Boulder Public Library Speaker

Look who is coming to Boulder, CO!

WHO: Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield WHAT: Speaking in Boulder WHERE: Boulder Public Library Auditorium (on Arapahoe between Broadway and 9th Street) WHEN: October 20, 2010, 6:00 pm, Free


Oh Deer!

Boulder, Colorado (September 25, 2010) U.K. author and gastroenterologist, Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield, will be at the Boulder Public Library on October 20th at 6 p.m. to discuss the heated controversy surrounding his research, which posits a link between vaccines and autism.Dr. Wakefield, whose work on vaccine safety has now been replicated numerous times, stands squarely and resolutely at the heart of what is probably the largest medical controversy raging in the world today.

There is no controversy about the MMR and autism. See what the evidence exists in at least twenty five papers.

Um, yeah, about those replications, it is not quite right. It seems single case reports on adults are being counted, and other things not related to the MMR (discussion on papers are in the comments here and here). A few years ago a Columbia University researcher did research thimerosal with mice, the problem being that no one can tell if a mouse is autistic. She did try to replicate Wakefield’s findings, using real children, but failed.

Although the Center for Disease Control and the American Association of Pediatricians continually issue reassurances that vaccinations are safe, much of the public remains unconvinced. Last year, for example, 37% of U.S. health workers opted not to take the H1N1 flu vaccine. Closer to home, 40% of Boulder parents (“Brainiest City in the U.S.”) chose not to have their school children vaccinated, many suspecting a link between the constantly expanding childhood vaccine schedule (now requiring 49 doses by age 6), and the increased incidence of childhood disease.

Reassurances? It is more like real research, often covering several years before a vaccine is approved, and surveillance after it becomes part of the schedule. The scientific consensus is that the vaccines are much safer than the diseases, and the reason you don’t see the diseases much anymore is because of the vaccines.

What kind of counting scheme comes up with 49 doses? What vaccines are actually “required”? Yes, public schools do require certain vaccines to attend, but few require the influenza, RV, Hib or PCV (our district only requires HepB, MMR, varicella, polio and either DTaP or DT for younger students and Tdap or Td for older students). Look at the actual vaccine schedule. If they mean individual vaccines, there are only 29 doses without influenza, and if a parent actually gives their child an influenza vaccine each year, that is 35 (not counting the vaccines for high risk groups). How is that 49? Exaggerate much? Are they are counting the DTaP and MMR each as three doses (which makes no sense since those opposed to the MMR want separate shots)? If they are then they would have to also differentiate between all of the serotypes in the other vaccines. Like the three types of polio virus in the IPV, the different strains in the influenza vaccine and the 23 bacterial strains in the PCV!

And yes, vaccines are not perfect. It often takes multiple doses and boosters for full protection. Especially with diseases that do not confer natural immunity even after getting a full infection (like pertussis). News Flash! Biology is complicated.

With that kind of veracity on something as simple to check as the vaccine schedule, I doubt the numbers being touted for the rest of that paragraph.

Once a rare occurrence, Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) now affect more than 1 in 100 children. An association between childhood vaccinations, specifically the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, and autism was suggested in 1998, when Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital in London published a case study in the medical journal, The Lancet, describing 12 children suffering from a combination of autistic regression and bowel symptoms. The paper, and Dr. Wakefield’s subsequent recommendation that children be given single vaccines rather than combinations, created a national controversy in the UK. Dr. Wakefield was hailed as a hero by parents of affected children, but at the same time came under attack by public health officials, the pharmaceutical industry, and the General Medical Council in the UK.

The diagnoses criteria in which DSM does autism affect one in a hundred? And how can you tell for the time before IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was enacted in the 1970s when more kids were institutionalized? Often in horrible conditions (in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks there is a heart rending depiction of what happened to her disabled child, Elsie, in one of those places). My oldest son is very much like many autistic kids, but he was not given that diagnosis by the neurologist twenty years ago because he did not fit the given criteria (the neurologist even assured me that even with no verbal communication, he was not autistic).

The Lancet paper was withdrawn by the publisher. Even without the fraud, it was just a case study of twelve children. There were many more in Dr. Hornig’s replication. Plus, there were two completely different MMR used among those children. There was the MMR with the Jeryl Lynn mumps strain that has been used in the USA since 1971, which is what the one American and the younger children eligible for the vaccine after its UK approval in 1992, and the MMR with the Urabe mumps strain approved in the UK in 1988 (but replaced in 1992) used in the older children. So which MMR did Wakefield actually study? And what evidence is there that autism started to increase in the USA in 1971?

Also that paper did not connect the MMR with autism. That was voiced by Dr. Wakefield at a press conference, where he implied more than what was written in that paper. Of course health officials are angry, measles was almost gone from the UK, and now it is endemic. Just a reminder that there have been two deaths, and some permanently disabled in the UK due to the MMR scaremongering.

It is all the worse because it started out because he was hired by a lawyer!

Dr. Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard, reviews his research in detail and exposes the reasons why powerful forces have tried to silence him. He reveals for the first time the story of a government whistleblower, “George,” whose expert concerns about the MMR vaccine went unheeded by regulators. The book definitively and persuasively answers the criticisms about his work, which have been parroted unquestioningly by the mainstream medical community and the press. While the press has frequently labeled Dr. Wakefield as being “anti- vaccine,” “discredited,” and “unethical,” in truth, he advocates a “safety first” vaccine policy, his research has now been replicated in five countries, and he has been found innocent of any ethical violations. In addition to reviewing the controversy surrounding his pilot study, Dr. Wakefield will discuss the problems with current vaccine research and outline the essential requirements needed to restore public confidence in public health initiatives.

Ugh. Sorry, I have too big a stack of books to read to slog through his book right now, so I will just suggest you read Dr. Harriet Hall’s review. She even tackles some of the claims, for instance:

He cites a few papers that seem to support his hypothesis but fails to cite the bulk of data that refutes it. For instance this study showed no association between autism and overall incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms. This one showed no autism/GI connection either. And this study showed strong evidence against association of autism with persistent measles virus RNA in the GI tract or with MMR exposure.

But seriously, which MMR vaccine did “George” have concerns with, the one approved for use in the UK before or after 1992? Again, as noted above those replications are not what they seem (usually case studies of adults, often nothing mentioning any version of the MMR vaccine).

Dr. Wakefield cannot credibly discuss anything relevant with vaccine research because he is not qualified in immunology, virology, vaccines, infectious diseases or even pediatrics. He was a research gastroenterologist, but neither a clinician nor a pediatrician.

The full GMC Determination on Serious Professional Misconduct (SPM) and sanction is online for all to see. Included are that he had no pediatric qualifications:

The Panel has already found proved that Dr Wakefield’s Honorary Consultant appointment was subject to a stipulation that he would not have any involvement in the clinical management of patients. On five occasions (child 2, 4, 5, 12 and 7) he ordered investigations on children, when he had no paediatric qualifications, and in contravention of the limitations on his appointment. The Panel considered this alone constituted a breach of trust of patients and employers alike.

Oh, and he also did not seek certain ethics approval:

With regard to nine of the eleven children (2,1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 5,12 and 8 ) considered by the Panel, it determined that Dr Wakefield caused research to be undertaken on them without Ethics Committee approval and thus without the ethical constraints that safeguard research.

And then there were the were the conflicts of interest he failed to mention, from the lawyer to his patent on a “transfer factor”:

Regarding the issues of conflicts of interest, Dr Wakefield did not disclose matters which could legitimately give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest. He failed to disclose to the Ethics Committee and to the Editor of the Lancet his involvement in the MMR litigation and his receipt of funding from the Legal Aid Board. He also failed to disclose to the Editor of the Lancet his involvement as the inventor of a patent relating to a new vaccine for the elimination of the measles virus (Transfer Factor) which he also claimed in the patent application, would be a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

And then was the there was this bit:

In relation to the administration of Transfer Factor to Child 10, the Panel noted the admitted background of Dr Wakefield’s involvement in a company set up with Child 10’s father as Managing Director, to produce and sell Transfer Factor. Around the same time, Dr Wakefield inappropriately caused Child 10 to be administered transfer factor. The Panel accepted that information as to its safety had been obtained and that the approval to administer Transfer Factor to one child was granted in the form of “Chairman’s approval”, “on a named patient basis” in a letter from Dr Geoffrey Lloyd, Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee at the Royal Free Hospital. Nonetheless the Panel found that Dr Wakefield was at fault because the substance was given for experimental reasons, he did not cause the details to be recorded in the child’s records, or cause the general practitioner to be informed, and he did not have the requisite paediatric qualifications.

