Do you want to know what is in your vaccines?

The recent discovery of contaminating porcine circovirus 1 DNA in Rotarix underscores the power of deep sequencing to ensure the purity of viral vaccines. The price of deep sequencing is now low enough that it is possible to use this technology to examine not just viral vaccines, but any biological product produced in mammalian cells for the presence of adventitious agents.

Some individuals have told me they do not want to know what is in their vaccines. Their logic is that even if we do identify a contaminating virus, we might not know if it is of any consequence to human health. But we would nonetheless worry about its presence and unnecessarily spend millions of dollars to remove it. The contrary view is that, although infection with porcine circovirus 1 might be benign, who can be confident that in 20 years the infection will not lead to dire consequences?

I am interested in what readers of virology blog think about this issue. Let your view be known by taking the poll below.

30 thoughts on “Do you want to know what is in your vaccines?”

  1. I won't understand the results of the sequencing, but someone will undoubtedly do it just to look for controversial information. In that case hopefully folks like Prof Racaniello will explain what it really means as he has already done for which I'm grateful. Eventually, too, if enough sequencing is done, perhaps useful patterns will emerge that will benefit everyone.

  2. Yes, but quickly followed by if we find something unexpected in a vaccine people understand not to panic because it has already been through the very extensive testing to get approved for human use.

  3. As a scientist, i would want to know. But as with alot of legit information on health and medical issues out there, certain groups without the same level of expertise will distort them for their own purposes of fearmongering. In France, there was quite a brouhaha about the trace organomercurial compounds in the H1N1 vaccine. So i'd say, go ahead with the deep sequencing but get prepared from serious crowd control.

  4. I'm with Charlene. Yes, of course we should know all we can, but it'll be rough. There is so much nuttiness about vaccines.

  5. Maybe there should be some kind of prioritization. For vaccines that clearly prevent many cases of human illness, or ones with a long track record, the desire to know what else might be there is not so pressing. The ones to be done first are vaccines (varicella comes to mind) where the vaccine clearly is helpful but we could live without it for a time if need be.

  6. I cannot comprehend the attitude of those who say they don't want to know what is in vaccines – or any therapeutic good. It is the same ostrich mentality which claims that clinical data should be ignored in favour of epidemiology and that the precautionary principle should not apply to vaccination.

    Please, let's bring science back into this issue – if the science can tell us what is in vaccines, let us find out so we can make them as safe as they possibly can be.

  7. I'm not sure I understand your reluctance biocjs. Since vaccines are potentially administered to EVERYONE, the need to know is that much greater. After all, something like an arthritis medication or a diabetes drug is only given to a small percentage of the population. Something which is given across the board – especially to our most vulnerable members of society – children and infants – must be proven safe and uncontaminated before it is used.

  8. Much of the displeasure in linking an effect between chemicals and bodily injections is from those who created the deformities now increasing among the children of Vietnam, Cambodia and now Iraq. Of course, we can't currently prove the link – but it is quite obvious to those not involved in the world of chemicals.

  9. Pingback: The ostrich effect « No Compulsory Vaccination

  10. I guess if we follow the homeopathic views on your website in regards to vaccination, then we will all be safe – it is only water after all.

    As someone who apparently is a veterinarian, your unfounded views on vaccination are appalling.

  11. BTW – why is it the “references” link on your website is blank? Surely you have some data to back up your claims. Or is it just scaremongering?

  12. From my experience taking Microbiology, sequencing our vaccines would add a great deal of knowledge to our existing microbial/viral databases. I think we should sequence them just for our knowledge of what's in these things that we are placing into our bodies.

  13. How much “science” is in the AVN website?

    What science shows that homeopathy cures pertussis? Have you ever apologized about comments you made about and to the McCaffery family? Why are you cybersquatting on several websites with the words australiansceptics? Why would you claim to want free exchange of information when Peter Bowditch has been banned from your websites?

    For more information see .

  14. Hi Chris,
    What odd questions. Can you read? If you can, you will see that there are many, many references to peer-reviewed medical journals on the AVN's website.

    As for homoeopathy, the AVN does not recommend or not recommend any medical procedure, but I used homoeopathy for my own family when we got pertussis (the vaccinated and the unvaccinated amongst us) and found that it worked within 24-48 hours – far better than the experience of those vaccinated people I know who got pertussis and were sick with it for months after taking antibiotics. That is my own personal experience – YMMV.

    And what is it I was supposed to have said to the McCaffery family that requires an apology?
    I asked a simple question – why would anyone not want to know what is in vaccines (or drugs, or bread, or any other products that someone else prepares for our consumption). Why have no taken that simple question and tried to twist it to your own ends?

    Answer the question Chris. Do you want to know what's in vaccines or are you happy to live in blessed ignorance of what may affect your health? Ignorance does not equal bliss – but it can equal lots of illness and perhaps even death.

  15. reasonablehank

    Mrs Dorey. Are they the peer-reviewed articles which you copypasted over from, spelling mistakes included, with the wrong journal titles? Is that the peer-reviewed articles to which you are referring?

  16. Unlike you, Ms. Dorey, I know how to read the medical literature.

    Still, have you ever apologized to the McCaffery's for your appalling behavior? That has nothing to do with what you call “science” but simple human decency. I posted the links where it was noted you posted inappropriate accusations on a Facebook page, and to the discussion of the appearance on Channel 7. This is was where you and other AVN member made idle idiotic speculations. You definitely should apologize. Perhaps it would help if you actually listened to the podcast link I posted

    For more information check here:

    This is where you will find this information:

    We are outraged that without our knowledge, Meryl Dorey rang the Director of the NCAHS Public Health Unit on 12 March seeking details on Dana’s death and contended the department had misled the public.

    This is definitely something that needs an apology.

    More information here:

  17. Oops, I hit a button too soon. More information here:

    Toni McCaffery asked Meryl Dorey if she had ever been in a neo-natal unit with kids experiencing whooping cough or measles, or seen a child go into cardiac arrest like she had Dana. Meryl, in a defying act of insensitivity said; “of course it is awful to see a child die, any child, but Dana?, Daanna?, I’m sorry, I don’t really know how to pronounce it…”

    … and the last sentence from the link:

    Yet the anti-vaxers bumble along seemingly oblivious. At one stage when discussion got around to Dana’s death I heard from behind me, someone say it was only one baby. David McCaffery leaned over to me and said, “It was my baby”.

    Ms. Dorey, are you ever going to apologize?

  18. I completely agree. I feel that not only would the information be useful if there were some kind of unexpected side effects, and possibly prevent contaminated batches from going out, but the simple act of characterising and cataloging the viruses found would add to our knowledge of viruses.

  19. melbournesceptic

    Of course the scientists/Big Pharma will still insist, there is absolutely no possibility that HIV was introduced to the human population through vaccination.

  20. Meryl, you personally endorse homeopathy on official AVN forums, sell homeopathy books through the AVN, and of course, this:
    Looks like medical advice, plus homeopathy to me.

    Meryl, we all know what you think is in vaccines, so it seems you are wasting everybody's time even asking the question:
    “…when you look at the list of ingredients in vaccinations, the list of poisons, there’s no other word for them. They call them toxins, it’s just another word for a poison.”

    Ok Meryl, it's been pointed out to you, repeatedly, over many years, exactly what the ingredients are, their chemical composition, amount of dose, etc, yet you still insist on spewing forward lie after lie after fear-mongering lie.

    Would you care to offer evidence to support your utterly ridiculous, side-splitting assertion that pharmaceutical companies write the medical curricula for our universities?

    Please enlighten us how you “have no fear in saying that” the swine-flu outbreak was a “manufactured outbreak”. Come on, evidence. Oh so sorry, you did supply it! That's right, you posted David Icke's articles about the mind-control swine flu vaccine for future genocide!

    I look forward to your evidence, Meryl. Oh, and stop lying.

  21. Pingback: SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG » This Week in Virology #77: Non-nuclear proliferation

  22. Lisa Ann Gabriel,RNP

    Scientific discovery depends upon individual's curiosity and intuitive drive. It is not reckless. There is too much of a joy and passion to be neglected through fears. To this end ,we need to pursue inquiry whenever new technology permits, even if we do not know what to do with the data collected nor how to interpret its' inherent meaning or relevance at the time. Yet if we can deep sequence, we must just to see what is in there and learn learn learn. Study and ethical research to follow. So much discovery in the past ,such as has been outlined in books like the weekly pick “The Demon Under the Microscope” by Thomas Hager; fo finely illustrate this path. It requires relentless scientists, who pursue a hypothesis and quietly pray to whomever or whatever they believe in that some litigious- minded “Esquire “will now be gnawing at their heels saying “Aha! You knew that this was here and you did not even know what its' function is yet..” and kill a perfectly good research program. We are driven to know what we do not yet know. We do know that we don't know much , so we are compelled to explore. This moves humanity forward in all areas of life .Another move to discovery is ready and waiting in deep sequencing our vaccines.
    I say it is always better to shine in the light of truth in any situation/investigation presenting a timely opportuniy to explore. The learning opportunity is a potent one. By all means,put on the lab coats and get cracking!

  23. I find it intriguing that animal viral contamination is a huge scientific and ethical issue in xenotransplantation circles, but when it comes to vaccines, burying — or failing to look for — evidence of viral contamination is presented as an acceptable scientific choice. It is not acceptable by any stretch, given the potential for reassortment. Given the near-mandatory use of vaccines, and the clear desire by some public health officials to strengthen mandates, it should be especially incumbent upon the scientific community to ensure the potential for unwitting manmade disaster is mitigated as completely as possible. Investigate, learn, publish, and let the chips fall.

  24. Where's known liar and criminal Peter Bowditch? Can't we allow him some time for for ill-informed and infantile participation?

  25. Where's known liar and criminal Peter Bowditch? Can't we allow him some time for for ill-informed and infantile participation?

  26. If pharmaceuticals go through “extensive testing to get approved for human use”, then why all the recalled drugs that have sickened/killed people in the past (including vaccines)?

  27. Because nothing is perfect. The fraction of drugs/vaccines that are
    recalled is small compared to the total number used. What is the
    alternative? To revert to the days before the FDA, when no drugs were
    tested, and which routinely caused death and injury in recipients?

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