New infant vaccine announced

Pharmaceutical giant Merck recently announced that, in response to “market demand,” it will soon release a new infant vaccine called ProQuad that is widely expected to replace the MMR. It will combine four live virus vaccines: measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox).

From a purely practical standpoint, the more vaccines you combine, and the fewer the shots, the better; but is anyone at Merck thinking about what is this likely to do to the immune systems and development of susceptible infants?

Live viruses in vaccines are the very same ones that cause the diseases for which they immunize, except that they have been “attenuated” or weakened and supposedly made harmless in the laboratory. These weakened viruses lose the capacity to induce the actual disease, but they still carry markers that trigger an immune response and this later protects children from the actual disease.

This sounds just great, except that it doesn’t quite track what ends up happening to the live viruses once they’re injected into infants’ bodies. If they’re just harmlessly excreted, fine. But what if somehow they are able to mutate or cause a different kind of trouble in the presence of a weak immune system or other unknown risk factors?

Evidence that this can happen in susceptible individuals is mounting. Studies performed by Andrew Wakefield, MD and others show that the measles virus persists in the digestive tracts of autistic children whose only exposure to this disease was through vaccines. Once in the gut this virus is believed to cause chronic inflammation leading to classic symptoms of diarrhea, constipation and poor digestion so often seen in autism. Find a list of these studies at

Other interesting research shows that active viruses suppress the production of glutathione (GSH) in the body (J Biol Chem 1997 Jan 31; 272 (5): 2700-8). GSH is a protein the body makes and that it needs to eliminate a broad range of toxins from mercury to toxic chemicals. The inhibition of GSH is usually temporary, and after recovery from a virus the GSH production rapidly returns to baseline. But what if the virus persists, as Dr. Wakefield has shown can happen in autism? It is likely that this might lead to long-term GSH inhibition and may explain why chelation, a treatment to remove mercury and other metals, is so helpful for many autistic children.

An even better way to address this problem would be to exercise more caution with live virus vaccines, at least until all the answers are in!

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