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American lawyers would have “obtained 2 billion dollars in compensation” following the “Gardasil scandal”, the vaccine against cervical cancer, controversial essayist Idriss Aberkane claims on Twitter. But this assertion is false: contacted by AFP, the law firm in question indicates that it has taken legal action against the laboratory which markets the vaccine, which has never yet been examined by a court. The National Papillomavirus Reference Center also told AFP that there is no scientific evidence of severe adverse effects of the vaccine.
“Who remembers the scandal of Gardasil, an experimental vaccine against the papillomavirus which was stopped for its many serious side effects? It was in 2017. The lawyers who obtained 2 billion dollars of compensation were they “antivax”?questions on January 26 on Twitter Idriss Aberkane, controversial essayist whose publications on anti-Covid vaccination have already been the subject of verification articles by various media, (here, here or here).
No $2 billion repair
Idriss Aberkane’s post has been shared over 3,000 times on Twitter. But beware, his assertion is inaccurate in several respects. In his publication, where he mentions “2 billion dollars of repair” obtained by “lawyers” following a “scandal” on Gardasil, the essayist suggests that the cervical cancer vaccine would have ceased to be distributed in the United States following a lawsuit. As proof, he attaches to his tweet a link pointing to a page on the website of the American law firm Baum Hedlund.
On the latter, where appears in capital letters the mention “Leading Gardasil Lawyers in the Country”it is recorded that the firm contributed to the announcement of a “verdict of $2.055 billionthe second-highest personal injury verdict of 2019, and the ninth-highest personal injury verdict in American history.”
The layout of the website could lead one to believe it, but it is by no means written that this court decision is linked to the Gardasil vaccine.
Contacted by AFP, the law firm specifies on the contrary that “The $2 billion in compensation actually matches a verdict we helped secure on a Roundup cancer case against Monsanto/Bayer” in 2019.
As for the laboratory that markets the Gardasil vaccine, the lawyers claim to have “filed a dozen lawsuits against Merck for injuries” and adds that“none of them have yet been brought to trial.” The firm finally mentions that a first hearing about Gardasil will be held on July 11 in Los Angeles.
No stoppage of marketing
In the United States the Gardasil vaccine, which aims to protect young women against cervical cancer, was marketed in IJune 2006.
Today, it is still on the list of vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The main federal agency of the United States for the protection of public health, it recommends the vaccination in three doses of young girls ideally at the age of 11 and 12 years, possibly up to 26 years of age.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this vaccine has been approved for women aged 9 to 26 to protect them from diseases caused by four human papillomaviruses (HPV). Two strains of these viruses, transmitted during sexual relations, are particularly dangerous: HPV16 and HPV18. Following an infection, they can trigger genital warts and precancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix, vulva, vagina and anus.
“This vaccine is an important tool in the prevention of cervical cancer”can we read on the site of the American Federal Medicines Agency which recalls that each year, nearly 4,000 women die of cervical cancer in the United States, while in the world this disease “is the second most common cancer in women, causing approximately 470,000 new cases and 233,000 deaths per year.”
France, for its part, has indeed stopped the marketing of Gardasil in 2020. But it has been replaced by an increased version of the original vaccine: Gardasil 9. Now on the market, it targets five strains of papillomavirus additional. While Gardasil warned “70% of cancerous and precancerous lesions, the overall efficacy of the Gardasil 9 vaccine goes up to 90%”, explains the Director of the Papillomavirus National Reference Center of Besançon Jean-Luc Prétet.
No evidence of severe side effects
The French government has also applied since 2007 the same policy of recommending the Gardasil vaccine, which does not present any severe adverse effects according to the health authorities. According to the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM), whose main mission is to assess the health risks presented by medicines and health products, its main side effects are “redness, pain and/or itching at the injection site, high fever, headache.”
Professor Jean-Luc Prétet confirms and explains that “rare cases of syncope” may occur but that they are “more related to the act of injection than to the vaccine itself.” He adds that there is no “no scientific evidence of severe adverse effects of the vaccine”.
In 2015, in a study conducted jointly with the National Health Insurance Fund for Salaried Workers, the ANSM mentioned that“an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination against HPV infections, however, appears likely” on 1 to 2 cases per 100,000 vaccinated girls.
This rare syndrome can”lead to muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the legs and/or arms” Explain the World Health Organization stating that “Most people with Guillain Barré syndrome make a full recovery, even in the most severe cases”. Nevertheless, it should be noted that “this risk has not been found in other studies conducted around the world, which tends to call this observation into question”says Professor Jean-Luc Prétet.
Controversies and polemics
However, several controversies have marred the reputation of the Gardasil vaccine. In 2015, the information site Slate published an investigation on this subject, denouncing the conditions under which clinical trials were conducted by the Merck laboratory. But she also claims that “There is no evidence that the HPV vaccine is dangerous and should be avoided.”
Also, in 2013, several French women victims of alleged adverse effects of the Gardasil vaccine filed a complaint against X for “involuntary bodily harm and aggravated deception”. According to the lawyer at the time for nine of them, these young women aged 18 to 24 had common “to have contracted very debilitating diseases in the weeks and months following vaccination when they had no medical history”.
But this complaint was dismissed in October 2015 by the Paris prosecutor’s office, on the grounds that there was no direct link established between this vaccine and pathologies of the nervous system.
Cervical cancer: 3000 women affected in France
Each year in France, approximately 3,000 women are affected by cervical cancer. To try to eliminate this disease, there are currently two tools: vaccination and screening. The latter aims to detect precancerous lesions and treat them before they develop into cancer. It also helps detect and treat cancers at an early stage.
To be effective, screening must be carried out within the recommended time intervals: every 3 years between 25 and 29 years (after 2 tests carried out 1 year apart and whose results are normal) and every 5 years between 30 and 65 years old. The European Union recommends screening at least 70% of women. But in France, the figures are lower than the recommendations. Only 59% of women aged 25-65 were screened over the 2018-2020 period.
As for vaccination coverage, it has been progressing in France for several years among adolescent girls, but it also remains insufficient. In 2020, it was estimated at 41% for one dose at age 15 (35% in 2019) and 33% for the full regimen at age 16 (28% in 2019).
It must be said that the vaccine is not fully reimbursed there and that there is no organized HPV vaccination program, unlike other countries such as Portugal, Sweden or the United Kingdom.
Several countries, including France this year, have also extended vaccination to boys, both to protect them from certain cancers caused by HPV and to limit transmission to girls.
Who is Idriss Aberkane?
On Twitter, Idriss Aberkane presents himself as a “hyper doctor“, graduated from “three doctorates, including one from the Ecole Polytechnique at the age of 29“. Publicized for his conferences on personal development, the essayist has notably published Free your brain! in 2016, ranked that year as the 5th best-selling book according to the Express.
But since the start of the pandemic, he has multiplied his publications against the pharmaceutical industry and vaccination, becoming one of the figures of the anti-vaccine movements on social networks. Mainly on YouTube, where he is followed by more than 480,000 people and on Twitter, where he has 170,000 subscribers.
2 février 2022 Bien lire que l'efficacité globale du vaccin Gardasil est estimée à 90% et non pas 85% au 11e paragraphe (correction apportée après qu'un chercheur a rectifié les chiffres de l'estimation)
1 février 2022 Corrige mise en page au premier paragraphe