Lightning Rod: The Study, The Findings, Pharma or Me?
Debating the Wakefield Study: Solomon vs. Zaretsky

Follow Up: Toronto

Toronto-officeBy Anne Dachel

On Jan 31, 2017 National Post journalist Lawrence Solomon and Toronto psychiatrist Dr. Ari Zaretsky met at a Toronto coffee shop to discuss the 1998 Lancet study linking the MMR vaccine to autism and bowel disease in children.

What was said in Toronto:

Reporter Lawrence Solomon presented his side by pointing out that Dr. Wakefield’s article was published in the Lancet in1998 and drew immediate criticism, but it wasn’t until twelve years later that it was finally retracted. Following the ruling against Wakefield and his thirteen co-authors, one of them, noted pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. John Walker-Smith, appealed the decision and was fully exonerated.  The General Medical Council decision against the authors of the Lancet study was repudiated by the British High Court.

Solomon: “This was a total victory for Walker-Smith and a total victory for the study. It was a total repudiation for the regulator.”

Solomon said that “the media has a blackout on stories that question vaccines,” and he’s been unable to write on the subject anymore. He went on to name experts who also questioned vaccine safety, including the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. and the late Dr. Walter Spitzer Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at McGill University and Editor Emeritus of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

He compared the treatment of Walker-Smith to the treatment of Andrew Wakefield by the British government. He said that Wakefield was made “a sacrificial lamb” by the General Medical Council as a warning to any other doctor who might be thinking of researching this. What’s been ignored in all this controversy is the fact that the Lancet study didn’t find that vaccines cause autism. The authors simply called for more research.

He cited vaccine researcher Gregory Poland from the Mayo Clinic, who has said that the vaccine simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t provide herd immunity. Furthermore, he pointed out that there were almost no measles death reported by 1963, the year the vaccine was first introduced.

He brought up Dr. William Thompson, the vaccine researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who claims his agency ordered him to destroy study evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

He also talked about Danish vaccine research used by the CDC and charges that the “statistics were manipulated.”

He said that the researcher who worked on the HPV vaccine for both Merck and Glaxo Smith Kline, Dr. Diane Harper, now calls this vaccine unnecessary and dangerous.

He revealed that the U.S. government indemnified the vaccine makers in 1986 and removed any real incentive to them to produce a truly safe product. Furthermore, they created an unending market by mandating vaccines in order to attend school.

Solomon ended his comments by predicting that a presidential panel looking into vaccine safety and scientific integrity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. could seriously challenge the claims being made about vaccines by officials.

In his arguments Dr. Zaretsky said that Wakefield had falsified his findings, resulting in the retraction of the original Lancet article.  He made repeated references to “many, many studies” that failed to find a link between vaccines and autism, and was adamant that vaccines are well-tested. He said Wakefield’s study had never been replicated.  Children may develop autism around the time of the MMR vaccine, but that’s a coincidental relationship, not a causal one.

Zaretsky cited better diagnosing and a broader definition as reasons for the explosion in autism diagnoses. He also said there was a “gene-environment” connection.  

Zaretsky said some things that we don’t often hear from doctors. He acknowledged that the flu shot is often ineffective. Despite his strong defense of the safety of the MMR, he did suggest having a comparison study of children who did and who didn’t get the vaccine to see what their autism rates were like. He fully expects there would be “no lower incidence of autism” in the unvaxxed group. In addition, Zaretsky defended the right of a parent not to vaccinate, although he felt it was a “misinformed” decision. At the end he even said that there might be an impact from vaccines on a child’s immune system, resulting in the increase in asthma we’re currently seeing.

Zaretsky pointed to the need for herd immunity and not putting everyone else’s child at risk by not vaccinating. He trusts the doctors and scientists who say there is no link between vaccines and autism. He promoted the benefits of the HPV vaccine and denied that the pertussis vaccine can cause SIDS.

During the Q and A, Zaretsky did agree that vaccines cause rare side effects, just not autism. He said that since the measles vaccine has been around since the 60s, we should have seen a dramatic increase fifty years ago, not just in the last two decades. Solomon pointed out that the combined MMR vaccine came later.

Personally speaking, I found nothings new in Dr. Zaretsky’s arguments. He retreated to the universal vaccine defense: studies show no link. As usual, autism wasn’t talked about as a medical emergency, but  more like a mystery we just can’t explain. Zaretsky said that a vaxxed/unvaxxed study could prove “interesting,” but there was no urgency that it be done. Calling it a genetic disorder, as doctors often do, leaves one asking why parents can’t be tested to see who’s carrying the autism gene responsible. No one can do that either. The genetics of autism is just more of the mystery.

Zaretsky is convinced vaccines have no role in autism. The live virus MMR is safe and so is the mercury used in vaccines. Other toxins in the environment might however be responsible. Even though this controversy affects him personally, he continues to be a true believer in the safety of vaccination.

What I noticed was the total lack of response from Zaretsky when Solomon talked about how co-author John Walker-Smith was exonerated of all charges involving the Lancet study, or the serious questions raised by top experts like Bernadine Healy, Walter Spitzer, and Diane Harper. He had no response when told that Greg Poland, a leading vaccine researcher, calls for the replacement of the MMR, because it fails to protect children. He said nothing when Solomon told him about charges of vaccine science fraud at the CDC.

The most troubling moment for me was during the Q and A when a woman who described herself as a researcher with a PhD in genetics said, ‘One in two Canadians is going to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.’

That was a stunning statement. Her position seemed to be that she is afraid that there might be resistance to a cancer vaccine, given the present atmosphere.

So we’re just supposed to accept the fact that we’re going to sicker and sicker without asking why. That’s probably what will happen. There is absolutely no panic over the current autism rate. Even if the numbers get worse, it’ll be written off, as Zaretsky said, as better diagnosing and maybe something bad in the environment. The prediction is out there that in fifteen years, half our children will have autism. If half of us also have cancer, I figure that we’ll have no future. How can a country filled with the sick and disabled possibly survive?

Comments

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ATSC

rtp: "The difference being that in 1950 when they were diagnosed it was as measles. Today when it is diagnosed it is as roseola etc. "

Yes. Before laboratory testing was introduced to confirm notified measles cases, doctors couldn't have known that they were clinically diagnosing and reporting other diseases as measles. So how would anyone know how many cases of true measles there were before the vaccine was introduced, and how many actual cases have been prevented?

http://epirev.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/2/125
Laboratory-confirmed cases

"When an infection is common, the positive predictive value of a clinical diagnosis is sufficiently high to base surveillance on notifications. However, as the infection becomes less common because of childhood vaccination, it is to be expected that an increasing proportion of notified cases will be due to other infections that have a similar clinical presentation. For example, cases of parvovirus B19, human herpes virus 6 (roseola infantum), human herpes virus 7, and group A streptococcus all involve symptoms of rash and fever and may be misdiagnosed as measles or rubella (15, 16). Laboratory confirmation by the detection of specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) in an appropriate clinical specimen can be used in association with notification to improve the accuracy of the data.

Traditionally, the specimen of choice for such antibody testing has been serum. Saliva (oral fluid) is an alternative noninvasive type of clinical specimen that contains immunoglobulins and has considerable compliance advantages. Saliva is safe and easy to collect (17–20), which makes it attractive for surveillance. A 1991–1993 pilot study designed to validate oral fluid diagnosis of measles demonstrated the high specificity of oral fluid IgM testing and showed that less than 40 percent of clinically diagnosed cases were confirmed by laboratory testing (21, 22). This demonstrated that reliance on notification alone was not sufficient to monitor progress towards elimination of measles and that identification of the true incidence of infection could only be achieved through laboratory investigation of suspected cases."

rtp

whyser, if you think about it, how often do your or your friend's kids get rashes?

Probably a lot. Same for adults too.

The CDC had precisely no basis for their 4 million per year estimate but it was almost certainly based on the belief that rashes were pretty much ubiquitous. Back then rashes meant measles (unless they had blisters in which case they were chicken pox).

Today rashes mean roseola or fifth disease. And that is only when they see a doctor to get diagnosed.

It is easy to imagine that 400,000 - or even 4 million - Americans today got some sort of a rash last year. In short, rashes were ubiquitous in 1950 and they are ubiquitous now. Most went undiagnosed back then and most go undiagnosed now. The difference being that in 1950 when they were diagnosed it was as measles. Today when it is diagnosed it is as roseola etc.

And whilst you might think that the CDC would like to exaggerate measles epidemics it works both ways. If it happens in fully vaccinated populations (such as the recent mumps outbreak) it doesn't help their cause at all.

whyser

rtp,

We have seen a reduction in *notifications* not incidence. The truth is that we don't have actual incidence data for diseases that are typically mild and transient because we have no idea how often those cases even see a doctor or if the doctor bothers to report it.

I only partially agree with this sentiment. Prior to the measles vaccine, the REPORTED measles incident rate was approximately 400,000 per year. However, the CDC estimates that the true measles incident rate was an entire birth cohort per year, which is approximately 4,000,000 people.

If you look at it that way, measles was already 90% UNDERREPORTED, yet provaxxers have the gall to say that the mortality rate is 1 in 1,000 when they are comparing the reported deaths (~400) to the reported incidence (~400,000) per year, when it actuality it was likely closer to 1 in 10,000.

Although you may have a point in that, if you were vaccinated, doctors were less likely to diagnose that you had a case of the measles (I especially see this happening when it comes to pertussis), I would also argue that the CDC would ALSO like to look for ANY measles outbreak and get as big as numbers as possible in order to support their scare tactics that measles is so contagious and widespread so that parents are coerced into getting the measles vaccines for "protection".

As well, if measles was so widespread as you are suggesting, I am certainly not seeing it in any of my friends and family.

I believe the vaccine works, I'm just not nearly as convinced with its longevity nor its safety.

rtp

No whyser. Whilst Poland obviously believe the MMR reduces incidence he is completely wrong.

We have seen a reduction in *notifications* not incidence. The truth is that we don't have actual incidence data for diseases that are typically mild and transient because we have no idea how often those cases even see a doctor or if the doctor bothers to report it.

But there is an even greater problem than that - and in it contains the keys to the universe.

Doctors differentially diagnose on the basis of vaccine status. Once you understand this point then the entire paradigm comes crashing down. There is literally no reason to believe that *any* vaccine has ever worked.

Not measles, not pertussis, not polio, not smallpox, not rabies. None of them.

When doctors see the exact same range of symptoms in vaccinated children (in the case of measles that means a rash/fever) they are inclined towards diagnosing it as something else based on their genuine (but wrong) belief that a vaccinated child couldn't have the disease.

So every single so-called vaccine success story is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And we can check that this is the case by looking at potentially corroborating data.

For example, if the fall in polio was real and not just renaming then total rates of paralysis would have fallen. But they have not. They have risen. As have rates of people in modern day iron lungs (positive pressure ventilators).

If measles had actually fallen then its complications (or what we were told were its complications) such as blindness, deafness and encephalitis would have fallen too.

Again, no dice.

If the rubella vaccine worked then total rates of congenital defects would have fallen. They have not.

And so on and so forth.

None of them work and doctors merely shift the blame from one germ to another.

whyser

Not to play devil's advocate, but I was a little surprised to see Lawrence Solomon quote and use Gregory Poland in such a way to indicate that vaccinating for MMR causes more outbreaks than if you did not vaccinate. I think it's clear that the MMR vaccine has drastically reduced measles incidence.

I think it would have been more clear if Solomon pursued the line of argument that the MMR vaccine is a failure, and that herd immunity is a failure, because of two concepts:

1) In the absence of boosting, immunity wanes. This is true for every disease we develop immunity to, but some wane faster than others. The ones that last the longest are the ones that stimulate both humoral and cellular immunity (usually live vaccines)

2) The vaccine took measles virus out of circulation within the population. Measles immunity was thought to be life-long prior to the vaccine due to disease circulation and periodic exposure to those already immune, hence "boosting" their immunity. When vaccines take the disease out of circulation, there is no longer any natural boosting that happens, and the problem I described earlier, regarding waning immunity, would ensure that herd immunity would never be established.

3) Adult population rarely get antibody titers checked, and thus, the majority of the population's immunization coverage for "booster" shots is POOR. I believe this is self-explanatory in how it relates to the first two problems.

So while the media, health authorities, and pharmaceutical companies focus on childhood vaccination rates, it's no wonder why, especially for a contagious disease such as measles, we will always have questionable herd immunity rates that will not stop measles outbreaks from happening.


joejoe

So what the Phd. is really saying without understanding that the cancer rates are going to align with the autism rates in about 13 years according to Dr.Seneff of MIT (1 in 2) you would think that something would click in her head and realize that vaccines can possibly be the cause of both.

Hans Litten

Posted by: Thomas Petrie | March 01, 2017 at 09:28 AM

1 in 68 . really ?

its 2% isn't it ? Or greater !
I say its one in every classroom . 1 in 30 .
and as for damaged its 1 in every 1 that takes vaccines .

1 in 1 of the vaccinated is harmed .

annie

The holiest of holy in the world of allopathic American care is the belief that it (and it alone) has dominion over infectious disease and the C word. Combining the word vaccine and the word cancer is a high priest's wet dream. The actual scientific reality is inconsequential. This religion is will harm far mor people than it helps and we're already seeing that with HPV. Here's hoping that the REAL scientific heroes of the modern age can save us before too much damage is done.

Thomas Petrie

Yup, IF the cancer rate went from one in one hundred to one in three for men and one in four for women OVERNIGHT, there would be a huge outcry, HOWEVER, it's occurred gradually, so that there is no major panic. Ditto for Autism. 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 68? Not even covered by most of the media. Shameful is all I can say. Shameful.

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