nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Congressional Testimony On The Anthrax Vaccine

Just for fun, I thought you might like to see my testimony to Congress about the anthrax vaccine back in 1999.

At the time I was the Surgeon for the Air National Guard, the Pentagon, DC.

Most of the discussion between Congressmembers and witnesses was informational.  Congressman Dan Burton entered the hearing, and things got a little more provocative.  Mr. Burton's granddaughter had some kind of severe event that was in close association with receiving a vaccine.  He clearly believed it was the vaccine and not his granddaughter that was the problem, but his description didn't match up with a known reaction.  So I'll never know what the deal was.

But his legendary temper and confrontational style were in full flower.

Oh...and by the way....when you get "invited" to testify, there's no RSVP "No."

Excerpt from Hearing of the Subcmtee on National Security on "The Impact of the Anthrax Vaccine Program on Reserve and National Guard Units,"  Sep 29, 1999.

Mr. Burton. Did you hear the question I asked about the Fort Detrick experiment using guinea pigs showed 9 of 27 strains tested killed 50 percent of the vaccinated guinea pigs, and in a second study 26 of the 33 strains tested killed half of the animals? Are you familiar with that?

Colonel Dougherty. Mr. Chairman, I am aware of that study. Sir, I have read that study. I am not a vaccine expert but I have talked to vaccine experts about that study. I think there are some criticisms to be made of it. First of all, they don't follow the same protocol that we use. They don't challenge the experimental animal in the same way that humans get the disease. They didn't test for efficacy of the vaccine in the same way that we would with a better model for the human disease.  And, last, guinea pigs don't get anthrax in the same way that humans do. I think that those results are interesting but don't provide any conclusion about the coverage that the current vaccine provides.

Mr. Burton. I have two more questions, Mr. Chairman. How many strains of anthrax are there?

Colonel Dougherty. Sir, I am aware of at least 31.

Mr. Burton. Does this vaccine cover all of them?

Colonel Dougherty. This vaccine was designed in such a way that it provokes a response in the human body to a component of the organism that is required to produce disease. That is the logic for this vaccine.

Mr. Burton. So what you are saying is it will protect the person that gets the vaccination against all 31?

Colonel Dougherty. We believe that every isolate that you can come up with currently that has the so-called protective antigen as a part of the germ, it will provoke an antibody response to it. The protective antigen that is a part of that vaccine is a part of every strain that causes disease. If you don't have that antigen disease doesn't occur.

Mr. Burton. So you are saying it will protect you against every one of those strains?

Colonel Dougherty. Sir, it----

Mr. Burton. I just want a yes or no. Will it protect you against all 31 strains?

Colonel Dougherty. We believe it does.

Mr. Burton. You believe it does. Thank you. Now let me ask you this, Colonel. You have the Marberg virus which is an Ebola cousin, smallpox, biotoxins, resin I think is one of them, botulism, Japanese encephalitis, Venezuelan encephalitis and about 44 other viruses that could be used in biological warfare. Are we going to start inoculating people for every one of those? Because they can be used in a warlike situation, can they not?

Colonel Dougherty. We are not at this time. We don't have that capability. But the anthrax----

Mr. Burton. I know, but let us say that we inoculate the entire military for anthrax and let us say that your thesis is correct that it will work on all. I mean there are some scientists who don't agree with you. I think you know that. I think you know that.

Colonel Dougherty. Yes, sir.

Mr. Burton. But let us assume for the sake of argument that the anthrax vaccine is safe, which many people doubt, but let us assume it is safe and let us assume it will protect against every one of the strains of anthrax. If you were an enemy of the United States and you knew that everybody was inoculated against it, why wouldn't you use an Ebola virus because you know there is no protection for that and put that into some kind of a--into a military warlike missile and use it in a warlike situation.

Colonel Dougherty. Mr. Chairman, the reason we think that anthrax is the correct focus right now is because it is so easy to make, it is simple to make, you can make a ton of it and you can attack somebody without a lot of----

Mr. Burton. I understand, but you didn't answer my question. If an enemy of the United States knows that we are protected, our military, against anthrax, assuming it works like you say, why would they go ahead and produce a missile or a weapon that used anthrax when they could use the Ebola virus, smallpox or any of these other things?

Colonel Dougherty. Sir, a lot of those other things that you are mentioning I think have some real technical problems in producing an effective biological warfare agent.

Mr. Burton. Is it possible to do?

Colonel Dougherty. Anthrax is not.

Mr. Burton. Is it possible they could do it with the Ebola virus?

Colonel Dougherty. It is theoretically possible.

Mr. Burton. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Over the next several years and 6 million doses later, the anthrax vaccine is still safe and effective.  The suit filed by National Guard members was dismissed by the courts.
But the anti-vaccine forces are still with us.  California is experiencing an outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) that is a direct consequence of vaccine resistance.  And pertussis can be fatal.
Doc D

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