In Defence of Dr. Wakefield

VRAN stands in solidarity with international Vaccine Awareness and Autism groups in support of Dr. Andrew Wakefield who has been ruthlessly persecuted by the medical industry and the media since 1998 when he and colleagues published a small case series of 12 children whose parents reported that some of their children’s mental/behavioural regression and bowel disease followed MMR vaccine.

While the study did not claim to prove that the triple live virus MMR vaccine causes autism, Dr. Wakefield offered a cautionary recommendation that until more studies are done, a safer alternative was to give single measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines spaced out over time. In retaliation, the British government withdrew availability of single vaccines, forcing parents to either accept MMR or not vaccinate at all. In recent years both Canada and the U.S. have also withdrawn availability of single vaccines, effectively eliminating parental choice.

A furious medical establishment saw Wakefield’s study and recommendations as a threat to the almighty vaccine program and hit back with a stream of vindictive moves that culminated in the 2010 censure of Dr. Wakefield by the U.K.’s General Medical Council (GMC), removal of his license to practice medicine, and retraction by The Lancet of his 1998 case study.

The Medical Inquisition doesn’t seem to comprehend that their vicious assault on Wakefield won’t change the fact that tens of thousands of parents around the world have witnessed their children succumb to neurological injuries and regress into autism following vaccination, including MMR vaccine.

Freelance journalist Brian Deer has been on a mission to discredit Dr. Wakefield for years. His attack article in the British Medical Journal is an opinion piece that “doesn’t focus on the scientific finding of whether or not autistic children have inflammation in their gastrointestinal tract, which I believe is the crux of the original paper,” notes research scientist Professor Richard Deth. The Age of Autism offers a series of in-depth reports from international authors examining the medical politics that have fueled the Wakefield witch hunt, and why the autism/vaccine link remains a deep concern for growing numbers of parents.

As early as 2001, Dr Peter Fletcher MB BS PhD, a former Principal Medical Officer with the Department of Health who served as Medical Assessor to the Committee on Safety of Medicines, said that, “With all the benefits of hindsight, what may now be said about the decision to grant a Product License to MMR 10 or so years ago? Evidence on quality and efficacy was probably adequate so a decision had to be made on grounds of safety. Being extremely generous, evidence on safety was very thin. Being realistic there were too few patients followed up for insufficient time. Three weeks is not enough… neither is 4 weeks.”

And in a 2006 Daily Mail article Dr. Fletcher said, “The refusal by governments to evaluate the risks properly will make this one of the greatest scandals in medical history.” He said he has seen a “steady accumulation of evidence” from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps, and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children. But he added: “There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”

The persecution of Andrew Wakefield is part of a strategy to cover up the fact that British medical officials failed to adequately safety test MMR vaccine when it was introduced in 1988 or to warn parents that it contained a reactive Urabe strain mumps vaccine. Unbelievably, they purchased the reactive MMR vaccine that injured scores of children, knowing full well that Canada had abandoned its use earlier because it caused meningitis in a number of children. Prior to Andrew Wakefield raising MMR concerns, there were already hundreds of British families litigating in a class action suit over their children’s MMR vaccine injuries.

One month after Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 paper, a study of vaccine injury claims by US government scientists in the journal Pediatrics found that 48 claimants developed encephalopathy (brain inflammation) within 15 days after receiving an attenuated measles vaccine, resulting in severe neurological sequelae, permanent brain injury, or death. The study reviewed the medical records of affected children over a 23 year period from 1970-1993.

Initially, a total of 403 claims of encephalopathy and/or seizure disorder after measles, MR, MMR, mumps, or rubella vaccination were identified during the 23 year period. The studied narrowed its review to 48 eligible children.

“A total of 48 children, ages 10 to 49 months, met the inclusion criteria after receiving measles vaccine, alone or in combination. Eight children died, and the remainder had mental regression and retardation, chronic seizures, motor and sensory deficits, and movement disorders. The onset of neurologic signs or symptoms occurred with a nonrandom, statistically significant distribution of cases on days 8 and 9.” -Pediatrics, Vol. 101, No 3, March 1998

The study authors concluded that, “This clustering suggests that a causal relationship between measles vaccine and encephalopathy may exist as a rare complication of measles immunization.”

