The Sunday Express decried it as the “Jab ‘as deadly as the cancer’” right across its front page. Perhaps we should leave proceedings there, given that the same front page was also advertising a free Galaxy Caramel for every reader – this is hardly the British Medical Journal. Besides, I thought Sunday papers were meant to be lighter reading. A topic like this is hardly something to complement a freebie chocolate bar.
But let’s suspend all that for a moment and suppose that this piece of medical whistleblowing is urgent enough to save our confectionary for the Lifestyle pull-out. The claim that a vaccination is as deadly as any cancer is certainly a worrying proposition. The jab in question is to protect against the human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that is the primary cause of cervical cancer. According to the Sunday Express, an “exclusiv[e]” (it wasn’t) interview with “Dr Diane Harper” (she’s actually a professor), who “developed” (she did not, she helped conduct its clinical trials) the “controversial” (she explicitly told them it was not controversial) HPV vaccine Cervarix. A fuller list of errata can be found in Ben Goldacre’s article for The Gardian, as posted on his blog, but the most important is this statement by the Sunday Express: