By Trine Villemann
Until April 15th 2011, I was a great believer in vaccines. My son was born prematurely and very ill and in order to protect him he had every vaccination available because I trusted the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies when they told me that vaccines are safe and prevent diseases and death.
Now I know better – because on that April afternoon disaster struck. My husband, BBC Correspondent Malcolm Brabant, went across a busy road to a vaccination-centre in a suburb of Athens, Greece, where we lived, to have a yellow fever vaccination in order to go on a business trip to the Ivory Coast in Africa.
20 minutes later he was back. I didn’t know it at the time, but the vaccine had already begun its devastating journey through his body towards his brain.
The alarm bell sounded less than 24 hours later, when I found my husband in our living room burning up with fever. We both instantly knew it was a reaction to the vaccination. My husband had been told to expect “flu like symptoms” but his fever was above 40 degrees (104 F) and his shivers were so violent that our big double bed rocked so much that things fell off the bedside table next to it. I kept the fever down to a bearable 38 degrees by plying my husband with Ibuprofen, but as soon as I didn’t, the fever shot up again.
Then the insomnia started. My husband who usually passes out the minute his head hits the pillow, could not sleep. He became irritable and irrational. He began to do things that I found very hard to put into a normal context – like the afternoon he decided to go and sit in the sunshine on our patio dressed in his thick winter coat, a huge woollen scarf, shorts and slippers because “he was going to sweat the fever out”.
My husband was hospitalized and his treating physician knew him very well having treated him for pneumonia two years earlier. We recently saw this doctor again and she went over the notes she wrote on his admission.
“Confused, animated and aggressive”, was how she described my husband’s mental state.
The morning after his admission it became even more obvious that something was terribly wrong with my gentle giant of a husband as he chased a doctor out of his hospital room apparently – or so my husband said – because he had been asking inappropriate questions.
My husband’s biochemistry results were abnormal. His liver enzymes were elevated and continued to head north over the coming days.
And the fever persisted. The doctors ran an abundance of tests, but there was nothing that could explain the high fever and the abnormal blood results – apart from the yellow fever vaccine.
Mentally he was disappearing into a place where it was becoming more and more difficult to follow him. He told me his electronic e-reader flew across the room. He started firing off crazy emails and he cried a lot.
He began thinking that he was the Messiah and explained to me how dear, departed friends would “buzz” him – that’s how he described the messages he said he received – to tell him what to do.
On April 28th 2011 – 13 days after my husband had the vaccination – the Greek doctors broke the fever using steroids, but by then he was so far gone mentally that he was transferred to a psychiatric clinic a few days later.
The psychiatrist diagnosed my husband with an “acute, organic psychosis” a condition which ended up haunting my husband more than a year after the vaccination. He has spent over 8 months in locked-up psychiatric wards and has suffered beyond belief.
Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of the yellow fever vaccine, denies any link between the vaccine and my husband’s illness. However in May 2013 the vaccine-maker for the first time admitted that my husband is not the only one who has been sent mad by the yellow fever vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur admitted to “fewer than 10 reports of mental disorders related to the vaccine, including Mr Brabant’s”, but I have investigated this and found hundreds more.
At the WHO Monitoring Centre in Uppsala they have gathered at least 400 reports of yellow fever vaccine-related adverse events involving mental disorders over the past ten years.
Only about 3-10 percentage of all drug-related adverse events are reported, so there are bound to be thousands of people around the globe who have been sent mad by the yellow fever vaccine. I am in touch with people from several countries who have all suffered psychotic episodes after having Sanofi Pasteur’s yellow fever vaccine.
With so many reports of yellow fever vaccine-related events involving mental disorders, it is fair to say that Sanofi Pasteur and the relevant regulatory agencies have known for years that the yellow fever vaccine can cause these problems. Yet, they have done absolutely nothing to investigate the vaccine and the psychiatric complications it can cause.
There is, however, a growing realisation that the yellow fever vaccine is unsafe and unstable. Doctor Thomas Monath is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on the yellow fever vaccine. He recently appeared in a PBS-programme called “The Great Fevers” and said this about the yellow fever vaccine:
“This vaccine was considered one of the safest vaccines ever developed. And there were no real concerns about safety. That has now changed in the last decade and we now recognize that there are some really severe and significant, serious adverse events.”
The issue of how safe all of Sanofi Pasteur’s vaccines really are has also surfaced recently. In 2012 the FDA issued a stern warning letter to Sanofi Pasteur after inspections found numerous safety breaches at their vaccine-manufacturing plants in France and Canada. And just a few weeks ago I was contacted by a whistleblower who shared some very disturbing internal Sanofi Pasteur documents with me. The whistleblower alleges that Sanofi Pasteur is involved in illegal behaviour in order to cover up recurring safety issues with their vaccines.
As soon as Sanofi Pasteur became aware that I was in possession of this material they sent their legal attack dogs after me, but I am not afraid of Sanofi Pasteur and have handed over these documents to the relevant authorities.
Sanofi Pasteur has done nothing to help my husband. We have shared all his medical records with them. They refuse to share any of the findings of the investigation they say they have carried out. Sanofi Pasteur asked for and received a list of my husband’s treating physicians, but they have not contacted any of the doctors on the list we provided – the maker of the yellow fever vaccine is simply not interested in finding the truth.
My husband is finally doing better, but he is still medicated and his mental prognosis is uncertain. As a family we are slowly trying to claw our way back to a normal existence after my husband’s vaccine-injury, but life has changed dramatically. We take one day at a time. We dare not plan and we dare not hope.
One thing, however, is certain. I will keep on fighting for justice and I will not give up until Sanofi Pasteur acknowledges that its yellow fever vaccine sent my husband mad.
Malcolm Brabant’s story in his own words is available here.