Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sunday newspaper prints informative and well-researched story

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  • James Green,

    I'm in the wrong demographic to know anything about what MoH said beforehand, however, 2 things strike me. 1) The sheer number of vaccinations mean that even very uncommon side effects will occur (in a quite noticeable number). 2) Given the misinformation routinely produced by anti-vaccine lobbies, I could see the temptation to err in the other direction by the group trying to get people to accept vaccination. Not commendable, but I can see the temptation.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Incidentally, that list of grusome side-effects seems about average. Here's one (at semi-random*) on an ibuprofen (ie Nurofen) formulation for children

    http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/Datasheet/f/Fenpaedsusp.htm

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme30,

    l.o.l you could be right......... http://stuff.co.nz/3981058a6442.html

    Since Mar 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • ross f,

    > Basically, it just sounds scarier when they put it that way.

    Are you for real, Russell? Clearly, you think that 13 deaths is a laughing matter (unless of course a baton may have been involved and then it's deadly serious).

    wairarapa • Since Mar 2007 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • ross f,

    > Given the misinformation routinely produced by anti-vaccine lobbies.

    Hmmm, so if the MOH says there have been seven deaths when there have only been two, that's "not commendable". Weasel words. It's actually bad science, unethical and bad policy. Oh, and a gross misuse of more than $200 million. But let's discuss Herceptin.

    wairarapa • Since Mar 2007 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    not commendable

    That related to side-effects. Not deaths. Way to misquote me.

    bad science

    Uh, where did anyone say 2 actual deaths and MoH 7? And speaking of bad science, no response to my critique of your own bad 'science'? Happy to discuss Herceptin, but if your argument falls over there as well, will you change the topic again?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • ross f,

    > Uh, where did anyone say 2 actual deaths and MoH 7.

    The MOH said it. I presume you're outraged (even mock outrage will do).

    As for your "critique", and I use the word loosely, I have no idea where you obtained your figures. My figures come from the MOH, Dr Diana Martin who works at ESR, and from the official reports into the disease that are published each year.

    In 2004, 4 people (across all age groups) died from the epidemic strain; in 2005, 6 people died fromthe epidemic strain. That's an absolute increase of 50%. Given the drop in the incidence of the disease, it is relatively easy to see how the death rate has increased by 150%. But you can argue with yourself on that point if you choose to.[What's interesting is the low number of deaths, which are for all age groups. For the under 20 age group, which is the focus of the vaccine, the number of deaths is even lower.]

    In 2006, there were 161 cases (the offical report into the disease has yet to be published) of all strains of he disease. That constitutes an epidemic, maybe not to you or I, but according to the MOH. According to the ministry, only 3 cases per 100,000 are required for an epdiemic.

    Between 2001 and rollout, total deaths for all age groups declined naturally by about 70 percent while case numbers dropped by about 50 percent. However, in a 7 July 2004 press statement, then Health Minister Annette King said, “The epidemic has shown no signs of abating.” I might say that she had a senior moment but, well, she's really not that old.

    Amazingly, the MOH continues to refer to the dramatic fall in disease number since 2001, as if MeNZB vaccine is responsible for that fall. But that's impossible because the vaccine began to be rolled out in 2004, AFTER a massive fall in disease numbers and deaths.

    You also said: "Herceptin only treats some types of breast cancer, and only helps a small portion of those (approx. 19)".

    Alas, I was awaiting your analysis of the MeNZB vaccine. Who does that affect? Well, it has been given to more than one miilion NZers but will affect less than 100 of them. I'll let you work out the percentages because there are too many zeroes after the decimal point for my liking. Of course, the vaccine does not help those who catch other strains of the disease.

    I conclude that since you apparently believe that the numbers don't stack up for the funding of Herceptin, the numbers nonethless look a helluva lot better than they do for the MeNZB vaccine. I'm sure you'll agree that the decision to spend more than $200 million on the vaccine was a gross misuse of taxpayers' money.

    wairarapa • Since Mar 2007 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • ross f,

    Russell wrote: "I think the MoH played down the possibility of adverse reactions more than was wise. Our older boy was knocked sideways by every shot - the sickest he's been in his life".

    Sorry to hear that.

    Back in 2003, a Norwegian professor of pediatrics claimed that there were serious negative effects from a similar vaccine that was never introduced in Norway but which was trialled there. He advised officials here. It doesn't seem as though his concerns were taken seriously, especially since the necessary trials were not conducted with the MeNZB vaccine (most of the trials - and there were few - involved the Norwegian vaccine, not the one that was rolled out).

    Parents should have been given all the available information on the vaccine. That's what informed consent is about. It's obvious they were kept in the dark.

    wairarapa • Since Mar 2007 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • ross f,

    > so they aren't even real numbers ross

    You really are a pathetic cretin. Why don't you take up a new hobby, like self-immolation.

    wairarapa • Since Mar 2007 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    In 2004, 4 people (across all age groups) died from the epidemic strain; in 2005, 6 people died fromthe epidemic strain. That's an absolute increase of 50%.

    I can't see the figures for the epidemic strain but for all B types it was 5 and 7. However, if you do division to get your percentage increase, that's the relative increase, not absolute. And much as I feel for the families of the 2 people, you'd need to see an increase from 4 to around 8-10 for it to be a statistically significant change.

    In 2006, there were 161 cases (the offical report into the disease has yet to be published) of all strains of he disease. That constitutes an epidemic, maybe not to you or I, but according to the MOH. According to the ministry, only 3 cases per 100,000 are required for an epdiemic.

    Uh yeah. And in 2005 there were 229, with an incidence of 6.1 per 100,000, so I'd guestimate that the incidence for '06 was down to around 4, and with the trend evident in my graph, it looks like the epidemic will be over, er, next year.

    Between 2001 and rollout, total deaths for all age groups declined naturally by about 70 percent while case numbers dropped by about 50 percent.

    I assume you're talking about only the specific strain, and that you conviently chose 2001 because it makes the figures look better?

    Alas, I was awaiting your analysis of the MeNZB vaccine. Who does that affect? Well, it has been given to more than one miilion NZers but will affect less than 100 of them.

    Uh no. There are hundreds not hospitalised. Or does it only affect you if it kills you?

    I conclude that since you apparently believe that the numbers don't stack up for the funding of Herceptin

    I'm confident that the cost per life saved comfortably exceeds a million dollars, and that there are quite severe side effects for others.

    the numbers nonethless look a helluva lot better than they do for the MeNZB vaccine.

    The numbers for MeNZB are a bit harder to calculate, but it would appear that if account for both deaths and hospitalisations, MeNZB is probably cheaper than Herceptin. Essentially, breast cancer statistics require a lot less extrapolation that menningoccal B, so there are some things that are unknowable. We'll never know how the disease rates would be if there had been no vaccine, and trend prediction is a difficult and inexact science. I think the call to do the vacccination was a big one, and we'll never really know for sure if it was the right call.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Y'know how you think people were stopping dying anyway, have a look at these figures (B strain deaths)
    1996 7
    1997 16
    1998 17
    1999 11
    2000 12
    2001 18
    2002 5
    2003 7
    In 1999 and 2000, you could also have been forgiven for thinking the problem was going away. There are some big relative percentage drops, and some huge gains. While it is possible that the 2002/2003 was the end of the epidemic, it also could have jumped up to 16 (like it did from 96 to 97). Having had the vaccine there is no way of knowing.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You really are a pathetic cretin. Why don't you take up a new hobby, like self-immolation.

    Um, okay, so Ross becomes our first ever struck-off user.

    I've been wondering about it for the past of couple days: trolling the way he has been changes the tone of discussion and makes everyone focus on the troll, which is the road to the hell of certain other blogs.

    He also seemed unable to debate sensibly, and the personal abuse above seals the matter. You might say that he generated the production of useful information by others, but I'm over it.

