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The Immune System and Vaccines are Complicated

The Immune System and Vaccines are Complicated


Vaccines are a complicated area, which is because the immune system is immensely complicated. Targeted vaccines have ancillary effects, and it is not possible to predict what they are. 

Professor Peter Aaby’s group has done ground-breaking research on the effects of vaccines in randomized trials and in field studies. His team discovered that all live, attenuated vaccines decrease total mortality whereas some non-live vaccines increase total mortality. There are also gender differences, and the sequence of vaccinations is important. It is best to end with a live vaccine. 

My rule of thumb is that if a vaccine is part of the official vaccination program in some countries and not in others of similar standing, it is not important to get vaccinated. An example is the rotavirus vaccine against diarrhoea, which is not on the childhood program in Denmark even though we had a strong lobby group promoting it. 

The Measles Vaccines

The measles vaccines are a good example that live, attenuated vaccines decrease total mortality much more than what is possible based on their targeted effect, in this case on preventing measles. In a randomised trial in Bissau, for example, children vaccinated against measles at age 6 months had 70 percent lower mortality than unvaccinated children, and this reduction was not due to prevention of measles infection. The WHO has estimated that there were 128,000 measles deaths globally in 2021, mostly among unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children under the age of 5 years. 

If we do not vaccinate our children against measles, it will lead to many deaths and cases of severe brain damage that could have been avoided. We have a joint responsibility towards each other to ensure we get vaccinated because herd immunity is important. Measles is highly contagious, and to prevent the occurrence of measles epidemics, vaccinating about 95 percent of the population is necessary. 

Annual Influenza Jabs are not Needed

People all over the world, particularly the elderly, are being nudged by the authorities to get an annual vaccination against influenza, but it is not at all obvious that this is a good idea. In fact, there are several reasons to be skeptical. 

First, the preventive effect is small. Twenty-nine people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of influenza-like illness and 71 people to avoid one case of influenza, and the vaccination does not reduce hospital admissions or days off work.

Second, as the virus mutates quite rapidly, the effect obtained by vaccination will likely be smaller than in the randomized trials. 

Third, the vaccine has negative effects on the immune system. Canadian researchers showed in four different studies that people who received a seasonal influenza vaccine in 2008 had an increased risk of getting infected with another strain in 2009. 

Fourth, all vaccines cause harms, which can potentially be serious. Pandemrix, one of the influenza vaccines used during the 2009-2010 pandemic, caused narcolepsy in children and adolescents with a certain tissue type. Up to several years after vaccination of children and adolescents, people may suddenly start falling asleep while engaging in their normal activities, and there is no cure. 

Fifth, we should always consider the likelihood of getting infected without vaccination. Influenza pandemics are uncommon and rarely involve large portions of the population. In any given year, the likelihood of acquiring influenza if unvaccinated is therefore very small. I never had an influenza vaccination, and my wife, a professor in clinical microbiology, never had one, and together, we have perhaps had influenza twice for 135 years. But we don’t know. When people say they have influenza, it usually just means an influenza-like illness of which there are many, which vaccination does not protect against. 

Some fundamentalists, particularly in the United States and Australia, have mandated influenza vaccination of healthcare workers to protect patients. This violation of informed consent is deeply troubling and unethical. Moreover, a large review about vaccination of healthcare workers caring for elderly people did not find an effect on laboratory-proven influenza, lower respiratory tract infection, hospitalisation, death due to lower respiratory tract illness, or all-cause mortality.

A researcher mentioned that, “to focus exclusively on the risk posed by unvaccinated workers – treating them as outcasts or, worse, terminating their employment – while overlooking the risk posed by vaccinated workers, potentially jeopardizes patients.” Indeed. Vaccination may provide staff with a false sense of security that might reduce their level of handwashing and potentially increase, rather than decrease, the risk of infecting patients.

