Tag: Riko Muranaka

Who is Riko Muranaka?

It’s a shame that you are probably very familiar with Andy Wakefield, Bob Sears, and Del Bigtree, but have never heard of Riko Muranaka.

Do you know any vaccine advocates?

Who is Riko Muranaka?

Riko Muranaka is a doctor and a journalist and was one of the few to push back against all of the negative articles in the Japanese media following the decision of Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to stop formally recommending that girls get vaccinated and protected with the HPV vaccine.

“We can’t afford to sit back and allow a similar situation to develop in which unscientific claims jeopardize lives around the world. The Japanese government should reinstate its proactive recommendation for the HPV vaccine and set a positive example before irrational fear of the vaccine gains further momentum in other countries.”

Riko Muranaka on Stopping the Spread of Japan’s Antivaccine Panic

Not only that, it was her investigation that led to the discovery that the initial report that led to the HPV scare by neurologist Shuichi Ikeda was misleading and inappropriate.

“Evidence she used against Japanese neurologist Shuichi Ikeda revealed that only a single mouse had been vaccinated and the brain section showing damage did not belong to this mouse.”

The EU battle strategy against fake news, fighting the 4Ds that lead to doubt: CORDIS attends the 11th World Conference of Science Journalists

So where does that leave Riko Muranaka?

In 2017, she received the John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science “for promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty or hostility in doing so.” 

What kind of difficulty and hostility has she faced?

“Because of her science-based reporting on this topic, Dr. Muranaka experienced massive hostility. Unlike before, she became unable to publish in Japanese media. Her family was threatened, and she was sued by an anti-vaccination doctor.”

How Japan was taken by an anti-vax tsunami

Unbelievably, Ikeda sued Dr. Muranaka for defamation and won, even though the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare censured Ikeda for misrepresenting his research. The case is currently on appeal.

And tragically, although HPV vaccines are still available in Japan, after all, they were never banned, they still don’t have a proactive recommendation.

Riko Muranaka still has work to do to get HPV vaccination rates back up in Japan, but she did help to make sure that “Japan’s antivaccine panic” didn’t spread anywhere else.

More on Riko Muranaka

Did Japan Ban the HPV Vaccine?

Why do some folks think that Japan banned the HPV vaccine?

Looking at an immunization schedule from Japan, it is easy to see that none of this is true.
Looking at an immunization schedule from Japan, it is easy to see that none of this is true.

The usual suspects…

Did Japan Ban the HPV Vaccine?

But no, Japan never did ban the HPV vaccine.

The HPV vaccine is still on the immunization schedule in Japan and it is actively recommended by the Japan Pediatric Society.
The HPV vaccine is still on the immunization schedule in Japan and it is actively recommended by the Japan Pediatric Society.

What did happen is that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare stopped formally recommending that everyone get vaccinated and protected with the HPV vaccine.

They removed their proactive recommendation for girls to get vaccinated against HPV infections.

Why?

“In Japan, coverage rates for the HPV vaccine have plummeted from 70 percent in 2013 to less than 1 percent today. This happened after a preliminary (and allegedly fraudulent) mouse study showing the vaccine caused brain damage was spread by the media, along with unconfirmed video reports of girls in wheelchairs and having seizures after getting immunized.”

Why Japan’s HPV vaccine rates dropped from 70% to near zero

Sounds like they got Wakefielded

But they quickly reinstated the recommendation though, right?

“To better understand the significance and health impact of the purported adverse symptoms from the HPV vaccine, a national epidemiological study of the general population in Japan was conducted by a research arm of the MHLW. In the research, similar numbers of girls with the same symptoms were reported in both vaccinated and unvaccinated girls.”

Ikeda et al on HPV vaccination in Japan: what is happening in Japan?

After all, all of their investigations found no merit to the initial reports that led to the “ban.”

“In January, 2014, the Vaccine Adverse Reactions Review Committee investigating these adverse events concluded that there was no evidence to suggest a causal association between the HPV vaccine and the reported adverse events after vaccination, but they still did not reinstate proactive recommendations for its use.”

JB Hanley et al on HPV vaccination crisis in Japan

Tragically, they didn’t.

“Suspension of the recommendation for vaccination has continued to the present, despite no scientific or epidemiologic evidence showing a causal link between postvaccination symptoms and HPV vaccines. This situation is unique to Japan.”

Matsumoto et al on Reduction in HPV16/18 prevalence among young women with high‐grade cervical lesions following the Japanese HPV vaccination program

What was the effect?

We have long known that their policy led to much lower HPV vaccination rates in Japan.

And not surprisingly, lower HPV vaccination rates will once again led to higher rates of HPV infections, after years of declines among those who were vaccinated and protected.

Ueda et al showed the Dynamic Changes in Japan's Prevalence of Abnormal Findings in Cervical Cervical Cytology Depending on Birth Year
Ueda et al showed the Dynamic Changes in Japan’s Prevalence of Abnormal Findings in Cervical Cervical Cytology Depending on Birth Year (CC BY 4.0)

And this is all happening in a country that is already seeing increasing rates of cervical cancer, “despite a decreasing trend in most developed countries.”

“We can’t afford to sit back and allow a similar situation to develop in which unscientific claims jeopardize lives around the world. The Japanese government should reinstate its proactive recommendation for the HPV vaccine and set a positive example before irrational fear of the vaccine gains further momentum in other countries.”

Riko Muranaka on Stopping the Spread of Japan’s Antivaccine Panic

The only real questions now are why are they still waiting to reinstate a proactive recommendation in Japan?

“In Japan, the percentage of women getting a cervical cancer screening is low, while the incidence of cervical cancer is increasing. Therefore, the nationwide introduction of HPV vaccination was expected to bring cervical cancer under control.”

Ikeda et al on HPV vaccination in Japan: what is happening in Japan?

And how many people will unnecessarily get HPV infections and cervical cancer until they do?

More on Banned Vaccines