(CNSNews.com) – Tests ordered by the Kenyan Catholic bishops in October to find out if a tetanus vaccine provided by the World Health Organization contained a birth-control hormone -- allegedly used in a “disguised population control program” -- were false positive, and the bishops were “acting in good faith on the evidence presented to them” at the time, said Matercare International in a statement on Nov. 21.
While the tests of the vaccine the Bishops had done at four separate laboratories were marred and showed false positive results for the infertility hormone, Matercare Internaitonal also said “the best solution is for the Kenyan authorities to communicate directly with the WHO in Geneva to offer support and encouragement to expeditiously test samples supervised by both parties in independent, reputable and competent laboratories.”
“Once the absence of hCG [hormone] is unequivocally confirmed,” Matercare said, “a public statement and campaign of support for the immunization programme will be necessary to minimize the potential for further damage.”
New joint-tests of the vaccine were agreed to this month between the Kenyan Health Ministry and the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), but those tests have not been completed. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) maintain that the tetanus vaccine is safe.
Matercare International is an organization of Catholic health professionals dedicated to improving the lives of mothers and babies through service, training, and research around the world.
In related comments, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) said in an e-mail to CNSNews.com that its past president, Dr. Mary Davenport, along with other doctors, including Matercare’s Dr. Rob Walley, had recently reviewed the October test results from Kenya.
“In brief, the results of the [October] tests of the Kenyan tetanus vaccine which caused concern were false positives, due to the cross reactivity of some of the components of the vaccine, and the fact that the testing ordered was invalid,” said the AAPLOG.
AAPLOG’s executive director, Dr. Donna Harrison, noted that the organization is “still awaiting pending valid testing of the Kenyan vaccines in order to conclude that the vaccines do not contain other agents targeted at fertility control."
Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by a neurotoxin of a bacterium (Clostridium tetani), which is usually introduced through dirty wounds or the umbilical cord if cut with a non-sterile instrument. The disease causes muscle spasms, particularly in the jaw, and if left untreated, death.
According to UNICEF, 49,000 newborns worldwide died from neonatal tetanus in 2013.
In early November, the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement warning that it suspected the tetanus vaccine was laced with a hormone -- human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG – that, once injected into women, causes their bodies to produce anti-bodies to the hormone which, in turn, can cause miscarriages and eventually infertility.
The bishops stated they had “struggled” to obtain several vials of the vaccine and tested them at “four unrelated government and private laboratories in Kenya and abroad.” They further said “that all of the tests showed that the vaccine used in Kenya in March and October 2014 was indeed laced with the Beta-HCG hormone.”
The KCCB sent those test results to the cabinet secretary and the director of Medical Services for the Kenyan government in mid-October.
In their Nov. 6 statement, the Kenyan bishops went on to say they were “shocked at the level of dishonesty and casual manner in which such a serious issue is being handled by the Government,” and added, “we shall not waver in calling upon all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign laced with Beta-HCG, because we are convinced that it is indeed a disguised population control programme.”
As reported by CNSNews.com, the WHO and UNICEF denied that the tetanus vaccine was laced with the HCG hormone and insisted the vaccine was safe. UNICEF also said it would agree to have the vaccine independently tested.
Because of the controversy that resulted from questions about the vaccine, the Kenyan government launched an investigation and on Nov. 12 it was decided that new, joint-tests of the vaccine would be conducted with the oversight of the bishops, the Kenyan Catholic Doctor’s Association and the Health Ministry.
In the meantime, Matercare International and the AAPLOG reviewed the tests that were conducted in October.
Matercare International, in its Nov. 21 statement, said that the Kenyan Catholic Medical Association and the KCCB had acted “in good faith on the evidence presented to them, fulfilling their pastoral duty.” (See MCI Vaccine statement 21 Nov.doc)
Matercare also said the situation in Kenya in 2013-14 mimicked what happened in the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, and Tanzania in the 1990s. In tests done in those countries, they found no evidence of HCG. But there were false “positives” in tests done at different laboratories under improper conditions. “In one such test tap water showed ‘positively’ for HCG,” said MAtercare International.
“The basis for these recurring allegations goes back to the development of contraceptive vaccines back in the 1970s-80s, by WHO, but development never went beyond a Phase 1 trial, because of an anti-vaccine campaign by a powerful feminist advocacy movement initiated in the Netherlands, and because WHO funding was being diverted from contraceptive development into maternal health and HIV-AIDS. Consequently WHO withdrew from further research,” said Matercare International.
As for what happened in Kenya with the false positive test results, Matercare said, “The validity of the vaccine assays [test samples] performed in the 5 laboratories in Kenya is questionable for 2 reasons: the assays were valid for human serum and not vaccine, and the substance they detected (which is not hCG) varied by a factor of 4000 times between laboratories.”
“Even if the substance assayed was hCG, the levels were so minute that there is no way this could produce antibody levels with a contraceptive effect,” said the international Catholic health care group. “If tetanus toxoid vaccines given to millions of women in many countries was capable of causing infertility there would by now be ample demographic data to confirm this. We know of no such data.”
The statement from Matercare International was signed by Dr. R.L. Walley, OB/GYN, the group’s founder and executive director; Dr. Elvis Seman, chair of Matercare Australia and head of Urogynaecoogy at Flinders Medical Centre; and Dr. Bogdan Chazam, the chair of Matercare Poland and professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Warsaw, Poland. (See MCI Vaccine statement 21 Nov.doc)
“The language used and the accusations in Kenya are almost identical to the 1990’s scenarios,” reads the statement. “There appears to have been an unfortunate re-cycling of inaccurate information. MaterCare believes the best solution is for the Kenyan authorities to communicate directly with the WHO in Geneva to offer support and encouragement to expeditiously test samples supervised by both parties in independent, reputable and competent laboratories.”
“Once the absence of hCG is unequivocally confirmed, a public statement and campaign of support for the immunization programme will be necessary to minimize the potential for further damage,” says the statement. “To allay fears in the future, WHO should officially certify that all vaccines do not contain any substance with contraceptive properties through a process of randomly testing all future batches for hCG.”
In its e-mail to CNSNews.com, AAPLOG’s Dr. May Davenport said, “Watching this scenario unfold [in Kenya], I am struck by the lack of ‘bedside manner’ which turned a question by the Bishops into an international scene. If WHO or the Kenyan government had treated the Bishops question with the respect due to mutual health care stakeholders, it is doubtful that the Bishops would have resorted to testing which proved to be invalid.”
“What unnecessary controversy might have been avoided if the Kenyan Government or the WHO or UNICEF would have submitted a few specimens of the vaccine for appropriate testing?” she said.
“Instead, patronizing and dodging the real questions raised unnecessary suspicions which finally resulted in inaccurate conclusions,” said Dr. Davenport. “And the losers are the Kenyan women who need tetanus vaccination.”
“AAPLOG supports the right of patients and of those who care for the patients to ask questions of their health care provider,” she said. “In doing so, there are irreplaceable teachable moments, and bonds of trust can be built. But the avoidance of straight answers to our own patients, or to those who care for our patients can only erode trust. Let’s hope WHO and UNICEF learn from this costly mistake in communication.”