The Impact of Vaccines on Mortality Decline Since 1900—According to Published Science

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from Collective Evolution:

  • The Facts:Article written by JB Handley, Children’s Health Defense Director and Co-Founder of Generation Rescue.
  • Reflect On:How come we never hear about this information? It’s well sourced and factual. Why are vaccines marketed by pharmaceutical companies as life savers and completely save when the data shows otherwise?

Since 1900, there’s been a 74% decline in mortality rates in developed countries, largely due to a marked decrease in deaths from infectious diseases. How much of this decline was due to vaccines? The history and data provide clear answers that matter greatly in today’s vitriolic debate about vaccines.

CHICAGO, Illinois —Since 1900, the mortality rate in America and other first-world countries has declined by roughly 74%, creating a dramatic improvement in quality of life and life expectancy for Americans.

The simple question: “How did this happen?”

Why did the mortality rate decline so precipitously? If you listen to vaccine promoters, the answer is simple: vaccines saved us. What’s crazy about this narrative is how easy it is to disprove, the data is hiding in plain sight. The fact that this easily-proven-false narrative persists, however, tells us a lot about the world we live in, and I hope will encourage parents to reconsider the veracity of many of the narratives they’ve been fed about vaccines, and do their own primary research.

1970, Dr. Edward H. Kass

Standing before his colleagues on October 19, 1970, Harvard’s Dr. Edward H. Kass gave a speech to the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America that would likely get him run out of this same profession today. At the time, Dr. Kass was actually the President of the organization, which made the things he had to say about vaccines and their impact on the reduction in American mortality rates even more shocking, at least by today’s standards. Forty-eight years after Dr. Kass’ speech, vaccines have taken on a mythological status in many corners of our world, hyped up by the people who benefit the most from their use. Of course vaccines saved the world. Of course every child should get  every vaccine. If you don’t vaccinate, you will enable the return of deadly childhood diseases. If you don’t vaccinate, your child will die. If you question vaccines, even a little, you’re an “anti-vaxxer” who should be shunned and dismissed!

But what if most of the history about the role vaccines played in declining mortality isn’t even true?

In his famous speech, Dr. Kass took his infectious disease colleagues to task, warning them that drawing false conclusions about WHY mortality rates had declined so much could cause them to focus on the wrong things. As he explained:

“…we had accepted some half truths and had stopped searching for the whole truths. The principal half truths were that medical research had stamped out the great killers of the past —tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia, puerperal sepsis, etc. —and that medical research and our superior system of medical care were major factors extending life expectancy, thus providing the American people with the highest level of health available in the world. That these are half truths is known but is perhaps not as well known as it should be.”

Dr. Kass then shared some eye-opening charts with his colleagues. I’m trying to imagine a President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America sharing one of these charts today at a meeting of public health officials. I picture someone turning the power off for the room where he’s presenting and then he gets tackled and carried off the stage…here’s the first example of a chart Dr. Kass shared in 1970:

But wait a minute, Dr. Kass’ chart doesn’t even include the measles vaccine…what gives? Well, in 1970, the measles vaccine was just beginning to be rolled out, and as you can clearly see, measles had long since experienced a dramatic decline in mortality. With Pertussis (Whooping Cough), he produced a similar chart:

In this case, you can actually see when the Pertussis vaccine was introduced. He also showed a chart for Scarlett Fever, which furthers the confusion about the role of vaccines, because there’s never been a Scarlett Fever vaccine, and yet the chart of a huge decline in mortality from Scarlett Fever looks very similar to measles and pertussis:

What’s the point?

Dr. Kass was trying to make a simple point to his colleagues, but one with profound implications for public health. His point was so important, I’m going to quote him in really big font to try and drive it home:

“This decline in rates of certain disorders, correlated roughly with socioeconomic circumstances, is merely the most important happening in the history of the health of man, yet we have only the vaguest and most general notions about how it happened and by what mechanisms socioeconomic improvement and decreased rates of certain diseases run in parallel.”

Dr. Kass pled with his colleagues to be open to understanding WHY infectious diseases had declined so dramatically in the U.S. (as well as other first world countries). Was it nutrition? Sanitary methods? A reduction in home crowding? (We’ve since learned the answer to all three questions is, “Yes.”) He encouraged his colleagues to be careful not to jump to conclusions prematurely and to maintain objectivity and “devote ourselves to new possibilities.”

Luckily for us, Dr. Kass’ speech that day has been saved for posterity, as it was printed in its entirety in a medical journal. In fact, it’s a journal that Dr. Kass himself founded, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, and his speech is called, “Infectious Disease and Social Change.” There are a number of things about Dr. Kass’ speech that I found breathtaking, especially given that he was the President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Namely:

  1. He never referred to vaccines as “mankind’s greatest invention” or one of the other many hyperbolic ways vaccines are described all the time by vaccine promoters in the press today. Vaccines weren’t responsible for saving “millions of lives” in the United States, as Dr. Kass well knew.
  2. In fact, he never gave vaccines much credit AT ALL for the developed world’s dramatic mortality decline. Which makes sense, because none of the data he had would have supported that view. Which made me wonder, “has anyone tried to put the contribution of vaccines to the decline in human mortality in the 20th century in context?” Said differently, is there any data that measures exactly how much impact vaccines had in saving humanity? Yes, indeed there is. Read on.

