A remarkable study published in the Cochrane Library found no evidence of benefit for influenza vaccinations and also noted that the vast majority of trials were inadequate.
The authors stated that the only ones showing benefit were industry-funded. They also pointed out that the industry-funded studies were more likely to be published in the most prestigious journals…and one more thing: They found cases of severe harm caused by the vaccines, in spite of inadequate reporting of adverse effects.
The study, “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults”, is damning of the entire pharmaceutical industry and its minions, the drug testing industry and the medical system that relies on them.
In the usual manner of understatement, the authors concluded:
The results of this review seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure. As healthy adults have a low risk of complications due to respiratory disease, the use of the vaccine may be only advised as an individual protection measure against symptoms in specific cases.
The authors attempted to find and investigate every study that has evaluated the effects of flu vaccines in healthy adults aged 18-65. To this end, they “searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, 2010, issue 2), MEDLINE (January 1966 to June 2010) and EMBASE (1990 to June 2010).” They included 50 reports. Forty of them were clinical trials adding up to over 70,000 people. Two reported only on harmful effects and were not included in this study.
Studies of all types of influenza vaccines were included: live, attenuated, and killed – or fractions of killed – vaccines.
The primary outcomes they looked for were numbers and seriousness of influenza and influenza-like illnesses. They also looked at the number and seriousness of harms from the vaccines. The authors attempted to collect missing data by writing to the authors. They describe the response as “disappointing”. In the end, they included 50 studies and refused to use 92, mostly because of highly significant flaws, such as using inappropriate controls, not being randomly controlled trials, inconsistencies in data presented, lack of study design, unclear definitions, poor reporting, lack of crude data, and lack of placebo.
The authors found that vaccines administered parenterally, that is, outside the digestive tract, usually meaning by injection, reduced influenza-like symptoms by 4%. They found no evidence that vaccination prevents viral transmission! (There goes the whole herd immunity argument!) They also found no evidence that they prevent complications, either.