Has a top scientist from the World Health Organization (WHO) been caught lying to the public about vaccine safety?
According to a Facebook “Fact Check” now appearing on posts containing a link to a YouTube video that claims this is so, the answer is firmly “No”.
But contrary to Facebook’s denial, the video’s central claim is true: the WHO scientist in question has in fact been shown to have blatantly lied to the public about vaccine safety.
Consequently, it is Facebook and its “fact checkers” who are hypocritically misleading Facebook users about vaccine safety.
- What the WHO Wants the Public to Believe about Vaccine Safety
- What the WHO Knows about Vaccine Safety
- The HighWire Highlights the WHO’s Deception
- How Facebook Hypocritically Misleads Users with Its “Fact Check” Warning
- How the AFP “Fact Check” Hypocritically Misleads Readers
- How the Lead Stories “Fact Check” Hypocritically Misleads Readers
- Is the WHO Worthy of the Public’s Trust?
On November 28, 2019, the WHO published a YouTube video with the title “WHO works to ensure vaccinations are safe”. The description states, “When you take a child to be vaccinated you trust that s/he will get a safe and effective vaccine, given in the right way. That trust relies on the existence of effective vaccine safety systems. See how WHO works with countries to strengthen vaccine safety monitoring to prevent untoward effects of vaccination.” (Bold emphasis added.)
The claims that Dr. Swaminathan makes in this video are critical context for understanding how Facebook and its supposed fact-checkers are deceiving people. In the quotes from the video that follow, I’ve used bold text to emphasize key claims.
The WHO video introduces us to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan as its “Chief Scientist”. She introduces herself as a “pediatrician by training” from India. After discussing the dangers of “vaccine preventable” diseases, she assures us: “Vaccines are very safe. If someone gets sick after vaccination, it is usually either a coincidence, an error in administering the vaccine, or very rarely, a problem with the vaccine itself. That’s why we have vaccine safety systems. Robust vaccine safety systems”—(as she says this, the text “Robust vaccine safety systems” animates into the frame to reinforce the message to the viewer)—“allow health workers and experts”—(the word “Experts” animates in)—“to react immediately to any problems that may arise.” (The word “Examine” appears on the screen as she continues.) “They can examine the problem and rigorously and scientifically look at the data”—(at this point, the viewer is reading the words “Scientifically look at the data” on the screen next to “Robust vaccine safety systems”)—“and promptly address problems.”
She adds, “WHO works closely with countries to make sure that vaccines can do what they do best: prevent disease without risks.” (The viewer is now looking at large text reading, “Prevent disease without risks”, which is animated to jump out a bit momentarily at the viewer—just a little pop for added effect to make sure the words are noticed and written into the viewer’s memory.)
The central message is unambiguous: “Robust vaccine safety systems” already exist in countries everywhere that enable scientists like those working at the WHO to ensure that vaccines administered to children confer benefits “without risks.”
Just five days later, on December 3, the second and final day of a WHO “Global Vaccine Safety Summit” in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Swaminathan conveyed a very different message for her assembled colleagues.
Once again, I have used bold text in the following quotations to emphasize key points from her remarks.
The focus of her statements, recorded on video and published on the WHO website, was the perceived need to develop even more vaccines and ensure high uptake among populations. But, she elaborated, there are obstacles to achieving this goal. As always, she said, “there are the skeptics and the critics and people who will constantly be pointing out the risk of side effects and making associations and so on.”
That is to say, people who point out “constantly” that vaccination entails the risk of side effects, in her view, are “critics” who stand in the way of the WHO achieving its policy goals.
She blamed a low uptake for the HPV vaccine in India on critics who associated the vaccine with adverse events and deaths that, according to her, were due to other causes.
Nevertheless, she emphasized, a major obstacle to achieving high uptake is public concern about vaccine safety. To overcome this problem, she suggested, there is a need for stronger “pharmacovigilance”, which refers to how scientists monitor population data to try to detect adverse events associated with pharmaceutical products.
In that context, she told the assembly,
I think we cannot overemphasize the fact that we really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries, and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine, and this always gets blown up in the media. One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly has happened and what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases, there is some obfuscation at that level, and therefore there’s less and less trust in the system.
In the context of the overall policy goal of achieving high vaccine uptake, she went on to address the question of how to communicate to the public about the risks. She advised, “I think the role of science within the system, the government, [is] really making it very explicit and clear, and being willing to be transparent and open about what is expected and what might not be known at the time of the introduction of the vaccine.”
“Putting in place the mechanisms”, she went on to say, to be able to monitor and detect vaccine-associated adverse events is important because, just as many times adverse events caused by pharmaceutical products were only identified years after the drug had been licensed and marketed to the public, “unexpected things could arise after vaccination, and one always has to be prepared.”
Drawing near to her conclusion, she told the assembly: “So I think that risk is always there, and I think the population needs to understand that and feel confident that mechanisms are being put in place to study some of those things.”
In sum, the central message Swaminathan had for her colleagues was that legitimate concerns about vaccine safety were an obstacle to be overcome in order to achieve the policy goal of increasing demand for these pharmaceutical products. To overcome that challenge would require addressing some of those legitimate concerns by strengthening vaccine safety monitoring systems that in many countries are presently inadequate and don’t enable scientists to determine whether a vaccine-associated adverse event was likely coincidental or caused by vaccination.
Certainly, in light of her acknowledgment that the risk of vaccines causing adverse events is “always there” and that safety surveillance systems in “many countries” are inadequate, it cannot be said that Dr. Swaminathan was being transparent and open in the WHO video published five days prior on YouTube.
Merriam-Webster defines the verb “lie” as “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive” or “to create a false or misleading impression”. Certainly, when Swaminathan told the public in her YouTube video that existing robust safety surveillance systems ensure that childhood vaccines can be given “without risks”, she was lying.
But that’s not the YouTube video that Facebook has flagged for misinforming its users.
On January 9, 2020, on his show The HighWire, host Del Bigtree—a former producer of the CBS medical talk show The Doctors and producer of the documentary film Vaxxed—highlighted the dishonesty of Dr. Swaminathan’s public message in the WHO video by juxtaposing it with her remarks at the WHO summit.
Titled “W.H.O CHIEF SCIENTIST CAUGHT LYING TO THE PUBLIC”, the description for the HighWire video on YouTube reads, “Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the W.H.O., addresses the world in a promotional video where she ensures the robust existence of effective vaccine safety systems and the overall safety of vaccines. Five days later, here is her diametrically different opinion behind closed doors at the Global Vaccine Safety Summit on Dec. 3rd, 2019.”
Below that, the description notes that the source of the video is the WHO, and a link is provided to the summit webpage, along with a note specifying that the clips are taken from the Tuesday afternoon session video starting at the “0:29:15” timestamp.
The HighWire video shows Dr. Swaminathan claiming in the WHO YouTube video that robust safety monitoring systems exist that ensure that vaccines confer benefits “without risk”, then juxtaposes that public message with clips of her remarks at the summit. (Another link is provided to a full episode of The Highwire presenting this and numerous other examples of how the public message from the WHO diverges from acknowledgments officials made at the summit about numerous legitimate safety concerns.)
The only misleading aspect of the HighWire video is the description that says she was speaking “behind closed doors” at the summit, which implies that the meeting was taking place secretly or without public knowledge. As already noted, videos of the speakers at the summit were published on the WHO website (and are still available there at the time of this writing), so she was not speaking “behind closed doors”. While this is regrettable hyperbole, in fairness, The HighWire’s description on YouTube does cite the WHO website as its source, and the key point being communicated must not be overlooked, which is that the WHO’s chief scientist did indeed have one message intended for mass public consumption and a contradictory message intended for her colleagues within the WHO.
There is no context from which any of the shown clips were cut that alters or in any way belies that legitimate point. The WHO’s chief scientist had indeed been caught deliberately lying to the public.
Presently, on posts containing a link to the HighWire video, Facebook is warning users that the video has been “Checked by independent fact-checkers” and found to contain “Partly False Information”.
Below the post, Facebook presents links to two “Fact-Check” articles, one by Natalia Sanguino of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and another by Wayne Drash of Lead Stories, the headlines of which tell Facebook users that the HighWire video’s title communicates a false claim.
The title of the AFP piece is “Video of WHO scientist’s vaccines speech misleadingly edited”. But this article relies on the fallacy of strawman argumentation to support its accusation by falsely attributing to The HighWire a claim that it did not make.
Upon clicking the link, the reader is presented with a screenshot from the HighWire video on YouTube. Layered over the image is the question “WHO scientist said vaccines are unsafe?” Stamped across the image in answer to the question is the word “MISLEADING”.
It’s the AFP here that is being hypocritically misleading because the HighWire video does not claim that Dr. Swaminathan said that “vaccines are unsafe”. This is a fabrication, which explains why nowhere in the article does the AFP present any evidence to show that the HighWire video made that claim.
Furthermore, the AFP offers no evidence to support the claim that the clips shown in the HighWire video were in any way taken out of a context that would belie the purpose for which those segments were being shown.
The AFP itself provides the quote of Dr. Swaminathan admitting that vaccine safety monitoring systems in many countries are inadequate. It then makes much of the fact that, following those remarks, there was a 35-second segment that the HighWire video didn’t show, in which she “does not appear to be doubting the safety of vaccines”.
But that is inconsequential. It doesn’t change the fact that, as the AFP itself shows us by conveniently providing us with the quote, Dr. Swaminathan did indeed acknowledge the widespread problem of inadequate safety surveillance systems and emphasize the need to put mechanisms in place that would enable researchers to better detect vaccine-associated adverse events—mechanisms she had misled the public in her YouTube video to believe already existed universally.
The AFP then adds, “The video’s claim that Swaminathan spoke to officials ‘behind closed doors’ is also false. The full Geneva conference remains available on the official WHO website.”
The HighWire’s use of that phrase is misleading, but viewers of the HighWire video on YouTube can see for themselves in the description that the primary source is the conference videos on the WHO website; and the AFP is simply overlooking the point, which is that Dr. Swaminathan’s remarks at the summit did indeed belie her claims in her YouTube video.
In sum, the AFP article is not journalism but a work of propaganda evidently intended to prejudice readers against The HighWire so that they don’t watch the video to see for themselves how the WHO’s chief scientist blatantly lies about vaccine safety in her YouTube video. The HighWire’s minor misleadingness in stating that Dr. Swaminathan spoke “behind closed doors” pales in comparison with the AFP’s much more egregious misleadingness in arguing against a fabricated strawman and deflecting attention away from the true substance of what the HighWire video reveals to its viewers.
The title of the Lead Stories piece is “Fact Check: W.H.O. Chief Scientist NOT Caught Lying To The Public”. The lead paragraph of the article reads,
Was the W.H.O. chief scientist caught lying to the public about the robustness of the organization’s vaccine safety systems? No, that’s a misleading claim being shared via anti-vaccine groups. The groups, however, do raise pertinent questions about recent comments by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, and the world body may need to give a better explanation about her remarks. But to say she is lying is a stretch.
But the article then goes on to contradict itself by explaining how, in her YouTube video, Dr. Swaminathan touted robust vaccine safety systems that enable scientists to ensure that vaccines can be administered without risks, but then in her remarks to the WHO summit acknowledged that surveillance systems in many countries are inadequate.
Lead Stories omits her acknowledgment that the risk of adverse events after vaccination is “always there” despite this being critical context for assessing the veracity of the claim made in the title of the HighWire video.
But given her admittedly self-contradictory messages, how can it be said by Lead Stories that she was not lying? To accuse the chief scientist of “lying”, the author argues, “one would have to know her intent.” In other words, Lead Stories tacitly acknowledges that what Dr. Swaminathan says in her YouTube video is misleading but simply assumes that it was not her intent to deceive.
But that is incorrect. There are two problems with that reasoning. As already noted, “to create a false or misleading impression” also falls under the definition of a “lie”, and, inarguably, Dr. Swaminathan created a false impression in her YouTube video.
Furthermore, that her intent was to deceive is demonstrated by the fact that she knew better, as made obvious from her remarks at the WHO summit.
The Lead Stories makes no attempt to reconcile the contradiction between the author’s assumption that she had not intended to deceive and the obvious fact that she knew that what she was saying in the WHO YouTube video was untrue.
Beyond that, the Lead Stories article is helpful in bolstering the case that The HighWire was making against the WHO as an untrustworthy organization. The author, Wayne Drash, was diligent enough to contact WHO spokesman Tarik Jašarević, who replied, “A common tactic for anti-vaccination activists is to selectively take statements out of context, and we are seeing this as part of an attempt to discredit vaccines.”
But neither the WHO spokesman nor Lead Stories offer an argument to support the accusation that the HighWire took any statements “out of context”. That they were selected clips goes without saying, and there was nothing in the context of her remarks in those clips that alters the inescapable conclusion that the purpose of the WHO YouTube video is to deceive the public about vaccine safety.
Helpfully, the Lead Stories article concludes by presenting the WHO spokesman’s additional comments and explaining why the WHO’s response fails to address the legitimate concerns raised by The HighWire video:
“WHO strongly supports vaccination. The benefits of vaccines far outweighs the risks and vaccines prevent diseases like measles. Like any medicine, vaccines come with minor side effects in some people and very rare serious side effects,” he said. “Vaccine safety is held in high value by WHO through the use of quality safety monitoring and research. WHO is committed to supporting vaccine safety science with a balanced and objective approach. This enables any issues to be picked up early and acted on.”
But that WHO statement falls far short of a full answer in addressing Swaminathan’s comments of not having “very good safety monitoring systems in many countries.”
Lead Stories asked the health organization for further clarification, including:
– How many countries “don’t have very good safety monitoring systems”?
– How is WHO trying to solve this problem?
– If many countries don’t have good safety monitoring systems, how can WHO guarantee the safety of vaccinations in those countries?
The WHO has not responded.
Mr. Drash’s questions are insightful and pertinent. It is regretful that his faith in the WHO as a trustworthy source of information prevented him from seeing what was right in front of him, and that, in order to maintain that faith, he managed to convince himself that it was not her intent to mislead the public even though she obviously knew that what she was saying in the YouTube video was untrue.
The WHO’s deceptive video, transparently intended to help the organization achieve its policy goal of increasing vaccine uptake globally, is not the whole story, of course. The full episode of The HighWire shows many additional examples of assembled experts at the WHO summit acknowledging a broad range of legitimate concerns about vaccine safety.
In fact, one speaker at the summit, Professor Heidi Larson, directly addressed the issue of alleged “misinformation” being shared on social media and how social media companies have come under pressure to stop it from spreading. “They have a lot of fingers pointing at them to fix the misinformation problem,” she said. “But it’s not so simple. One—the biggest—problem is that a lot of it’s not misinformation.”
And that observation goes to the fundamental problem with Facebook condescending to tell us what’s true and what’s not rather than enabling us to view without prejudice information from a variety of sources and determining the facts for ourselves. What Facebook is doing is not fact-checking. It is instead engaging in propaganda and censorship in service to the state and the public policy goal of achieving high vaccination rates.
The example we’ve just seen isn’t the only instance of Facebook hypocritically deceiving its users with a supposed “Fact Check” about vaccines. In June of last year, Facebook began flagging posts containing a link to another HighWire video pointing out that vaccines—including the one for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)—can cause encephalopathy, which refers to any type of brain damage, disorder, or disease. This includes encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. According to Facebook, this is “False”. The Facebook “fact-checker” tells users that data show that vaccines do not cause encephalopathy. But that is a lie.
In fact, the pharmaceutical giant Merck, which manufactures the MMR vaccine used in the US, lists encephalitis among the vaccine’s possible side effects, and under federal regulations, manufacturers are required to warn consumers on package inserts only about “adverse events for which there is some basis to believe there is a causal relationship between the drug and the occurrence of the adverse event.” The company’s Merck Manual, a globally bestselling medical textbook, states explicitly that “Encephalitis can occur as a secondary immunologic complication of certain viral infections or vaccinations.” (Emphasis added.)
The US government, too, acknowledges that vaccines can cause encephalopathy. In 1986, the government passed a law granting broad legal immunity to manufacturers of vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and establishing the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), funded by an excise tax on each vaccine dose administered. The purpose and effect of the law is to shift the financial burden for vaccine injuries away from the pharmaceutical industry and onto the taxpaying consumers. Under the VICP, the government maintains a “Vaccine Injury Table”, which lists adverse events that are recognized to be caused by vaccines. Encephalopathy and encephalitis are both listed.
In one famous VICP case, the government conceded that nine vaccine doses administered at once to a girl named Hannah Poling “significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder.”
Of course, in addition to falsely identifying inconvenient truths about vaccines as “misinformation”, Facebook and its “Fact Check” partners go about this business in a prejudicial manner, labeling as “misinformation” only information that doesn’t align with public policy goals while refusing to exercise objectivity by also identifying misleading and false information from supposedly trustworthy governmental agencies like the WHO.
Instead of transparently communicating the risks to the public, the WHO is in the business of downplaying or ignoring scientific data that doesn’t align with its policy goal of achieving high vaccine uptake.
The diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis (DTP) combination vaccine provides us with a particularly instructive example.
