Dr. Bonnie Dunbar — Excerpt from her speech given at the Second International Public Conference on Vaccination held in Arlington, Virginia, September 2000
Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D. is a Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at Baylor Medical College in Houston, Texas, an international authority on reproductive biology, molecular endocrinology, and a vaccine developer. Thrust into the vaccine debate when two people in her research laboratory suffered permanent health injuries as a result of being forced to take the hepatitis B vaccine, Dr. Dunbar described the events that alerted her to the kinds of devastating injuries that are linked to this vaccine.
“Both of these individuals were extremely brilliant, healthy and very athletic before this vaccine and have had severe, debilitating autoimmune side effects from this vaccine. I know the complete history of one, Dr. Bohn Dunbar, who is my brother who had serious rashes, joint pain, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis like symptoms, and now, affirmatively diagnosed with POTS (an autoimmune cardiovascular neurological problem). His problems have been attributed to the Hepatitis B vaccine by 5 different specialists of unquestionable medical expertise (including MD/PhD’s in major medical schools).”
The other individual was a young medical student working in her laboratory who came in one day feeling unwell and couldn’t see out of one eye. She had just been given a hepatitis B shot. She was diagnosed with optic neuritis. Dr. Dunbar found references in the medical literature linking optic neuritis to the vaccine, and informed her medical student of her findings who took the information to her own doctor and was told that “this is the safest vaccine ever developed.” She was also told she wouldn’t be able to continue in medical school without the hepatitis B vaccine. She was given the third shot and within two weeks she was hospitalized and completely lost her eyesight in that eye.
“The first thing that threw me off when I started reading the literature and drug company information was that ‘This is the safest vaccine ever developed because it is a genetically engineered vaccine’. Now for those of us who work with proteins in immunology, and I tell my medical students when we’re teaching immunology, is that the immune system doesn’t care where a peptide comes from as long as it has to process that peptide. So to say that a vaccine is safe simply because it’s a recombinant vaccine is so naive as to be really startling – that they would promote it this way. And it’s amazing how many physicians I talk to say – ‘Oh but this is the safest vaccine because it’s recombinant’. Well I develop recombinant vaccines, and it still has to do with the nature of the vaccine, not just because it’s recombinant.”
Referring to dozens of published references on hepatitis B, she said “The second thing that I started looking at when going into the literature is the fact that the pathologies that are common to hepatitis B virus infections are the same types of symptoms that are associated with both the plasma derived (old vaccine) and the new yeast derived recombinant hepatitis B vaccine. These include rheumatoid arthritis type symptoms, optic neuritis, multiples sclerosis like symptoms, demyelinating disorders and a variety of vascular disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome.”
She was most surprised when going through the information in the product inserts and the PDR to find out that Merck said “No serious adverse reactions attributable to the vaccine have been reported in the course of the clinical trials” and that they were monitored for only 5 days after each dose. “How can you evaluate a vaccine reaction if you only monitor it for 5 days after each dose? We also don’t know how many doses. And with the Smith Kline vaccine, they only monitored for 4 days following vaccination. So knowing what we know about the problems with the plasma derived vaccine and the autoimmune reactions, they still only monitored these trials for these number of days.” Dr. Dunbar empasized that in her work in autoimmunity and vaccine experiments, monitoring is done for many weeks, not just a few days.
A major problem is that individual researchers working in their labs and concentrating on one vaccine are not aware of the number of vaccines that are being administered simultaneously, without proper or adequate testing in many cases.
“In the absence of a lot of doctors who want to get involved with any type of adverse reactions to vaccines, we’ve been trying to set up a number of assays to start evaluating what’s going on with these patients, and so we’ve tried to categorize according to basic categories – and we’re finding there are 3 basic categories. When you look at the published reports in the literature we have a majority of neurological type of symptoms, rheumatic/rheumatology, autoimmune types of symptoms and a variety of others — vascular, etc.”
“In France, they’ve started a criminal investigation to evaluate why this vaccine was put out with false information. What the French physicians are seeing are the same types of patterns, the neurological, rheumatological, autoimmune types of reactions — again a totally different country, but the same kinds of reactions to this vaccine. In the absence of funding from the government, we’ve been trying to do as much as we can — thanks to the help of the NVIC who has been helping with questionnaires — getting us some information so we can construct a data base. We’ve been looking at patient cohorts — collecting blood samples, immortalizing blood cells, T cells, and also getting our serum bank and as we get our reagents ready and get more funding, we’ll be poised and ready to go.”
“In our first group that we have complete information on with the medical diagnoses correlating with this vaccine, we have 55 adults, and again we have a lot more people that we’ve talked to and have some information on. We see that of the numbers we have, 87% of the adults, and 93% of the children that have been reported have some type of neurological symptoms, including seizures, numbness, short term memory loss (very common in adults), visual and hearing problems, and many of these have autoantibodies to myelin basic protein. A lot of these have hair loss (alopecia), skin rashes, and lesions.”
“A lot of these people have overlapping symptoms, and this is where it’s been very difficult to get a single symptom because these patients have so many of these different types of symptoms. Twenty five percent have all of these autoimmune types of symptoms. So it makes it very difficult to treat and certainly very difficult to diagnose which is complicating a lot of this. In a lot of these people where fatigue is common, often they have abnormal liver function – and we don’t have a clue with what’s going on with this. So given this cohort of patients, one of the things that we noticed is the high number of caucasians that are having these reactions And it has been shown for many years that the reactions to the hepatitis B virus itself is associated with the HLA gene. Likewise, it’s known that in a lot of people who get the vaccine and who don’t make antibodies, and this has been correlated with HLA subtypes.”
“The vast majority of adverse reactions reported are in the caucasian population. Most hepatitis B carriers are non-caucasian. Most of the long term studies were done in Asia, where you have a high percentage of carriers and a also high population of non-responders. No studies have been done as to whether the vaccine is effective in non-responders, and there are a lot of people who are non-responsive. (non-responders refers to people who do not develop any detectable antibodies after vaccination) Dunbar said that many of patients were nurses were non-responders. “They kept getting sick, and were told – ‘but you don’t have antibodies — if you want to be a nurse you have to take this shot.’ Some of these women were given 10 or 12 shots and still they weren’t making antibodies and were getting sicker and sicker.”
Dr. Dunbar posed some of the questions that need to be addressed concerning the hepatitis B vaccine. “We have to find out what nationalities are at risk for autoimmune diseases or adverse reactions. What nationalities are at risk for having no response to the vaccine. If they’re not making protective antibodies in different populations, are we truly protecting them? We don’t know. How many people are in these categories? What are the mechanisms causing these reactions? And how can these reactions be treated? Until we understand some of these mechanisms it’s more difficult to develop effective therapies. So we really have no way of knowing how effective this vaccine is in different populations because no studies have been done.”
Dr. Dunbar referred to a DNA sequence data base that is being developed and feels it will be important. They’ve seen a trend in the HLA class A gene so far and hope that with larger numbers of people and family cohorts to get a closer answer on this in the future. Another area of genetic study involves the MHC gene complexes and the way that recombinant hepatitis B protein alters the class 1 or class t MHC gene responses.
Molecular mimicry is a key phrase used by scientists like Dr. Dunbar to describe a particular mechanism of autoimmunity. “We know now that in molecular mimicry that different molecules and viruses have different epitopes that are similar if not identical to human proteins and these can induce autoimmunity. not just to the molecule being mimicked to begin with, but to other molecules within that tissue.”
In 1996, in a presentation before the Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Forum, Dr. Waisbren, MD, a cell biologist and infectious diseases specialist, warned that “genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccines contain polypeptide sequences that are present in human neurologic tissues such as myelin, and that by a mechanism called molecular mimicry, these polypeptides can act as autoantigens which can induce autoimmune demyelinating diseases of the brain such as multiple sclerosis.” (NVIC special report — Hepatitis B Vaccine: The Untold Story” — Sept/98)
“And so finally, what has been amazing to me in these last two years, is the problem of scientists who want to study these reactions. Clinical adverse reaction data are not accessible. Patient information from the FDA adverse reaction reports are not accessible to any of us doing these studies. We can get some basic information, but no real information even though there are over 25,000 adverse reaction reports to this vaccine that have not been evaluated in great detail. Complete lack of government funding for these types of issues, and the total denial by pharmaceutical companies that there are any problems.”
Following Dr. Dunbar’s presentation, conference presenter and immunologist, Dr.Vijendra Singh observed, “I don’t see any safety data available anywhere for any vaccines, and that to me as a scientist is one of the most puzzling problems that I encounter. As a scientist, you do not make vaccines, or any drug for that matter which is going to produce toxicity.” With liver toxicity being quite high in many of Dr. Dunbar’s patients he said, “Do you know that when drug companies test their products for toxicity that one of the most important things in testing is liver toxicity. How can you have a product on the market where you do not provide proper liver toxicity data?”