Other earlier case reports have also found similar neurological complications following the administration of live attenuated measles vaccination. A 1973 review of 84 patients with the onset of neurological disorders within 30 days (1963 to 1971) was noted in the 1998 Pediatrics study along with other reported clusters of persistent brain inflammation and death following measles vaccination.

A January, 2010 Pediatrics Medical Consensus Report acknowledges that bowel illness is far more common in autistic children. “Gastrointestinal disorders and associated symptoms are commonly reported in individuals with ASDs, but key issues such as the prevalence and best treatment of these conditions are incompletely understood.” (Pediatrics Vol. 125. Supplement Jan. 2010. Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report)

VRAN maintains that vaccines carry a risk of injury and death, that vaccines can cause brain inflammation and injury in susceptible individuals. It is medically well known that brain inflammations caused by disease or vaccines can trigger seizures, neurological disorders, and autistic behaviours. Since the Wakefield paper, clearcut evidence has emerged that a syndrome of brain injury and death sometimes occurs after children are injected with live attenuated measles or combination measles, mumps, & rubella vaccine.

We stand with the , the National Autism Association, (NAA), The Coalition for Vaccine Safety , Age of Autism in the U.S., and Child Health Safety in the UK who are very concerned that the medical community has no answer as to what is driving the autism epidemic amongst today’s highly vaccinated North American and British children, yet attack anyone who draws attention to the plight of individuals who succumb to neuroimmune disorders following vaccination.

In Canada, Autism Montreal founder Carmen Lahaie tells parents to be prudent when it comes to vaccines. Her son was diagnosed with bowel disease and autism. Another mother, Évelyne Claessens, who wrote a book about curing her son of autism stopped the vaccine schedule for both her children after her eldest, now 7, developed autism spectrum problems at 18 months.

Parents such as Claessens and Lahaie say they see Wakefield as a victim of a medical industry conspiracy rather than as a fraud. “We are hundreds of thousands of mothers crying the same thing around world — that vaccines made our children autistic and no one wants to listen to us,” said Claessens in a Montreal Gazette article recently.

Wendy Fournier, NAA spokesperson, reported that, “One in 64 British children and one in 110 children in the US are now diagnosed with autism. Increasing rates of autism in children are out of control.” “Despite this pandemic, health officials and medical professionals continue to bury their heads in the sand while children and families suffer. The link between vaccines and the development of autism in susceptible individuals is not going away, because the children are not going away.”

While the Public Health Agency of Canada admits that, “Data on the prevalence of learning disabilities among Canadian children are not readily available at the national level,” and does not specify the number of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, we have no reason to believe the statistics would be very different from the U.S. PHAC does indicate from a 2004 analysis that, “as many as 15% of Canadian children and youth are affected by a mental disorder at any given time,” and that, “The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders, including autism, Rett syndrome and Asperger syndrome, is estimated to be between 27.5 and 70 per 10,000 children aged 1 to 14 years.”

The National Autism Association reports that, “In recent years, US Federal Vaccine Court has conceded multiple times that immunizations have led to cases of autism, or “autistic-like” symptoms, and multiple sub-symptoms associated with the disorder. According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 2008, 1322 cases of vaccine injury compensation settled out of court by the US Government in unpublished settlements. According to a statement from HRSA: “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.”

The vicious persecution of Dr. Wakefield doesn’t change the facts on the ground — that tens of thousands of children in North America and the UK have suffered varying degrees of neurological injury following the injection of multiple vaccines including MMR, that autism numbers are increasing as young babies are subjected to as many as 8 or 9 vaccines at the same time. Yet independent studies comparing the long term health outcome of fully vaccinated children and unvaccinated children have never been done. Until such studies are done, no one can claim that vaccines are risk free.

We are very concerned that unlike the U.S. and UK, there is no compensation system for vaccine injury victims in Canada (except province of Quebec). As well, the legal bar is set so high that vaccine injury victims attempting litigation cannot obtain Court awarded damages in this country.

For detailed analysis of the accelerated attack on Dr. Wakefield, we refer you to the following sources: