Today, we're adding a new permanent post to our home page -- a link to Bernadine Healy's comments in a CBS interview with Sharyl Attkisson. You'll find it on the left sidebar under "Papers, Reports, Info."
We're doing this for a couple of reasons. Reason One: It is the most important single statement by the most important person ever to lend credence to a plausible link between autism and vaccinations. It's a game-changer, and it's all the "cover" any of us need to keep raising questions until they are answered to our satisfaction.
Secondly, this is a moment when we need all the help we can get. The recent MMR study, which was wrongly interpreted (with the help of the researchers themselves) as more proof against a link between autism and vaccines, was outrageous. And so is Paul Offit's new book, False Prophets, in which he tears down everybody who has ever raised the issue, ever believed their child might have improved after any sort of biomedical intervention -- ever dared to disagree with medical orthodoxy. My God, you cut out dairy and wheat, you see your kid get better, and you're practically accused of child abuse.
So let's remind ourselves briefly of what Healy, the former director of the NIH -- not a vaccinologist, not a pediatrician, not a CDC flack, not a blogger, not the head of a mere division of the NIH but the whole edifice -- had to say.
"The question has not been answered." It doesn't get much clearer than that. The question of whether vaccines can trigger autism in a susceptible subgroup has not been answered. Let's repeat for emphasis: The question has not been answered.
"One should never shy away from science. One should never shy away from getting causality information." Yet that is what is happening, she says.
"I think the government or certain public health officials within the government have been too quick to dismiss the concerns of these families without studying the population that got sick." Healy says we need to take 300 children whose parents say they regressed right after a vaccine and figure out what happened. This is the opposite of the nonsense that because autism and vaccination both occur in the first two years of life, it's just a coincidence. It's the opposite of slipshod epidemiology that "proves" there's no problem at the population level. We are not talking about populations, we're talking about people. We're not talking about a herd, we're talking about a child.
"I think public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis (vaccines can trigger autism) as irrational without sufficient studies of causation." We need more science, in other words.
Studies in primates and mice of the total vaccine load, including vaccine mercury, are sending ominous signals about the overall health outcomes of children vaccinated under the CDC's childhood immunization schedule. Yet the agency won't budge -- not on Hep B at birth, not on the MMR and chickenpox on the same day at 12 months, not on mercury in flu shots given to pregnant women and to infants starting at 6 months -- years AFTER they called for mercury to be removed from ALL childhood immunizations. And we're helping saturate the world's children in organic mercury, otherwise known as thimerosal.
Many are concerned -- and rightly so -- that public health officials and vaccine advocates don't want "to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public" by scaring people away from vaccinations, Healy says. "I don't believe the truth ever scares people."
Dr. Healy is treating Americans like the adults and citizens they are, and public health officials like the servants of the people they should be. She is the one Paul Offit and the wackosphere and the CDC and Big Pharma need to be disparaging, not desperate parents and the relatively few people who are standing with them while more and more researchers and writers take their grant money and their 15 seconds of prime-time newscast fame and run.
As I mentioned in my post on Offit's book (HERE), it's sure interesting he doesn't mention Healy's comments, or the Poling case that undoubtedly was part of Healy's awakening to the issue. Or the primate study that found so many sick monkeys. Or anything else that gets in the way of denigrating anybody who simply happens to agree with the former head of the NIH that the fundamental question has not been answered and the people we trusted to answer it are shying away from facing the truth. That's quite some dereliction of duty, when you think about it.
We need more independent and relevant research, urgently. We need to listen to real parents about what happened to their kids. We need to have enough respect for Americans to trust they can handle the truth.
And we must remind ourselves we're not alone, not when someone of Bernadine Healy's stature is saying the same thing. Do yourself a favor and listen to her interview -- as needed, to use the phrase beloved of pharmaceutical firms.
Dan Olmsted is editor of Age of Autism.