Dr. Andew Wakefield appeared on Good Morning America today. Click HERE to go to their site and read more. Thank you to Bob Moffitt for this unofficial transcript of the program.
Introduction by host George Stepanopolus:
'Few debates are more emotional than the one swirling around childhood vaccines and autism. Even though no reputable study has ever established a link .. many parents continue to worry about that link in part because of the work of Andrew Wakefield ... since he first popularized the idea that vaccines might have a role in triggering autism. His study has been refuted by doctors and journalists .. most recently .. last week .. by the British Medical Journal which called his original study an "elaborate fraud". Wakefield is here to answer that charge .. but .. first .. Dr. Richard Besser .. has the back-story.
VOICE OVER: In 1998 .. British researcher Andrew Wakefield authored a paper linking the MMR vaccine to autism.
VIDEO .. DR. WAKEFIELD: The work certainly raised a question mark over the MMR vaccine.
VOICE OVER: One small study ignited a huge public health scare and an even bigger anti-vaccine movement. Fears about autism gripped parents .. and .. some started to refuse life-saving vaccines for their kids.
VIDEO DR. PAUL OFFIT: What's happened is that children have suffered and have been hospitalized .. have died .. because of the false notion that vaccines cause autism.
VOICE OVER: Two weeks ago .. the prestigious British Medical Journal reported that Wakefield's study was an "elaborate fraud".
VIDEO BRIAN DEER: I think what Dr. Wakefield did was a moral crime .. ah .. if not an actual crime.
VOICE OVER: Reporter Brian Deer debunked Wakefield's study by comparing the original medical records to the study data .. he found much of the science was falsified .. but .. even before this report .. Wakefield had been stripped of his medical license .. his study was retracted by the journal that published it .. and .. at least twelve studies have proven there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism .. but .. the damage was already done. Wakefield's fraud has undermined the medical community .. some parents who had once trusted their doctors .. are now suspicious of their advice.
VOICE OVER MOM OF AUTISTIC SON: There was always that lingering doubt in the back of my mind ... was it the vaccinations that caused his autism.
DR. BESSER SPEAKING TO SETH MNOOKIN .. AUTHOR OF "THE PANIC VIRUS"
DR. BESSER: The debate around vaccines has really led to the whole field of science taking a hit. That's a shift in our country .. isn't it?
MR. MNOOKIN: I think so, absolutely. Sixty years ago .. doctors and scientists were among the most respected members of society .. that's not the case at all today.
VIDEO PARENTS DAN AND KELLY LASIK: We're still in shock.
VOICE OVER: Because of Wakefield's study, they didn't vaccinate their son Mathew against HiB .. a disease that causes bacterial meningitis .. Mathew became very sick .. they blame Wakefield.
VIDEO DAN LASIK: To find out that it's been a fraud .. and .. that its a conscious effort to .. you know .. mislead the people .. umm ..that's frustrating.
DR. RICHARD BESSER .. ABC NEWS NEW YORK
GEORGE STEPANOPLUS: Dr. Andrew Wakefield joins us now .. he's the author of the book "Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines .. the truth behind the tragedy". Good morning .. thanks for coming in. What you call it the "truth behind the tragedy" ... Dr. Besser summarizes the case against your research pretty well. Reputable journalists and scientists have looked at your original research .. debunked it. Ten of your twelve fellow authors and the journal that published it .. retracted it. You've never replicated the results .. your license to practice medicine has been revoked .. and .. last week .. the British Medical Journal concluded this .. they say ... clear evidence of falsification of data .. should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare. Given all this .. why should anyone trust what you have to say about this matter?
DR. WAKEFIELD: George, let me start by saying the allegations made by Brian Deer against me were completely false. They were completely false .. there was no fraud ...
GEORGE .. INTERRUPTING: They're backed up by the journal .. they're backed up by other doctors and journalists....
DR. WAKEFIELD: There was no fraud. There was no falsification. There was no hoax. We stand by the finding we originally reported in the Lancet. My fellow authors have not retracted from the original observations of gastrointestinal disease .. a novel and very important finding in these children. What we reported is the parental history of regression following the vaccine ...
GEORGE: And .. inaudible .. went back and talked to the parents and found the records don't match to what they said ...
DR. WAKEFIELD: No, he didn't. In fact ..
GEORGE .. INTERRUPTING AGAIN: Yes, he did. I've read the study .. I've read your book.
DR. WAKEFIELD: He did not do that. And, in fact, when you analyze the records, as I have done meticulously .. what he has done is manipulated and falsified the way in which he compared the original GP's records .. with what we wrote. What we wrote in the Lancet is a precise replication of what the parents told us. And .. when you go back and check it with the original records .. which I have to say George .. were not available to us at the time. Those original GP records .. were not available to us .. but .. when ...
GEORGE INTERRUPTING AGAIN: The truth is .. the original records don't match what was in your study. And .. you look back, since you first published the study in 1998 .. the Lancet has walked away from it. It has been called by leading Deans of medical schools .. "the worst study they have ever written" .. and .. on the important question of replication .. all the other scientists who have looked at it .. who have been peer-reviewed .. twelve studies .. show no link at all. And .. you haven't replicated the results.
