A sudden and sharp increase in the number of multiple sclerosis (MS) cases diagnosed in France back in the mid-1990s appears to have its roots in a mass vaccination campaign for hepatitis B that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to new epidemiological data published in the journal Immunologic Research.
accordance with WHO recommendations, France implemented a campaign in
1992 promoting hepatitis B vaccines, for which 20 million French adults
-- or roughly one-third of the country -- agreed to be vaccinated
between the years of 1994 and 1997. By 1998, however, massive spikes in
MS cases began to dominate headlines in the French media.
to 1993, when the hepatitis B vaccine campaign first began, there were
about 2,500 new cases of MS in France annually. Immediately after the
campaign was launched, and especially after 1996, that number nearly
doubled to 4,500 new MS cases per year. The most obvious cause,
according to many health experts, was the vaccine.
following this revelation, vaccination rates plummeted in France and
suspicions about how the hepatitis B vaccine might be triggering MS
began to emerge. One hypothesis suggested that a protein in the vaccine
might be very similar to a protein naturally found in myelin, the
protective coating around nerve fibers that is attacked by the immune
system in MS sufferers.
Since that time, multiple research projects have aimed to better understand the correlation between Hepatitis
B vaccines and MS. One French study found that the actual number of MS
cases linked to hepatitis B vaccines is 2.5 times higher than previously
assumed, while another case-controlled epidemiological study observed a
definitive increased risk of MS within three years following
These studies and others were included in the latest review, which confirmed a "significant correlation" between Hepatitis B
vaccines and MS cases. A graph featured in the study shows a massive
spike in MS cases in 1996, which directly matches the 2-3-year period
following vaccination that previous studies had found was when most MS
cases would likely emerge due to the vaccine.
positive and statistically significant correlation between HB vaccine
exposure and reported MS incidence is consistently observed in different
places, circumstances, and times," wrote the authors. "The figures
available in France thus show a definite statistical signal in favor of a
causal link between the HB vaccine event and the apparition of MS with a
maximum correlation in the 2 years following immunization."