HPV Vaccines: Not a Simple Issue

When the HPV vaccines were suspected of causing serious neurological harms – postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and chronic fatigue syndrome – the European Drug Agency cleared the vaccines. However, they did not investigate the issues themselves but let the manufacturers do it for them.

My research group examined the clinical study reports submitted to the European Medicines Agency and found a significant increase in serious neurological harms. This was surprising because almost everyone in the control groups had been treated with a hepatitis vaccine or a strongly immunogenic adjuvant, which might also cause harms, making it difficult to detect the harms of the HPV vaccines. 

The Cochrane review of the HPV vaccines was incomplete and ignored important evidence of bias. The authors overlooked several adverse events and failed to mention that some of the included trials did not report serious adverse events for the whole trial period. For example, three Gardasil trials with a total of 21,441 girls or women with up to four years follow-up only reported serious adverse events occurring within 14 days post-vaccination even though it takes years in many patients before serious neurological harms get diagnosed. 

The Cochrane authors found more deaths in the HPV vaccine groups than in the comparator groups, and the death rate was significantly increased in women above age 25, risk ratio 2.36 (95 percent confidence interval 1.10 to 5.03). They considered this a chance occurrence since there was no pattern in the causes of death or in the time between vaccine administration and death.

However, deaths are often miscoded. For example, traumatic head injury and drowning in a bathtub have been described, and this could have been caused by a syncope or near syncope, which is a recognized vaccine harm that can occur at any time. The serious neurological harms seem to be caused by an autoimmune reaction.

The drug companies, EMA and Cochrane called the trials placebo-controlled, which they weren’t. I find it shocking that vaccines are not tested against placebo or no treatment because this makes it impossible to ever know with certainty what the rare but serious harms are. There is no good reason why vaccines – which are preventative drugs – are not tested in the same rigorous way as other drugs. 

EMA declared that the adjuvants used in the vaccines to boost the immune response are safe, but the five references provided in support of this view were either non-accessible or irrelevant. Furthermore, nothing is safe if it is active. GlaxoSmithKline has stated that its aluminum-based comparator might cause harms, and the clinical study reports show that this is also the case for Merck’s adjuvant. 

The decision-making is not straightforward. The official propaganda has made women believe that cervical cancer is a major threat to their lives, but this cancer only contributes 0.5 percent of all deaths. Thus, very few women can benefit from the HPV vaccines, and since they do not protect against all HPV types, regular screening is still recommended even for women who are vaccinated. As the precursors to cancer are very slow-growing, women can avoid getting cervical cancer if they go to screening. This is more effective than getting vaccinated, but it comes with a price, e.g. conization for cancer precursors increases the risk of preterm birth.  

COVID-19 Vaccines: A Mess

The story of the COVID-19 vaccines is officially touted as one of success but what stands out is a story of massive deceit and lack of scientific evidence behind many of the recommendations. 

The randomized trials that led to emergency approval of the vaccines showed that only one of 50 severe cases of COVID-19 occurred in the vaccine groups. This makes it likely that the vaccines have saved lives, and meta-analyses of the trials showed that the adenovirus vector vaccines, but not the mRNA vaccines, decreased total mortality significantly.

The hype has been extreme, however. Among those that have claimed 100 percent efficacy of the vaccines are the FDA, US presidential advisor Anthony Fauci, the Australian government, Science Magazine, Reuters, CNN, US National Public Radio, The Hill, Sky News, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. The efficacy is closer to 50 percent and many people, including me, have become infected despite having received two or more doses of the vaccine.

Officials, including US President Joe Biden, once claimed that the vaccines were 100 percent protective against transmission to other people, but now it is widely acknowledged that there is no evidence that the vaccines can prevent transmission.  

The information on the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is particularly misleading. The CDC uses industry jargon when claiming that the vaccines are “safe and effective.” It states that “Adults and children may have some side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, including pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. These side effects typically resolve after a few days.  Serious side effects are rare but may occur.”

