Vaccine Madness: AIDS! Infertility! Cancer! Paralysis!

The Nigerian polio vaccine saga rumbles on. As I noted a couple of days ago, a committee consisting of Muslim scientists had reported to Governor Shekarau that the vaccine was safe, but Shekarau rejected their findings for a number of specious reasons. Now Hussain Abdulkareem (or Hussein Abdulkareem/ Hussain Akande Abdul-Kareem), currently a professor at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, puts forward the case against the vaccine in a Nigerian newspaper.

To summarise his position: one in a thousand children are paralysed by the Oral Polio Vaccine; studies show that the vaccine in interaction with other vaccines causes paralysis; Lawan Hassan Bichi, a Pharmacologist from Bayero University, Kano, testified in December that the polio vaccine contains elements “capable of impacting negatively on fertility and causative agent for AIDS”; the committee that travelled to India and South Africa found contaminants; the WHO had previously failed to admit that a tetanus vaccine it introduced to the Philippines in the 1990s caused miscarriage; Polio vaccines were responsible for AIDS in the first place, and also cause cancer. Plus population control is in Western interests.

Given all the above, one wonders where this leaves Shekarau’s “solution” of importing safe vaccines from Muslim countries, a point the professor does not consider.

Adbulkareem’s article also contains some nice bits of purely rhetorical dishonesty. I note particularly this paragraph:

The second committee was set up by Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and sent to India where they spent 28 days to conduct the investigation in New Delhi under the directive of WHO. The tests in India confirmed that the batches of OPV taken from Kaduna, Sokoto and Zamfara states, contained “undeclared contaminants” which “could cause malfunction of the testes in males and infertility in women as well as toxic substances”. (Daily Trust of Monday 26/1/2004).

But what he committee actually said was that the substances found were normal and in such tiny quantities that they were harmless. The lurid accusations above come from Abdulkareem’s interpretations of the findings (before the tests were even finished), not the committee itself. He is quoting his own previous article (see it also quoted here: couldn’t find original) and writing in such a way that it looks like the committee said it.

So, who are the scientists who uncovered the conspiracy? I couldn’t find anything about Lawan Hassan Bichi, and Abdulkareem’s research background seems to consist almost purely of pronouncements against sex education and condoms. However, Abdulkareem is a bit of a polymath, and may have spent more time in political science and theology. According to this report of the inauguration of the Lagos Independent Sharia Panel a year ago:

Perhaps the strongest speech was that of Professor Hussein AbdulKareem of the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), who branded the opponents of Sharia as agents of Western domination and oppression. The professor of Medical Biochemistry likened the agitation by Muslims for the implementation of Sharia in the country to a liberation struggle and declared that the stiff opposition to the Islamic legal system by non-Muslims was informed by Western anti-Islamic stance.

This will be news to the thousands of Muslims who protested AGAINST Sharia in northern Nigeria just recently as a foreign, Saudi, imposition.

However, although it’s easy to decry self-serving Islamist demagogues like AbdulKareem, we should also reflect on why such a figure can gain a hearing in the first place. While the West battles overpopulation in the developing world, the devastation wrought by overconsumption in the West is treated less urgently. Western politicians lie, and pursue self-serving foreign policies. Biotechnology remains a murky business.  The Vatican also promotes pseudo-scientific information about health issues when it comes to condoms. None of this excuses the demagogues, but we could stop giving them ammo.