced into the UK] and 1987 was 20 and not hundreds and was falling over that entire period at the same rate exponentially as it had been before 1968. So we can be reasonably sure mortality would certainly be expected to be well below that level as time passed – and that is what these graphs and the trendlines confirm.
Trendlines do not predict but give an indication of what might be the position. In the case of the comparison between the trend for data to 1967 and compared to the trend to 1999 can we have a reasonable degree of confidence 2007 is likely to be the year the chance of a death in England and Wales would fall below 1 [ie below 100%] if there were no measles vaccines.
What we can also say with some confidence is that measles mortality would eventually have dropped to such a low level if there were no vaccines – all else being equal.
So what is the position after 1999? If the introduction of the vaccines had any effect that effect would be to accelerate the fall which already existed – but as can be seen – we do not appear to see that clearly from the trend for the period to 1999 compared to the trend for the period to 1967.
Here is Health Protection Agency data covering the period from 1948 to 2008. This data plotted identically shows exactly the same thing as the 1901-1999 and 1901-1967 data with one difference:
[CLICK ON GRAPH TO ENLARGE IN NEW TAB/WINDOW].
The trendline for the HPA data drops below a chance of 1 in 55 million by 2000. This is not like the 1999 data in the other graph which does this by 2007. So on a very simple approach that might be interpreted as indicating the vaccine might have had some effect in accelerating a reduction in what is admittedly an already very low and continuing to fall rate of mortality. That of course might not necessarily be the case but it can at least be a working hypothesis.
It is of course impossible to prepare a logarithmic graph with zero values [there is no zero for a log graph]. For years which the HPA data had zero deaths it was necessary to substitute a value to plot logarithmically. 0.1 was used for this purpose.
With mortality as low as it was in the 1980s, one question which this data does raise therefore is whether it would be better for public health to have had an effective treatment for measles instead of or in addition to mass vaccination programmes – say like a measles pill.
It looks an attractive proposition, potentially taking away the problem of mass population disease control and providing a means to save third world lives. Third world children die despite the existence of vaccines and there is no effective treatment to save their lives. So western nations have been extremely selfish in failing to address that omission.
What we must always bear in mind when considering graphs of this kind which do not rely on reported cases – incidence – is that reported cases prior to 1994 in the UK are wholly unreliable as an indication of true levels of incidence of a disease. Doctors over-diagnose and have over-diagnosed measles by 74 times – for every real case there can and have been 73 non measles cases reported as measles: the data supporting this is set out here – Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries Of Official Statistics.
In times of panic especially any rash might be reported as suspected measles and that is likely to be happening now in South Wales, UK.
Putting it simply this graph shows the rate of decline of mortality prior to 1968 and what might be the position after 1967 if things carried on as they were.
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