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…
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.
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.
“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.
And from those times, experts developed the rules for how things are now done.
“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
“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
- VAXOPEDIA – Stanley Plotkin on Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Hurts Autistic Families
- VAXOPEDIA – Which Vaccines Contain Aborted Baby Parts?
- VAXOPEDIA – National Catholic Bioethics Center on Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – The Catholic Church and Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – The Moral Responsibility of the Anti-Vaccine Movement
- VAXOPEDIA – Is My Fully Vaccinated Child at Risk from Your Unvaccinated Kids?
- VAXOPEDIA – People with Cancer Are at Risk from Unvaccinated Kids
- VAXOPEDIA – Sharyl Attkisson’s Full Measure Vaccine Debate Bombshell
- VAXOPEDIA – The Latest Anti-Vaccine Bombshell on Infanrix Hexa is Just Another Dud
- VAXOPEDIA – Alleged Fraud in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceedings
- VAXOPEDIA – Did the US Government Lose a Landmark Vaccine Lawsuit?
- VAXOPEDIA – Anti-Vaccine Points Refuted A Thousand Times
- Stanley Plotkin
- Stanley Plotkin, MD
- Life in vaccine science – a conversation with Stanley Plotkin at the 4th Conference on Vaccines in Dubrovnik, Croatia, September 2017
- On the Occasion of the Presentation Of The 2002 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal
- Study – The Role of the WI-38 Cell Strain in Saving Lives and Reducing Morbidity.
- Episode 64: Stanley Plotkin On History of Vaccines
- Vaccines: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
- Seth Mnookin: How the Vaccine War Has Changed
- Russell’s Teapot
- Black Swan
- National Catholic Bioethics Center FAQ on the Use of Vaccines
- Rubella virus and birth defects
- How “aborted fetal cells” contributed to vaccines preventing billions of cases of disease and many million deaths
- A brief history of human diploid cell strains.
- Attenuation of RA 27/3 Rubella Virus in WI-38 Human Diploid Cells.
- Human Cell Strains in Vaccine Development
- Vaccine Testing and Vulnerable Human Subjects
- Human subjects protections and research ethics: Where the rubber hits the road for science-based medicine
- Stephen Goldby, Saul Krugman, M. H. Pappworth, and Geoffrey Edsall: The Willowbrook Letters,”Criticism and Defense”; Paul Ramsey, “Judgment on Willowbrook”
- WHO – Ethical considerations arising from vaccine trials conducted in paediatric populations with high disease burden in developing countries
- Expert in pediatrics takes stand in Michigan anti-vaccination case
- Several motions resolved in Michigan anti-vaccination case
- Confusion continues in Michigan anti-vax case over mother’s religious concerns
- Michigan anti-vaccination case to goes to court
- Divorced parents head to court over vaccines
- Dad who wants vaccines for toddler says mother’s concerns are ‘essentially unfounded’
- Judge: Expert witness no expert in vaccines
- Book – The Panic Virus