DR. WAKEFIELD: The findings we made in the original study .. were of a bowel disease in children with autism. Let me make that absolutely clear .. that is what has been replicated. We have replicated it .. when I left the Royal Free .. we'd seen over 174 more patients with the same disorder.
GEORGE INTERRUPTING AGAIN: But you said at the press conference you would not recommend .. you told parents .. not to get the MMR vaccine .. based on what you had found. None of the other doctors would go that far .. and .. you manufactured a scare at a time when you were in a position to profit from it. You didn't tell people .. they ..
DR. WAKEFIELD INTERRUPTING: No .. I didn't manufacture ...
GEORGE: You didn't tell people you were being paid by the lawyer who was brining a case...
DR. WAKEFIELD INTERRUPTING: No ..
GEORGE: and you didn't tell people you had set up a pattern for a different vaccines so you could profit from the scare once it was set up.
DR. WAKEFIELD: That's wholly untrue.
GEORGE: That is not untrue.
DR. WAKEFIELD: That is wholly untrue. I did not stand to profit from the work at all. What I did was to respond to parental concerns .. I didn't manufacture this .. parents came to me and said: "This is what happened to my child"...
GEORGE: After they were contacted by the lawyer .. they were recruited by the lawyer and other activists...
DR. WAKEFIELD: Again, this is completely false. Please, George, check your facts .. those parents ...
GEORGE INTERUPPTING: I have checked my facts ..
DR. WAKEFIELD: Those parents came to us long before there was any litigation. The first parent came to me on May 17, 1995 .. I did not even hear about lawyers until the January of the next year.
GEORGE: Several of the patients in the study had parents who came to you after they received word from the lawyer and other activists.
DR. WAKEFIELD: No, that's not true. They were referred to Professor John Walker-Smith at the Royal Free for investigation of their clinical symptoms .. which turned out to represent a novel bowel disease .. that has been replicated around the world .. by Harvard as well as over twenty institutions in this country.
GEORGE: No one's replicated the link with autism and vaccines .. several people in the study had behavioral problems connected to autism before the vaccines.
DR. WAKEFIELD: No .. they didn't. No .. they did not.
GEORGE: The study says there were five of them that did.
DR. WAKEFIELD: Well, I'm afraid that Brian Deer says that. Let me give you one example .. he said .. in the case of child one ... I'll give you this very precise example .. we said the first behavior symptoms started within a week of the vaccine .. that was "delirium" .. that was reported to us by the mother. The first behavioral symptom he said was several weeks before .. that the child's parent was concerned about his hearing .. and .. that is often .. problems with hearing ... the first sign of autism. What he omitted from those GP records .. the essential ingredient he omitted .. is the child also had a discharge from that ear. The child had an ear infection .. and .. he turned it around .. excluded ear infection and said we had misrepresented the data. That is just typical of the misrepresentation in his data.
GEORGE: But, he is not alone .. he is not alone ... you have had your medical license revoked. In Great Britain .. they've charged you with dishonesty .. the Lancet work retracted .. the study .. the journal stands behind Mr. Deer .. his findings. These people are not alone .. the weight of the evidence is all on the other side.
DR. WAKEFIELD: No .. it is not. The weight of the evidence as you read in this book .. is completely the opposite. There is a bowel disease .. its been replicated in five countries around the world. There are over twenty institutions in this country that have replicated the bowel disease and who are investigating children. Children are now getting better .. their symptoms are better. They had been discarded before .. it was just expected .. if you had bowel symptoms with autism .. that was just the way it was. No .. they have a bowel disease .. that was the crucial discovery. Are vaccines linked to autism? I don't know .. but .. I know the serious investigations ...
GEORGE INTERRUPTING: It's been investigated. The Institute of Medicine has looked at every single study and they have not found any link. I have just one final question for you because a lot of parents are listening: You have four children .. were they vaccinated?
DR. WAKEFIELD: My first two children received the MMR .. the other two didn't .. but .. let me put it again. I am for safety first .. I am not anti-vaccine .. safety first. Ralph Nader was for safer cars .. he wasn't anti-cars. I am not anti-vaccine .. the vaccine strategy .. the vaccine policy in this country is not safe .. the safety has never been proven.
GEORGE: Since people have stopped taking the vaccines .. we've seen the incidence of whooping cough go up .. especially in California .. ten kids died last year.
DR. WAKEFIELD: I have never pronounced anything on whooping cough vaccines. My interests, my research .. my extensive reporting on this has been confined to the Measles, Mumps and Rubella. The safety studies of that vaccine are largely inadequate .. not my words .. the words of an international expert .. "largely inadequate". The safety studies have not been done .. I've not said "Don't get vaccinated". I strongly advocate for the use of single vaccines.
GEORGE: So, what is your recommendation today?
DR. WAKEFIELD: My recommendation for parents is to read, there is extensive information out there ..from websites like the CDC's website, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) .. Vaccine Safety First .. they should go and read that .. they should look at both sides of the argument .. because .. believe me ... there are two sides to the argument. Read .. get information .. talk to a sympathetic pediatrician and then .. based upon the science .. the good solid science .. make a decision.
GEORGE: Okay, Dr. Wakefield, thank you very much.....