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DEBUNKED: Sunday Herald | Push to fund vax after UK Success, July 28 2019

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men b vax article

By the Vaccination Media Watch team.

This page has rebuttals to the following recent misleading newspaper articles about meningococcal B vaccines:

  • Sunday Herald – Push to fund vax after UK Success, 28th July 2019
  • The Sunday Times – Push for life-saving B vaccine, 28th July 2019
  • The Sunday Telegraph – Fund vaccine for this killer, 28th July 2019


3 papers Men B

Although meningococcal disease can be severe and deadly, it is rare. One thing is clear though, and that is GlaxoSmithKline’s desperate marketing campaign to have their vaccine, called Bexsero (to target serogroup B meningococcal disease), on the National Immunisation Schedule.

Regarding the articles above by Ms Sue Dunlevy in the Murdoch Sunday Herald and Sunday Times:

101 Australians contracted the infection so far this year
Ms Dunlevy claimed that ‘101 Australians have contracted the infection so far this year, many with type B’. If Bexsero is specifically targeting serogroup B meningococcal disease, why is it not disclosed how many exactly are infected with meningococcal B out of the 101?

Reduction in Incidence before the vaccine
According to Australia’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, the incidence of Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) involving serogroup B infections has been declining every year since 2002, without the introduction of a serogroup B vaccine to the national schedule [1]. What was the reason for the reduction and why is mass vaccination being pushed to solve the problem?

Communal risk factors for developing IMD are well known and include exposure to smokers, living in crowded conditions, poor nutrition, and HIV infection. Other risk factors are complement disorders, asplenia and other immunocompromising conditions [2].

Adverse Events
Ms Dunlevy’s article also omitted that, according to the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), in 2018 alone, there were 311 cases of adverse events reported for the vaccine, including nervous system disorders, visual impairment and blood and lymphatic system disorders. Previous reporting indicated adverse events of cardiac disorders, febrile convulsions, and Kawasaki disease [3]. Note the TGA acknowledges that adverse events are greatly under-reported [4] so can we assume more adverse events?  Dr Alan Leeb states that, based on adverse events reported to SmartVax, Bexsero in Australia is highly reactive and 1 in 4 children have had an adverse reaction [5].  Without proper monitoring of adverse events [6], and for such a rare disease, can it be justified to put it on the schedule?

The UK Study
Ms Dunlevy also refers to ‘Men B disease has halved in babies in Britain after it introduced a vaccination’. Whilst evidence of this report was not supplied, we did find that according to University of Oxford’s, ‘Vaccine Knowledge Project’ [7] (figure below), there has been a substantial decline of Meningococcal B incidences since 1998. So if such a study indicated that there was a 50% reduction of late for uncertain reasons as to its previous decline, it is not possible to conclude that the vaccine has been wholly or even partly responsible given the lack of matched controls.

MenB Incidents in UK

UK Adverse Events
Ms Dunlevy also omitted the UK findings of adverse events from Bexsero since its introduction on the schedule in September 2015. That is 13 deaths in a 3 year period. The vaccine was “offered as part of the routine vaccinations at 2 months, 4 months with a booster at 12 months of age” [8]. And let’s not forget the global issue of under reporting of adverse events [6].

MenB Adverse Events in UK

Other studies
A 2017 study conducted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported that 8 weeks after meningococcal B vaccination, 33.9% of the vaccinated had no evidence of hSBA detectable antibodies, which are the universally accepted indicators of IMD protection [9].

Current Clinical Trial in SA, Australia
A current clinical trial of Bexsero in South Australia has serious conflicts of interest [10]. Is it not premature and dangerous to be recommending Bexsero’s inclusion on the schedule before the trial is even finished and adverse events reported?

Other Concerns
Norman Swan (ABC Health Report, Jan 2017), posed an intriguing question regarding the emergence of new strains as a result of vaccination when he asked “Has immunisation caused the problem, in a sense? In other words, there is an ecological niche, if you like, for meningococcal infection. You get rid of C because of immunisation, then B emerges, then C and W and Y, because there’s just an empty space for it to inhabit, a bit like sparrows.” [11]

PBAC’s Rejection
Let’s examine WHY the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) rejected Bexsero three times citing its ‘multiple uncertainties’ [12].  These uncertainties included: “the use of optimistic assumptions about the extent and duration of effect and herd immunity as raised by the PBAC in previous consideration of this vaccine were not addressed” and “the vaccine is effective in inducing antibodies against the component antigens of 4CMenB. However, in the context of a population-based intervention against invasive meningococcal B disease, the Committee considered the clinical claim was highly uncertain because of the likely short persistence of the antibody response in children, uncertainty about the correlation between antibody responses and protection, the unknown effect on carriage of the bacteria, the overall uncertain long-term protective efficacy against infection and disease, and the unknown influence of projected herd immunity effects on overall disease burden.”

Bexsero contains 500mcg of aluminium per injection.  If added to the schedule, it will increase the total load of aluminium given to six month old babies by 1,000mcg, on top of the 2,797mcg of aluminium they already receive by that age [13]. Like lead and mercury, aluminium is recognised as a neurotoxin, and it is also cumulative, inessential and immuno-inflammatory with well documented research presenting its dangers [13].  Without knowing the long-term cumulative effects of all the ever increasing number of aluminium-adjuvanted vaccine products and revaccinations on the schedule, and with the additional doses on the South Australian schedule, this is a dangerous experiment in the community, without ‘informed consent’.

Conflicts of Interest
Ms Dunlevy quotes “Professor Robert Booy is pressuring pharmaceutical company GSK to lower the price of the vaccine..” but Ms Dunlevy does not disclose Robert Booy’s conflicts of interest via his association with GlaxoSmithKline[14].

Perhaps the media could give their readers a little more credit rather than using misleading information and scare tactics such as: “but sadly it is happening too often because some parents refuse to vaccinate their children” (what evidence do they have for this?) and “Sarah Joyce, who lost four major organs” (and yet is still alive). In the Telegraph, they admit to the fact that they influenced Australia’s vaccination policy and the No Jab, No Pay/Play laws, without disclosing the conflicts of interest of the Murdochs and News Corp via their association with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, which is involved in industry-funded vaccine product development.

Several factors need to be considered before the vaccine is recommended for inclusion into the tax payer schedule including the low incidence of SgB IMD in Australia, the high price of the vaccine, excessive vaccines and revaccinations on the schedule, combined with uncertainties around strain coverage, vaccine safety, and a lack of data about the duration of protection, the need for boosters, and overall vaccine effectiveness.

Australian citizens should be very concerned about this questionable vaccine for a rare disease going on the schedule, and perhaps our government should investigate why invasive meningococcal disease affects only a few people and why?


