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DEFRA statements on the role of vaccination in
the control of virulent livestock viruses could make better informed
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
Filed 12 Feb 07
Following the recent outbreak of
Avian Influenza H5N1 in the huge Bernard Matthews turkey farm in
Suffolk, which resulted in the slaughter of some 160,000 birds,
Ben Bradshaw, Westminster Minister of State for Animal Welfare,
said on national TV:
"Vaccination can mask disease
and therefore could spread the disease further"
On February 1st 2007.labour peer,
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton, said the same in reply to a question
in the House of Lords from the Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
(Hansard 1st February 2007, Column 334):
"My Lords, the vaccination
programme is obviously kept under under review, but as I know
the noble Baroness is aware from earlier discussions, if we take
as an example avian flu, there is a danger that that reliance
on avian flu vaccination for birds could spread the disease further
and thus be dangerous. Birds could still catch avian flu but the
symptoms would be masked."
Oh dear, here we go yet again!
One really has to wonder who is
giving the politicians so-called "excellent scientific advice".
We were assured yet again by David Miliband, Westminster Minister
for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), in an interview
with Andrew Marr on TV BBC1 Sunday AM 12th February, that he had
followed scientific advice from DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency
(FSA), and that "he had every confidence in the high standard
of that advice, and that this was also the opinion of the Chief
Scientist, Professor Sir David King", who had vouched for the
high standards of the scientists involved.
There is abundant collateral evidence
that DEFRA, as well as the Home Office, is another government department
that is "not fit for purpose." That apparently includes
its advisers on the immunology of vaccination. Who is it who selects
the so-called independent scientist/s who allegedly advise the FSA?
As discussed extensively at the
time of the debacle of the UK 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic
(FMD UK2001) when some 10 million animals were slaughtered, international
scorn was poured on the same utterances that were made by the same
David King, from DEFRA and from the politicians. Apparently they
have learned not a thing.
What should have been learned is
some basic immunology regarding vaccination as a front line of defence
against the spread of viral diseases in livestock - or indeed in
Vaccination against viral diseases
in man and animals has been extensively used throughout the world
with outstanding success. There is no significant evidence that,
in the field, vaccination can "facilitate the spread of disease"
on account of immunised persons or animals acting as symptomless
A fundamental principle of vaccination
- why it works so successfully - is as follows. Such advice has
been available in basic standard textbooks for many years: at least
those relevant to the control of disease in the field rather than
in the artificial confines of a laboratory.
When some 85% of a population are
vaccinated against a virus, the viral load is greatly reduced. Not
only that, but the opportunities for the virus to spread is interrupted
because of the effectiveness of the vaccination in the majority
of that population. The virus finds that it has nowhere to go. With
no where to go, it dies out.
Furthermore, even if a person or
an animal takes the virus on board before the vaccination has had
time to be fully effective, the damage the virus can do is reduced:
including its ability to spread to other susceptible persons or
The success of vaccination depends
on a high percentage take: not on a100% take.
That has been the basis for the
huge success of vaccination throughout the world in relation to
many lethal viral diseases that previously devastated large populations.
Frankly, it must be time for the
manner in which scientific advice is given to Government to be reviewed:
and, in particular, who is giving it.