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A new study published in the journal Vaccine has brought to light an extremely disturbing though still virtually unreported dark side to immunization campaigns within low-income countries, namely, the observation that infant mortality sometimes increases when the number of co-administered vaccines increases; a finding diametrically opposed to the widely held belief that vaccination is always a life-saving intervention, and that the more vaccines administered to infants the better.
New Study Links DTP and Yellow Fever Vaccines To Infant Deaths
The new observational study from the West African country Guinea-Bissau titled, "Co-administration of live measles and yellow fever vaccines and inactivated pentavalent vaccines is associated with increased mortality compared with measles and yellow fever vaccines only,"[i] opens with a reference to the already consistent observation in the biomedical literature that the co-administration of inactivated diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine and live attenuated measles vaccine (MV) increases mortality compared with receiving MV only. [ii] [iii]
The purpose of the new investigation was to determine whether co-administration of pentavalent vaccine (PV) with MV and yellow fever vaccine (YF) had similar negative effects. Both PV and YF vaccines were introduced in Guinea-Bissau in 2008, with PV containing 5 vaccine antigens in one shot (DTP-H. Influenza type B-Hepatitis B).
The study findings emerged from a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted in 2007-2011, where researchers administered vitamin A at routine vaccination contacts among children aged 6-23 months in urban and rural Guinea-Bissau. A total of 2331 children were randomized to placebo, receiving either live vaccines only (MV or MV+YF) or a combination of live and inactivated vaccines (MV+DTP or MV+YF+pentavalent).
When mortality was compared, the adjusted mortality rate ratio (MRR) for co-administered live and inactivated vaccines compared with live vaccines only was over three times greater (3.24 (1.20-8.73). When MV+YF+pentavalent was compared with MV+YF only, the adjusted MRR was almost eight times greater (7.73 (1.79-33.4)) for the combination of the three vaccines versus two.
The researchers concluded:
"In line with previous studies of DTP, the present results indicate that pentavalent vaccine co-administered with MV and YF is associated with increased mortality."
Pentavalent and Yellow Fever Vaccines Already Linked To Fatalities
This finding takes on a more disturbing light when one considers that by the end of 2013, largely through the efforts of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), pentavalent vaccines will have reached close to 200 million children in 72 developing countries. GAVI also states that yellow fever vaccines have been administered to 60 million children, "averting an estimated 160,000 future deaths." Pentavalent vaccines have already created widespread controversy by being linked to clusters of infant deaths in every Southeast and South Asian country where they have been introduced, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and India. Similarly, yellow fever vaccines have been linked to deaths as far back as 2001, when 7 people were found contracting yellow fever and dying from the vaccine itself. The obvious question then emerges: Could both the pentavalent and yellow fever vaccines actually be increasing mortality despite GAVI's position that they are a life-saving intervention that presumably should be administered to every at risk child in the developing world?
What adds additional weight to this concern is that there is already a well-established history of DTP (and oral polio) vaccines being linked to increased morbidity and mortality in low-income countries, starting with this 2000 BMJ article also in a population of vaccinated infants from Guinea-Bissau that found recipients of one dose of DTP or polio vaccines had higher mortality than children who had received none of these vaccines. A 2011 study of Guinea-Bissau females found DTP vaccine administered simultaneously with measles vaccine is associated with increased morbidity and poor growth in girls.[iv] Clearly the vaccines can cause significant harm. Another far more recent study published this year in the journal Tropical Medicine and International Health found that DTP vaccination is responsible for higher mortality among Indian girls. Another 2005 study on vaccinated female infants in India found that those who receive both the tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) and DTP experience significantly higher mortality than those who receive only one of the two vaccines.[v]