It isn’t very hard to figure out who Tetyana Obukhanych really is.
Who Is Tetyana Obukhanych?
Every anti-vaccine article you read that is either about her, or by her, goes out of their way to make sure that you know that she:
- has a Ph.D. in Immunology: working in the lab of Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, she presented her thesis on Immunologic Memory to Polysaccharide Antigens to the faculty of The Rockefeller University in 2006, in which she proved that vaccines work
- trained at Harvard: started her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, which can lead to a tenure-track faculty position (it didn’t)
- trained at Stanford: did some of her postdoctoral training in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at the Stanford University School of Medicine, which again, can lead to a tenure-track faculty position (it didn’t)
- has 8 published peer-reviewed research articles: that she co-authored with many others and only one has her as the primary author, in which she concluded that “As the generation and regulation of immunologic memory is central to vaccination, our findings help explain the mode of action of the few existing polysaccharide vaccines and provide a rationale for a wider application of polysaccharide-based strategies in vaccination.”
- wrote a book about vaccines: that she self-published for the Kindle
- frequently lectures about vaccines: which are basically interviews and talks that push classic anti-vaccine misinformation, despite her having “studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions”
Not surprisingly, the modern anti-vaccine movement loves her.
“All throughout my PhD training I was a faithful believer in vaccination. I believed for almost two decades that the reason I had contracted measles and whooping cough during my teenage years was because I wasn’t vaccinated against these diseases. Then, when I had to check my childhood vaccination records, I discovered that I was in fact fully vaccinated for both measles and whooping cough, and the resulting contradiction necessitated me to reexamine all my previous beliefs about the immunologic theory behind vaccination.”
Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D.
While getting a vaccine-preventable disease after being vaccinated might make some folks question the whole “immunologic theory behind vaccination,” for most others, they would simply question other factors that might have led to this possible vaccine failure.
Was she fully vaccinated according to the US immunization schedule (two doses of a measles containing vaccine and four doses of a pertussis containing vaccine, with a booster as a teenager)? Were the vaccines equivalent? Were there outbreaks going on?
Although it is not clear when she came to the United States to pursue her education, Tetyana Obukhanych was born in Ukraine and likely lived through the “massive epidemic” of diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
“This epidemic, primarily affecting adults in most Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, demonstrates that in a modern society diphtheria can still spread explosively and cause extensive illness and death.”
Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease
In Ukraine alone, there were 17,387 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths from 1992 to 1997. Also high, were cases of measles (over 23,000 cases in 1993) and pertussis (almost 7,000 cases in 1993).
Even if she had already left Ukraine, those outbreaks are great evidence that vaccines work and that vaccines are necessary.
Tetyana Obukhanych on Vaccines
Instead of discussing them, Tetyana Obukhanych operates using an appeal to authority to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
As an immunologist, isn’t she really an authority though?
Consider that even though she might be a Harvard trained immunologist with a PhD, there are:
- over 7,600 members of the American Association of Immunologists
- just over 8,000 residents and postdoctoral fellows at Harvard
- 1,279 postdocs at Standford School of Medicine
and few, if any, agree with anything she says about vaccines.
“Research has repeatedly confirmed that vaccinations are safe and highly effective for all healthy children and adults, and any suggestions to the contrary have been discredited. Ongoing vaccine research continually reaffirms its safety and efficacy, including the number of vaccines administered at any one time and the recommended vaccination schedule.”
The American Association of Immunologists Statement on Vaccines
Now if “more than 7,600 basic and clinical immunologists, strongly support the use of vaccines to prevent disease,” then why would you even think about listening to just one who doesn’t?
We actually know why.
It’s called confirmation bias.
“Many questions in science and medicine are confusing and frustrating, but fortunately, the question of vaccination need not be one of them. Because for vaccines, the verdict is already in: guilty of being safe, effective, powerful, and highly recommended.”
Vivian Chou is a Ph.D. student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School.
So what does Tetyana Obukhanych think about vaccines?
that experts overlooked that the smallpox vaccine didn’t provide life-long immunity, even though it was known by the end of the 19th century that boosters could be needed and that was well before any other vaccine was developed
- that Immunology has no theoretical or evidence-based explanation for immunity – she should read the book Immunity by William E. Paul, MD – an internationally renowned immunologist
- that instead of simply helping vaccines work better, adjuvants are necessary to help vaccines work at all, because “purified protein antigens do not have an ability to induce antibody production in humans or animals (the recipients) on their own.”
- that adjuvants are necessary to develop allergies, including food allergies – because “without an adjuvant, there will be no immune response to a food protein or peptide, and it will not become an allergen.”
- that vaccines are only monitored for two or three weeks to make sure they are safe
- that titer tests or “a positive serological test is a proof of immunity only in the absence of vaccination. In vaccinated individuals, a serological test of immunity is biologically meaningless.”
- that we have created a so-called vaccine paradox, in which “vaccines reduce the overall incidence of childhood diseases, yet make them infinitely more dangerous for the next generation of babies.”
- that homeopathy works
- that “for most communicable viral diseases there is no herd immunity in the post – elimination era.”
Being Harvard trained can certainly be a big deal. After all, John Enders, “The Father of Modern Vaccines,” who won the Nobel Prize for his work on the cultivation of the poliomyelitis viruses and who developed the first live measles vaccine, trained at Harvard.
“The apparent absence of major viral epidemics in the U.S. is now due to the absence of endemic viral exposure, not herd immunity.”
Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD on Vaccine Illusion
Some would wonder if Tetyana Obukhanych even knows who John Enders was…
Tragically, as Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych, the Harvard trained immunologist from Ukraine goes on and on about how vaccines don’t work, Ukraine is facing outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases due to parents not vaccinating their kids and limited supplies of vaccines.
Unfortunately, they aren’t lucky enough to have an “absence of endemic viral exposure,” or in other words, herd immunity.
What To Know About Tetyana Obukhanych
While she is a Harvard trained immunologist with a PhD, Tetyana Obukhanych pushes classic misinformation about vaccines that you would be hard pressed to get any other immunologist or Harvard grad to agree.
More on Tetyana Obukhanych
- The sad inevitability of Ukraine’s measles outbreak
- Why Does This Immunologist Reject Vaccinations?
- More Anti-Vaccine Pseudoscience
- Appeal to false authority – Who is Tetyana Obukhanych
- How did immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych become antivax?
- American Association of Immunologists Statement on Vaccines
- Community Letter to President Trump on Vaccines
- Harvard Health Blog – Why we need to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccines
- Harvard Health Blog – The inconvenient truth of vaccine refusal
- Stanford Medicine – Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect
- Stanford Medicine – California vaccination exemptions tend to cluster in white, affluent communities
- Rockefeller University – Sequential immunizations could be the key to HIV vaccine
- Study – T-independent type II immune responses generate memory B cells.
- Report – Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease
- Report – Diphtheria in the Russian Federation in the 1990s
- Report – Epidemic Diphtheria in Ukraine, 1991–1997