by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM
Eggs have been used to produce seasonal influenza vaccines for more than 70 years. The production of the influenza vaccine leads to the purchase of tens of millions of eggs each season. Eggs are also used to make measles, mumps and yellow fever vaccines. But what’s in those eggs?
An entire industry has evolved to provide eggs for vaccine production. Produced by specific pathogen-free (SPF) flocks, this designation is given to birds tested frequently to ensure “microbiological integrity” of the flock. They are raised in an isolated, vaccine-free environment. The specialized buildings controlled feeding and provide high-pressure, filtered air. The conditions expensive to maintain, making the cost of SPF eggs more expensive – as much as $5.25 per egg.
In addition to testing the birds, their eggs are also closely inspected to guarantee their SPF status. Eggs are tested for a short list of viruses and bacteria—usually between 25 and 37—to confirm the absence of the specific pathogens on the list. If none of the listed agents are detected, the eggs are reported free of those specified pathogens.
Note that this is a finite number of pathogens that could be within the flock. To screen for every microbe would be time and cost prohibitive. So in theory, if human vaccines are made from SPF eggs, and if the standards of Good Manufacturing Practice are maintained, vaccines should be safe for human use. We should have little concern of cross-species contamination and give little thought of the dozens of other pathogens just might be hiding in those vaccines.
The truth is, each egg is a new experiment.
Disturbingly, there is a wide difference between “specific pathogen-free” and “pathogen free.” Specific-pathogen-free (SPF) animals and eggs are defined as ‘free of specified microorganisms and parasites, but not necessarily free of others not specified’ (International Committee on Laboratory Animals, 1964). The distinction is important because unidentified pathogens could be present in eggs, avian cultures and chicken fibroblasts that could be part of the final egg-based vaccine. We know chicken stuff is in the vaccines – it’s listed as an ingredient on package inserts.
Could viruses that are harmless to their animal host be dangerous to humans? This grave concern is more than theoretical: Harmful “extra” viruses have been passed on in vaccines before.
Over the last 15 to 20 years researchers have recorded a litany of serious disease-causing transmissions passed on to humans through vaccines. In the 1940s, hepatitis B was transmitted via the albumen used to stabilize the yellow fever vaccine. Between 1955 and 1962, at least a third of all polio vaccines were contaminated with the cancer-causing virus SV40. Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher chronicled the story in their meticulously written book, The Virus and The Vaccine (my book review is here.) Similarly, human blood products, blood-derived materials, and clotting factors have transmitted various infectious agents and viruses over the years. Both hepatitis C and paravirus B-19 have been passed to hemophiliacs through contaminated products.
Extra Viruses in the Egg-based Vaccines
Avian Leucosis Virus
One virus that has garnered a great deal of attention is avian leucosis virus, or ALV. For more than 50 years, this retrovirus has been identified in the eggs used to manufacture vaccines. AVL is known to infect large segments of the poultry industry. A slowly oncogenic retrovirus, AVL is responsible for a variety of cancers in chickens, including lymphoid leukosis and erythroblastosis.
“Oncogene transduction is the process by which a gene is captured by a retrovirus…Serial passage of a retrovirus that does not carry an oncogene leads with high frequency, to the emergence of new viruses that have transduced oncogenes…This model also explains the generation of the vast majority of acutely transforming retroviruses isolated in vivo. ”
That is professional double-speak for the following: Given the right conditions, ALV can be integrated into a human chromosome, creating a faulty gene that can go rogue and evolve into cancer.
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Endogenous Avian Virus
Another contaminant retrovirus found in eggs is endogenous avian virus, or EAV. This virus is present in all breeds of chicken and cannot be eliminated from even the most stringently kept flocks. EAV has an associated enzyme called reverse transcriptase which copies the genetic material of the virus into the DNA of the host. Since 1982, researchers have known of the presence of EAV and reverse transcriptase in influenza and other egg-based vaccines. In 1999, Tsang, et al. detected the presence of reverse transcriptase in the chicken-cell derived measles and mumps vaccines. His team tracked the enzyme’s origin back to the avian cell cultures the viruses had been grown in.
Considering the numerous regulations requiring avian cell cultures to be free of known chicken bacterial pathogens and viruses, this is an alarming discovery and should have set off warning signals throughout both the scientific and medical communities. Knowing how reverse transcriptase works in living cells, it is possible that vaccines containing reverse transcriptase are weaving viral genes into human DNA.
Searching for the Wrong Evidence
There has been little argument among researchers that avian retroviruses and reverse transcriptase have long been detected in vaccines made from eggs. What they do not agree upon, however, are the effects these extra viruses may be having on humans, including the development of autoimmune disorders, allergies, neurological conditions or even cancer.
Researchers have continued to search for the presence of antibodies against EAV and AVL in the blood of persons vaccinated with measles, mumps, influenza or yellow fever vaccines. When the viruses were not identified by PCR testing and antibodies against the viruses were not found, researchers concluded there was “no evidence of transmissibility.”
That’s like looking for your car keys in your coat pocket when they are in the kitchen drawer, then declaring they can’t be found and are permanently lost. You just didn’t look in the right place.
Attempting to identify viral contaminants is complex because part of the normal life cycle of a retrovirus involves integrating, for a variable period of time, into the host’s DNA. When the virus is inserted into the DNA, it becomes “become invisible.’ The immune system cannot detect and remove it. This also means the researcher’s testing tools can’t find it either. The lack of detection is not proof that the viruses are benign and not causing harm.
That is a sobering thought.
But like so many other concerns about vaccine safety, researchers eliminate the concerns with a stroke of the pen. By declaring the retroviruses to be harmless, they are magically harmless.
It has been said that the seeds of cancer lie within us.
The human genome contains at least 50 genes called proto-oncogenes, which under normal conditions keep a watchful eye over excessive cell division and keep it under control. However, when a proto-oncogene is converted into an active oncogene, uncontrolled cell growth can occur. Activation of a proto-oncogene can be caused by a variety of mechanisms, including the insertion of viral RNA into the host’s genome. When cells undergo rapid, unchecked cell division the possibility for abnormal cells to arise and replicate is more than a theoretical concern.
This is the start of cancer.
The possible risk of incorporating retroviruses into human DNA has gone up substantially since the influenza vaccine was added to the pediatric schedule in 2004. In addition to eggs, chicken embryos, chicken proteins (ovalbumin) and chicken fibroblasts are used in culture media for additional vaccines. The risk of unknown viruses being introduced into the human genome increases with each additional jab.
If vaccines were given only once in a lifetime, perhaps the stray chicken – and bovine – viruses would have minimal consequences. But the influenza vaccine is now recommended for infants starting at six months of age and is to be given annually for the rest of that child’s life. At least two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended and future boosters may be recommended.
Are potentially cancer-causing retroviruses being incorporated into the human genome without detection? Is this what you want to be injected into your children? Into you?