From a conversation recorded in Nov 2016 by JB Handley. Dr Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor, may understand the issue of vaccine-induced autism better than anyone on the planet. The doctor-turned filmmaker (movie Vaxxed) tells the truth about how to end the autism epidemic.
A vaccine can cause extreme brain damage in a child in several ways. The first is you’ve got known neurotoxins, so you put in aluminum or you put in thimerosal, that is going to have a direct impact on the chemistry of the cell and destroy it. Neurons, particularly in the developing fetus in the infant, are exquisitely vulnerable to that kind of injury, so that’s an obvious mechanism. Perhaps less obvious is how a viral infection might do it, either directly or indirectly. A virus like measles, mumps, rubella, or chickenpox can invade the brain and get into the cells and cause damage so you might injure specific areas of the brain that lead to autism in that child. Then there is the third mechanism, and that is an indirect mechanism, whereby a virus or another compound, another exposure, induces an immune response that then has the same effect. Bailey Banks’ case in vaccine court is one such case where there is no demonstrable effect of the virus directly in the brain, but it induces an immune reaction to the myelin of the brain, the sheath surrounding the neurons that allows conduction of impulses, and you damage the brain in that way.
There are a host of mechanisms, that clearly aren’t mutually exclusive, by which vaccines could do damage. And then, of course, you’ve got the synergy of them operating one upon the other. Mercury poisons the immune system, and aluminum poisons the immune system. If you then expose a poisoned immune system to a live viral vaccine that can damage the brain, either directly or indirectly, then you’ve got a perfect storm. So what’s happening in any one individual child, I simply don’t know. But is it biologically plausible that anyone of those mechanisms could operate in causing the end result of autism? Absolutely.
Regarding causation, there are camps that have sprung up. One says it’s really mercury, “We’ve been giving MMR for 40 years and, before the mercury accumulation, which really started in the early 90s/mid-90s, we weren’t seeing the autism rates skyrocket.” There’s another camp that says, “It’s the MMR. Look at these kids; they fall off a cliff right after getting the MMR.” We have to be very humble about the issue of causation. When I first got involved in this, my starting point, and the starting point for clinical medicine, has to be the parents’ story – what actually happened to this child. In the UK at the time, MMR was given in isolation at the 18-month appointment, so it was easy for the parents to say, “This is what they had, this is what happened next.” But medicine teaches you humility because then I came to the United States and I testified before Congress and I heard about thimerosal and I thought, “Wow, no one would ever put mercury into a childhood vaccine.” Of course, they had. The more you learn, the more you realize that you’re dealing with a highly complex situation.
Let me give you an example from the field; the Russians studied this. They had millions of ground squirrels on the steppes of Russia and in certain areas, certain pockets of these animals would die year on year from the plague, Yersinia pestis, the organism of plague. The same bug was carried in the throats of animals just up the road who survived year on year. Why? They were all carrying the same bacteria. They reasoned that it was the toxic metal content of the forage plants they were eating that made the bug either a killer or just a benign carriage, and that’s exactly what they found. 16 years of research showed that, if you had forage plants that were high in cadmium and other toxic metals, that bacteria then became a killer and animals died year on year. There you have this interaction between two environmental agents that change, completely, the outcome of the infection.
We know that, in the laboratory, if you take animals that are genetically resistant to autoimmune disease following, for example, leishmaniasis exposure, and you give them low doses of mercuric chloride, what are called subtoxic doses, then it turns into a killer; they develop autoimmune disease and die. This interaction between components of the environment, each of which is, on its own, able to produce harm, but together can produce something completely unexpected, means that we have to keep a very open mind about causation.
It doesn’t dichotomize at all into camps. You have to ask: why is the epidemic continuing to rise? The other thing you have to bear in mind is, of course, they reduced the age of exposure to something like MMR, so they may have put more children in an at-risk group. You then change the substrate, the cells in which the viruses were grown, to human diploid cell lines and that could have had an effect. So it’s not a static thing; it’s not MMR is MMR, it’s not thimerosal is thimerosal. The dose keeps increasing, the time of exposure keeps changing, the number of vaccines given, one on top of the other, keeps changing, and this ever moving feast means we can ever pin down a big enough denominator of children to actually do the studies properly to determine precisely what’s happening.