Not only did he have this unapproved invention, he was working with a father of one child to sell the stuff and gave it to the child! Oh, and again, he is not qualified in pediatrics.

Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath, is an academic gastroenterologist. He received his medical degree from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School (University of London) in 1981, and pursued a career in gastrointestinal surgery with a particular interest in inflammatory bowel disease. He has published over 130 original scientific articles, book chapters, and invited scientific commentaries. He and his wife, Carmel, live in Austin, Texas, and have four children—James, Sam, Imogen, and Corin.

This neglects to mention that he was a researcher, not a clinician. This means he was not given the authorization to work with actual patients, especially children. He has never been allowed to practice medicine in the USA, and has lost those privileges in the UK. He is no longer an academic researcher of anything.

If anyone does go to the Boulder Public Library to hear Dr. Wakefield talk, please ask a few questions. Some suggestions would be why he ignored Dr. Chadwick’s finding of false positives in the PCR results (there were no measles found in the samples), which MMR vaccine was he studying (one approved in UK before or after 1992), and is he still in business with Child 10’s father. At the least, read Dr. Hall’s review of his book and the GMC findings before attending.

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7 Responses to Boulder Public Library Speaker

  1. Shannon says:

    The publicists apparently forgot that he’s been stripped of his medical license. Mr. Wakefield is not a doctor.

  2. Squillo says:


    I think he is still technically a doctor–he still holds the degree-just can’t practice.

  3. Dea says:

    I HATE that people are still giving this guy a platform.

  4. Journal Checker says:

    His registration still stands because he is appealing the striking-off ruling to the High Court. So he is still a medical doctor and of course he could win his appeal.

  5. Chris says:

    I believe there is enough to discuss as to his character, and still be able to acknowledge he did the training and qualification to become a medical doctor.

    The only difference is that he may no longer be employed at that capacity at the present.

  6. Brad says:

    This is Coming from a parent that has recently recovered a child who regressed deep into autism at age 3….

    We have been blessed with the dedication and know-how of a skilled MD who specializes specifically in Autism treatment & recovery, and find it very unfortunate that everything surrounding Dr.Wakefield seems to always go back to this MMR controversy. The science and medicine behind healing these inflicted children is rock solid, but highly debated by the general masses and media who know almost nothing about mostly because of this vaccine mess. In our son’s case, the diagnosis & treatment had everything to do with our Son’s bowel disease, bacterial/yeast problems in his gut, aweful diet with some acquired food sentivities, issues with properly digestion of foods and absorbption of critical vitamins & minerals, inability to detox heavy metals, etc. Wakefield broke early ground with much of this science!! But NOT ONCE have we or our Doctor concluded that the MMR or another vaccine was the KEY factor pushing our son to the non-verbal, almost vegetative state he fell into at age 3. Vaccines may have played a role in our case, but there are many other variables that contribute to these autism cases.

    Now our son has totally lost his ASD diagnosis, testing shows his language is above average–he talks non-stop, is doing great in pre-school after 6 months of ABA, with eye contact and social skills having come back to him. The experts call him mildly ADD now.

    We are strong believers and proof that Wakefield and a cast of other doctors deserve some big-time credit. But this battle of pro-vaccines versus anti-vaccines is really muddying the water to the real issue here!! Wakefield fell into a trap. The real topic of public discussion should be closer to how we can identify children early-on who are slipping into autism, and how to treat the inflicted kids to get them back on track, back into mainstream school and into society? Guess there is just not enough soap opera into something that simple to perk anyone’s interest other than a parent of an autistic child!!

    Just my two cents from a parent who has fought the good fight on the front line.

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