THE CLERK OF THE UK COMMONS HEALTH COMMITTEE. A DANGEROUS SOPHIST ?


I believe Huw Yardley, the Clerk of the UK Commons Health Committee, should be taking steps to fix the country’s flawed epidemic control measures and policies. These give dangerous, experimental vaccines a key role in stopping an epidemic when there are safer, proven measures. 

But Huw Yardley is misusing logic to deny there is a problem with the experimental Merck Ebola vaccines.

In an email to me today, he shows himself to be a consumate sophist. A sophist, by the way, uses superficial, false and tricky reasoning to support an invalid conclusion. A sophist is a liar or an incompetent.

Implying his support for an experimental Merck vaccine, which gives people Ebola according to study results published in The Lancet, Huw Yardley concludes his email to me by saying:

“I note also that the study concludes that the vaccine concerned “might be highly efficacious and safe in preventing Ebola virus disease”, which is somewhat at odds with the conclusion you have reached in your paper.”

First of all, I have not written any paper. I have merely drawn attention to study results published in The Lancet. The only logical inference that can be made from a statement in that study is that the experimental Merck Ebola vaccine causes Ebola.

The key passage is:

“As of July 20, 2015, a total of 43 serious adverse events had been documented among eligible and consenting trial participants, including 27 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (see appendix)..

http://www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/pdfs/S0140673615611175.pdf

The Lancet paper states there were 43 serious adverse events of the Merck Ebola vaccine. Of this superset of 43 serious adverse events, there were 27 confirmed cases of Ebola, says the paper. In logical terms, the 27 cases of Ebola are a subset of the 43 adverse reactions caused by the vaccine.

The language of superset and subset may sound confusing. But a simple example makes the matter clear. The England national football team has 11 players or is a superset of 11. If Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott are selected to play in the Euros, they form a subset of 2 of  England national football players. They belong to the English team. They are not some spare part playing for Spain or France.

Likewise, the 27 cases of Ebola virus are a subset of the 43 adverse reactions caused by the Merck vaccine.
There were other adverse reactions apart from Ebola just as there are other England national payers apart from Rooney and Walcott such as Michael Carrick or Joe Hart.

Other adverse reactions in the superset of 43 were “suspected, unconfirmed Ebola virus disease (three cases), episodes of febrile illness (three cases), and road traffic accidents (three cases).”

“Apart from Ebola virus disease, the three most common
serious adverse events were suspected, unconfirmed Ebola
virus disease (three cases), episodes of febrile illness (three
cases), and road traffic accidents (three cases). 16 deaths
occurred: 15 from Ebola virus disease and one from cardiac
arrest.”

Other terms for adverse event is effect or reaction. These three terms mean more or less the same thing. Each of them refers to negative effects of a vaccine or drug in a trial.

It follows logically, necessarily, from the statement in the Lancet that the experimental Ebola vaccine caused Ebola in 27 confirmed cases as well as other adverse events, reactions or effects.

Therefore, the conclusion of the study that the vaccine is safe and effective is not valid. It is not supported by the data.

Back to the email of Yardley with my comments…

Your report says “The study states 27 people contracted Ebola as a result of a Merck Ebola vaccine and 15 of these died.” I have looked carefully at the study, and I think you may be mistaken in your interpretation. That is for a number of reasons:
 
·         You refer to “adverse reactions”. The study does not refer to “adverse reactions”, but to “adverse events”.

Well, Huw, adverse reactions, events, effects mean the same thing. They are synonyms used interchangeably to describe the negative effects in a vaccine or drug trial causes by those vaccines or trials.

·         You say that the study states that people contracted Ebola “as a result of” the vaccine, but what it actually says is that there were 27 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease among eligible and consenting trial participants.

False, Huw. The study states there were 27 cnfirmed cases of Ebola virus disease among the adverse reactions or events to the experimental vaccine.

·         You claim that the vaccine “actually gives people Ebola”, but the study says “The initial causality assessment indicated that only one serious adverse event, an episode of febrile illness, in a male participant who recovered without sequelae, was related to vaccination”.

Hmm, Huw, the statement in the study is not supported by the data and, therefore, invalid.
 
I note also that the study concludes that the vaccine concerned “might be highly efficacious and safe in preventing Ebola virus disease”, which is somewhat at odds with the conclusion you have reached in your paper.

Yep, Huw. But then again you would not expect Merck to advertise the fact that there vaccine causes Ebola, would you?
 
Could you clarify why you think that the study to which you have drawn attention supports your argument that the current arrangements for protection against an infectious disease outbreak are unsatisfactory?

Hmm, Huw, circular argument. Start from the beginning.

Is Huw Yardley incompetent or is he biased? I suggest he should not be the Clerk of the Commons Health Committee if he does not understand basic terms like adverse events, reactions, effects in the context of vaccine trials.

 

 

 

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