When they first put MMR together, right back in the late 60s, they discovered there was this phenomenon called viral interference; that the viruses interfered one with another. That was an irritation to them because what it meant was that they had to increase the dose of the mumps vaccine, in particular, to get the same antibody response. They did not care about the implications for safety. Then we had a strain of MMR in the UK, Canada, Japan, and Australia that had to be withdrawn because it caused meningitis. That meningitis was caused by the mumps strain produced in Japan called the Urabe AM9; it didn’t happen with the Jeryl Lynn strain in the Merck vaccine, or at least anything like the same extent. But the Japanese gave 5 million doses of that mumps vaccine alone, the single mumps vaccine, with no prospective cases of meningitis reported. It was only when they put it together with the measles and rubella that it produced this alarming rate of meningitis. One and one and one, when you put viruses together, don’t equal three. Then they put ProQuad in. One plus one plus one plus one equals something completely different; it doubled the rates of febrile convulsions. Again, the concerns about safety were simply not considered and here’s the problem.
The Chinese then came along and did a study of regressive autism risk associated with things such as febrile seizures and showed that the risk was three and a half times greater for autism if you had a febrile seizure; this is not a benign process. Yet Paul Offit went on television and said, “You can combine these vaccines because it’s safe to do so because they do not interfere with one another; it’s safe.” No, Paul, it’s not. It is absolutely not. You’re exposing the immune system to something it has never seen in the history of the human species.
The mindset of public health officials is something I’ve been struggling with for many years. I’ve come to now from the position of a filmmaker and screenwriter, trying to understand what it is. In a film, you have to have a protagonist and the protagonist has to have a flaw. For the film that we’re conceptualizing now, the protagonist is a public health official. How does he see the world? Why does he not see, for example, what you see? I was looking for an answer. Is it stupidity? Is it greed? Is it arrogance? What defines the principle flaw in our protagonist? I found it in the Simpsonwood minutes. In the minutes, Dr. Johnson, a pediatric immunologist from Denver, from the University of Colorado, says, “Compared with environmental scientists, we vaccinologists have never entertained uncertainty factors.” They are certain. They have never entertained uncertainty factors. He said, “We tend to be relatively concrete in our thinking,” and that’s the problem.
How can you possibly entertain any certainty in something like vaccinology where so much is unknown? You’re changing the dose, the strain, the age of exposure, the multiplicity of exposure in one way, the route of exposure, the associated factors like a child’s health at the time of the vaccination, their age rates. It’s incredible how much you’re changing. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle says if you’ve got two related things, for example, momentum and position, the closer you get to knowing one, the further you get from knowing another. Why? Because one changes the other. That’s what happens with vaccines. You change one thing and you’ve changed everything else around it, so you will never know.
Every paper I read about vaccine safety, every book written by a vaccinologist tends to have the opening line of “Vaccines are man’s greatest contribution to the health of the world. Vaccines are the most important thing medicine has ever achieved.” When you start from that position, which does not countenance uncertainty, then that is your mantra and everything else after that is almost an apology for even asking the question about vaccine safety. It’s that rigidity, “This is how we will live. We will live by this word,” and woe betide anyone who criticizes it. I think this is the way they see, even in the certain knowledge that vaccines are doing damage, is that the greater good excludes the lesser.
If you look at the history of infectious disease and you look at the morbidity and mortality from infectious disease – and these graphs are widely available – you look at the mortality from measles in the 1920s in the UK, it was 1200 per million during epidemics and that fell by 99.6% by the time that vaccines came in. That is mortality, and morbidity parallels mortality. Really, mortality is the worst end of morbidity, if you like. Here’s the question: What would have happened to that curve had we not intervened with vaccines? Would it simply have continued to decay to zero? We’ll never know because we intervened with vaccines. But no one ever shows you, in public health, that end of the graph. Man comes to terms, and infections come to term with man respectively, and we had a working relationship. This comes from many reasons, but this is, in effect, natural herd immunity. It is the way in which we acquire immunity as a population to protect the most vulnerable from mortality and morbidity. The way in which we’ve destroyed natural herd immunity is now breast-feeding mothers don’t confer adequate immunity on their infants because the vaccine gives them less than adequate immunity. So we’ve destroyed that element of herd immunity.
Have vaccines saved some people? Yes. You could make a separate argument for say, West Africa or developing countries. But have they done what has been said of them? No, they haven’t. Whatever we get into an argument about this with anyone, you hear, “What about polio? What about smallpox?” You can say to them, “G away and read some Suzanne Humphrey’s excellent books on the history of these infections and you will understand.” But, actually, what we’re talking about now is vaccine safety, vaccine safety studies, fraud at the CDC, the exposure of that fraud, and honesty and transparency with the public.
It would be giving public health too much credit to assume that, although they know they’re triggering autism, this neurological damage, they believe the alternative would be so much worse. I think they may start off from that position, as true believers believing, implicitly, in the merits of the program and their role in protecting the human race. But then they come to know, even though there’s a dissonance, they come to be aware. Just like the story of William Thompson, 14 years they knew and they tried to cover it up and indeed thought they had. They knew that millions of children were being put in harm’s way, they knew there was a dramatic increase in the incidence, and therefore, it wasn’t just the occasional child who was going to be harmed.
I believe there is a corporate mentality. They are bureaucrats; they work in a large corporation where, “It’s not my fault. He told me to do this and I’m just doing my job. I’ve got my wife and kids to pay for. I’m just a small cog in this wheel.” Then you start to make excuses for your behavior and it gets worse and worse. I don’t have that luxury, you don’t have that luxury. We work and think and behave as individuals with individual responsibilities; we are accountable for the decisions and actions that we make. These people do not feel that they are until one person comes along, like William Thompson, and his conscience will no longer allow him to pursue that line of thinking and he has to come forward. Now the whole ship is listing. Just the other day, 12 more scientists, called spiders, from the CDC have written to the boss and to the public saying, “Our mission is being corrupted by rogue interests.” The CDC has become, in itself, a rogue organization.
William Thompson did a study that he now claims had some data buried. He saw with the data that African-American boys who got MMR earlier had higher rates of autism than those who got it later. There were two groups in whom they found a very high risk; the first was predicted and the second they wasn’t. The group they didn’t predict would have a very high risk where the African-American boys; that was an incidental finding when they adjusted for race in the whole group. It was something that they were unable to explain and unable to get rid of. The second group, and perhaps the most important group, is the one they did predict. They said that if there is a causal association between early MMR vaccination and autism, then the children in whom we are most likely to see it are those who were developmentally normal through 12 months of age and then something went wrong. They call this group isolated autism. In other words, it was autism isolated from any pre-existing condition like cerebral palsy or seizures or visual or hearing disturbances. That is the group they predicted they would find it in if there were causal association, and in that group, they found a very high risk as well. They had two groups in they had to bury both sets of data, which they did in different ways.
The study was comparing vaccinated to vaccinated, as opposed to vaccinated to unvaccinated, and they were still finding differences. It’s a relative risk according to the time of exposure. What we clearly need to know is the absolute risk and what that will only come from looking at and an unvaccinated group as a baseline comparison.
We are now hearing about data that premature infants, vaccinated versus unvaccinated, may have dramatic differences in their neurodevelopmental outcomes. From a biological standpoint, it’s obvious and completely intuitive. The younger you are, the less able you are to deal with these things. Infants don’t have a mechanism for excretion of thimerosal; they don’t have the hepatic metabolism that enables them to get rid of it. Preemies are an exaggerated form of that; they don’t have the ability to deal with live viral infections. Historically, babies were covered by maternal immunity for the first year of life before vaccines destroyed that element of herd immunity. Babies are just that much more vulnerable, and that’s against a background of the cells and the brain and the immune system and elsewhere developing at a phenomenal rate. Therefore, that makes them much more liable to injurious agents that might interfere with that replicative process.
At the street level, when we’ve gone on tour with the vaccination bus, I hear so many times from nurses in the neonatal unit, “This is what happens. We know that, when we give this preemie these vaccines, they are going to have a respiratory arrest. We know that we get a bed ready for a preemie going out of the unit. When they’re going to be vaccinated on the floor, they’re going to come back to us because they have a respiratory arrest. We see it all the time.” More and more of them are coming out and saying, “I can no longer do this. I can no longer be part of this process and I, therefore, have got to talk about it.” “The outcome is predictable,” they said and it baffles me. I’m left standing there thinking, “Why are you even a part of the system? How can you be part of what’s going on?” Having come to see the film and confessing, if you like, to us, I think is the first part of the process of redemption where they’re just saying, “Now I get it. I’ve got to stop doing this.” There is a revolt, literally, at the professional level against this kind of practice.
In the case series that I published in the Lancet, what we found was what the parents had predicted and what the clinical history predicted, and that is that there is inflammation in the gastrointestinal tracts of these children. It was a subtle form of inflammation; it wasn’t as overt as, say, Crohn’s disease with florid ulceration or ulcerative colitis. It was subtle. It looked a little like food allergy but it wasn’t quite. We did a series of studies which dissected out the minutiae and of this disease and really showed that it had unique characteristics. That was the beginning of the description of what was then confirmed to be a novel inflammatory bowel disease in children with autism.
The fascinating thing about that is that parents had also said, “If my child goes on this particular diet that excludes gluten and casein, then their bowel improves and their behavior improves.” We said, “Fair enough, let’s try that.” We did that and they were right. There was not only improvement in their behaviors and their bowel symptoms, but often histological, microscopic, improvement in their condition. This was a very exciting insight provided by parents and a way of dealing, for the first time, with a dead end disease – something that psychiatrists and psychologists told us couldn’t be treated. The parents were right. Yes, it could be treated. We couldn’t cure it, but we could make a huge impact on the well-being of these children.
The first thing in that paper was the description of the tentative description of this novel inflammatory bowel disease. It looked, for all the world, like an infectious process, and that was because there were these hugely swollen lymph glands throughout the small intestine and sometimes in the large intestine. That is rather like what you would see in, say, infectional rotavirus vaccine adverse reactions. You would see these usually swollen tonsils of lymphoid tissues; they’re rather like that. They’re basically tonsils; if you have an infected tonsil, that’s what it would look like. It had the characteristics of an infectious process.
The clues if what could be a trigger came from the parents’ story of regression following live viral vaccination with measles, mumps, rubella. Measles can infect the intestine; it can cause the swelling of the lymphoid tissue, the lymph glands in the intestines, so that was an obvious target. Measles can cause inflammation in a variety of ways, but this was the target to go for. The logical first step was to say, “We’ve got this disease in the intestine that looks like a viral infection. Is there evidence of the virus in there?” That was the next set of experiments that we set about conducting.
Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of children. Recovery is a relative term, but almost invariably, they can all make some degree of recovery; some more than others. My experience is that the younger you get them, the greater the chances are of having a major impact on that process. The more intensively you approach it in terms of diet, anti-inflammatories, nutritional supplementation, digestive enzyme supplements, probiotics, all of these things, the greater the effect. There are, however, some children who seem to be refractory to almost anything you do. They may make small incremental movements, but they’re really tough nuts to crack and that’s very sad when you encounter that. I don’t believe that that’s an endpoint. I believe that we simply haven’t made the discoveries and the inroads into our understanding of the disease that needs to address those particular children, but I’m very hopeful.
I ran a center in Austin Texas, Thoughtful House, where I wasn’t the clinician but I had, working with me, people like Arthur Krigsman and other great clinicians. There are children who we saw who today are adults living independent lives without an autism diagnosis. There are adults who have no diagnosis and live independently, there are kids at college, there are kids graduating from college, there are kids doing extraordinary things. To prove this, It would be useful to talk to some of the parents who call me and tell me, with tremendous pride, how their children are doing and how they’re excelling at college and how their finding girlfriends. That’s tremendously reassuring.
I know some of the people who have worked for Autism Speaks over the years and I know their stories. They’ve come to me, as desperate parents before they joined Autism Speaks, saying, “My child regressed after the vaccine. I know that’s what happened to them and this is the treatment course I’m on. Thank you so much for everything you’re doing.” Then you meet them years later and they’re working for Autism Speaks and they’re saying, “We know what happened, Andy, but I can’t talk about it anymore.” Yes, you can. That hypocrisy makes me furious. That, “I’m now working for Autism Speaks and therefore I cannot even discuss what I told you was the God’s honest truth before, that my child regressed after a vaccine, and that they benefited from interventions such as diet. Now, because I work for this organization, I am suddenly compelled to silence.” That really makes me cross.
