Two young women died suddenly and mysteriously after getting the Gardasil vaccine, European regulators announced yesterday. Did the vaccine precipitate their deaths? No one knows. But Europe's drug watchdogs emphasized the fact that 1.5 million women have been vaccinated with Gardasil so far, and they said the benefits of this cervical cancer preventative still outweigh the risks.
Sanofi Pasteur, which collaborated with Merck in developing Gardasil and markets the product in Europe, is downplaying the shot's link to the deaths. Medical Director Nicholas Kitchin told The Telegraph that German and Austrian officials have "looked pretty extensively" at the two deaths and haven't found evidence that the vaccine caused them.
Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced four deaths in young women who'd been vaccinated with Gardasil, but officials said that the deaths didn't appear to be caused by the shot. At the time, 5 million doses of Gardasil had been distributed in the U.S., but the number of patients who'd received shots was unknown.