The DTP vaccine has been replaced in the US with a vaccine that uses an acellular pertussis component, known by the acronym DTaP (or Tdap for adolescents and adults). But the DTP is still widely used in other countries upon the recommendation of the WHO.
The pre-licensure clinical trials for the DTP vaccine didn’t consider the vaccine’s effect on childhood mortality. It was always just assumed that if the vaccine is effective at reducing incidence of the three target diseases, it will therefore reduce the rate of childhood mortality.
However, the best scientific studies we have to date show that the vaccine is associated with precisely the opposite outcome: the DTP vaccine appears to increase the risk of children dying from other diseases.
These studies are not without their methodological flaws. Since the DTP vaccine is already on the market and considered “standard of care”, it is considered unethical to conduct the “gold standard” of safety studies, the randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The logic behind this judgment is that it would be wrong to deny the control group the benefits of the vaccine. For this reason, and otherwise just because of the difficulty and expense involved, no such studies have been done examining the vaccine’s effect on childhood mortality.
Instead, researchers must rely on observational studies, which involve examination of population data. The trouble with this type of study is that it does not enable researchers to control as well for all the innumerable variables that might affect outcomes. Observational studies are prone selection biases that can invalidate their findings.
For example, the studies the CDC has historically relied on to support its claim that the influenza vaccine reduces the risk of mortality among the elderly are observational studies. But starting in 2005, the scientific community began questioning the CDC’s claims and looking more closely at these studies because it was observed that influenza mortality among the elderly had increased as vaccine uptake had risen.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discovered, and others later confirmed, that the CDC’s cited studies suffered from a “healthy user” bias. It wasn’t that elderly people who got vaccinated were less likely to die during the coming flu season but that old people who were so frail that they were more likely to die during the coming winter were less likely to get a flu shot.
Population data for observational studies may come from sources such as health care organizations, government registries, or vaccine safety monitoring systems. While Dr. Swaminathan implied that robust surveillance exists in at least some countries with her acknowledgment that the systems in “many countries” are inadequate, she might as well have said “all countries” because it’s not just surveillance systems in developing countries that are problematic.
To start with, while postmarketing surveillance is important, it’s no substitute for long-term, randomized, placebo-controlled trials.
Also, data from such systems don’t enable researchers to determine whether an association is causal. When the data from such systems show no association with harms from vaccination, it’s touted by public health officials as determinative, but when the data show an association with a negative outcome, we are reminded that just because an association exists doesn’t mean the adverse event was caused by the vaccination.
Another problem is underreporting. In the US, there is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which was established under the 1986 law granting legal immunity to the vaccine industry. The government acknowledges that reports to VAERS represent only a small fraction of serious adverse events associated with vaccination.
A study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which like the CDC operates under US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), found that adverse events from vaccines “are common, but underreported”, representing “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events”. The researchers proposed a method to automate adverse event reporting rather than relying on passive reporting, but the project reached a dead end when the CDC refused to cooperate on its further development and implementation.
Another problem with observational studies is that they’re not as useful as randomized controlled trials for detecting adverse consequences of vaccination that researchers aren’t specifically looking for. It is very difficult to know what the true risks are from a vaccine when clinical trials consider only short-term acute reactions and not long-term harms that may not be obviously related to vaccination.
Nevertheless, scientists who have asked the question and have tried over the course of decades to determine the DTP vaccine’s effect on childhood mortality have made the startling discovery that vaccinated children die at a higher rate. As the authors of a 2017 study put it, “All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis. Though a vaccine protects children against the target disease it may simultaneously increase susceptibility to unrelated infection.”
Such unintended consequences of vaccines are known in the scientific literature as “non-specific effects”.
The WHO is by no means unaware of these studies. Yet the organization continues to recommend the use of the DTP vaccine in developing countries. (Developed countries have switched to the DTaP vaccine because the DTP vaccine is associated with a higher risk of adverse events, but the DTP is still used in WHO vaccination campaigns primarily because it’s cheaper.)
The WHO’s justification for sustaining this policy recommendation is the methodological flaws inherent in observational studies. Just because they’ve found an association, the WHO argues, doesn’t mean that it’s the vaccine causing the deaths.
Yet, contradictorily, the WHO accepts the findings of observational studies finding the measles vaccine to be associated with a decreased risk of dying from other diseases.
