Estimated 10,000 Victims and Industry Corruption Among Startling Revelations in “Injecting Aluminum”
In mid-July, France celebrated Bastille Day, the national holiday that commemorates the core values of the French Revolution, including liberty. Ironically, in the same month, the “on the move” administration of newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron passed a law that nearly quadruples the number of vaccines forced on French children, from three compulsory vaccines currently to eleven next year. According to a report in Newsweek, French Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn regrets the need for “coercion” but believes that “there are times when [it] is a good thing.”
Interestingly, a global survey conducted in late 2015 that investigated public attitudes toward vaccines found that France had the lowest level of confidence in vaccine safety across the 67 countries surveyed. Two-fifths (41%) of French respondents (versus a global average of 13%) disagreed that vaccines are safe. The incurious authors of the study, concerned only about the potential for “vaccine confidence crises,” failed to ask a crucial question: Why do so many French citizens have concerns about vaccine safety?
A deeply moving new French documentary suggests some answers. “Injecting Aluminum,” directed by French journalist Marie-Ange Poyet and released by Cinema Libre Studio, tells a series of overlapping stories that powerfully indict vaccine manufacturers and government officials for their cavalier disregard of serious vaccine risks. Layering the perspectives of patients, doctors, scientists, journalists, historians, and legislators, “Injecting Aluminum” illustrates what happens when the powers-that-be not only neglect but actively suppress concerns about vaccine ingredients and vaccine policy.
A NEW DISORDER
At the heart of the film are the poignant stories of three patients (Natalie, Laurent, and Didier) afflicted with a debilitating but initially mysterious condition that many doctors all too willingly dismissed as psychosomatic. Along with cognitive deficiencies, the three patients vividly describe a catalogue of physical symptoms rotating through the body like musical chairs, including “hurting all the time,” experiencing “burning pain like electric shocks,” living with the sensation of “torn muscles,” and being “too weak to hold a screwdriver.” All three spent years “wandering from doctor to doctor” before they finally learned that they had a newly named inflammatory muscle disorder called macrophagic myofasciitis or MMF.
The two doctors at the forefront of the naming and discovery of MMF—neuropathologist Dr. Romain Gherardi and neurology professor Dr. François-Jérôme Authier of the Henri Mondor Hospital in Créteil—began encountering patients with the “bizarre” ailment in the early 1990s. In 1998, they published a report in The Lancet describing MMF as an “emerging entity” but characterized the condition as being of “unknown cause.” The film skillfully lets the two doctors take turns telling the story of how they went about methodically unraveling the medical mystery’s causation.
HITTING THE JACKPOT
Gherardi and Authier admit that, early on, they pursued a false trail, assuming that the new disorder must have bacterial origins. However, because one of the distinctive features of MMF was a lesion in the deltoid muscle—a lesion unlike anything that clinicians had seen before—they eventually examined the muscle tissue more closely. Laboratory analysis of the muscle tissue revealed an “extremely surprising” finding, showing that the white blood cells called macrophages (which play an important role in innate immunity) contained tiny particles of aluminum. Dr. Gherardi describes his initial reaction as puzzlement because he could not imagine a source of aluminum exposure. Because the patients exhibited autoimmune symptoms, Gherardi decided to consult a well-known immunology reference, where he was astonished to find that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines might be responsible for the symptoms he was observing. Adjuvants are substances added to vaccines to induce a stronger immune response, and aluminum salts such as aluminum hydroxide are present in a number of vaccines. Gherardi notes that the aluminum hydroxide that first became available ninety years ago “is the exact same compound that is used in 2016.”
After further detective work to examine patients’ vaccination records, Drs. Gherardi and Authier realized that they had “hit the jackpot.” As Gherardi describes it, “One hundred percent of our MMF patients had been vaccinated, often dating back months or years before symptom onset, and that’s how we connected the dots.…All of the MMF patients’ lesions contained aluminum salts.” The two doctors and their colleagues formally updated their account of MMF in a 2001 publication in the journal Brain, reporting that the MMF lesions are “secondary to intramuscular injection of aluminum hydroxide-containing vaccines” and emerge in patients who exhibit “systemic symptoms” that appear “subsequently to vaccination.”
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Part of what makes “Injecting Aluminum” so riveting is the film’s inclusion of some fascinating historical context. Historian Florence Hachez-Leroy describes how, in the mid-1850s, the French chemist Henri Sainte-Claire Deville produced the first metallic aluminum and decided that it was harmless. Manufacturers immediately accepted this verdict and embraced aluminum as “the metal of the future.” In the 1890s, some European scientists began questioning aluminum’s safety and launched a surprisingly heated battle of competing viewpoints that continues up to the present day. Drawing on biased volumes of cherry-picked studies such as 1928’s Aluminum Compounds in Food, aluminum industry-sponsored researchers began launching “carefully coordinated” attacks on those who dared to question aluminum’s safety. By successfully “leveraging doubt,” in Hachez-Leroy’s words, the industry ensured its ability to continue to use aluminum without compunction in all manner of consumer products.
FLAWED SAFETY TESTING
After making the connection between MMF and aluminum adjuvants, Drs. Gherardi and Authier discovered that the scientific literature on aluminum adjuvants was “totally wrong.” In the film, Gherardi dissects an oft-cited 1997 animal study conducted over a 28-day period that sought to assess the absorption and elimination profile of aluminum hydroxide and two other aluminum adjuvants. The study’s glaring flaws include its scale (a grand total of two rabbits received intramuscular injections of the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant), its time frame (at 28 days, the rabbits retained 94% of the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant), and the failure to study either the injection site tissue (not examined) or the known propensity of aluminum to accumulate in bones (the investigators “accidentally” destroyed the rabbits’ bones before they could examine them). Incredibly, according to Gherardi, “worldwide vaccinology takes this study as its reference” and uses it to claim that humans eliminate aluminum adjuvants in just a few weeks. In fact, aluminum persists in the body for years, as MMF patients’ experiences have shown.
“Injecting Aluminum” also features Dr. Christopher Exley, professor of bioinorganic chemistry at the UK’s Keele University, who is the world’s leading expert on aluminum. Exley notes that he is not “anti-aluminum” but believes that regulatory agencies have “covered up the damage that we know aluminum does” to human health. He disputes the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) “totally corrupt and useless” assertion that there is a “safe limit” of aluminum, asking, “How do they know that, when I don’t know it and I’ve been working on aluminum for over 30 years?” Exley also notes that regulatory agencies do not require any clinical testing or approval for aluminum adjuvants, meaning that the presumption that aluminum adjuvants are safe is unwarranted. For these reasons, Dr. Gherardi cautions that “when they say aluminum adjuvants are innocuous, beware of the semantics and STOP!”
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Another enlightening component of “Injecting Aluminum” are the interview segments that focus on the bought science and conflicts of interest that have made it difficult to get the word out about aluminum’s dangers. Le Monde journalist Stéphane Foucart notes that there are many ways to guarantee biased research results, including “buying your scientists” (he likens this to “hand-picking the jury”). According to Foucart, at least 60% of all scientific “experts” have conflicts of interest. Dr. Authier confirms this by noting that “not one expert who has assessed our MMF data is free from strong connections to the vaccine industry.” Another strategy to ensure that no one rocks the boat is to enlist what Dr. Exley describes as “aluminum ambassadors”—paid shills who have no actual aluminum expertise but who serve their industry sponsors by propagating false claims about aluminum safety.
Didier Lambert, one of the three featured MMF patients and head of an MMF patient advocacy organization, further outlines the corporate interests at play. Lambert describes the intersecting relationships between the French multinational Sanofi (the world’s largest vaccine producer), Nestle (the world’s largest food and beverage company), France’s L’Oréal corporation (the world’s leading cosmetics company), and the Bettencourt family (L’Oréal’s heirs and largest shareholders). All three corporations rely heavily on aluminum in their products. Sanofi’s vaccine sales, which grew by 15% in 2015, are a linchpin of the company’s overall success in the context of lagging sales in other departments. This typifies the “spectacular growth rate” of the global vaccine market (10% to 15% annually) as compared with other pharmaceutical products (5%–7% annual growth).
The WHO predicts that global vaccine sales will reach $100 billion by 2025, with more than 120 new products in the pipeline. In this highly profitable context, is it any wonder that France’s estimated 10,000 MMF patients have garnered such little support from the French government or industry-sponsored scientists? Didier Lambert notes that although over 260 French lawmakers have intervened on behalf of MMF patients, French politicians at the highest levels continue to make empty promises. As a presidential candidate, François Hollande vowed to ensure aluminum-free vaccines, but as soon as he became president, Hollande did nothing. Other politicians have remained mute even when directly presented with evidence that Sanofi falsified data. In the meantime, says journalist Stéphane Foucart, it is left to doctors such as Drs. Gherardi and Authier to “count the sick and the dead.” European Parliament member Michèle Rivasi asks, “Does anyone care about the people?”
Interwoven into all the interviews, “Injecting Aluminum” presents many steps that could immediately improve the situation of MMF patients and others seriously injured by vaccines. These include testing adjuvant safety, formulating aluminum-free vaccines, establishing national registries to track MMF cases, and accelerating research into treatment options for MMF patients. Unfortunately, these steps involve facing off against a “powerful pharmaceutical giant” and addressing questions that “people don’t want to see answered.” “Injecting Aluminum” chips away at the prevailing silence and duplicity and invites all of us to take action.