The Taliban, polio and YOU -

The Taliban, polio and YOU

A Science-ish Q&A, plus our INFOGRAPHIC showing how the disease could spread again in Canada


With the recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases—whopping cough and measles—in Canada and the U.S., public-health commentators are reminding us that the failure to get our shots (and boosters) is not only a threat to our personal health, but also to those around us. This aphorism is repeated all the time when it comes to routine immunization, a warning about how easily nearly eradicated diseases can become endemic again.

Please click on the infographic to see a full-size version of the image.

To better understand how, exactly, the butterfly effect can play out across borders, Science-ish called Dr. Tariq Bhutta, a Lahore-based pediatrician and chairman of Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Certification Committee, who advises the World Health Organization on polio eradication. The crippling and deadly illness, for which there is no cure, has been wiped off the face of all but three countries—Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. And in recent years, even places where polio was eliminated, including Canada, have seen resurgences of the virus.

The newest threat to the polio eradication effort is so-called ‘polio warfare,’ waged by militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan who vowed to impede the distribution of the vaccine until the U.S. stops its drone war in the country. This also seems a tit-for-tat for a fake vaccine campaign the CIA staged in an attempt to locate Osama Bin Laden by using DNA from his family. Caught in the middle of the standoff are hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated children, health workers who have been injured or killed, and years of public health progress in the region.

Dr. Bhutta told Science-ish about the surprising challenges of vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, and how a failure to fight polio there could quickly turn into a global threat:

Pakistan is one of the three countries where polio is still endemic. Why? What are the impediments to getting rid of the disease there?
The most important reason is the security situation along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the drone attacks by the Americans, which have caused a lot of problems as far as accessibility of the vaccine to children. There’s an active insurgency going on, and a lot of displacement of those children from those areas to other areas where they bring their virus with them and it spreads to other parts of the country. We had two major floods in 2010 and 2011, which displaced millions of people from their homes, as well. Every child could not be reached. So security is the major issue, then accessibility of children in these areas where vaccinators sometimes cannot reach. In very small areas, there might be vaccine resistance due to religious scholars saying that it is not good for our country. And very recently, in the border area, one of the tribal agencies said they will not let the vaccinators come in unless the drone attacks are stopped.

How are the Taliban linking drone attacks to the polio vaccine?
According to them, more children are dying due to drone attacks than from polio. This has effectively caused nearly 300,000 children in that area to be left unimmunized. This may lead to a big hole in the government efforts to stop transmission of polio virus from the country.

What impact might this “polio warfare” have?
The total number of polio cases to date in the whole country is 23—a drop of 67 per cent this year compared to last year. Half of the cases have been reported from the tribal area alone. The chances of stopping the transmission are [still] high but this new development might cause a serious setback to the eradication effort.

You’ve said that if the efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan are undone, then it becomes a global health threat. How so?
The important thing to remember is that not all persons infected with the polio virus become paralyzed. As a matter of fact, only one out of two hundred infected persons become paralyzed. All the others recover without showing any symptoms except mild fever aches and pain or sometimes loose stool. So if a community has one case of paralysis due to polio, it means nearly two hundred children in the community have been infected and may be passing on the virus to other unimmunized children. That is why the virus can easily move from community to community, town to town and even country to country, as it happened in 2010 when a large outbreak of polio occurred in Tajikistan and hundreds of children suffered from paralytic polio. The virus was found to have travelled from Pakistan. Tajikistan was free of polio for nearly ten years but many children had not been given the polio vaccine during that period. That’s one reason why no country can stop polio immunization unless the whole world is declared polio free.

So all it takes is an infected person reaching a community that hasn’t been vaccinated. Didn’t we see similar cases of spread to Nigeria—a country that had also gotten rid of polio?
Yes, in 2003 Nigerian officials refused to give the polio vaccine to the children under a mistaken belief that the vaccine was a conspiracy against their children. The virus, though, spread again through Nigeria and from there to ten neighbouring countries, which had already been free of polio.

In Nigeria, the fears about the polio vaccine was stoked by religious leaders, who perpetuated myths that the routine inoculations were a plan to either give people HIV or sterilize them. Now, in Pakistan, the Taliban are saying the polio vaccine is a conspiracy by the CIA to similarly harm Muslim children. How do you overcome people’s trust in local leaders for health information?
People do trust religious leaders. In rural areas, it’s primarily a tribal society, and tribal leaders are trusted the most. If doctors have been there for some time, providing health services, they are also trusted. Most of the religious leaders are in favour of giving vaccines and they have been helpful. Even during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, they were very pro-vaccination, and pro-immunization. When fighting, they would hold ceasefire for a day, and everybody would lay down their arms, and let the vaccinators give vaccine to all the children, and after that was over, they would re-start their fighting. In some cases the mullah of the area or the leader of the clan may not allow the vaccination team to enter the area so children are left unimmunized. It’s important that the tribal leader or the mullah are approached before the vaccination campaign. Right now, the government is employing all measures including political leadership, mullahs and tribal elders to negotiate with the Taliban [who are anti-vaccine]. They have not yet succeeded in overcoming their reluctance in allowing the immunization campaigns. I am afraid it will take a long time to overcome their refusal.

In Canada, we’re grappling with outbreaks of preventable diseases—pertussis and measles—but we don’t have security problems or, really, access problems here…
The story about vaccine problems is common to all countries, both developed as well as developing. The reasons maybe different. In the developed countries, it is usually complacency and when majority of children are immunized, those few who do not get immunized are protected because of herd immunity. So some parents and even some so-called experts may believe that vaccines are not necessary and may be responsible for serious side-effects. In the developing countries, it may be lack of access to these vaccines or the ignorance of the parents which leave many children exposed to these deadly infections. At the same time, in some countries there is strong anti-vaccine lobby—like in India—which prevents the governments from introducing newer vaccines, like the pneumococcal vaccine. It is a constant struggle to keep children safe.

Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, the Medical Post and the McMaster Health Forum. Julia Belluz is the associate editor at the Medical Post. Got a tip? Seen something that’s Science-ish? Message her at or on Twitter @juliaoftoronto


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The Taliban, polio and YOU

  1. Reaching…….there was a recent outbreak of Polio paralysis in Africa, where children had been immunized against Polio BUT then they had polio type paralysis. The oral polio vaccine sheds which can infect those around them.

    • Lucky we give the injectable polio vaccine in Canada. No shedding occuring here. Although chances are you and ALL your contempories had the oral vaccine and what do you know, none of you got polio from it and neither did any of your brothers or sisters. Imagine that!

  2. “The reason vaccinations are promoted
    with such intensity is to prevent people from realising that vaccines do not
    protect and also in the event of an outbreak or an epidemic the vaccinated are
    as much at risk of becoming infected as the unvaccinated. The truth can be kept
    hidden if people’s vaccination status remains unknown and if everyone is
    vaccinated, making a comparison with unvaccinated people impossible. This is
    also the real reason for the relentless push to vaccinate as many children as
    possible.”– Dr Buchwald (The Decline of Tuberculosis
    despite “Protective” Vaccination by Dr. Gerhard Buchwald M.D.
    All cases of polio occurring since 1980 have been caused by the vaccine. Those DNA and RNA fragments can shed and then mutate. It’s about time the (mad) scientists are reigned in and prevented from wreaking more havoc on the world.
    And, by the way, Herd Immunity is a term that is supposed to indicate a level of immunity created by those with NATURALLY occurring immunity. That’s how the strongest survive to pass on genes that are naturally resistant to future outbreaks. That’s herd immunity, folks. Not some half-baked notion that if you vaccinate almost everyone you’ll end up with fewer cases — and this sure isn’t happening, is it?
    The vaccine industry has a lot to answer for, including it’s self-serving manipulation of epidemiology.
    People have wised up to the phoney bird flu, swine flu etc. pandemics and most refuse annual flu shots, so now it’s time to fear monger a polio scare.

    • Hahaha! There is no “protective vaccine against Tuberculosis AND TB is endemic in countries like India and Somalia. There are also drug-resistant strains of TB. Further, your ridiculous claims about polio vaccine are exactly that….ridiculous! In western countries we give an injectable vaccine that does not shed in fecal matter; in developing nations they purposely give the oral vaccine hoping that because it sheds in fecal matter hoping more people will get immunity.
      There is no way for a parent to pass on natural resistance to communicable diseases through their genes. The only way you get immunity is to have some sort of contact with the virus or bacterium either through illness or vaccination….either of which causes your immune system to build antibodies to fight this bacterium or virus if you come in contact with it in the future. Each person’s body has an unlimited ability to make antibodies to fight an infinite of diseases. Herd immunity is when a very high percentage of the population has immunity to one disease.
      The truly scary thing Laurie, is when totally ignorant people like you are out there giving people medical advice. Leave that to the experts.

        Wrong. BCG is the current vaccine and has been since 1921. Guess you’re not an “expert” are you?
        Natural resistance CAN be passed on either genetically or epigenetically that reduces an individual’s SUSCEPTIBILITY. Don’t forget, there are 2 major issues in contracting any disease — susceptibility and exposure.
        So how do you suppose those “drug resistant strains” are created? By injecting people with viruses that mutate in the host.
        So you’re an “insider” for which pharmaceutical company?
        The scary thing is that people like you try to influence social media with your propaganda.

        • Laurie, when was the last time the BCG vaccine was given in Canada? Perhaps if you grew up in Newfoundland and you are in your 50’s you received it. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that you have had it. No Canadian is being immunized with the BCG vaccine. Drug resistant strains of diseases are created when viruses and bacteria mutate. One common cause of mutation is the overuse of antibiotics. This has been proven through reliable, valid research. Your suggestion, that vaccination causes the mutation of viruses is ridiculous. Further, there is no evidence that people pass along their susceptibility to communicable diseases. If that were true, the childen of everyone who had the swine flu in 1958 would have been immune to the outbreak two and one half years ago just as their parents were. As I have told EVERYONE, I am a registered nurse. I could not collect a kickback from a pharmaceutical company even if I was so inclined. I did have a baby with whooping cough though and so I am highly motivated to educate people who might be falsely influenced by people like you Laurie who were immunized themselves as children and had no adverse reactions but have the audacity to spread malicious falsehoods about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. I look at it as my civic duty to point out all of your inaccurate scientific claims. Anyone who took highschool biology knows how the human immune system works. You really should at least try to understand that although genetics do affect our susceptibility to suffer from heart disease and other illnesses, they do not save us from succumbing to communicable diseases if we are exposed for a sufficient period of time. All you have to do is think of the number of people who died from the Spanish Influenza in 1918 to realize that is true.

          • What “swine flu outbreak” 2.5 years ago? It was a hoax. The people who died in 1918 mostly did so because they took aspirin (recommended by their doctors!)
            The historical medical record also shows that there was a 1% mortality record at Homeopathic hospitals and about a 28% mortality rate at conventional ones.
            All mammals pass on natural immunity factors to their offspring in breast milk. Other genetic and epigenetic factors are continually being researched. How do you account for people being exposed to contagion and being naturally immune? Hmm?
            Your problem is that you don’t seem to have gone beyond high school science.
            The overuse of antibiotics causes antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria — this has nothing to do with viruses at all. Viruses require a live host in which to mutate.
            Natural immunity is far superior to anything that can be artificially created. In fact the artificial creations (vaccines) can destroy/interfere with an individual’s natural immunity and lead to chronic illness. How do you suppose this epidemic of chronic immuno-deficiency-related diseases has been created? MS, Lupus, R.A., Fibromyalgia etc.
            In Australia, dangerous new strains of whooping cough bacteria were reported in March 2012 . The vaccine, researchers said, was responsible. The reason for this is because, while whooping cough is primarily attributed to Bordetella pertussis infection, it is also caused by another closely related pathogen called B. parapertussis, which the vaccine does NOT protect against. Two years earlier, scientists at Penn State had already reported that the pertussis vaccine significantly enhanced the colonization of B. parapertussis, thereby promoting vaccine-resistant whooping cough outbreaks .
            According to the authors:
            “… [V]accination led to a 40-fold enhancement of B. parapertussis colonization in the lungs of mice. Though the mechanism behind this increased colonization was not specifically elucidated, it is speculated to involve specific immune responses skewed or dampened by the acellular vaccine, including cytokine and antibody production during infection. Despite this vaccine being hugely effective against B. pertussis, which was once the primary childhood killer, these data suggest that the vaccine may be contributing to the observed rise in whooping cough incidence over the last decade by promoting B. parapertussis infection.” Whooping cough and Bordetella infection in dogs (kennel cough) exhibit the same symptoms. The prime Homeopathic remedy is Drosera. A 200C potency works wonders. Try it.

          • Oh my goodness! This is what I love about you Laurie….all those people on ventilators in the hospital where I work 2 and one half years ago….it was a hoax! I guess no one told those people that the H1N1 flu they were experiencing…the reason they could not breathe on their own was a hoax. What a shame YOU weren’t there to take them off the ventilators. Oh and let’s blame aspirin for the death of more people than died in World War I, even though they have no way of tracking if most of dead even took aspirin. As for your reminding me about viruses mutating and not being treated with antibiotics…duh…of course they shouldn’t be treeated by antibiotics BUT they often were…hence the over-use and improper use of antibiotics. Meanwhile, you will come up with canine illnesses to extrapolite why humans are getting whooping cough in greater numbers just to prove YOUR theories that vaccines are toxic and ineffective. Do you not think that scientists have done research to ensure that they are certain which pathogen they are dealing with in humans? If it were so simple that infant babies were suffering from kennel cough, they would be on it. As for your homeopathic treatments….this is about PREVENTION. My guess is you are getting your dog vaccinated because a kennel wouldn’t let your dog in without the vaccinations. This dose of Drosera you are recommending… that the proper dose for a 1 month old baby because that was the age of the baby that died in Alberta from whooping cough?

          • Very few people experienced H1N1 symptoms severe enough to require the use of a ventilator. What many governments had a problem with was the WHO pandemic nonsense and getting panicked into buying millions/billions of dollars of useless vaccine.
            Have you missed the stories about the dozens of young girls who have died or been permanently paralyzed by Gardasil vaccine?
            Seems that vaccine pushers find it perfectly ethical to kill and maim previously healthy people, but people possibly dying from some acute disease is a comparative horror story.
            Medical historian Harris Coulter was able to get the stats on aspirin use and mortality during the 1918 flu pandemic, as well as comparative outcome information from the hospital systems.
            Viruses cannot mutate until they are in a host. Viruses are RNA/DNA.
            The body contains memory cells that “remember” past exposures to acute diseases like chicken pox. There is no way to measure them. Vaccine theory relies on the notion of circulating antibodies which are proof of exposure, not immunity. They can measure antibodies.
            Bordetella is bordetella. Notwithstanding, Homeopathy does not use the idea of a “named” disease to treat patients — it goes by presenting symptoms and a barking cough is a barking cough, whether it’s your baby or your puppy. Homeopathy is the only form of medicine that’s safe for infants and pregnant mothers.
            Bordetella vaccine for dogs is a nasal dust, not a shot. Everyone I know who has had this done brought home a dog from the kennel with bordetella/kennel cough anyway! They were all amazed that their smoochie poochie was no longer coughing 20 minutes after being given Drosera (after having been back to the vet and being given prescription drugs that didn’t do a thing). I am aware of one case (fatal) of a dog owner accidentally getting dusted with the vaccine while holding his pet for the vet.
            Homeoprophylaxis (the prevention of epidemic disease) is presently being used in Cuba for Leptospirosis, Brazil for Dengue Fever, and in India for Malaria. The key here is likelihood of exposure. The vaccine pushers are forever fear-mongering that everyone is going to be exposed to infectious diseases and die if they don’t get a shot — now in the U.S. it’s about 38 of them by the time the kids are in school.
            In case you missed it, the major outbreaks of measles and whooping cough are in highly vaccinated populations.

          • Laurie…they ran out of ventilators durng the H1N1 epidemic. How would you even know how many people were on them? Do you work in a hospital? Were you there when ER’s were overwhelmed with people who were having difficulties breathing?
            If you know the cure for Malaria why don’t you write to Belinda Stronach and Bill Gates about your brilliant findings. They are busy handing out mosquito nets in Africa when GOSH YOU COULD BE A TRUE HERO AND SAVE SO MANY LIVES.
            I really am trying to respect you Laurie but as David Suzuki says about the anti-vaccine crowd, it boggles the mind why you are so determined to believe that scientists like Mr. Suzuki and physicians who you apparently go to when you need life-saving surgeries and treatments, would want to lie to you and hatch conspiracies to poison you. You obviously trust your dog’s vet more than you do your children’s physician.
            You also disregard the results of thousands of studies and the findings of multiple medical historians but embrace the work of a few on the fringe floating radical suggestions because they support what you already believe. You are willing to accept their versions of events or their hypotheses with little or no proof because that fits in nicely with all of your conspiracy theories and claims of medical hoaxes.
            As for their being 38 different diseases being vaccinated for, I challenge you to name them. Given that we vaccinate for Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, HiB (spinal meningitis), Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chicken Pox, Hepatitis B and Human Paploma Virus and that is it…..the rest are boosters for these illnesses. I can’t wait to read “the list”. I’m sure you’ll respond quickly.

          • There are already Homeopathic clinics in Africa (no thanks to Bill Gates), many of which are being run by the Cuban government — they don’t have the same profit mania as Bill Gates, who in one speech indicated that he would like to promote a vaccine that causes sterility in 3rd world country populations. An apt aside to the above article, those people are not the illiterate, ignorant savages the Americans would like them to be. And they have their own expert medical panels that are just not buying the vaccine hype. That’s why this article was written — a propaganda piece to try to turn Western opinion against people in those countries.
            I read the stats on hospital admissions after the H1N1 farce and they were no where near as histrionic as you are.
            The research that you think exists doesn’t — you obviously believe the public hype of the pharma companies who rake in $17 billion a year on useless products.
            I have no idea what David Suzuki’s actual opinion is, you have blithely made an assumption and just put it “out there”.
            I mentioned nothing about “my dog’s vet” whatsoever — I think you have a reading disability.
            You are very light on facts and very high on emotion. You don’t seem to have any grasp of actual immunology or epidemiology beyond what the drug companies would like the public to believe.
            For the first time in decades people are asking hard questions and demanding to see the hard research on vaccines. People are appalled to find that they’re being injected with mercury, aluminum, anti-freeze and other toxic ingredients along with contaminants.

          • Bill Gates Foundation is a “charitable foundation”….it is all donated money…there is no “profit mania” going on. I see you failed to mention Belinda Stronach…is she all about “profit mania” too. David Suzuki’s comments were a quote…no assumption on my part. I am sure with your fantastic researching skills you can find it on google. As for your claims about vaccines containing anti-freeze…care to back that up with even one CREDIBLE source. Laurie is my memory failing me or were you the person who claimed to have had a reaction to the chicken pox vaccination as a child and yet when it turned out that in order to have had the varicella vaccination you could only be 17 years old, you became defensive and beligerant…..I am not sure how my questioning the validity of your outrageous claims including naming the 38 diseases we vaccinate for in North America is based on “emotion”. Is that because you cannot name the 38 diseases we vaccinate for? Is that because again you are printing falsehoods and we do not vaccinate for 38 diseases? If you printed anything resembling the truth Laurie, we could stop right here. People have every right to know everything about vaccines but you are not the source for the truth because you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped and bit you. As for where I got my education regarding immunology and epidemology, it was at a Canadian university in a four year nursing program but then I suppose they are party to this big conspiracy too.

          • I suggest people read today’s post about the Bill Gates Foundation at as well as what Natural News has posted over the past year or so.
            You are doing nothing more than parroting the usual vaccine industry propaganda and indulging in emotional attacks on anyone who disagrees with you. Hope you’re good at emptying bedpans, because research obviously isn’t your thing.

          • haha and the argument ends there.
            I’ve taken courses specifically on immunology and epidemiology and I can tell you all that I haven’t disagreed with a single thing that Health Care Insider has said.
            I think it’s great if you want to keep an open mind about alternatives and question authority but PLEASE do it with care. Don’t believe only one person’s experience because that is hardly a controlled study and look to hard facts and evidence from reputable sources that has been proven to be true. Of course it is normal for a parent to want the best for their child but care must be also taken to find out what exactly that is and it might not always be what you want it to be. I really fear for the day when children are dying of preventable diseases because of anecdotal evidence or conspiracy theories.

          • Well it probably would be fine for a 1 month old baby as well as an adult if you think about how much actual “medicine” is in the dose… you’d be lucky to even get a molecule of the “medicine”… homeopathy… yikes.

          • Please people!! Get educated about homeopathy, don’t listen to this jargon, just read about it for yourself! Homeopathy practice believes that the MORE diluted a substance is the MORE potent it is. There are some natural medicines that I consider to be effective and you might also but please just think about that logic for a second… MORE water and less medicine = more potent?? You don’t have to listen to me though, just read it for yourself!

          • here’s just one site to give you some info.
            Laurie’s claim for 200C potency (C refers to the roman numeral for 100) means that the “numbers refer to the number of times the tincture is diluted by that amount, and succussed between dilutions.”
            The site (and others say) “Perhaps counter-intuitively, homeopathic remdies get more effective as they get more diluted. It makes more sense if you consider that the remedy you are taking is the one that would cause your symptoms if you took it ‘neat’.”
            Yes in fact, that is absolutely counterintuitive.. so much that I don’t believe the claim at all!

  3. A pack of lies. The drug companies are creating false flags to sell their toxic potions. The drug companies vaccies are the cause of our Health issues and why the US is 187 in infant mortality. People are like dumb sheep and drug companies are devils pretending to be angels of light. This lying science has no cures people. Figure that? We know we have the cures in natural and safe foods and herbs, yet these devils pushing toxic potions won’t even bother to research why people are cured. Not only that, they do not test the vaccines in combinations. Common sense says you cannot make toxic chemicals safe or necessary for health and vaccines are loaded with evil toxic potions. shared the truth you all should know. If you don’t bother to investigate what she shares, it is your choice to remain ignorant.

  4. right wing or clauset conservative anglo propaganda…there is no polio in the countries metniond. That whore just popped that out of her vagina!

  5. In 1953 I contracted polio in the second last epidemic in Canada.
    I was hospitalized along with…hundreds of other children and adults. Many died. Many led short lives after contracting the disease, then died. I have three vivid memories from those days;
    1. A twenty year old teacher, completely paralyzed head to foot. She was a university graduate and a nurse said to me, “This young woman must start life again, from the beginning”, referring to the daily routine ahead of learning to use limbs again through physical therapy and, life in an iron lung.
    2. A beautiful baby…very, very pretty, completely paralyzed with polio.
    3. Mothers weeping over their stricken child.
    I simply cannot believe any Canadian mother would today be so reckless as to risk their child catching polio when the means to prevent it is a simple vaccine.

    • Right. I forgot about the oral vaccine…see, it doesn’t even hurt.