The link to serious side effects does not lead to any mention of what those are. But we know that the vaccines kill some people, e.g. because they can cause myocarditis, most commonly in young males, and thromboses.

The CDC recommends “everyone ages 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness.” However, children tolerate the infection very well and it is likely harmful to vaccine children against COVID-19. Moreover, boosters may be harmful at any age but this is not popular information either. Facebook censored research and an interview with top vaccine researcher Professor Christine Stabell Benn even though the European Medicines Agency was also worried that COVID-19 vaccine boosters might be “overloading people’s immune systems and leading to fatigue.”

Facebook also censored research that showed that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could weaken the immune response and make cells of the immune system “lazy” when it comes to fighting off viral and bacterial infections. Facebook called this research “false information.”

The Cochrane Collaboration, which has the logo “Trusted information,” did not provide trusted information. The Cochrane authors used industry jargon in the title of their review, “Efficacy and safety of COVID‐19 vaccines,” even though I convinced Cochrane many years ago that we should talk about benefits and harms of the interventions we study, in agreement with the CONSORT guidelines for good reporting of harms in trials, which I coauthored in 2004. 

The Cochrane authors concluded that there is little or no difference in serious adverse events compared to placebo whereas Peter Doshi and colleagues who reanalysed the pivotal mRNA trials found that one additional serious adverse event occurred for every 800 people vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine. Their article, published four months before the Cochrane review, was not cited in it. 

When I studied the pivotal randomised trials, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and in the Lancet, I found that essential data on serious and severe harms were missing (see also my freely available book, The Chinese virus: killed millions and scientific freedom).

Doshi et al.’s criticism of the Cochrane review, which is published within the review itself, is so substantial that it is fair to call the Cochrane review a politically expedient garbage in, garbage out exercise. 

There can be no doubt that the COVID-19 vaccines are much overused and partly to the wrong people. Now that most of us have had the infection, recommending booster after booster seems to be a particularly bad idea. 

Childhood Vaccines

The childhood vaccination programs differ a lot from country to country. In the US, 17 vaccines are recommended, in Denmark only 10.  

Since vaccinations can weaken the immune system and since some non-live vaccines increase total mortality, it is reasonable to ask if the many vaccinations in the US could result in net harm. 

It is very important to study this possibility, but I am only aware of two researchers who have done it. They did several studies and found that those nations that require more vaccines for their infants have higher infant mortality, neonatal mortality, and under age five mortality. I find this an alarm signal that should lead to other studies as a matter of urgency. 


Censorship is detrimental for scientific debate and scientific advances, and it is harmful for the patients. But for vaccines, it is all over the place.

Peter Aaby, one of the world’s top vaccine researchers, lectured about vaccines at the opening symposium for my Institute for Scientific Freedom in March 2019. In early November 2021, YouTube removed the video of his lecture. Everything he said was correct and important for people who want to understand what vaccines do. We appealed this outrageous act of censorship, but to no avail, and I therefore uploaded his lecture on my own website. 

In February 2022, a US lawyer wrote a 3-page letter to Susan Wojcicki, Chief Operating Officer, Legal Support, YouTube, asking her to restore Professor Aaby’s video about the beneficial and harmful effects of vaccines so that a healthy conversation surrounding medical science could continue. The lawyer received an automated message saying that the video had violated YouTube’s Community Guidelines, adding that “If you think a Community Guidelines strike was applied to your account in error, you can appeal it.” The lawyer appealed and received no reply. 

In July 2022, Christine Stabel Benn uploaded a videocast with Peter Aaby on YouTube about his research in Africa, which mainly addressed his discovery of the beneficial non-specific effects of measles vaccines. But Aaby also mentioned his interactions with the WHO related to the introduction of a high-titre measles vaccine, which he and his colleagues’ studies had shown increased mortality in girls.

