“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” — George Orwell
Vaccination is for the whole society while drugs to treat illnesses are for a small cohort of the sick at a given time. Obviously, big business will be more interested in vaccination than drugs. But how much of it is beneficial? Lifelong immunity after an infection is accepted science but immunity from attenuated or dead germs is still only a hypothesis.
We have devised an ingenious method of claiming that we have won the war on polio or any other illness—by changing the name of any such disease after the last case was reported. We have a new disease in India, acute non-polio paralytic illness. What is that label? Developing immunity against any illness is the job ofour immune system.
Our immune system needs serum proteins for its good health. Naturally, malnourished children, of whom India has the lion’s share in the world, cannot, and should not, be given any vaccination as their immune system cannot normally respond with antibodies which are proteins. Malnourished children must be treated for their malnutrition before being vaccinated. Oral live polio vaccine drops, Japanese encephalitisvaccination and many others are not only useless but dangerous for malnourished children.
Now comes a bombshell from a prestigious government teaching institute where an upcoming young teacher, who has superb academic credentials, has been denied his due promotion as he had written some excellent scientific articles on the rational use of vaccines which had embarrassed the government policymakers. Unfortunately, the details of this problem cannot be revealed as the young teacher fears for his career. It brings to mind that half-page article by Dr Pushpa Bhargava, the then deputy chairperson of Indian Knowledge Commission, in The Hindu some years ago titled Politics of Polio. Dr Bhargava later resigned from his job because of his strong views against polio vaccines for malnourished kids.
I can understand the government’s attitude as they are more interested in the health of the corporate segment and the pharma industry rather than the health of the poor malnourished and dying kids. The latter have no votes anyway! Our sarakari scientists are there to dance to the tune of their political masters to hang on to their posts and also to get ‘cushy’ parking lots after retirement. Many of them manage to get a stint at the WHO or UNESCO, thanks to their earlier connections.
The WHO has even tried to dilute the diagnostic criteria of vaccine-related deaths and disability. What worries a thinking person is the apathy of our so-called champions of freedom of speech and our guardians of science. If science is echoing the sentiments of our masters in the government, science becomes another fanatical religion. We seem to have twisted our definition of vaccine-related deaths and disability to suit the industry.
When small matters like banning a book or so crop up, the great champions of freedom of speech jump in to condemn such a ban. But when people play with human lives to make money, the whistleblowers are not backed by anyone!
Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.