A Lyme disease vaccine, LYMErix, was approved by the FDA in 1998.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer stopped making it a few years later.
What Ever Happened to the Lyme Disease Vaccine?
Although Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, the bacteria is transmitted to people through tick bites. Not surprisingly, the original Lyme disease vaccine didn’t attack ticks, it attacked the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria in those ticks, before they could cause an infection.
After three doses, LYMErix was found to be 78% effective at preventing Lyme disease.
In their article, “Concerns Grow Over Reactions To Lyme Shots,” The New York Times even gave equal time to doctors from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, who push the idea that folks need treatment for chronic Lyme disease.
Another vaccine, ImuLyme, didn’t even bother applying for FDA licensure at the time.
“In 2002, in response to low vaccine uptake, public concern about adverse effects, and class action lawsuits, SmithKline Beecham withdrew the vaccine from the market despite the fact that both pre- and post-licensure safety data showed no difference in the incidence of chronic arthritis between those who received the vaccine and those who had not.”
The History of the Lyme Disease Vaccine
Interestingly, a more current article in The New York Times, “Lyme Disease Is Spreading Fast. Why Isn’t There a Vaccine?,” doesn’t mention the media’s role in bringing down the vaccine.
“But the company took it off the market less than four years later, citing low sales, amid lawsuits from patients who said the vaccine caused severe arthritis and other symptoms… The high cost of the vaccine and confusion over who should get it and how many doses were needed didn’t help its prospects.”
Lyme Disease Is Spreading Fast. Why Isn’t There a Vaccine?
And that’s likely why we continue to see false balance in their reporting, as we see them interview a group who is “skeptical about the new vaccine.”
A new vaccine that hasn’t even made it into phase II trials yet!
“Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”
Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t
The media’s role in scaring folks about vaccines isn’t new.
“As we ask how to weigh public health benefits of interventions against potential risks (notably incurred by identifiable individuals), the LYMErix case illustrates that media focus and swings of public opinion can pre-empt the scientific weighing of risks and benefits in determining success or failure.”
The Lyme vaccine: a cautionary tale
Hopefully, folks have learned their lesson though. How many people have developed Lyme disease since LYMErix was withdrawn from the market? After all, Lyme disease should still be a vaccine-preventable disease.
More on the Lyme Disease Vaccine
- Need for a New Lyme Disease Vaccine
- CDC – Lyme disease vaccine
- NIH – Lyme Disease Vaccines
- The History of the Lyme Disease Vaccine
- The Lyme vaccine: a cautionary tale
- The Rise and Fall of the Lyme Disease Vaccines: A Cautionary Tale for Risk Interventions in American Medicine and Public Health
- Lyme Disease Is Spreading Fast. Why Isn’t There a Vaccine?
- Vaccines against Lyme Disease: What Happened and What Lessons Can We Learn?
- Valneva’s Lyme disease vaccine candidate – VLA15
- Lyme disease vaccine on the way – if only the anti-vaxxers stay away
- It’s Past Time For Lyme Disease Vaccine, Says Vaccine Developer
- Lyme Disease season is HERE and it’s worse than ever
- The media’s MMR hoax
- The MMR story that wasn’t
- WHO – Impact of rumours and crises
- Public Health Takes on Anti-Vaccine Propaganda: Damage done, Challenges Ahead
- How the Media Fed the Anti-Vaccine Movement
- The Autism-Vaccines Myth: The Impact of the Media
- How vaccine scares respect local cultural boundaries.
- How the Toronto Star massively botched a story about the HPV vaccine — and corrected the record
- Jabs “as bad as the cancer”
- Beware of false balance: Are the views of the scientific community accurately portrayed?
- Impartial journalism is laudable. But false balance is dangerous
- Facts vs. opinions: Beware of false balance in your reporting