Whooping Cough Vaccine Does Not Work – Says US FDA’s Research

CHS reports here on new research from the US Federal Drug Administration which the researchers claim confirms their hypothesis that whooping cough vaccine does not provide herd immunity and that the disease continues to be easily transmitted and flourishes.  CHS has previously reported that whooping cough [pertussis] vaccine does not work:

Whooping Cough Vaccine – Doesn’t Work – GSK Says “We Never Bothered to Check”

Major Whooping Cough Epidemics – Vaccine Not Working

Vaccine Programmes Failing Worldwide – Homer Simpson and The World of Vaccines

A newly published paper of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America makes the claim that the vaccine fails to prevent individuals getting the bacterial infection and fails also to prevent the disease being transmitted to other individuals:  Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model  doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314688110 PNAS November 25, 2013.

The authors suggest the previous “whole cell” vaccine did work and that the acellular vaccine does not.  However, the “whole cell” vaccine caused large numbers of serious adverse reactions in children and had to be abandoned.

What is notable about this is no claim is being made that the failure to achieve herd immunity and prevent the circulation of the disease is because of under-vaccination – as is claimed in the UK with measles cases in South Wales this year.  Here it is being admitted that use of a vaccine does not create herd immunity.  

Despite these findings what is particularly bizarre is that instead of the authors suggesting research is needed into developing effective treatments for whooping cough, a basic childhood disease, and despite this new paper demonstrating 40 years of failure of vaccines in addressing whooping cough, they say we need improved vaccines.  Well, the US FDA and the drug industry have had 40 years to prove themselves and this paper, if it can be believed, suggests they have failed.  It is clearly time for a new improved and safer approach and especially one which does not kill or injure some children as vaccines do. 

The paper is by authors from the Division of Bacterial, Parasitic and Allergenic Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration [“FDA”], Bethesda, MD, 20892.  However, it also states “Edited by Rino Rappuoli, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Srl, Siena, Italy, and approved October 22, 2013 (received for review August 5, 2013)”.  This illustrates the close relationship the US drug safety regulator, the FDA, has with the drug industry when as the safety regulator responsible for approving [or supposedly not approving] drug industry products it should have an “arms length” relationship to help maintain its independence.

The abstract of the paper states:

Baboons vaccinated with aP were protected from severe pertussis-associated symptoms but not from colonization, did not clear the infection faster than naïve animals, and readily transmitted B. pertussis to unvaccinated contacts. Vaccination with wP induced a more rapid clearance compared with naïve and aP-vaccinated animals. By comparison, previously infected animals were not colonized upon secondary infection. Although all vaccinated and previously infected animals had robust serum antibody responses, we found key differences in T-cell immunity. Previously infected animals and wP-vaccinated animals possess strong B. pertussis-specific T helper 17 (Th17) memory and Th1 memory, whereas aP vaccination induced a Th1/Th2 response instead. The observation that aP, which induces an immune response mismatched to that induced by natural infection, fails to prevent colonization or transmission provides a plausible explanation for the resurgence of pertussis and suggests that optimal control of pertussis will require the development of improved vaccines.”