Vaccines in Court

The past few days have been rather exciting. There are two big stories here, neither of which has gotten much (if any) press in the US: vaccine manufacturer’s being taken to court in France over hepatitus b vaccines, and the US Department of Health & Human Services concedeing a case on a vaccine-autism link.

The first case comes to us from France, where vaccine manufacturer’s are being sued for manslaughter for failing to fully disclose side effects to hepatitis-B vaccines. Judge Marie-Odile Bertella-Geffroy has opened two separate investigations one against GlaxoSmithKline & Sanofi Pasteur and another against Sanofi Pasteur MSD a joint venture between Sanofi Aventis and Merck.

Between 1994 and 1998 about two thirds of the population (including almost all newborns during the time period) was vaccinated against hepatitis B, before the campaign was suspended because of concerns regarding side effects. Among the 30 plaintiffs are 5 families of people who died after being given the vaccine.

The second case takes place right here in the US. David Kirby in the Huffington Post reports that on November 9, 2007 US Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler quietly conceded that vaccines aggravated an existing mitochondrial disorder and thereby caused the manifestation of Autism Spectrum Disorder in one child. Mr Keisler and the other Justice Department officials were working on behalf of the Department of Health & Human Services.

This is huge because while mitochondrial disorders are extremely rare in the general population (0.2% or 1 in 10,000), they are far more common among people with ASD. An incredible 10-20% (estimated in some journal articles) of all autism cases may be linked to them, making them the most common disease associated with ASD. And in the Journal of Child Neurology Dr Zimmerman (the doctor who diagnosed the child in this case), co-authored an article which “showed that 38% of Kennedy Krieger Institute autism patients studied had one marker for impaired oxidative phosphorylation, and 47% had a second marker.”

All of this begs the question “What next?”. What will the US government do now. They have been claiming for the past several years that autism is in no way shape or form connected to vaccines or thimerosol. And yet, now they have conceded one case, which may be just the first of hundreds or thousands to come. With 4900 cases pending in vaccine court, how many can the government realistically afford to settle?

Venice, Paris…

Well, its been a pretty crazy couple of weeks. Thats for sure. Nearly two weeks ago now, I left for Venice, and had an absolute blast. Venice was/is a beautiful city. All the little tiny streets – many, if not most are no more than 4 or 5 feet wide, along with a ton of bridges, just makes for an absolutely beautiful city. San Marcos Square (or Piazzele I should say…) is absolutely beautiful. All light up at night, with the Basilica and Tower looming over everything… Music from 3 or 4 different little bands playing. Its just amazing.

For most of the time that I was in Venice, I was lost. Didn´t even have a map for the first couple days (they all cost at least 3 or 4 euros…), and then I finally found one, along with a guidebook. Made exploring a bit more interesting since I actually knew (or could at least figure out), what I was seeing/had seen. Also stumbled on a couple of nifty museums my last couple days. One was the Naval History Museum. It was very very cool… lots and lots of model ships from every time period – from the old Venetian vessels with oars all the way up to modern Italian ships. They even had one whole room dedicated to Oriental ships and such. Was just a very very cool museum.

Then of course, just this past weekend, I went to Paris. I was only back in Salamanca for barely 2 days, before leaving again. Insane. Paris too was quite cool, and very pretty. The Eifel Tower was cool, but I definetly liked Notre Dame the best. It was just soo amazing. Went up in the Towers my last morning there, and got to see all the chimeras (gargoyles) up-close, as well as an absolutely spectacular view of Paris. Its just such an incredible, beautiful building. Inside, all the rose windows, with stained glass… Its just incredible. Absolutely incredible.

So yeah. I´ve had a pretty crazy past couple of weeks. Can check out all my pictures of Paris/Venice online now (they´re all up… all 500-600 of them =).