I met with Bob Wright several times when he was in charge of Autism Speaks. He was very attentive and he told me the story of his own grandson, Christian, who clearly regressed after a vaccine, in his own words. We had scientific meetings with them, but then it seemed to me, they lost their way. The pressure on them not to participate in whatever good we were doing was clearly immense and they went their own way. They took years and years and coercion from Bob Wright to support Arthur Krigsman’s studies, which have now just been published. These are outstanding studies which show that there are biochemical markers of bowel disease in the blood of children with autism. You take their blood and you can predict this child has got bowel disease; you may not need to do a colonoscopy. How much money could that save? How much risk and suffering could that save, to everyone, if a blood test could tell you your child had bowel disease and you could be treated accordingly? Yet they would not touch that, despite glowing reviews, for a very long time until Bob Wright stepped in personally and funded it. I am deeply disappointed in Autism Speaks; I think they should clear out and let the rest of us get on with it and solve the problem.
Everyone hears stories about the funding sources influencing the research program and the mention of Autism Speaks. I don’t know because I don’t have first-hand evidence to prove those stories, but I think someone somewhere is saying, “This is the organization, this has got the most prominence, the most number of stars, the most money, the most extravagant property. We are the profile, we will direct the research agenda for what is going to happen and what’s not going to happen in autism, and we will do someone’s bidding. One of the things that will not do, explicitly, is to look at vaccines and autism.” That really has to be a major and deliberate part of their agenda.
Going back to William Thomas, isn’t it fascinating that the fact that an individual, one man, can change the course of the world? We had known that fraud going on before, but now we have, for the first time ever in the history of the world, an insider coming forward and saying, “I designed this study. I was in charge of this study, I conducted it, I collated the results, I analyzed them, I presented the findings, and then we committed fraud.” In a money-laundering ring, he would be the accountant; he would be the last person you would want plea bargaining with the feds, and he has come forward and given us compelling evidence. We know it’s the truth because we have accused these people of, effectively, the worst crime against humanity ever, the greatest medical fraud in the history of the world, if it were not the truth, they would have sued us. But they haven’t because they know it’s true and they do not want further discovery. I’ve dealt with a number of whistleblowers over the years; Thompson wanted this to happen, there’s no question.
As painful as it was on the day that Brian called him and said, “Bill, we’re outing you; we’re going to tell your story publicly.” Brian tells a wonderful story about how he called him up and Thompson said, “You had absolutely no right to record those conversations because California is a one-party state,” and he said, “That’s why I drove three hours to Oregon to record our conversations,” and Thompson burst out laughing and Brian said, “I knew I was off the hook.” There was tremendous relief in the man; he could not live with this any longer. Painful as it was and painful as it is for him now and dangerous as it is for him now, he is in a much better place. Interestingly, his greatest concern for a long time was what his wife would think. I suppose that goes for all of us, but he had to get beyond that. There is something so much greater.
The importance of what he’s done cannot be overstated. He anticipated this. He sowed the seeds of this way back in 2001 when he first presented the data and his colleague said, “We cannot report this.” He started to sow the seeds, he started to make notes, he started to collect everything, he started to collect the records and the notes of his colleagues, he filed it all away; he’s been meticulous because he anticipated, I believe, this day for many years and it finally came to the point where he could no longer deal with it and he came forward. He’s fascinating.
Regardless of what happens with William Thomas, we’ve got all the evidence, all the documents, all the recorded conversations. If we hadn’t, if we just had a man sitting in the CDC who said this, we would have nothing at all. What we’ve got is evidence that precisely matches what he said happened. At every contemporaneous point in the story, it precisely mirrors what he said and contradicts what his colleagues have said, post facto, trying to get out of it. I would love to have him on the stand, I would love to have been deposed, I’m anticipating his deposition, but without all of that, it’s not necessary. We have all the evidence that we need. What I would love to know, precisely, is how far up the chain this really went – who knew and who made which decisions – because there are people there who need to go to prison.
