India and HPV vaccines: Controversy Continues

[SaneVax: The Supreme Court of India has requested further data on everything relating to the so-called ‘demonstration projects’ conducted in 2009, the circumstances surrounding the approval of HPV vaccines and all details relating to the approval of these demonstration projects/clinical trials of Gardasil and Cervarix. What connection does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have to these events? The article below explains from a local perspective.]

Controversial vaccine studies: Why is Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under fire from critics in India?

By Narayana Kumar, ET Bureau

In 2009, several schools for tribal children in Khammam district in Telangana — then a part of undivided Andhra Pradesh — became sites for observation studies for a cervical cancer vaccine that was administered to thousands of girls aged between nine and 15. The girls were administered the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in three rounds that year under the supervision of state health department officials. The vaccine used was Gardasil, manufactured by Merck. It was administered to around 16,000 girls in the district, many of whom stayed in state government-run hostels meant for tribal students.

Months later, many girls started falling ill and by 2010 five of them died. Two more deaths were reported from Vadodara, Gujarat, where an estimated 14,000 children studying in schools meant for tribal children were also vaccinated with another brand of HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GSK. Earlier in the week, the Associated Press reported that scores of teenaged girls were hospitalised in a small town in northern Colombia with symptoms that parents suspect could be an adverse reaction to Gardasil.

A standing committee on health and family welfare that investigated the irregularities pertaining to the observation studies in India tabled its report a year ago, on August 30.

The committee found that consent for conducting these studies, in many cases, was taken from the hostel wardens, which was a flagrant violation of norms. In many other cases, thumbprint impressions of their poor and illiterate parents were duly affixed onto the consent form. The children also had no idea about about the nature of the disease or the vaccine. The authorities concerned could not furnish requisite consent forms for the vaccinated children in a huge number of cases.

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