Initially, the WHO did not react, but when American colleagues confirmed Aaby’s findings in Haiti, the high-titre vaccine was withdrawn. It has been estimated that this vaccine would have cost around 0.5 million lives per year in Africa alone. It is an important lesson that a highly beneficial vaccine that has saved millions of lives can kill millions if used in too high doses. But YouTube quickly removed the videocast due to “inappropriate content.” Censorship kills. It is as simple as that. 

In September 2022, I was interviewed by enGrama in Spain for an hour about organised crime in psychiatry and the drug industry. I spoke about COVID-19 for 5 minutes, which made YouTube instantly eliminate the whole interview. This was utterly ridiculous. What I said was true, but YouTube even refused to allow the interviewers to download their own video. Later, they succeeded to reproduce it via the YouTube Studio and it is now up again, but without the forbidden 5 minutes. I have described verbatim what they were about.

I was convinced – and still am – that the pandemic was caused by a laboratory leak in Wuhan and that the virus was manufactured there; that repeated vaccinations could weaken the immune response; and that the vaccines can cause serious harm, even death. All of which is considered taboo by social media. 

In September 2023, I launched an evidence-based podcast channel, Broken Medical Science, in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Janus Bang. To avoid censorship, we have our own server but also publish the episodes on social media. I interviewed Professor Martin Kulldorff, one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, about “The harmful effects of lockdowns, facemask mandates, censorship, and scientific dishonesty,” and Christine Stabell Benn about “Vaccines, a complicated area. Some decrease total mortality, some increase it, and COVID-19 vaccines are overused.”

Within 7 minutes after we uploaded these episodes on YouTube, they got this label: “COVID-19 vaccine. Learn about vaccine progress from the WHO.” But some of the WHO’s information was questionable, which we addressed in our newsletter:

What are the benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19?

One should always ask what the benefits and harms are, of any intervention. The vaccines have killed some people because of myocarditis and thromboses.

Getting vaccinated could save your life. COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives.

What is the evidence for this? The vaccines are not particularly effective because the virus mutates.

Consider continuing to practice protective and preventive behaviours such as keeping a distance, wearing a mask in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces.

The randomized trials have not found any effect of face masks.

Even if you have had COVID-19, the WHO still recommends that you get vaccinated after infection because vaccination enhances your protection against severe outcomes of future COVID-19 infection, and you may be protected for longer. Furthermore, hybrid immunity resulting from vaccine and infection may provide superior protection against existing variants of concern.

This has not been documented, and many researchers doubt that it is correct.

To ensure optimal protection, it is important to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses and boosters recommended to you by your health authority.

It has not been documented that boosters are beneficial, and the European Medicines Agency has warned that boosters may be harmful, as they may weaken the immune system.

In both cases, within a couple of hours, YouTube removed the link to the WHO, with no explanation. We speculate that perhaps YouTube is worried about their reputation. I had interviewed two of the most knowledgeable people in the world about vaccines who, to some extent, contradicted the WHO’s recommendations, based on solid science.

It is time to change the paradigm about vaccines, and to study them more thoroughly – and their combinations – before they are possibly allowed onto the market. 

A Final Word about Censorship

My deputy director, PhD Maryanne Demasi, and I have been unable to publish our systematic review of serious harms of the COVID-19 vaccines in a medical journal. This is not because I don’t know how to do research and publish it in good journals. I have published over 100 papers in “the big five” (BMJ, Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine and New England Journal of Medicine) and my scientific works have been cited over 190,000 times.

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Peter C. Gøtzsche

    Dr. Peter Gøtzsche co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration, once considered the world’s preeminent independent medical research organization. In 2010 Gøtzsche was named Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. Gøtzsche has published more than 97 papers in the “big five” medical journals (JAMA, Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal, and Annals of Internal Medicine). Gøtzsche has also authored books on medical issues including Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime. Following many years of being an outspoken critic of the corruption of science by pharmaceutical companies, Gøtzsche’s membership on the governing board of Cochrane was terminated by its Board of Trustees in September, 2018. Four board resigned in protest.

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