Vaccine allowed for people as young as nine months
In January, 2019, news outlets reported the death of a leading cancer researcher in the UK, who suffered total organ failure not long after receiving a yellow fever (YF) vaccine.
Both the UK and the U.S. recommend YF vaccination for anyone nine months of age or older who is planning to travel to a yellow-fever-endemic country in sub-Saharan Africa or South America.
In the early 2000s, news reporters apparently had a bit more leeway to disclose vaccine risks. A 2001 story about YF-vaccine-related deaths in three countries concluded that the fatalities “underscored yet again that there is no such thing as a perfectly safe vaccine.” A recent search of “yellow fever vaccine adverse events” in PubMed (the National Library of Medicine’s free search engine) pulled up 168 search results for studies published over the past couple of decades. Considering that an estimated 99% of vaccine-related adverse events never even get reported, perhaps it is time to reexamine the yellow fever vaccine’s risks.
DEATH, MADNESS AND ORGAN FAILURE
The UK is no stranger to dramatic stories about YF vaccination gone awry. A former BBC foreign correspondent recently described his journey into psychosis after YF vaccination, noting that others who have contacted him report that they, too, suffered “delusion and hallucinations after having the vaccination.” He received his vaccine in Greece, where, rather unusually, “the doctors…told him they believed he’d had an adverse reaction to the vaccine.” After a difficult period of treatment and eventual recovery, the BBC reporter wrote a book and made a filmabout the “Kafkaesque” experience and is attempting to have the vaccine’s manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, “admit liability for what happened to him.” Commenting on the film, one individual stated, “It’s difficult to imagine that [a commonly administered] inoculation against disease…could have an effect so darkly devastating on a human being. Yet here it is, recorded in all the pain, misery and anguish for us all to see.”
As scientists have come to admit that modern YF vaccines can cause “invasive and disseminated disease in…otherwise healthy individuals, with high lethality,” they have coined several terms to describe the phenomenon. The acute multiple organ system dysfunction suffered by the UK cancer researcher is called yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD). Published studies also report serious side effects such as yellow fever vaccine-associated neurotropic disease (YEL-AND)—for example, meningitis or acute disseminated encephalomyelitis—as well as “immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reactions.” According to a 2012 report coauthored by CDC researchers and others, YEL-AVD is fatal in over 60% of reported cases, with a median of 10 days from vaccination to time of death; severe YEL-AVD is characterized by low blood pressure, “hemorrhage, acute renal failure, and acute respiratory failure.” In 2015, an Oregon woman in her 60s died within nine days of receiving a yellow fever shot after suffering a severe reaction involving heart damage and kidney failure.
The CDC report states that YEL-AVD results from out-of-control “dissemination and replication” of the vaccine-strain virus—with studies having documented vaccine virus “in a number of postmortem tissues obtained from YEL-AVD case patients.” Researchers likewise posit that YEL-AND results from “direct viral invasion of the central nervous system by the vaccine virus” or, in some instances, an autoimmune reaction.
HOW MANY CASES? WHO KNOWS?
As of 2010, an international working group identified 60 reports of YEL-AVD (both published and unpublished) from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. Conservative estimates based on these reports suggest that there may be 3-4 cases of YEL-AVD per million doses distributed, with 14-18 cases per million doses in individuals 60-plus years old and as many as 117 per million reported in a study involving a single vaccine lot.