Official Information Act Request To Minister

Published: Sun 2 Aug 2009 12:44 PM
1 August 2009
Open Letter/Official Information Act Request To NZ Minister Of Health
Tony Ryall:
Dear Minister,
Thank you for your reply dated 21 July 2009.
"Office of Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health
Dear Ms Bright
Thank you for your email of 11 July 2009 about influenza A (H1N1) 'Swine Flu'.
It is our current view that the Baxter vaccine will need to be proven and licensed before it can be used in New Zealand.
Yours sincerely,
Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health"
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Richard Taylor (MIN)
Date: Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 9:27 AM
Subject: Your correspondence with Hon Tony Ryall
To: ""
Dear Ms Bright
Please find attached a response to your correspondence with Hon Tony Ryall.
Yours sincerely
Richard Taylor | Office of Hon Tony Ryall
Private Secretary - Health
6.3 Executive Wing | Parliament Buildings | Wellington
In light of the fact that even the seasonal flu vaccines have been found to be ineffective, how can a Swine Flu Vaccine be even contemplated, much less be forcibly administered – especially in light of the fact that the Swine Flu virus is mutating so rapidly?
British Medical Journal Editorial:
Flu Vaccine “Ineffective”
This British Journal of Medicine flu vaccine editorial, by Dr. Tom Jefferson, cites a meta-analysis of flu studies performed by the conservative Cochrane Group to conclude that:
"[The Cochrane Group study] found that in children under two years old, inactivated vaccines had the same effectiveness as placebo.
Further, a study in the same review for adults found that "in healthy people under 65 vaccination did not affect hospital stay, time off work, or death from influenza and its complication."
Jefferson says there is a "surprising" gap between what the policies of health agencies surrounding influenza tell us and the actual data.
"The reason for this situation are not clear and may be complex," says Jefferson.
He suggests there may be a confusion between influenza and influenza-like illness, where people are being diagnosed with the flu when they have something else.
"This confusion leads to a gross overestimation of the impact of influenza, unrealistic expectations of the performance of vaccines, and spurious certainty of our ability to predict viral circulation and impact."
He said this problem is compounded by the lack of accurate, fast surveillance systems that can tell exactly what viruses are going around in a community. Therefore, at the end of the flu season, there's no way for scientists to get an accurate picture of what went on to better prepare for future tends, said Jefferson.
Even worse than this info is a story I heard on NPR Science Friday October 27th about how the WHO is pushing flu vaccines for almost everyone this year. The WHO rep who was interviewed by Ira Flatow did not deny, and actually confirmed, that they were heavily promoting vaccines this year to make money for the pharmaceutical companies so they would, "have a reason to stay in the vaccine business" to develop bird flu vaccine. So, your child who gets vaccinated might be sick .16* of a day less (that's almost 4 hours!) IF he gets one of this year's flu strains. All because he is being used to fund bird flu vaccine R & D. Why isn't the government just paying all that flu vaccine promotion money directly to the pharma companies???? I'm just sick and I didn't even get the flu.
*From the Cochrane Group meta-analysis of flu effectiveness, Vaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Adults. Key quote:
"Overall the percentage of participants experiencing clinical influenza decreased by 6%. [Med Nauseum note: Wow, that really works! 6% reduction!] Use of the vaccine significantly reduced time off work but only by 0.16 days [Almost 4 whole hours!!) for each influenza episode (95% CI 0.04 to 0.29 days)."
Other Links to Flu Vaccine Meta-Analysis (reviews of all published research) Studies: Vaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Children, Cochrane Library Vaccines for Preventing Influenza in People with Asthma, Cochrane Library Influenza Vaccination During Pregnancy: A Critical Assessment of the Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Journal of Physicians and Surgeons The conclusion of this study:
The ACIP's recommendation of influenza vaccination during
pregnancy is not supported by citations in its own policy paper or in
current medical literature. Considering the potential risks of maternal and fetal mercury exposure, the administration of thimerosal during pregnancy is both unjustified and unwise. Pregnancy should continue to be a time when doctors are highly protective of their patients with regard to any fetal exposure.
Without adequate safety testing, a risk-benefit analysis of influenza vaccination during pregnancy is not possible, and therefore the ACIP's present recommendation should be withdrawn.
In light of the fact that Baxter International, the company making the Swine Flu vaccine has ADMITTED contaminating the vaccine with live Bird Flu viruses, and is currently under police investigation for possible bioterrorism, how can the Minister have any confidence in the quality of any vaccine coming from this company?
Baxter admits flu
product contained live bird flu virus
Feb. 27 2009
The Canadian Press
TORONTO – The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses.
And an official of the World Health Organization’s European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.
“At this juncture we are confident in saying that public health and occupational risk is minimal at present,” medical officer Roberta Andraghetti said from Copenhagen, Denmark.
“But what remains unanswered are the circumstances surrounding the incident in the Baxter facility in Orth-Donau.”
The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabelled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.
The contamination incident, which is being investigated by the four European countries, came to light when the subcontractor in the Czech Republic inoculated ferrets with the product and they died. Ferrets shouldn’t die from exposure to human H3N2 flu viruses.
Public health authorities concerned about what has been described as a “serious error” on Baxter’s part have assumed the death of the ferrets meant the H5N1 virus in the product was live. But the company, Baxter International Inc., has been parsimonious about the amount of information it has released about the event.
On Friday, the company’s director of global bioscience communications confirmed what scientists have suspected.
“It was live,” Christopher Bona said in an email.
The contaminated product, which Baxter calls “experimental virus material,” was made at the Orth-Donau research facility. Baxter makes its flu vaccine – including a human H5N1 vaccine for which a licence is expected shortly – at a facility in the Czech Republic.
People familiar with biosecurity rules are dismayed by evidence that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses somehow co-mingled in the Orth-Donau facility. That is a dangerous practice that should not be allowed to happen, a number of experts insisted.
Accidental release of a mixture of live H5N1 and H3N2 viruses could have resulted in dire consequences.
While H5N1 doesn’t easily infect people, H3N2 viruses do. If someone exposed to a mixture of the two had been simultaneously infected with both strains, he or she could have served as an incubator for a hybrid virus able to transmit easily to and among people
That mixing process, called reassortment, is one of two ways pandemic viruses are created.
There is no suggestion that happened because of this accident, however.
“We have no evidence of any reassortment, that any reassortment may have occurred,” said Andraghetti.
“And we have no evidence of any increased transmissibility of the viruses that were involved in the experiment with the ferrets in the Czech Republic.”
Baxter hasn’t shed much light – at least not publicly – on how the accident happened. Earlier this week Bona called the mistake the result of a combination of “just the process itself, (and) technical and human error in this procedure.”
He said he couldn’t reveal more information because it would give away proprietary information about Baxter’s production process.
Andraghetti said Friday the four investigating governments are co-operating closely with the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Control in Stockholm, Sweden.
“We are in very close contact with Austrian authorities to understand what the circumstances of the incident in their laboratory were,” she said.
“And the reason for us wishing to know what has happened is to prevent similar events in the future and to share lessons that can be learned from this event with others to prevent similar events. ... This is very important.”
If you as the Minister of Health wish to "prove" the efficacy of the swine flu vaccine prior to releasing it for general distribution, what laboratory does you intend to use and what would constitute proof of safety as well as efficacy?
What is the process by which the Baxter vaccine (or ANY) vaccine is 'proven' before it can be used in New Zealand, and who is responsible for that 'process'?
Are those responsible for 'proving' the Baxter vaccine (or ANY vaccine) , fully independent of those who have produced or manufactured the vaccine?
What is the process by which the Baxter vaccine (or ANY vaccine) is 'licensed' before it can be used in New Zealand, and who is responsible for that process?
As the Minister of Health, you say in your reply, "it is our current view..."
To whom does the 'our' refer?
The New Zealand Government, or the New Zealand Ministry of Health, or both?
Yours sincerely,
Penny Bright
Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised 'Public Watchdog' on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.

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