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Mired in controversy, India's polio jab programme 'led to suffering, misery'

By Vratesh Srivastava* 

Following the 1988 World Health Assembly declaration to eradicate polio by the year 2000, to which India was a signatory, India ran intensive pulse polio immunization campaigns since 1995. After 19 years, in 2014, polio was declared officially eradicated in India. India was formally acknowledged by WHO as being free of polio.
However, an in depth analysis of the India’s polio eradication campaign reveals facts that contradict this narrative and call the ethics of the entire vaccination campaign into question. 

Some of the facts are highlighted below

Using a consistent definition, there’s no evidence polio was eradicated: Using a consistent definition of a polio case, there is no evidence that polio got eradicated. In fact, if one were to go by the traditional way where all acute flaccid paralysis cases used to classify as polio, polio cases actually skyrocketed as the vaccination programs intensified.
However, India opted for WHO’s criteria for diagnosing polio since 1997, which led to a change in definition of polio and consequently a drastic drop in cases of polio, despite a sustained increase in cases of acute flaccid paralysis which pre-1997 used to be classified as polio.
“Upto 1996 all reported cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) were labelled as polio cases” - Dr. Yash Paul, former member of India’s Polio Eradication Committee
Pre-1997, 67% of poliomyelitis cases were triggered by intramuscular injections:
Going through the literature of poliomyelitis outbreaks before the change in definition, it is clear that close to 67% of the cases were triggered by intramuscular injections. Since, 1997, it appears that many such cases were labeled “non-polio acute flaccid paralysis” (NPAFP) under various headings such as "traumatic neuritis", "sciatic nerve mononeuropathy", "Post injection Palsy" etc., especially where stool specimens were unavailable, inadequate or tested negative.
The DDT polio connection: There is considerable literature that emphasizes and possible causal association between pesticides like DDT and polio.
The use of DDT in agriculture peaked at 4,700 tones in 1978 and then declined to 0 in the 90s, following ban of its use on agriculture in 1989. Overall use of DDT, which includes indoor spraying, declined from 12,500 tonnes in 1980 to 4,400 tonnes in 1996. It is important to note that the major environmental impact of DDT is in agriculture. It is estimated that DDT spraying has only 0.04% of the environmental impact compared to use of DDT in agriculture.
This accentuates the ban of DDT in agriculture in 1989 and a plausible hypothesis can be made that ban of DDT in agriculture accelerated the decline of polio incidence in India in the early 1990s. The decline in polio cases in India from 1980 to 1996 of about 82% correlates well with overall decline of about 65% in DDT usage but more so with the decline in agricultural use (from a peak of 4,700 tons in 1978 to 0 in 1996).
The entire immunization programme was an exercise in eliminating wild polio viruses from stool specimens, not reducing incidence of acute flaccid paralysis: While the mainstream narrative indicated that the vaccine was reducing incidence of paralysis from polio, Dr T Jacob John, chairman of the polio eradication committee, made it clear that the aim was to only eradicate wild viruses from stool specimens, not the incidence of acute flaccid paralysis.
Deliberate violation of informed consent: It was known by members of the polio eradication committee that the vaccine itself can cause polio -- a condition called VAPP or vaccine associated paralytic poliomyelitis. This known side effect was deliberately hidden from the public and parents of the vaccinated children, with full knowledge of WHO and UNICEF. Worse, polio induced by the vaccine was paradoxically classified as non-polio.
Coercion to vaccinate: There were reports of coercion where families were threatened with power cuts and no ration if they refused to vaccinate their child.
Several red flags about vaccine failure: A disproportionately high number of polio cases were vaccinated. There was no effort made to study in detail the cause of vaccine failure and vaccine induced polio. A study by Dr. Pulliyel et al. actually indicated a strong association between rise in cases of acute flaccid paralysis and the polio campaign. Similar observation was made in another study of 9 AFP cases, where children had received up to an astonishing 25 doses.
Indiscriminate repeated vaccination with no safety studies: While the original dosage recommendation for the polio vaccine had been 3 doses, in India’s case it steadily increased to 7 and then to theoretically 10 doses. It was reported that 70 million children received 10 doses a year. Many children received up to 25 doses, prompting concerns of safety from the Indian Medical Association which was ignored by the government.
Poor surveillance of side effects implies that there was likely an incalculable number of serious adverse events: India has had poor post marketing surveillance of adverse events and it is difficult to gauge the entire spectrum of adverse events from vaccinations.
As recently as 2018, a former member of NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization) acknowledged that AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunization) in India was less than adequate and adverse events underreported as the AEFI committee sat only 4 times a year and analyzed 100 cases at a time, a very small number given the thousands of adverse events reported annually. There were reports of children getting brain stroke, going blind and even dying post the vaccination.
Lack of justice for vaccine victims: While adverse effects like vaccine induced polio were deliberately hidden, there was no compensation scheme in place. In matters where victims went to court and were able to successfully fight for compensation, the settlement in some of such cases took 10 to 25 years.
What actually happened on the ground seems to completely contradict what has been disseminated and publicized through mainstream media. One can argue with the above facts that the entire polio vaccination programme is mired in controversy and unscientific principles that actually led to incalculable suffering and misery.
*All references can be found in the author’s Substack link



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