Death in Days: Beware of This Bacteria
November 22, 2011
By Dr. Mercola
Dr. Meryl Nass is one of the leading experts on the anthrax vaccine, which is relatively obscure yet has an interesting history, with which Dr. Nass is very familiar.
Her interest in the anthrax vaccine goes back to 1988.
She was a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) when students at the University of Massachusetts looking into the University's Pentagon contracts discovered a researcher who had previously worked at Fort Detrick and was doing work on anthrax.
"They thought this was probably germ warfare research and asked my group to look at it and help them understand it," she says.
She was tasked with the investigation.
"When I read the contract, I found even though it was titled a contract for improved anthrax vaccines, it actually had to do with some primitive genetic engineering of anthrax," she explains.
"I thought it was rather interesting and odd that the meaning of the contract had been hidden.
I thought I would just read a little bit more about anthrax and see what was going on with this government project."
Identifying Biological Warfare
Dr. Nass quickly made two discoveries that appeared important. One was that the anthrax epidemic that occurred in Rhodesia during its civil war (and had killed about 200 people) had completely different characteristics than all other anthrax epidemics.
The other was that the U.S. army actually had a mission statement, and had signed a treaty that specified the type of defense research allowed under the Biological Weapons Convention. Yet the army seemed to be transgressing its own mission statement and treaty… Dr. Nass felt these facts should be made public.
"I felt I had a responsibility to identify biological warfare," she says.
It seemed no one was really looking at epidemics to determine whether they were natural occurrences or deliberately caused. Dr. Nass believed there needed to be a methodology to make that determination in order to prevent biological warfare from being used.
"Up until then, if you used biological warfare nobody would be any wiser and you would get away with it without any consequences," she says.
So, in her spare time, she began creating a model for investigating epidemics. She eventually published a paper that dissected the Rhodesian epidemic, which she found was likely due to biological warfare. That paper also showed how you could look at different aspects of an epidemic to determine whether it was natural or not.
The Deadly Nature of Anthrax
Unlike most other bacteria, anthrax is a bacteria that forms very potent spores that can remain alive under harsh conditions for 100 years or longer. Once the ideal conditions are present once again, the spores open up and start reproducing. If the spores germinate, they reproduce and create additional spores which last another 100 years. So once an area becomes contaminated with anthrax it tends to remain that way permanently.
The rugged survivability of the anthrax spore is what makes it such a powerful biological weapon. It can easily be dropped from an airplane or exploded in a bomb, for example.
Once the spores are inhaled they can cause overwhelming infection, and can be lethal in as little as two to seven days. It is, however, very responsive to antibiotics, and if antibiotics are administered before you become symptomatic, antibiotics tend to be 100 percent effective. The only type of antibiotic that does NOT work is the cephalosporins, as anthrax is naturally cephalosporin-resistant.
The Anthrax Vaccine
In 1997, the Defense Department announced it would vaccinate everybody in the military for anthrax. Dr. Nass, because of her familiarity with the anthrax literature, knew there were significant questions about the vaccine's safety and effectiveness. Animal studies had shown it to be rather ineffective. Questions had also been raised about its potential contribution to Gulf War Syndrome. Dr. Nass believes it's a viable candidate as one of the contributing factors.
As is typical, there were potential financial conflicts of interest at play, which Dr. Nass details in her interview, so to learn more, please listen to it in its entirety or read through the transcript.
Hundreds of military personnel began falling ill once the anthrax vaccine became routine, and many within the military began fighting the mandate. The movement culminated in no less than 13 congressional hearings on the various aspects of the anthrax vaccine program.
"In 2001, there was a memo going around the Pentagon for consideration of stopping the entire anthrax vaccine program because it had caused more problems for the military than they wanted to deal with at that point," she says.
Interestingly, anthrax does not appear to have ever been used against an army. There's evidence of it being used on civilian populations in at least three instances, but the vaccine itself is probably a far greater health threat to military personnel than the threat of being exposed to anthrax.
The Anthrax Letters—A False Flag Event? If so, Why?
As you may recall, 10 years ago, the so-called "anthrax letters" incident occurred. According to a recent report , one of the widows from that event will receive a $50 million settlement from the U.S. government.