I would imagine that there is immense pressure on Thompson right now by his colleagues to retract his statements. This is why Congress has been so lax and so failed and failing in their duty to this issue. Here we have the greatest medical fraud in the history of the world and it’s been over two years and they have not brought him forward. With the Flint water contamination, within a month of that being exposed, there was a hearing at the oversight committee on government reform. It’s disgraceful that he has not yet come forward. There must be great pressure on them not to do it. Why? Because they know it’s the truth. That every day that he’s left not testifying and not being deposed is another day for his colleagues to put pressure on him.
I have put this question to Congress: why will you not get on with this? I know there’s huge pressure on them from public health, from pharma lobbyists. The movie has had such a major impact that there is a revolt going on at the grassroots level across the country, and indeed, across the world. I’ve just come back from Italy where they even had to bring out the president of the Republic to defend vaccines because of the effect Vaxxed had on the Italian people. There comes a point when OGR and the chairman of that committee, Jason Chaffetz, if they do not address it, then they become an accessory to the fraud. They have allowed it to go on for so long and so many children have been damaged in the meantime, and they have done it in full and certain knowledge that they have all the information to conduct a hearing and have not done so, so they become part of the problem themselves. That is a political nightmare for them.
Most of the data we get comes from developed countries; Theresa Deisher and others have done outstanding studies looking at the inflection point of autism incidents in different countries around the world.
One of the most fascinating things that came to me recently was I was looking at taking the film, Vaxxed, around the world to different countries and I looked at India because India has really imported American vaccination policy at the behest of the Gates Foundation and others, and there was no autism forever. Therefore, if we were going to see an effect that’s inflection, we were going to see a striking change in not two or three decades, but in one decade, one generation. I looked up the data there and the latest scientific dated on the prevalence showed it’s almost 10 times higher. There are 10 times the number of children in India with the number of children, 10.4 million children in India with autism. That is a massive problem in a country with no infrastructure whatsoever to deal with it.
To the people who have been saying, in the mainstream media, that autism has always been with us at the same scale, I would say, first of all, their ideas generate testable hypotheses and those have been tested. In other words, is their diagnostic substitution? Are we taking what, historically, we called mental retardation and we’re now calling autism? Have we changed the diagnostic criteria to increase the likelihood of picking up autism? Have we got better? The answer is no. Those hypotheses have been tested scientifically and they do not account for the increasing numbers of autistics.
At a professional level, the greatest diagnosticians in medicine were not even the last century; they were people like Charcot, Pierre-Marie, and Babinski working in Paris in the late 1800s. These people were outstanding diagnosticians. The couldn’t treat the diseases that they diagnosed, but at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, if autism had existed, they would have described it; they would have been all over it. People like the Gille de la Tourette, describing Tourette’s syndrome for the first time. Had these conditions, so enigmatic, so fascinating, so idiosyncratic, been there, they would have described them. They did not exist because they are novel diseases and now the cleaning woman in the clinic at the Royal Free diagnosed autism. We go out into the community, we go to the grocery store, “That child is autistic.” This did not exist. Had it existed, it would have been described, so it’s nonsensical. It has been subjected to scientific scrutiny and it does not explain.
The attack in the mainstream media of my Lancet paper and my person seems to have been a deliberate campaign. Here are my suspicions – and they’re strong suspicions – but they remain in my opinion. Firstly, you’ve got Brian Deer, the hitman, the man who rewrites the history of your life and does it in such a complex way that you end up having to explain his side of the argument and how it’s wrong before you actually explain your side of the argument. Brian Deer works for the Sunday Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, was put on to the board of GlaxoSmithKline as a nonexecutive director whose job is to protect the reputation of that company in their media. I was his target and the rest, I believe, is history. In fact, since the SmithKline is a very powerful company, in my opinion, they are an international criminal enterprise, as exemplified by the fact that the Chinese have just admonished them hugely and refused to do business with them on many levels because of their bribery and corruption of officials and doctors in that country; and this is mirrored around the world.
