The following post is not a journalistic piece, does not fulfill the objectivity criteria defined by my profession nor is it in line with what I would usually write on my blog. But taking the circumstances and the person involved I felt compelled to do so.
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If you usually follow BBC news you may have noticed something different lately. Top journalist Malcolm Brabant hasn’t been on that often. And that’s because he has been unwell after taking a Stamaril vaccine from pharmaceutical Sanofi Pasteur.
Malcolm’s witty reporting is a prime example of top professionalism and great talent. He is what I call an old-time journalist. And this is good. Old-timers do journalism because they believe in it. They seek no fortune or glory. For them journalism is a way of life. It were the old-timers who got me to decide to become a journalist when I was merely 13 years old. Here was a lousy paid job with the greatest perk of all: a sense of mission.
Like any good old-timers Malcolm has had his share of adventure. He got the Greek minister of finance to say the Germans should be grateful for all the gold the Nazis had taken from Greece during WWII and which has never been returned. He has also broken an expensive table at the Greek Prime Minister’s office when he fell on it while preparing for an interview. Unfortunately for us, the camera wasn’t rolling at the time.
Malcolm has been named the King of Stringers by Roomyverse blog. And they’re right. Not only is Brabant one of the best journalists I have ever had the honour to work with (and learn from), he is also the man who has always fought against injustice towards BBC freelancers. A sort of an union man with no official post, if you like.
And alongside his journalism responsibilities, Malcolm has been working with UNICEF as well.
It is no wonder then that is has saddened us to see how the man who has been reporting on injustice across the world is now its victim.
On 15 April this year, Malcolm took a Stamaril jab in Athens against yellow fever. He was getting ready to travel to
Pakistan once more Ivory Coast for UNICEF. But things didn’t go as planned.
Within 24hours he was admitted to hospital with high fever. He was also suffering from psychotic effects. He was in a limbo between life and death. We hoped things would get better when he wittily posted on Facebook of how happy he was he could watch the royal wedding from his hospital room.
But Malcolm has been in and out of hospital ever since suffering from high fever or psychotic events. Doctors suspect the Stamaril vaccine he took in April was contaminated.
But both producer Sanofi Pasteur and Greek distributor Vianex have told his family there was nothing wrong with that batch of Stamaril.
Yet, Malcolm’s family says his blood was tested by his psychiatrist upon Vianex’s request and without their consent.
Because of his condition Malcolm has been unable to work as much as expected and hasn’t been his normal self.
In Malcolm’s contract with UNICEF there is a clause on compensation in case of illness or death before or during the assignment. But so far there hasn’t been any signs from UNICEF that a compensation will in fact be paid. The organisation’s legal team seems to be questioning the link between the vaccine and Malcolm’s condition.
While it is now impossible to establish whether the Stamaril vaccine Malcolm took was in fact contaminated, doctors have found no other evidence of what could have caused this illness but the jab.
I sent an email to the media relations of Sanofi Pasteur asking for their position on the matter but I haven’t received any reply from them. Silence can sometimes be the obvious answer, but it should never be the response when there is a human life in question. After all, the purpose of pharmaceuticals should be to heal us and make us better.
On November 14 Sanofi Pasteur MSD UK Communications Manager Paul Hardiman said his company has been following Malcolm’s case and that it has conducted an investigation which found no evidence linking Malcolm’s experienced condition and the vaccine.
According to Mr Hardiman, the company tracked back the batch of Malcolm’s vaccine and says it passed the quality checks performed by Sanofi Pasteur in Lyon and external parties. He also adds that the investigation showed no evidence of any contamination between the moment the batch left the factory in France and the moment it was administered to Malcolm.
While Mr Hardiman can’t give any information on the conditions under which this specific batch was transported into Greece, he says that it is normal procedure in the UK to monitor the temperature of the vaccines during shipping.
On top of their investigation Mr Hardiman says they have also analyzed information on Malcolm’s health history and current condition. He couldn’t say where that information had come from.
When asked whether he thought it was strange that Malcolm was in and out of hospital since he had been administered their vaccine, Mr Hardiman repeated their findings showed no relation between the two occurrences.
Sanofi Pasteur also released an official statement. Read it here.
********NEW: Sanofi Pasteur admits adverse advents!********
Since publishing its press-release the pharmaceutical has sent an email to Malcolm’s family maintaining their stance on the good quality of the vaccine but acknowledging the existence of other adverse cases connected to the same batch. The email says: “We have analysed all reports of adverse advents following vaccination with other doses from the same batch (more than 120.000 doses distributed in several countries, including Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom). These investigations did not reveal any quality issues.”
The question now is, if there was nothing wrong with the vaccine what could have caused unrelated people to suffer from adverse advents after having been administered Stamaril?
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