  1. https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/meningococcal-vaccines-in-australia-a-2019-update?utm_source=NCIRS+Master+list&utm_campaign=58367f2c71-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_08_02_01_45&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bc54525c32-58367f2c71-86224375
  2. “Among the variables tested, the modifiable risk factor is smoking; if smoking was reduced at home, the number of cases of invasive disease could be reduced in children, mainly in those under 5 years of age.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2830671/pdf/cs1180547pdf
    Quote from Professor Peter McIntyre, director of NCIR: “It’s good news to say that for whatever combination of reasons, possibly related to how well Australia’s doing reducing smoking rates which is a factor in meningococcal disease, we’re seeing about half as much meningococcal disease, including B, as we were seeing 10 years ago,”. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-04/meningococcal-b-vaccine-too-costly-to-subsidise/7995726
  3. http://apps.tga.gov.au/PROD/DAEN/daen-entry.aspx type Bexsero as “Select Medicines” and enter date range.
  4. On its website the TGA acknowledges that the reporting of adverse events related to all medications is only voluntary and under-reported. https://www.tga.gov.au/about-daen-medicines
  5. 1 in 4 children have adverse reactions. https://www.smh.com.au/national/vaccine-side-effects-australia-s-world-first-surveillance-system-20181016-p509w2.html
  6. Under reporting of adverse events in Australia and globally https://imoparty.com/Adverse-Events-Under-Reported
  7. UK Annual Confirmed Cases of Meningococcal B http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/meningococcal-disease
  8. Vaccine-Associated Suspected Adverse Reactions Reported via the Yellow Card Scheme During 2018. Paper provided by MHRA for Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, February 2019, Page 22
  9. Expert opinion on the introduction of the meningococcal B (4CMenB) vaccine in the EU/EEA https://ecdc.europa.eu/sites/portal/files/documents/Introduction-of-4CMenB-vaccine.pdf  P.12
  10. Professor Helen Marshall is the study leader of the GlaxoSmithKline funded trial currently underway with 60,000 students in South Australia. Professor Marshall is also a member of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), i.e. the group that recommends vaccine products for the taxpayer-funded schedule. Professor Marshall is also involved in vaccine clinical trials receiving funding from Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi, and receives travel support to present at conferences sponsored by vaccine companies. It is wrong that members of ATAGI, who are involved in recommending vaccine products for taxpayer-funded vaccination schedule, are also involved in vaccine company sponsored vaccine trials, this is a serious conflict of interest. The government should have independent specialists in infectious diseases to objectively consider the implementation of vaccination programs. https://elizabethhart.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/conflicts-of-interest-in-vaccination-policy-e-hart.pdf
  11. Deadly meningococcal W concerns. ABC Health Report. 30 January 2017.
  12. PBAC document July 2015 – Subsequent decisions Not to Recommend. http://www.pbs.gov.au/industry/listing/elements/pbac-meetings/pbac-outcomes/2015-07/web-outcomes-july-2015-subsequent-decision-not-to-recommend.docx P.3
  13. Vaccine Aluminium Table: https://aluminiuminvaccines.weebly.com/
    Aluminium injury: “Vaccines and Autoimmunity”, (p 4-5) Dr Yehuda Shoenfeld (Editor), Dr Nancy Agmon-Levin (Editor), Dr Lucija Tomljenovic (Editor) ISBN: 978-1-118-66343-1
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819810/    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25699008    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X17308763?via%3Dihub
    https://www.nature.com/articles/srep31578  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X17300950 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0961203311430221?ournalCode=Iupa
  14. Conflicts of Interest…
    ROBERT BOOY is Chair of the industry-funded Immunisation Coalition (funders include GSK Australia and Pfizer – manufacturers of meningococcal vaccine products), and also the medical advisor for Meningococcal Australia, which is funded by GSK Australia and Pfizer. Robert Booy’s role at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance includes involvement with industry-sponsored research, i.e. studies supported by vaccine manufacturers, and this should also be disclosed. Robert Booy is an author on meningococcal disease publications listed in PubMed.
    ALLEN CHENG is associated with funding from GSK and is co-chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation which influences vaccination policy.
    JODIE McVERNON has been associated with funding from GSK and Pfizer, and also Novartis which initiated the Bexsero meningococcal B vaccine product owned by GSK. She is an author on meningococcal disease publications listed in PubMed. Jodie McVernon is also a member of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation which influences vaccination policy. Jodie McVernon is also associated with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, an institute involved with vaccine development, which is supported and funded by Foxtel and News Corp Australia, i.e. media groups associated with the Murdoch family. News Corp Australia tabloid newspapers, e.g. the Daily Telegraph, campaigned for the coercive No Jab, No Pay law, which was enacted in January 2016 by the Coalition government led by Malcolm Turnbull, with cross party support from Labor and the Greens. https://elizabethhart.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/conflicts-of-interest-in-vaccination-policy-e-hart.pdf

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