About those Stanley Plotkin Videos…

Stanley Plotkin is typically described as “a prominent figure in the history of vaccinology, whose work on vaccine development has led to a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases in the second part of 20th century. “


For one thing, he developed the rubella vaccine that we still use today.

He also worked on vaccines against CMV, polio, chicken pox, rabies, and rotavirus.

What Did Stanley Plotkin Say While He Was Under Oath?

That’s not why anti-vaccine folks are talking about him these days, or maybe it is…

Mostly, they are misinterpreting comments he made during a videotaped deposition.

“Lori Matheson is fighting her ex-husband, Michael Schmitt, for the right to decide if their two-year-old daughter should be vaccinated.”

Michigan anti-vaccination case to goes to court

A videotaped deposition in a case involving parents who disagreed about vaccinating their daughter…

Even though it isn't his exact quote and anti-vaccine folks don't give you the full context of what he was talking about, it is clear that Dr. Plotkin simply meant that you can't prove a negative.
Even though it isn’t his exact quote and anti-vaccine folks don’t give you the full context of what he was talking about, it is clear that Dr. Plotkin simply meant that you can’t prove a negative.

What do anti-vaccine folks think he said?

“I would say it is logically true that you cannot say, you cannot point to proof that it doesn’t cause autism. ”

Stanley Plotkin, M.D.

No, he isn’t saying that vaccines are associated with autism.

“I could not say that as a, as a scientist or a logician. But I can say as a physician that, no, they do not cause autism, because as a physician, I have to take the whole body of scientific information into consideration when I make a recommendation for a child.”

Stanley Plotkin, M.D.

All he is saying is that you can’t definitively prove a negative.

One of the different things in communicating the fact that there is no link is that science and English are not really the same language. So when a scientist says, “We have no evidence that there’s a link between vaccines and autism,” what they’re really saying is, “We are as positive as someone can humanly be that there’s no link.”
Seth Mnookin explain it well – One of the different things in communicating the fact that there is no link is that science and English are not really the same language. So when a scientist says, “We have no evidence that there’s a link between vaccines and autism,” what they’re really saying is, “We are as positive as someone can humanly be that there’s no link.”

For example, just because I have never seen a black swan, I can’t use that as proof that black swans don’t exist somewhere. After all, I haven’t been everywhere.

“…scientists can be at a real disadvantage in this debate because they, by their nature, are careful in how they present their conclusions.”

Vaccines: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

What else do anti-vaccine folks have a problem with?

Remember the rubella vaccine he developed?

“After a detour to obtain credentials as a pediatrician, I returned to Wistarto work on rubella. Those years were fraught with advances and reverses, controversy and eventually vindication. The pandemic of CRS babies in 1964-65 was an important stimulus to research on the vaccine. “

Stanley Plotkin’s On the Occasion of the Presentation Of The 2002 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal

During the rubella epidemic of 1964-65, there were 12.5 million rubella virus infections, which “resulted in 11,250 therapeutic or spontaneous abortions, 2,100 neonatal deaths, and 20,000 infants born with congenital rubella syndrome.”

And that’s just in the United States.

The controversy?

“There were only two fetuses involved in making vaccines. When fetal strains of, fibroblast strains were first developed, I was involved in that work trying to characterize those cells; but they were not used to make vaccines.”

Stanley Plotkin, M.D.

It is well known (this isn’t some shocking truth as some are trying to push) that some vaccines are made with fetal embryo fibroblast cells (the WI-38 and MRC-5 cells) from cell lines that are derived (they can replicate infinitely) from two electively terminated pregnancies (abortions) in the 1960s.

Those two fetuses weren’t the only two fetuses ever used in research though, they were just the only ones used to actually make vaccines.

“Human diploid cell strains (HDCSs) are batches of cells that are currently used for different purposes, including culturing viruses for the manufacturing of vaccines”

A brief history of human diploid cell strains.

They had to get to the point where they knew how to make vaccines in human cell lines though and that’s what he is talking about in the deposition.

“Q. In any event, so we have 76 in this study. Would you approximate it’s been a few hundred fetuses?

A. Oh, no, I don’t think it was that many. Probably not many more than in this paper. And I should stipulate that we had nothing to do with the cause of the abortion.”

It took some experimentation to find the right kind of cells and the right methods, but ultimately, they found that fetal embryo fibroblast cells were the best to use to grow many viruses.

Copies of those same cells are still used today.

What about the other “issues” brought up in the deposition?

Did he experiment on orphans, people who were mentally handicapped, or those who lived in third world countries?

“I don’t remember specifically, but it’s possible. And, again, I repeat that in the 1960s, that was more or less common practice. I’ve since changed my mind. But those were, that was a long time ago.”

Stanley Plotkin, M.D.

Those were different times, but Dr. Plotkin’s vaccine studies weren’t unethical and weren’t like what was done at Willowbrook, in which children were purposely exposed to hepatitis, with the justification that most of them ended up getting it anyway.

Surprisingly, in the early 1970s, there was still some debate about the ethics of doing experiments on children, and as you can see, using ableist language to describe children with a disability.
Surprisingly, in the early 1970s, there was still some debate about the ethics of doing experiments on children, and as you can see, using ableist language to describe children with a disability.

And from those times, experts developed the rules for how things are now done.

Ironically, anti-vaccine folks are pushing this stuff about Plotkin, but don’t understand why leaving kids completely unvaccinated and unprotected in a study is unethical.

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

National Catholic Bioethics Center FAQ on the Use of Vaccines

Or why it’s immoral to push anti-vaccine propaganda or put others at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease.

