Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Statement from Dr. Andrew Wakefield
August 31, 2009
After watching NBC-TV’s Dateline special “A Dose of Controversy,” Dr. Andrew
Wakefield took issue with several critical points in the report. Although the program was the first of its kind to actively engage the mainstream on the question of vaccine safety, there were many failures in the information presented and important information was edited out. Below is a list of these items from Dr. Wakefield. Our goal is to make certain as many people as possible understand and receive the full story regarding MMR, vaccine safety, Dr. Wakefield, and Thoughtful House, and NBC failed to provide this to an audience of millions.

A. There has been extensive replication of the finding of bowel disease in children
with autism (ASD) from five different countries. These findings have been published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at scientific meetings. It is therefore incorrect and misleading of Matt Lauer to have stated that every aspect of my original hypothesis has been disproved. On the contrary, the main findings of the original Lancet paper, that is, bowel disease in autistic children, has been repeatedly confirmed. This obvious inaccuracy requires clarification by NBC.

B. The shortcomings and the flaws of the studies quoted by Dr. Offit, claiming to disprove an association between vaccines and autism, were not discussed in the program. In my interview with Mr. Lauer I took as an example a paper from Dr. DeStefano from the CDC claiming to exonerate MMR that actually showed that a younger age of vaccination with MMR is associated with a greater risk of autism. This study confirms the association and has been falsely portrayed as vindicating the vaccine. This should have been included in order to provide balance to the program.

C. Reference was made to an autistic child in the vaccine court whose claim for MMR damage was overturned by the judge. No reference was made to the successful vaccine court case on behalf of the child Bailey Banks, coming just one week after the unsuccessful claim described by Mr. Lauer, in which the judge ruled that MMR vaccine can cause autism. Therefore, in the view of vaccine court, it is not a question of whether or not MMR can cause autism, but rather how many children are affected.

D. There was a complete absence of comment on the lack of any adequate safety studies of childhood vaccines and the vaccine schedule in particular. There was no mention of the admission by vaccine regulators that there is no data on the long-term safety of vaccines, the chronic disease burden caused by vaccines, and the likely potentially harmful interactions between various vaccines in the routine schedule.

E. Undue credibility was given to Brian Deer, a discredited freelance journalist, whose false reporting has caused so much misunderstanding and damage to children through the misrepresentation of the doctors and parents who were seeking answers to the vaccine-autism question. Deer has repeatedly misled the public and the medical profession and has been unable to respond to clear evidence of his false reporting in the Sunday Times through the UK’s Press Complaints Commission.

F. It was not disclosed that I have repeatedly invited Dr. Offit to take part in public debate on the safety of MMR vaccine and the false and misleading claims that he has made in the media and his book. He has refused to accept this invitation and
has continued to hide from an open and honest debate.

G. NBC alluded briefly to the fact that Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, was informed of my participation as a medical expert in the MMR litigation almost one year before publication of the Lancet paper in 1998. NBC failed to clarify that when Horton was challenged to respond to the fact that when he so enthusiastically denounced me and the paper in 2004 the Lancet staff was already fully aware of the facts and at that time did not consider them to be relevant. Horton refused to be interviewed by NBC and the interview segment shown was from 2004. This refusal is in sharp contrast to his willingness to denounce me in the media in 2004. NBC also failed to mention that in the light of these facts Horton has been reported to UK’s General Medical Council on an allegation of perjury.

H. It was unfortunate that NBC, having stated their determination to resist external pressure to distort the balance of the program, yielded to such pressure from the American Academy of Pediatrics, allowing them the final word in the program while denying representation from the National Autism Association who put forward to NBC a rational and well reasoned call for further science to resolve this very real issue.

I. Dr. Offit cited a large population study of autism and MMR from Denmark in support of his claim to ‘certainty that there is no link.’ This study was so flawed that it was rejected from consideration by the gold standard scientific review by the highly influential Cochrane Collaboration. Dr. Offitt, who is not an epidemiologist, was clearly at a loss to understand the study’s fatal flaws

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