Read Bill's post from last week HERE.
By Bill Welsh
If you are the parent of a regressive autistic child in the UK and have been following the controversy re vaccination’s role in what has occurred you may have to take a deep breath and adopt a seated position before reading this article.
Something is not quite right!
From the very beginning something has not been quite right!
Those of us who witnessed a precious child gradually withdraw following MMR vaccination ‘know’ that MMR is deeply implicated. We do not need an epidemiologist in Finland to tell us we are wrong. We know!
But something is not quite right!
I concede we were up against incredibly powerful forces when we challenged the safety of the vaccination programme but, notwithstanding, we should have won our case by now. Instead we are no further forward. Where did we go wrong?
My appraisal will no doubt be regarded as controversial and perhaps disloyal but for what it is worth here is my opinion of where we went wrong:
From the very beginning parents in the UK were in the hands of ‘experts’, legal and scientific. Decisions were taken before many of us had grasped what had actually happened and as a result a runaway train went hurtling down the track, careering hither and thither, across continents, into court rooms, and along the way galvanizing parents to form action groups. But a decision, central to the entire dispute had already been taken and it was that decision on which our grounds for compensation may have foundered.
I recall reading a statement by Brian Deer (I told you to take a deep breath) where he said something along the lines of ‘If I wanted to prove that MMR caused autism I wouldn’t have gone through the gut’. Interesting, because in my Edinburgh clinic we saw about 500 regressive autistic children and about 20% did not appear to have bowel issues! And some had received single vaccines rather than the MMR!
Why then did we go “through the gut”? Quite simply it was the only show in town at the time. There was only one doctor, highly qualified and compassionate, who supported the parent’s view that MMR was implicated in what had happened and not only that but he could articulate a mechanism, his hypothesis, as to what had happened.
I believe he was correct about the measles virus in the gut, but perhaps not for all the children, only for a sub-set of the sub-set. Was he only partly correct?
Andy Wakefield once said ‘my hypothesis is only one hypothesis’ which is true but at the very beginning there were we assumed no other options. The lawyers went with this suggested explanation and that was before our imaginary train had even left the station.
I make no personal criticism of Andy Wakefield who as a professional offered his services as an expert in gastroenterology but did no one on the legal team consider alternative compelling evidence? Was there a simpler explanation for what happened to our children? Was there a less complex mechanism which resulted in our children developing autistic symptoms?
I think a classic error was made by the parents’ legal team and as a result our adversaries were given an opportunity to defeat us. A more straightforward explanation, hypothesis if you like, for what happened to our children was available and demonstrable but was ignored.
I decided some time ago that there were weaknesses in the initial handling of the children’s case and began examining the early evidence. In the UK, parents can (theoretically) access the Batch number of their child’s vaccine. The lawyers had in fact assembled the litigant’s Batch numbers. That list* is revealing.
My own grandson’s Batch number was shared by 16 others (one died, the rest are non verbal with autistic symptoms).
A friend’s son shared his quite separate Batch number with 23 others (all have autistic symptoms, most are non-verbal).
There are many, many, more examples. There was a definite pattern of batch contamination.
That is the route I believe the lawyers should have taken. It is self evident and persuasive that Batch contamination was an important and compelling factor.
The next step would have been to identify what the contaminant was, show how it can be related to the symptoms we see in our children then find it in the children’s bodies as final proof.
Oh, and investigate treatments!
I have been involved in that very exercise and with the co-operation of Age of Autism will continue to share my thoughts.
Bill Welsh is the founder and former Honorary President of Autism Treatment Trust, Edinburgh.