Editorial: Resistance when going against the status quo

The controversy over the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil continues.

The controversy over the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil continues. Since last month’s Echo editorial on the vaccine and how the American College of Pediatricians had issued a warning related to what it deemed to be incomplete studies around the vaccine’s possible link to premature ovarian failure, the HPV vaccine has grabbed headlines again.

This time, on the Canadian side of the border, a study issued by two University of British Columbia researchers that cast further doubt on the vaccine was yanked from a prestigious medical journal in February. The study concluded that mice injected with Gardasil exhibited “behavioural abnormalities” and suggested that the widespread vaccination programs involving Gardasil be reined in (Gardasil is provided free in B.C. to girls in Grade 6, and to girls and women born in ‘94 or later who missed the in-school vaccine in order to prevent cervical and other cancers caused by HPV.)

A reason wasn’t offered for the withdrawal of the study from the Vaccine journal, but critics have condemned the study for being biased (the researchers are funded by anti-vaccination foundations) and using questionable methodology that counters numerous studies proving the vaccine is safe. Meanwhile, the researchers who co-authored the study have jumped to its defence, stating that the paper was pulled due to pressure from pharmaceutical companies and that if in fact it was poor science, better science should replace it instead of it being suppressed. The results of this particular study follow on the heels of another Canadian report published by two professors from McGill and Concordia in October that condemned the vaccine and called for a moratorium on its use after they received a federal grant to examine it. Their article, like the UBC study, was criticized as being seriously misinformed.

In its Gardasil warning, the American College of Pediatricians stated it’s committed to the prevention of disease by vaccines, but this didn’t stop it from declaring further Gardasil studies were warranted. As these new studies emerge that contradict the status quo, the pro-/anti-vaccine debate can’t be allowed to drown out the voice of reason.