Is that one axis of this attack against me? That’s plenty. You don’t need more than one guy against one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world to realize that you haven’t got a level playing field. GlaxoSmithKline have got enough money to pay for both attorneys and PR. Their PR was huge and has been huge ever since. It’s been very much a public relations exercise and I know that, particularly in this country, they don’t give our side equal coverage in the media to the pro-vaccine, and that’s exactly what’s happened. We’ve been denied a voice in the media. Whenever I write a response to anything, even though we’re allowed to do it, it never gets published and just sits there, including, for example, Paul Offit’s criticism of our movie, never having seen it. This happens time and time again, so you only ever get, in the mainstream media, one side of the story and that is the side that are paying for the media.
The parents whose children participated in the Lancet study have, very kindly, said that this was extremely important – they were grateful that someone listened. They were grateful that someone paid attention to the story, believed in them sufficiently to investigate their children, and didn’t quit. There was one parent from America who was told a line by Brian Deer, it was very interesting. I’ll tell you that story so that people understand the way in which he twists what is said. We were concerned, in the paper, with the onset of the first behavioral symptom. When did that occur in relation to the vaccine? Because the American parent was convinced it was the MMR vaccine. Brian Deer went to him and interviewed him and said to him, “Dr. Wakefield says in the Lancet paper that the first sign of autism started within a month of vaccination.” No, we didn’t. We never said that. We said “the first behavioral symptom” and we were very clear not to stray into the specifics of an autism diagnosis; we weren’t capable of doing that. We were saying when did the first behavioral symptom occur, not the first sign of autism. But when he went to the father and said, “Dr. Wakefield said the first sign of autism in your son occurred within a month of vaccination,” he said, “No, it didn’t. He didn’t start losing his vocabulary or his speech for two months afterwards.” “So Wakefield is lying?” No, he wasn’t because what we said is the first behavioral system and that, I believe, was that he stopped sleeping. We were meticulous about what we said, and yet, it was corrupted to the point where then Deer said we’ve committed fraud.
There were 12 other co-authors of the Lancet study, but I don’t talk to them anymore. Not for any particular reason; we met at the GMC recently and were on very corneal terms. John Walker Smith, at the end of an unimpeachable career, an outstanding career, this is the last thing he needed. But I do feel that had we stood together more robustly on this issue and put the children’s interest first, we would have resisted the attacks of Brian Deer and News International and then stood firm. But people got very frightened, and when the editor of the Lancet really forced them to retract their interpretation of the paper that the MMR vaccine causes autism, when that interpretation was never made, I stood firm with two of my colleagues and the rest crumbled. That really gave the media an in to destroying the rest of it.
I remember one of them saying, “Andy, as pediatricians, we cannot be seen to question the safety of MMR.” That wasn’t a medical statement, that wasn’t the statement of a concerned doctor about a parent or a child, it wasn’t a scientific statement; it was one about respectability. “We cannot be seen, by our colleagues and others, to question the safety of MMR.” That was utterly meaningless to me. My duty and my responsibility is to your children, not to public health or to the pharmaceutical industry. It is unambiguously and uncontentiously for the person sitting opposite me who needs my help.
In my youth, I went to Berlin when the wall was up. I went behind the wall several times to go and look at it and to travel around and looked at the Soviet Union and looked at the Empire of the Soviet Union. We had a piece of the movie, which was taken out, which was of Red Square at the height of the Soviet empire. There were thousands upon thousands of troops marching in perfect unison and the Politburo was staring down and saluting; this empire could never collapse. I think Mikhail Gorbachev, was for me, an extraordinary figure in human history as was Lech Walesa from the Gdansk shipyards. One man really sparking what was the beginning of the downfall of the entire empire. It gives me great hope for the future for us. People say, “What can I do? How can I possibly take on a system like this?” Yes, you can. The Soviet Union disappeared in the blink of an eye. Historically, it was gone. Never underestimate the power of individuals when they get together.
The lowest point for me in this whole saga was when we were living in Texas and I had to go back to England. We were taking Brian Deer and the Sunday Times and Channel 4 Television to court over defamation, which was clear defamation, about what they said about me. I also had to fight the General Medical Council case. The judge refused to stay the defamation proceedings, so we were forced with fighting two cases at the same time, and you couldn’t physically do that. You couldn’t be in one court and the GMC at the same time, so my lawyer said, “We have to abandon one of these,” so we chose to abandon the defamation proceedings in preference to the GMC, which, with hindsight, was probably not the best decision, but you decide on what you do at the time. I remember that life was pretty desperate then.
