In short, of course it should. Science should be guided by data. If you have new compelling data to examine, you should do it. Decisions can change if there is new data to support the change. That should be self-evident to scientists and policy makers to my mind.
In this case, you are talking about purported new data that shows an elevated rate of narcolepsy being associated with persons who received the bird flu vaccine that contains a new adjuvant, AS03. Supporters and detractors of review both rightly point out that the vaccine was approved as it battles a flu that to date has shown a 59% mortality rate in the 566 confirmed cases. The number of infected is small but the mortality is EXTREMELY high. So I don't think we should focus too much on the original decision to approve -- it seems merited and was not capricious.
However, there is also new data developing that suggests an association with narcolepsy that is 14 times higher than what would be expected. Couple that with the fact that narcoplepsy is considered to be an autoimmune disease manifestation, and there is also some suggestion that there might be elevated rates of rheumatoid arthritis (also autoimmune) in this vaccinated population. It would seem prudent to check it out whether the adjuvant might be affecting this.
This seems to me to potentially be yet another very unfortunate fallout of the falisfied study linking autism to vacccination. In that case, healthy children were placed at risk by parents choosing against vaccination against very common childhood diseases because of falsified data linking the vaccinations to autism. Scandalous really and extraordinarily damaging from a public health perspective, not to mention some unvaccinated individuals and other exposed naive populations.
But let's don't overcompensate the other way and not look at new data coming in with regard to narcolepsy. One fraud doesn't necessarily mean another is being perpetrated. In this case, let's not go to sleep at the wheel without looking at the facts, and acting then on the merits of the case.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Mar 11th 2013.