The stupid continues at Channel 7

Right now, I’m looking out my window to see the spreading pall of burning stupid rising over Channel 7’s tower in Southfield. And the stupid isn’t just for Steve Wilson anymore. What reporter Carolyn Clifford lacks in adiposity, she easily makes up for in credulity. Her “investigative report” tonight on the HPV vaccine Gardasil is another example of embarrassingly bad health reporting.

A few preliminaries:

Feel free to read my previous posts on Gardasil for some background, but just to catch you up, almost all of the 11,000 yearly cervical cancers are caused by a series of biological events that begins with an infection caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), and four subtypes are responsible for most of these cancers. The way we have approached this problem over the last several decades is by the use of the yearly Pap smear. This test looks at cells taken from the cervix to see if precancerous changes are taking place. If they are, and they do not resolve spontaneously, various surgeries are undertaken to remove cervical tissue. If it’s too late even for that, well, you’re in big trouble.

So a vaccine against the most dangerous strains of HPV seems like a good idea—stop the cancer at the earliest possible stage, not when it’s already there.

Several advocacy groups, mostly antivax cultists, far right Christian cults, and libertarians have been fighting against this vaccine.

And in steps our intrepid reporter. In some of the laziest journalism I’ve ever seen, she finds an individual who believes she is suffering from a bad reaction to the vaccine. She then uses this anecdote to create a piece of sensationalist “journalism” that does little to educate the public.

So Carolyn went and found D. Ms D., who appears on visual inspection to fall outside of the recommended group for the vaccine (being too old) goes and gets one reportedly on the advice of her doctor. Then she has a “reaction”.

She reports that she went to the ER and was told she was likely having a stroke, and was sent home to return if it got worse. Now, I realize we’re getting third-hand information, but a reporter is supposed to clarify this. No one who goes to the hospital with a “stroke” is sent home to see if it gets worse. A good reporter would have spoken to some more folks here.

Ms D. was eventually diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which “has been linked to vaccines in the past.” What vaccines? Gardasil? Others? Linked how? In the same way the absence of one-armed pirates is linked to an increase in automobile accidents? She says:

The Centers for Disease Control has received 31 reports of Guillain Barre Syndrome following Gardasil vaccinations in the U-S. Of the seven confirmed cases…six patients were vaccinated with a meningitis vaccine at the same time. Deborah received only Gardasil.

What does the CDC really say?

Because GBS occurs at a rate of 1 to 2 per 100,000 person-years during the second decade of life, it is likely that some cases occur after vaccination by chance alone and are not caused by vaccination. Among 9 to 26 year-olds, the number of reports of GBS received by VAERS are within the range that could be expected to occur by chance alone after a vaccination.

This execrable job of “investigation” was nothing more than an anecdote of a patient who used a vaccine off label, experienced an illness at some point afterward, and now blames the vaccine. Where is the science? Where is the two minute trip to the CDCs website to check facts? Where is a background interview with the patient’s doctor?

Hey, I’m just a doctor; I’m not a reporter.

Apparently, Carolyn isn’t either.