Dr. Nass has carefully studied this incident and, while there's no definitive cause-effect connection, she believes the timing of the incident is suspect and could potentially have been motivated by a need to validate the use of the anthrax vaccine. Alternatively, it may have been a ruse to motivate the approval of war with Iraq, which we knew had anthrax, or to appropriate more money for biodefense.
Prior to that incident, there was no real incentive; why spend money on a threat that doesn't exist?
"After the letters, you didn't need any evidence," she says. "The federal government has spent 60 billion dollars since the anthrax letters on biodefense… not only against anthrax but against many other agents as well. So that's a 60 billion dollar boost to the biodefense industry. It's a lot of money."
The U.S. government also subsequently purchased $1.4 billion-worth of anthrax vaccine for public use, and recently signed a contract for another 45 million doses at $1.25 billion dollars. Score: $2.65 BILLION for the vaccine maker, for a vaccine that previously had sold for a mere $2 to $3 per dose for military recruits.
Pediatric Anthrax Vaccine—A Disaster in the Making?
According to Dr. Nass, the Department of Health and Human Services now wants to investigate the safety of the anthrax vaccine for pediatric use, and the National Biodefense Science Board has approved a pediatric anthrax vaccine trial.
"What are the ramifications of giving this pediatric anthrax vaccine, especially in light of the fact that physicians involved in the military immunization program note about a one to two percent serious side effect profile?" she asks.
"The FDA has a definition of a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine: That is it causes hospitalization, an ER visit, a permanent disability or death, or a life threatening event… For the anthrax vaccine, there are almost 7,000 adverse event reports… of which the FDA has said 757 are serious. So… 11 percent of the total were serious."
The very idea to subject infants to such a potentially hazardous vaccine seems, quite frankly, unconscionable.
"It's completely crazy, and it's illegal," Dr. Nass says.
"It can only be done because the Department of Health and Human Services is denying that there are serious adverse reactions. They have their National Biodefense Science Board, which by the way has two people who were very important in running the anthrax vaccine program in the military on that board, and their job is to protect the good name of the anthrax vaccine.
One is John Grabenstein. He ran the military vaccine program and ran the anthrax vaccine program first. He was instrumental in creating a whole series of scientific studies that were misrepresented and poorly done to try to show that the vaccine was safe when it wasn't safe. He's a very unethical researcher. He is a pharmacist with a PhD, and of course where did he go after he left the military? He went to Merck and works as a so-called scientist in their vaccine division… Merck knew that this guy was unethical; that he was cooking the books on the research, and they hired him anyway."
Where's the Liability when Something Goes Wrong?
If you're in the military, you can't sue the government for damages for injury that occurs during your military service (Fere's Doctrine). Instead, you have the VA health system. The situation is just as dire for civilians when it comes to pandemic vaccines, such as the now infamous H1N1 swine flu vaccine, as well as anthrax.
Dr. Nass explains:
"The PREP Act, the Public Readiness Emergency Preparedness Act, was passed by congress on December 30th of 2005, signed into law in 2006. This said that if an emergency is declared, the manufacturer of a product made to address the emergency would be given almost a blanket waiver of liability. The doctors administering [the vaccine or drug], the distributors, and anybody in the government who had been part of the planning for a vaccine or a drug program, would also be given immunity to any liability. It was supposed to be for emergencies only.
On October 1, 2008, Secretary Levitt, who was then Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, issued an emergency declaration for anthrax. In consultation with Chertoff, who was the Secretary of Homeland Security, they decided that there was a "non-negligible" risk of anthrax, and therefore they had the right—because of the way the law was written—to declare an anthrax emergency.
What that meant was that now the manufacturer would have no liability if civilians got sick from the [anthrax] vaccine.
Because of this PREP Act which… extends through the end of 2015, anybody who gets anthrax vaccine cannot sue. The only avenue to get any benefits is if you can get them from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). There is a small amount of money that congress has designated to be provided to people who become ill or die from anthrax vaccine. However, you have to prove to DHHS that your illness is due to anthrax vaccine.
The DHSS is supposed to develop standards for determining what the vaccine might do, to see whether or not you have an injury that is caused by the vaccine. But DHHS has made no efforts to develop those standards, so there aren't any. So as far as I know, DHHS has not given out any money to anybody, [and] you are prohibited from suing the manufacturer. If you did win and got some money out of DHHS, the maximum amount is about $300,000 for a death or total disability and this does not include recovery of any legal expenses involved to receive this and the legal fees could easily exceed the $300,000."
Why Pandemic Vaccines are Automatically Riskier than Most Others
Another highly unfortunate if not downright unethical situation linked to the PREP Act is that it creates a negative incentive to do any safety research. The manufacturers carry the sole responsibility for determining the side effect profile, yet if they determine what those side effects are, and they're serious, then they could be held liable. They're only really shielded from liability for unexpected or unforeseen side effects, as pandemic vaccines typically need to be rushed.
You can't spend years perfecting the formula when you're dealing with an emergency. This is understandable. But in order to maintain deniability, they need to avoid determining what the exact side effects are.
Making matters worse:
"In general, the FDA has not required post-marketing studies to better define what the adverse event profile is of a drug or a vaccine," Dr. Nass says, and this is true for ALL vaccines. There's no post-marketing requirement.
"Until recently, the FDA said they didn't even have the authority under congress to ask companies to do those studies. Now they can ask, but they don't have the authority to enforce that request."
Those harmed or killed by the H1N1 vaccine have no real legal recourse. You could try to file a claim with the DHHS, but again you run into the problem, and it is now your job to prove your health problem is related to the vaccine.
This is by design. And yes, it's heartless.
Problem-Reaction-Solution. Take the Bait at Your Own Risk…
There is a process that some refer to as Problem-Reaction-Solution, in which you create or manufacture a problem; there is a public reaction, and then you provide the answer that will further your own agenda. With respect to the anthrax vaccine the problem created was bioterrorism. People reacted to the implied threat of further attacks with widespread panic, and the solution to these threats was, ultimately, a vaccine.
The PREP Act in combination with the Problem-Reaction-Solution process creates a massive opportunity for vaccine makers, as it allows them to "sneak in" new ingredients and adjuvants (immune-boosting additives with potentially unknown or risky profiles) under the guise of an emergency vaccine. Then, since it's been used already, they can use these ingredients in other vaccines without having to go through a rigorous approval process…
"What the industry has found to be a very effective way of getting questionable products into the market for civilians is to use them first for emergency products," Dr. Nass says.
"If you can make an anthrax, or a smallpox, or another vaccine for bioterrorism using these adjuvants… and you put the adjuvant into that product, you can then get it in the back door and start using it in other products as well, and get them into licensure much quicker—even things that ordinarily wouldn't be able to be licensed. So that seems to be what's going on. Novel adjuvants were added to the swine flu vaccine in almost every country in the world except the U.S."
Squalene was adjuvant, and the reason it ultimately wasn't used here was no doubt due to public outrage and pressure following an intensive education campaign, of which I and others, not to mention countless of my readers, were part. So, in the end, while the US government did purchase novel adjuvants, they ended up not being used.
"I think the public should know that these novel adjuvants, which are going to be dangerous for some people, are in the experimental bird flu vaccines," Dr. Nass warns. "There are many in government who would like to start using the bird flu vaccine preemptively, just in case it might help when bird flu came along. Maybe you would only need a booster dose then; a vaccine that more precisely targets whatever comes up.
I think the public should be aware that in lots of other new vaccines these adjuvants are not really necessary to make the vaccine have an effect, and nobody is going to [officially] tell citizens that these new ingredients are in there."
Dr. Nass has both a blog and a web site that contains a wealth of well-referenced information about swine flu-, seasonal influenza-, anthrax- and smallpox vaccines. Both can be found at: www.anthraxvaccine.org. Getting non-prejudiced information about vaccines is very difficult. Who can you trust? One source Dr. Nass feels she can recommend is The Cochrane Collaboration vaccine group, that was headed up by Tom Jefferson in the UK.
"He is a very honest guy," Dr. Nass says. "He was a military physician in the UK. What they have published about vaccines I think is very reliable."
The Cochrane Database has conducted five reviews on the effectiveness of flu vaccines in the past several years, and all five concluded that it doesn't work and does not work well for others. I urge you to review Dr. Nass' website and peruse her blog for more information. You cannot be too informed when it comes to vaccines! So do your homework, as that's the only way to make a truly informed choice.