The self-contradictory position of the WHO has been discussed in depth in an expert review by Peter C. Gøtzsche, a widely respected scientist who has led the Nordic Cochrane Center in Denmark and helped found the Cochrane Collaboration, an international group that boasts independence from the pharmaceutical industry and specializes in a type of study known as a “meta-analysis”, or a systematic literature review, which looks at all available studies and conglomerates the data to determine where the science really stands. (Different studies often have different results, and it’s easy to cherry-pick studies from the literature that support a desired conclusion; hence the utility of meta-analyses.)
As Gøtzsche observed in his review of the DTP mortality studies, the discovery of “non-specific effects” of vaccines, whether beneficial or detrimental, show that “it is impossible to predict what happens in terms of susceptibility to infections in general, of all types, when the immune system is being stimulated through vaccination”.
He criticized the WHO’s dismissiveness of the DTP studies as “inconsistent and biased toward positive effects of vaccines. When a result pleases the WHO, it can be accepted, but not when a result does not please the WHO.”
Conflicts of interest within the WHO is another area of concern that potentially helps to explain this obvious bias. Of the fourteen experts tasked by the WHO to examine the evidence with respect to the DTP vaccine’s effect on mortality, eight “had relevant conflicts of interest in relation to companies producing vaccines”. Three “even had ties to GlaxoSmithKline”, one of the manufacturers of DTP vaccines.
While the WHO chose not to see these ties as conflicts of interest, “research has overwhelmingly demonstrated that people become influenced when they have financial ties to drug companies, even when these ties are not directly related to the drugs or vaccines in question.”
Gøtzsche observed the commonsense principle that “expert committees that give advice on immunization programs should not be involved with their re-assessment when research has demonstrated that a vaccine might increase total mortality.”
Additionally, “no one should be allowed to have financial conflicts of interest in relation to the pharmaceutical industry.” However, “This is not the case for WHO committees.”
He further observed:
It is the duty of a manufacturer of a drug or vaccine to demonstrate in randomized trials that it works and has a positive benefit to harm balance. This has not been done for the DTP vaccine. Not a single randomized trial has been carried out, but the vaccine is nonetheless on the market. This has created the odd situation that the burden of proof has been reversed. The WHO recommends the use of the vaccine and seems to require very convincing evidence that it increases mortality before any action will possibly be taken.
Given the widespread use of the vaccine around world, the “need for randomized trials” is “an urgent ethical imperative.”
In conclusion, “the best available evidence . . . tells us that it is likely that the DTP vaccine increases total mortality in low-income countries”, and therefore “no one should be offered this vaccine without full informed consent that includes information that the vaccine is likely to increase total mortality.”
One of the leading scientists involved in the research examining the “non-specific effects” of vaccination is Christine Benn. With respect to the absence of randomized controlled trials and the finding that the DTP vaccine—and non-live vaccines in general—appear to increase the risk of childhood death, she has recently remarked, “No vaccines have been studied for their non-specific effects on overall health, and before we have examined these, we cannot actually determine that the vaccines are safe.”
But instead of properly informing the public about the risks, the WHO is telling populations around the world that “robust vaccines safety systems” exist that enable scientists to administer vaccines to children “without risk”—and Facebook and self-proclaimed “fact checkers” in the news media are telling us that it is “misinformation” to say that the WHO is being untruthful when it broadcasts that blatant lie to the public.
This article was originally published at Foreign Policy Journal.
 World Health Organization, “Global Vaccine Safety Summit”, WHO.int, December 2 – 3, 2019, https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2019/12/02/default-calendar/global-vaccine-safety-summit. Dr. Swaminathan’s remarks can be viewed in the video for the hours “14h – 15h15” on December 3, 2019, from about 24 minutes to about 32 minutes in.
 https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/closed. In full disclosure and transparency, when I first watched the HighWire video on social media, where the full YouTube description disclosing the source as the WHO website was not available, I shared it to my social media using the same description of Dr. Swaminathan’s statements being made “behind closed doors”, which I later regretted when a reader emailed me the link to the videos on the WHO website. It’s been my intent since to write this article to set the record straight about the misinformation on both sides of the debate—the preponderance of it, of course, coming from the side of the WHO apologists.
 Natalia Sanguino, “Video of WHO scientist’s vaccines speech misleadingly edited”, AFP, January 20, 2020, https://factcheck.afp.com/video-who-scientists-vaccines-speech-misleadingly-edited.
 Wayne Drash, “Fact Check: W.H.O. Chief Scientist NOT Caught Lying To The Public”, Lead Stories, January 30, 2020, https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3471558-Fact-Check-WHO-Chief-Scientist-NOT-Caught-Lying-To-The-Public.html.
 HighWire, “WHO IS LYING TO YOU?”. The segment with Larson’s remarks starts at about the 50-minute marker. Larson is Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Clinical Professor at the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation; Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project; former head of Global Communication at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); former chair of the Advocacy Task Force at Gavi, the “global vaccine alliance”; and a former member of the WHO’s SAGE Working Group on “vaccine hesitancy”. See: https://www.vaccineconfidence.org/team (accessed February 10, 2020).
 Jeremy R. Hammond, “Facebook ‘Fact-Checker’ Misinforms Users about Vaccine Safety”, JeremyRHammond.com, June 17, 2019, https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2019/06/17/facebook-fact-checker-misinforms-users-about-vaccine-safety/.
 US Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Chapter I, Subchapter C, Part 201, Subpart B, Section 201.57, https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=e00f45bdd6f1cafba470b8ffd752c510&mc=true&node=se21.4.201_157&rgn=div8.
 Jeremy R. Hammond, “Is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Evidence of Vaccine Safety?” Jeremy R. Hammond, July 1, 2019, https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2019/07/01/is-the-vaccine-injury-compensation-program-evidence-of-vaccine-safety/.
 Hammond, “Facebook ‘Fact-Checker’ Misinforms”. My primary source is: David Kirby, “The Vaccine-Autism Court Document Every American Should Read”, Huffington Post, February 26, 2008, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-vaccineautism-court-d_n_88558. However, despite merely relaying to the public the text of the court’s judgment in the Hannah Poling case after a brief explanatory introductory, this page was removed by editorial team of the HuffPost last year “in the interests of public health” because it didn’t align with the message that “vaccines are safe and effective.” Since the article diverged from the message that vaccines pose no health risk to the public, the editor’s have explained, they didn’t want to do their readers the “disservice” of leaving it on the public record. In this case, because the content showed that the government had acknowledged a serious vaccine injury, it was deemed “anti-vaccine” and on that criteria censored. See: Lydia Polgreen, “Letter From The Editor: Why We Are Removing Anti-Vaccine Blogs” HuffPost, June 21, 2019, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/letter-from-the-editor-vaccines_n_5d0cefd6e4b0aa375f4ba1c6.
 Jeremy R. Hammond, “How the CDC Uses Fear and Deception to Sell More Flu Vaccines”, JeremyRHammond.com, April 2, 2018, https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2018/04/02/how-the-cdc-uses-fear-and-deception-to-sell-more-flu-vaccines/. See the section subtitled “The CDC’s Debunked Claims about the Flu Shot’s Effect on Mortality” and corresponding references.
 Jeremy R. Hammond, “The CDC’s Criminal Recommendation for a Flu Shot During Pregnancy”, JeremyRHammond.com, May 14, 2019, https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2019/05/14/the-cdcs-criminal-recommendation-for-a-flu-shot-during-pregnancy/. I discuss this institutionalized cognitive dissonance at length and with examples in this fully referenced article.
 Jeremy R. Hammond, “How You’re Being Lied to about the Risks of Getting a Flu Vaccine Annually”, JeremyRHammond.com, January 11, 2019, https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2019/01/11/how-youre-being-lied-to-about-the-risks-of-getting-a-flu-vaccine-annually/. See the section subtitled “The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)” and relevant referenced sources.
 Ross Lazarus, “Electronic Support for Public Health – Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (ESP:VAERS) – Final Report”, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, US Department of Health and Human Services, 2010, accessed October 10, 2019, https://healthit.ahrq.gov/ahrq-funded-projects/electronic-support-public-health-vaccine-adverse-event-reporting-system.
 Søren Wengel Mogensen et al, “The Introduction of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis and Oral Polio Vaccine Among Young Infants in an Urban African Community: A Natural Experiment”, EBioMedicine, March 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360569/.
 Peter C. Gøtzsche, “Expert Report: Effect of DTP Vaccines on Mortality in Children in Low-Income Countries”, Vaccines Science Foundation, June 19, 2019, https://vaccinescience.org/expert-report-effect-of-dtp-vaccines-on-mortality-in-children-in-low-income-countries/.
 Kristian Sjøgren, “Vaccines – An Unresolved Story In Many Ways”, ScienceNews.dk, December 27, 2019, https://sciencenews.dk/en/vaccines-an-unresolved-story-in-many-ways.