Jab “as deadly as the cancer” roared the Daily Express in regards to the Cervarix cervical cancer jab, following the death of Natalie Morton, who died of an underlying health condition unrelated to the jab she received.
The paper was supposedly reporting the views of Dr Diane Harper, who apparently stated that the vaccine was more dangerous than the cancer and would do nothing to reduce rates of cervical cancer. However, when contacted by Ben Goldacre from Bad Science her views were unambiguous, saying, “I did not say that Cervarix was as deadly as cervical cancer. I did not say that Cervarix could be riskier or more deadly than cervical cancer. I did not say that Cervarix was controversial, I stated that Cervarix is not a ‘controversial drug’.”
The Daily Express somehow managed to twist her concerns that aggressive marketing may make people feel invincible to HPV (the virus that triggers cervical cancer), meaning they neglect other precautions, and her view that it was unknown as to exactly how long the protection offered by the jab will last.
The lack of responsibility on the part of the Express is deplorable, a sentiment last felt during the frenzy over the supposed ‘controversy’ regarding the MMR vaccine. Depressingly, as a result, lower rates of MMR immunisation mean pregnant women are at a higher chance of catching the rubella virus and therefore giving it to their unborn child.
It is a great shame that the media feels selling newspapers is more important than disseminating accurate public health information. To end this feature (or rant) I will sign off on a lighter note. A few weeks ago I couldn’t help but smile when seeing an article talking about a study relating breast cancer study and exercise, but reported by the Daily Mail with a headline of “Daily dose of housework could cut risk of breast cancer.”