Top critical review
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but totally idiotic to those who studies immunology
on 26 July 2015
I'm not an immunologist so I can only quote from one kind enough to review this book on the US site. From Fei Liu 21 February 2013:
"I am also a fellow immunologist that studied vaccines, and a mother of two, and I was eager to read this book because I was hoping that a scientist will provide an honest balanced narration of the history, efficacy and future challenges of vaccine programs, and raise some real questions that is worthy of thoughts. However this book can make Fox News and MSNBC News seem fair and balanced.
I intend to write a full length review approximately the same length as the book itself, with proper references to the statements I make. But it will take time, and I don't want more readers mislead by the lack of negative reviews, so here is a shorter version.
Here are the major problems I have with this book:
1) Lack of reference. The author make various statements which are critical for her stance against vaccination that is not reference at all. For example, she claimed that Jenner's smallpox vaccine was only effective for an undefined "a few years", and yet, all my searches yielded rather long effectiveness of vaccinia vaccine ([...]). The author seems to choose references that would suit her argument but ignore those that contradict hers.
2) Totally biased. I guess I can't really blame her for writing a book titled "Vaccine Illusions" and only criticize the efficacy of vaccines, but what I have a problem with is her disguising this book as a scientific book that can be used to educate parents who are trying to make vaccine choices. No, this book is for those who have already made up their mind to not vaccinate their children and are looking for validation for such a decision from somebody that can be perceived as "credible". This book has never given any figures on the widely available data from WHO on the amount of deaths for each vaccine preventable diseases before and after each vaccine campaign. Nor did she ever mention the frequencies of disease outbreaks among those who are vaccinated vs those who are not. Yet, she raises questions that seems legit to the untrained eyes, but totally idiotic to those who studies immunology. For example, she mentioned that tetanus toxoid acts in the CNS, mentioned that antibodies can not cross blood brain barrier, then asked seemingly intelligently:"Then how does antibodies protect you from the toxin?" Any Stanford trained immunologist would sure know that antibodies constantly circulating your blood would prevent any toxin from ever getting to the brain from your infection site. Questions like this makes me believe that the author was intentionally deceiving her audience. Another example, she mentioned original antigenic sin, and attribute flu vaccination as a culprit. However, she did not mention that original antigenic sin was first discover not with vaccination, but rather actual viral infection with similar viruses. And since the author knows quite well that actual virus infection leaves with stronger memory immunity, and as she claims vaccination is not effective for a few years, one could easily argue that getting the flu would leave you way more susceptible to original antigenic sin than getting the vaccine itself.
3) Raise questions about vaccine that she knows that can not be answered the way she wanted, and use that to discredit all vaccine studies. For instance, one of her problems with vaccine is that it's efficacy is not directly tested with a real infection. She knows that no human trials where people are given the actual virus/bacteria will ever be approved. Yet, she takes in no consideration of the very low mortality rate directly due to any diseases in countries that have vaccine programs versus the high rate in countries that do not have vaccine programs, or even historical data in the same country.
4) Make vaccine immunity as your only line of defense so that it better be perfect or you are screwed. The most widely mistaken fact about vaccine is that it has to protect a person from ever getting infected. Vaccine would rarely prevent you from being infected, in most cases, it buys you enough time so your own immune system would keep the infection under control so that you would show no symptoms of infection; in some cases, you still show symptoms but less severe; and if the vaccine is a good one, you would rarely have full symptoms. Vaccine safety is a huge issue for vaccine producers, and CDC takes it very seriously, and there is a national vaccine safety hotline for each vaccine. Therefore vaccines should be viewed more as an extra safety net to lessen the assault of an infection on your own immune system. Some of the questions author raised is legit, such as reduced amount of antibodies in breast milk of mothers who are vaccinated vs those who had the disease. However, author did not mention that without vaccines, some people never got a chance to become mothers."
For anyone considering buying this book please do some proper research. There are a lot of unsubstantiated claims on the internet about the supposed dangers of vaccines but no real evidence to support them. You could start here which has detailed information on all the issues and some very informed commenters: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/