What has kept me sane through all this is having a wonderful family, yoga, an occasional cold beer, and in truth, seeing the next child with autism. When I saw the next child with autism, I would think, “I don’t have a problem. Get over yourself and get on with it.” Sometimes, metaphorically, I sit up on the moon and look down at the earth and say, “This is the way it always was, always will be.” It’s a constant struggle and the price of democracy is constant vigilance; we can never take our eye off the ball because there are those who will steal it away from us. Sometimes I force myself to sit up there on the moon and look down at the earth and say, “You’re completely insignificant. You don’t count, you don’t matter.” That’s very refreshing. I looked at the stars in the sky in Texas the other day in ambient light. You realize how tiny you are against the universe and it’s incredibly reassuring to me. I find it takes a great weight off my shoulders when I realize how insignificant, as an individual, I really am. So you get on with it and you do the best that you can. At the end of the day, you have to live with your decisions and I believe that I will and I believe that the lesson for my children is a good one, that you have to stand by what you believe in.
If I were to go back in time, I would unquestionably still submit that paper. What I would have done differently, is I think I would have anticipated ambiguities and dealt with them upfront. That paper has suffered more scrutiny than any other paper in the history of medicine and it’s a simple little case series. Everything that was written in it was correct. This came from parental insights, which existed long before I got involved in this. I remember we filmed for the documentary, and the first mother in America to go on television telling the story of her son on the Susan Powter Show in California back in ’94, ’95. But it’s a convenience, isn’t it? Public health and the pharmaceutical industry and public relations, they use this as, “It started here. This was the epicenter. It was this guy, and we’ve completely discredited them.” It’s just another lie.
The CDC itself is in a state of crisis and imploding; it’s falling apart. This happened to the Japanese Department of Health when they faked the data with the companies on the meningitis following MMR. They’ve never used MMR since because of that. Public confidence was completely destroyed.
Let’s set the scene now. What we have is a public health policy that requires the buy-in and the confidence of the public and the policymakers to make it work, to have the level of coverage that they believe is necessary to produce the effect they want. That’s vaccination. What we have, in effect, is a policy where they have to bribe doctors, they have to enact increasingly stringent mandates across the country to force people to get vaccinated, they have to consider depriving veterans of their welfare benefits, they have to take away welfare benefits or disallow them for people who do not get their children vaccinated on time, they have to lie to the public, they have to spend billions on public relations trying to persuade people that their policy is right. Now they’ve considered giving executive powers to the CDC to stop and detain, without any recourse to due process, anyone who may be considered a threat of contagious disease, they are introducing more and more vaccines, there is no liability; it is a disaster. This is not a system that is succeeding. This is a system that has failed completely. There is no public confidence left in the system so it is an utter failure.
I believe, if I were the head of the CDC, the first thing I would do is to say, “Take vaccine safety, get it out of this institution, put it out of HHS, put it into a completely separate, firewalled institution that people are well paid, constantly scrutinized, changed on a regular basis, and they will be the guardians of vaccine safety.” I would take away any vaccine that I do not consider to be essential. I would start with hepatitis B, day one of life, mumps vaccine – not only useless but dangerous as a consequence of that. There are a whole series of things that you can do to start stepping back from this in a way that minimizes the risk to children. Get rid of thimerosal completely, get rid of aluminum completely. Get rid of these multivalent vaccines that have not been tested for safety completely. Get rid of the chickenpox vaccine completely. And never try to force vaccine mandates onto anyone. It has to be the parents who make the choice about what does or does not go into their children’s body.
I recently heard from Liz Mumper’s practice in Virginia that she delays vaccines, particularly the MMR, and sees very few problems if any. It makes a great deal of sense. Thank heavens for pediatricians like Paul Thomas, who are prepared to do that – and that can be at no small risk to himself because, clearly, that doesn’t go along with CDC or AAP guidelines. It just goes to show that these simple steps could dramatically reduce the risk to children. Why would you not want to do that?