    He might be able to post if he's still logged in but he won't be able to log in again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    You had done well not to get such obvious trollers earlier, and to be honest, he wasn't totally without skill as a troller

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    It was an interesting exercise, but I think I could do with putting some time into some other things : )
    My final (hopefully) comment is that I think there is much greater complexity than meets the eye. Prediction is one of the most fraught jobs of a statistician/epidemiologist/public healther. Also, WRT warnings about side-effects, there is some good evidence that if you provide "accurate" information about side effects, people tend to overestimate the risk.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    in the parlance of our times - Ross became the first to be "voted off the island".

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    hmm, maybe there is a god after all?
    bugger

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    He's been all over the web on the same issue, you have to wonder where did he find the time?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    That's the question I always find myself asking about trolls llew. There's got to be a masters thesis in it somewhere ;-)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    You really are a pathetic cretin. Why don't you take up a new hobby, like self-immolation.

    Um, okay, so Ross becomes our first ever struck-off user.

    Good call. Ross's arguments were driving me crazy, but this was the point where he went over the line. The way I see it, it's fine to say that someone's arguments are weak / silly / stupid / ridiculous / absurd / farcial / preposterous / risible / contemptible / deficient / feeble / lame / pathetic / wanting, or just plain unconvincing (as long as you provide some reasons to back up your assessment), but calling someone weak / silly / stupid / ridiculous / absurd / farcial / preposterous / risible / contemptible / deficient / feeble / lame / pathetic / wanting is a step too far.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    yes but deborah, umm actually i am all those things.
    except risible. no way am i risible.
    and why are people so anti cretins? all the kiwis that over there say they're really nice. in the immortal words of Waverly, he must be a bit of a palestine.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Span, your wish is my command.

    More seriously, now that that argument is over, I'm going to semi-godwinise. The last person I engaged with who argued like that was a neo-nazi who would post things in German culture groups. He would say stuff like "Aren't there legitimate reasons to question the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust?" And "Isn't it a reasonable topic of investigation to ask whether it was feasible to construct gas chambers?" And so, slowly, he would as it were outline the shape of something very nasty, without ever actually saying it outright. Which is where we were at with the recent police group rape thing. Continuous innuendo, and shifting of ground when challenged, never acknowledging or directly disputing, always haggling about details as if to prove one detail wrong was to disprove everything, And infuriating to debate with, because the terms and the ground keep shifting.

    But as noted above, a master of the trolling art. *gulp*

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    I don't know that mastery had been achieved Stephen, but I know what you mean. Just these last couple of days Riddley and I have agreed to disagree, but it never got personal like that cos there's just no need for it. Unless of course your argument just doesn't stack up as something with shifting foundations rarely does in the former Mr Wairarapa's case. Opinions are like arseholes, everyones got one some are just more full of shite than others. This should in no way be interpreted as a slur on our Mr Walker as I do agree with the point he makes in that the Mainstream media pushes their agenda intertwined with reportage which can't really but does claim to be impartial as media should be. I do still think that for a labour led government these guys are dodge, but also concede that the tories are past masters at these types of shenanigans, as I said I expect it from them.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    He's been all over the web on the same issue, you have to wonder where did he find the time?

    So thats my bandwidth has been crap all these months.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    that is an interesting paper on trolls stephen - i especially liked the bit about 'erectile dysfunction and enuresis'! that is very funny. i always suspected as much.
    not so sure about the socialistic tendencies of some troll types though, i got the feeling our mate wasn't much of a lefty.

    but just to be a nerdy tosspot, i note however they refer to the best treatment for troll (ie. challenging their assertions and pointing out the inferiority of their arguments) as 'negative reinforcement', when it is actually either negative punishment (withdrawal of hubris) or positive punishment (delivering a stimulus they find aversive). anything that reduces the frequency of a behaviour is by definition punishment. didn't seem to work on our dear friend though, i guess good things take time, what. the advantages of a moderator eh.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    An 'Obsessive/Abstract cross perhaps? i'd like to say Malicious but he wasn't that stupid.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

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