1977: McKinlay & McKinlay: The most famous study you’ve never heard of

t won’t be the world’s easiest read, but I hope you take the time to read every word. In 1977, Boston University epidemiologists (and husband and wife) John and Sonja McKinlay published the seminal work on the role vaccines (and other medical interventions) played in the massive decline in mortality seen in the twentieth century, that 74% number I talked about in my opening paragraph. Not only that, but their study warned against the very behavior we are now seeing in the world of vaccines. Namely, they warned that a group of profiteers might take more credit for the results of an intervention (vaccines) than the intervention deserves, and then use those fake results to create a world where their product must be used by everyone. Seriously, they predicted that this would happen. (It’s worth noting that the McKinlay Study used to be required reading at every medical school.)

You can read the document pictured below below, HERE. 

…they warned that a group of profiteers might take more credit for the results of an intervention (vaccines) than the intervention deserves, and then use those fake results to create a world where their product must be used by everyone.

Published in 1977 in The Millbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, the McKinlay’s study was titled, “The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century.” The study clearly proved, with data, something that the McKinlay’s acknowledged might be viewed by some as medical “heresy.” Namely:

“that the introduction of specific medical measures and/or the expansion of medical services are generally not responsible for most of the modern decline in mortality.”

By “medical measures,” the McKinlay’s really meant ANYTHING modern medicine had come up with, whether that was antibiotics, vaccines, new prescription drugs, whatever. The McKinlay’s 23-page study really should be read cover to cover, but in a nutshell the McKinlay’s sought to analyze how much of an impact medical interventions (antibiotics, surgery, vaccines) had on this massive decline in mortality rates between 1900 and 1970:

Here are some of the major points their paper made:

  • 92.3% of the mortality rate decline happened between 1900 and 1950 [before most vaccines existed]
  • Medical measures “appear to have contributed little to the overall decline in mortality in the United States since about 1900–having in many instances been introduced several decades after a marked decline had already set in and having no detectable influence in most instances.”

And, here’s the two doozies…

The paper makes two points that I really want to highlight, because they are so important. The first one concerns vaccines. They write:

“Even if it were assumed that this change was entirely due to the vaccines, then only about one percent of the decline following interventions for the diseases considered here could be attributed to medical measures. Rather more conservatively, if we attribute some of the subsequent fall in the death rates for pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, and diphtheria to medical measures, then perhaps 3.5 percent of the fall in the overall death rate can be explained through medical intervention in the major infectious diseases considered here. Indeed, given that it is precisely for these diseases that medicine claims most success in lowering mortality, 3.5 percent probably represents a reasonable upper-limit estimate of the total contribution of medical measures to the decline in mortality in the United States since 1900.”

In plain English: of the total decline in mortality since 1900, that 74% number I keep mentioning, vaccines (and other medical interventions like antibiotics) were responsible for somewhere between 1% and 3.5% of that decline. Said differently, at least 96.5% of the decline (and likely more than that since their numbers included ALL medical interventions, not ONLY vaccines) had nothing to do with vaccines.

You don’t get to say you saved humanity if, at most, you were responsible for 3.5% of the decline in mortality rates since 1900 (and probably closer to 1%).

And then the McKinlay’s wrote something that made me laugh out loud, because it’s the thing we are seeing every day in today’s vaccine-hyped world:

“It is not uncommon today for biotechnological knowledge and specific medical interventions to be invoked as the major reason for most of the modern (twentieth century) decline in mortality. Responsibility for this decline is often claimed by, or ascribed to, the present-day major beneficiaries of this prevailing explanation.”

Sound familiar?

2000: the CDC puts the final nail in the coffin

In 1970, Dr. Kass raised the idea that public health officials need to be careful to not give the wrong things credit for the twentieth century’s massive mortality rate decline in the developed world. In 1977, Drs. McKinlay & McKinlay put data around Dr. Kass’ ideas, and showed that vaccines (and other medical interventions) were responsible for between 1-3.5% of the total decline in mortality since 1900. In 2000, CDC scientists reconfirmed all this data, but also provided more insight into the things that actually have led to declines in mortality.

Published in September 2000 in the journal Pediatrics and titled, “Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: Trends in the Health of Americans During the 20th Century,” epidemiologists from both Johns Hopkins and the Centers for Disease Control reaffirmed what we had already learned from McKinlay and McKinlay:

“Thus vaccination does not account for the impressive declines in mortality seen in the first half of the century…nearly 90% of the decline in infectious disease mortality among US children occurred before 1940, when few antibiotics or vaccine were available.”

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