“Results indicate that the total number of cases of poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, adenovirus, rabies and hepatitis A averted or treated with WI-38 related vaccines was 198 million in the U.S. and 4.5 billion globally (720 million in Africa; 387 million in Latin America and the Caribbean; 2.7 billion in Asia; and 455 million in Europe). The total number of deaths averted from these same diseases was approximately 450,000 in the U.S., and 10.3 million globally (1.6 million in Africa; 886 thousand in Latin America and the Caribbean; 6.2 million in Asia; and 1.0 million in Europe).”

Olshansky et al on The Role of the WI-38 Cell Strain in Saving Lives and Reducing Morbidity

Dr. Plotkin’s work has helped save millions of lives.

“His achievements in vaccinology are on a scale that truly can be measured in lives saved and lives restored.”

On the Occasion of the Presentation Of The 2002 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal

And that’s why anti-vaccine folks are attacking him.

More on Stanley Plotkin

23 thoughts on “About those Stanley Plotkin Videos…

  1. Thanks for your commentary on the Stanley Plotkin deposition. I would like to know your thoughts on the question asked at 14:11:00 of the depsosition footage where Plotkin says it would be ideal to conduct large scale studies. Would you be able to direct me to the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trials for vaccines he talks about here? Thanks in advance.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The “placebo based” studies for vaccines are not saline solution placebos. They are other vaccines, the injection without the actual virus compared to the injection with the virus, etc. iow, not true placebos.

    WRT it being unethical for children to be denied an unproven, untested vaccine, my take is that it’s more unethical to assume that something is safe that’s never been tested. There are large pockets of unvaccinated children–the children of the Amish, Mennonites, chiropractors, for example–why can’t a vaccinted vs unvaccinated study be done with children whose families already opt out of vaccination?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joy: I totally agree with your comment. There are PLENTY of unvaccinated children in the U.S. and elsewhere, and they are MUCH happier and healthier than the vaccinated, sickly children who depend on Epipens, asthma inhalers, special diets, and amphetamines just to survive. I find especially DISTURBING(under the “Ethics” portion quoted in this article)….that this Dr. PLOTkin calls the children at Willowbrook….”non-functional persons,” as if it were okay to use them as human guinea pigs. Vaccines DO kill and maim people every day, and I have seen it with my own eyes. In fact, I’m very ill from taking 3 Hep B vaccines myself.


    2. Their are saline solution placebos. and their is a difference between natural pockets of unvaccinated children and willfully exposing children to risk and considering vaccine are proven so this statement is vapid


  3. Yes, because if a Nazi-esque forced medical procedure led to a scientific breaktrhough, then it would be perfectly fine. Give me a break. Your ends-justify-means argument is nonsense. Doing wrong for a good reason doesn’t make it right.


  4. Did I miss the mention of AIDS coming from contaminated polio vaccines? Pro Vaccine people(anti-choice) will claim up and down that it’s not accurate and that’s why I’m looking up both sides. I never saw any mention of this. But I’d just like to say, unethical judgements are subjective to the opinion of the writer and not based on real moral code…which is basically Natural Law. Have vaccines ever harmed or killed people? We all know the answer. If you believe the effectiveness of vaccines overrides basic human right to deny medical treatments advised(or mandated) by the state, I would have to judge you as “unethical”.


    1. I agree 100% with you Benjamin!
      I also read something very disturbing about the polio vaccine, that it caries genes from a black lady that died in the earlie 50ties of a some aggressive tumor that was cultivated and implemented into the polio vaccine giving causing cancer in people who recieves the vaccine. It prevents polio but you get cancer at some point in your life, with high likelyhood. And the cultivating and experimenting with the polio vaccine caused several other contaminated vaccines.
      Being anti-choice is very very danegerous and highly unethical and inhumane. This article is such a waste of time, Stanley Plotkin and his pears are comiting crimes against humanity, it’s Mengele with large approval stamp to kill and control health, very very sick.


  5. This website is a joke. You guys can’t even admit one single fault with vaccines. And now you’re actually defending Plotkin testing on the mentally retarded and child orphans. I would laugh if it wasn’t so sickening.


  6. I enjoy that you keep saying that the anti-vaxxers are misrepresenting his comments and not giving truth to his words. However, you only quote the section where he is on the record stating that there were two fetuses used in the study that they referenced.

    The part that you leave out is the most important, that they then handed him the paper and study he was involved with which stated that they used 78 fetuses in that research alone. Then he went on to say that in his career it was (forgive me and note this isn’t in quotes as I don’t remember word for word) too many to count for total fetuses used.

    I understand it is a 9 hour deposition and not everyone has time to watch the entire event. However, you cannot sit there and point out flaws in someone else’s argument while hypocritically doing the exact same thing while attacking them. You are spreading misinformation and biased opinions instead of facts.

    The truth is my wife is anti-vax and I am not. However, as people like you continue to not tell the full truth (lie) you continue to spread distrust throughout the nation. This leads to a much larger movement against vaccines. I’m just asking to not be so hypocritical and just tell the truth. The CDC and HHS need to do the same. Thank you.


  7. Why are you misrepresenting numerous statements given by Plotkin in his deposition? The entire 403 page deposition is online and people can read what he says for themselves. He volunteered to be an expert witness but didn’t know how formidable Mr. Aaron Siri was and how well informed he is on vaccine science or lack of vaccine science. Needless to say, the very next morning Dr. Stanley Plotkin withdrew from testifying as an expert witness on vaccines—he no longer felt confident to speak about the safety and necessity of the products that made him a millionaire.


    1. He withdrew because they kept asking him irrelevant questions and Aaron Siri just bombarded him with baseless conspiracy tripe and never said he had no confidence about the safety of vaccines .


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