A newly published article written by a former WHO vaccine committee member has revealed that estimates for pertussis vaccine efficacy have been greatly inflated because of inaccurate case definitions adopted by the WHO in 1991 which required laboratory confirmation and 21 days or more of paroxysmal cough, excluding and therefore concealing a veritable submerged iceberg of vaccine-resistant cases of pertussis infection.
I was a member of the WHO committee and disagreed with the primary case definition because it was clear at that time that this definition would eliminate a substantial number of cases and therefore inflate reported efficacy values.4–11 Nevertheless, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research of the Food and Drug Administration accepted this definition, and package inserts of the US-licensed DTaP vaccines reflect this.
The article, written by James D. Cherry, and published in the July. 2012 edition of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pointed out that following the 2010 pertussis epidemic in California, “there was considerable concern in the press and in public health communications about the possible contribution of vaccine failures to the problem.” At that time, the media and government health officials focused on the lack of sufficient vaccine coverage and subsequent waning herd immunity, without questioning whether pertussis vaccination actually results in effective immunization, which clearly it was not.
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