Ethan A. Huff
November 26, 2012
The push is on to get as many newborn babies as possible vaccinated for rotavirus in the U.K., as health officials unveil a new vaccine program that they claim will reduce hospital admissions for the stomach bug. BBC News reports that the U.K. Department of Health will begin administering the oral drop-based vaccine Rotarix, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to children beginning in September 2013, even though the controversial vaccine has previously been found to harbor viral fragments of a swine virus known as porcine circovirus 1, or PCV1.
Following the lead of the U.S., Australia, and several other countries in Europe that have already adopted the use of Rotarix in small infants, British health officials are currently talking up the alleged benefits of the vaccine in order to gain public approval for its widespread introduction. According to official claims, the vaccine program, if implemented as intended, will cost the public health system in the U.K. the equivalent of nearly $40 million a year, while only purportedly saving it about $32 million a year.
But missing from the conversation is any talk about the very serious side effects of Rotarix, which just so happens to contain live attenuated virus. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), infants given Rotarix are twice as likely to develop intussusception, a potentially-deadly medical condition in which the intestines become blocked (http://www.fda.gov). Based on the figures, the risk of dying from these vaccine complications is likely higher than the risk of dying from rotavirus, which is relatively low.
Beyond these direct side effects, it was uncovered back in 2010 that every batch of Rotarix ever produced since the vaccine’s initial introduction back in 2008 has been contaminated with viral genetic material of PCV1. As reported by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) at that time, foreign DNA from this swine virus had apparently contaminated GSK’s working cell bank and viral “seed” stock long before the vaccine even hit the market, which means millions of children have potentially become exposed to this tainted vaccine material. (http://www.fda.gov)
According to the FDA’s website, neither the agency nor GSK know how foreign DNA from PCV1 came to be present in Rotarix in the first place, and the two entities are supposedly still “investigating this question.” Meanwhile, the Rotarix vaccine is still in widespread use, and health authorities are continuing to push parents to subject their young babies to this questionable vaccine that, at best, only helps reduce the number of days an infant suffers from diarrhea. With this in mind, do the risks of the vaccine truly outweigh its alleged benefits?
Sources for this article include: