Just days after declaring a ban on two influenza vaccines manufactured by Swiss drug maker Novartis due to abnormal floating particles, the nations of Canada and Switzerland have officially lifted these bans at the request of the drug giant. According to Reuters, Novartis procured company-funded testing allegedly showing that the vaccines were still safe despite the abnormalities, which the two countries accepted as solid enough evidence to once again begin administering the questionable jabs.
Several weeks ago, a handful of European Union nations and Canada noticed that some lots of Novartis’ Agrippal and Fluad influenza vaccines contained unusually large white clumps floating in the injection solution, prompting health authorities to issue an immediate moratorium. Not only is vaccine solution in general supposed to be evenly disbursed without any clumps or particles, but it was also unclear precisely what the clumps actually were in the flu solutions. So to prevent a potential public health emergency, health officials decided to simply ban the vaccines altogether.
Once Novartis got wind of this decision, though, the company scrambled to manufacture “evidence” that the particles, which were later identified as atypically large proteins, were not a threat to human health. Even though these particles would presumably be injected into human muscle tissue along with the vaccine solution, Novartis declared the anomaly to not be a threat — just go ahead and get your flu shot and do not worry about it, the company basically decreed.
“According to the scientific data presented to us, the safety of the vaccines is not compromised by the stray aggregates,” claimed the Swiss health agency Swissmedic in a recent announcement. The agency did not; however, provide any details as to the contents or conclusion of this supposed data.
Italy, on the other hand, which went a step further by banning two other Novartis flu vaccines, Influpozzi and adjuvanted Influpozzi, is not so sure about Novartis’ “scientific data.” The country is reportedly in the process of reviewing the company’s test results, while it remains “cautiously positive” about potentially lifting its ban on the four vaccines. There is currently no word on how Germany, Spain, Austria, and France will respond to Novartis’ claims that its flu vaccines are safe.
Just a few days before Novartis’ Chief Executive Officer Joseph Jimenez declared the company’s flu vaccines to be safe, Novartis’ third-quarter sales numbers were publicly released. According to Reuters, these numbers missed the forecast mark substantially, which presumably helped motivate Novartis to create the “scientific data” it needed to declare its flu vaccines safe, and thus preserve their place in the market.