Rick Morton’s article “University paid for anti-vaccine student to attend conference” (28th January 2014) presents misinformation about my presentation on the HPV vaccine at the Cancer Science and Therapy Conference in San Francisco (October 2013). Morton has made allegations about the conference that have not been supported with evidence from the Dean of Research at the university. He also did not inform readers that the research I presented at the conference was also published in the peer-reviewed journal Infectious Agents and Cancer. Here is the link to this article
In presenting his story Morton uses labels such as ‘anti-vaccine’ to influence the reader’s opinion. Many of the professionals questioning vaccines have not come from an anti-vaccination perspective and this debate is not about pro- or anti- vaccination. The debate is about ensuring that all the science is used in the development of government vaccination policies and it is clear that this is not happening. There are lobby groups in Australia, e.g. the Australian Skeptics and SAVN, that aim to influence public opinion on scientific issues through the mainstream media, social media and research institutions. The strategies they use result in the selection of science presented to the public with validity by journalists and to government policy decision-makers. Many of the representatives on government vaccine advisory boards have perceived conflicts of interest with industry that are not being exposed to the public. This is of particular concern when it is well known that many peer-reviewed medical articles are written by ghost authors and that the research for these articles, and the researchers themselves, are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Other valid research by independent and unfunded researchers that is being published in the peer-reviewed medical journals is not being promoted to the public by journalists or being debated by policy-decision makers.
Here is the information I received from the Dean of Research when I asked about the allegations made by Rick Morton in his article in the Australian newspaper (28 Jan 2014):
There was no evidence to support the allegations made by Rick Morton. UOW academics were satisfied that this international congress was a beneficial experience. Professor Brian Martin was interviewed by Rick Morton for the article but Rick Morton works for an independent organisation and he is free to publish what he wishes. This is not something that UOW has any control over.
Morton has written a one-sided story about my presentation. Here is the other side of this story:
1) Morton’s article is framed as an ‘anti-vaccination’ article and it implies that research that presents the risks of vaccination should not be funded by the university. This is a clear example of journalists selecting the science they will present in the media and providing their opinions on the science. This is putting public health at risk because all the valid science needs to be debated by all stakeholders to determine the weight of evidence for a theory. Good science can stand up to scrutiny from all perspectives. Research needs to be refuted with valid scientific arguments not ignored by stigmatising the researcher (and the science) with labels such as ‘anti-vaccine’.
2) Morton is misinforming the public about the efficacy of HPV vaccines. Cervical cancer is a low risk to Australian women (1.7 deaths per 100,000 women per year prior to the use of this vaccine). This disease is only a high risk in developing countries (not Australia, Europe or USA) because environmental risk factors play a role in the progression of an HPV infection to cervical cancer. HPV infection on its own does not cause cervical cancer. This fact has not been provided to the public in the promotional campaigns for HPV vaccines.
Morton fails to mention that because the vaccine only protects against 2 of 15 high-risk HPV strains it is only assumed that the vaccine will prevent about 70% of cervical cancer. This is why Pap screening, an effective and risk free strategy for early detection of cervical cancer, will still be needed by vaccinated women (WHO 2008). Combined with surgery, Pap screening is almost 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer (Victorian Cancer Council).
The risks of the HPV vaccine have been well documented by parents of vaccinated children who regret giving their children this vaccine based on the recommendation of the government. This information is found on the SaneVax (Safe, Affordable, Necessary & Effective Vaccines and Vaccine Practices) Website here
Morton also fails to explain how this vaccine can be cost-effective for the Australian government when it is now subsidising 2 programs because the vaccine doesn’t protect against all HPV infections that are associated with cancer development. The vaccine costs Au$430 per individual vaccinated and this is being given to all 10-15 year girls and boys in Australian school vaccination programs.
Rick Morton’s article is disinformation and it is also an example of the one-sided vaccination debate that is occurring in the mainstream media. For more information on the biased information provided by lobby groups to the media and on social media websites click here.
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- JUDY WILYMAN