By Kendra Pettengill
When ever you hear anything about the controversy swirling around the premise that vaccines cause Autism, you will always hear the chorus of naysayers spouting the belief that this would have to somehow entail some huge conspiracy. This approach uses the flawed belief that for it to be true, that vaccines cause Autism, and it is somehow being ignored or denied, it would have to involve every single government individual employed by the CDC or FDA, every single pharmaceutical company and every one of their employees, along with every individual physician that might prescribe or recommend a vaccine, and let's not leave out every nurse that ever has or will administer a vaccine. If that indeed had to be true, the doubt is understandable. However, they fail to recognize history as well as the design of the system itself that makes it so easy to keep everyone in line, without any individuals having to know the details or the facts.
There are two huge and relevant analogies that can be pulled from history that prove how simple it is for the truth to remain relatively unknown by the American public, as well as medical professionals, or even worse, the truth is known and purposely hidden from those same individuals.
THE TAINTED POLIO VACCINE
The first is relevant because it too is a controversy surrounding vaccines. It is of course the discovery in 1961 that the Polio vaccines manufactured in the U.S. contained a monkey virus, derived from the very monkeys that were used to produce the vaccine itself. SV-40 as it is commonly referred to stands for Simian Monkey virus number 40 or the 40th virus identified in Simian Monkeys. The U.S. used several of these monkeys as well as Green Monkeys to manufacture both versions of its Polio vaccines. When the discovery was made, the Simian monkeys were destroyed and 12 new African Green Monkeys were brought in to replace them.
This particular monkey virus was known to cause Cancer in laboratory animals. It is still a huge debate among leading scientists whether the virus has increased rates of cancer in people that received the vaccine, which is basically almost every single American born in the latter half of the last century. There is no doubt that cancer rates have increased, and there is also no debate that SV-40 is being detected in many cancers and tumors.
The other issue surrounding the SV-40 tainted polio vaccines is the number of tumors in children in which the SV-40 virus has been detected. The valid argument is offered up that if the virus had been completely removed from the polio vaccines when discovered then anyone born after 1967 should not have received a tainted vaccine. The questions then are numerous, were parents passing the virus on to their babies from their own tainted vaccines, or were the vaccines truly clean of monkey viruses? It was brought up recently in Congressional hearings that they may have used part of the original tainted strain to start the new strain being used to produce the supposedly virus free vaccine.
Some may say that this huge vaccine debacle is not hidden from the public nor from medical professionals. Any Google search or search of medical writings, research publications, etc. would allow any single person, whether professional or layperson access to the information surrounding this controversy. The truth, however, is that few people have ever heard about it, and if you ask the "Man on the Street" and probably over 90% of Americans will have never heard about such a thing. The percentage of doctors and nurses would not be much different. They simply administer the one they are given, and are reassured by those in high positions that it is safe and effective.
Much of what occurred during the early days of the discovery sound eerily similar to what has taken place in the Vaccine/Autism debate. The few that knew the truth, initially kept it very quiet and it was unknown to anyone that could be affected by the vaccines or those who might administer them. Few know what occurred in the highest and tightest circle, but we know it was decided to keep it very quiet with the justification we all hear today…"It would have a devastating affect on the vaccine program". And just like the discovery of the large amounts of thimerosal (50% mercury) in the increasing vaccine schedule, they ordered the change to be made to newer and safer vaccines, but the old tainted vaccines were never recalled or pulled from the shelves. Without knowing what the affects and long term damage might be for the recipients, that was put at a lower level of importance than protecting the American vaccine schedule. Protecting vaccines over protecting people.
The very fact that the tainted vaccines were not recalled is the single most important factor that affectively withheld the information from the public, and most especially from most doctors and nurses. They used up all the old polio vaccines, without ever even knowing they were injecting people with a monkey virus. Do you really believe back then that any scientist, doctor, nurse, or even any everyday American wouldn't have defended the Polio vaccine with their life? Can you imagine a group of parents who believed their children were given cancer by the Polio vaccine publicly questioning the vaccine less than 20 years after the epidemic in the U.S., and what the response to that would have been? And where was the media in all this? Were they complicit in keeping this out of the public eye or at least putting it on page 20 of any publication?
The controversy surrounding SV-40 is still ongoing, and most Americans still know nothing about it. Heavy hitting research scientists often engage in heated debate, one side arguing there was no lasting affect from the tainted vaccine, no cancer directly caused by the virus, and on the other side, scientists claiming they have proven beyond a doubt that many cancers are a direct result of the tainted vaccine and that the current vaccine is either still tainted or the virus is actually capable of being passed from parents to children.
Is this a conspiracy or simply business as usual in protecting the much vaunted and aggressive U.S. vaccine program? Did it take the entire medical and scientific community to keep such a controversy and potentially devastating event from the American public? No it did not, most never did and still do not know anything about it.
SILENCE = DEATH
The second analogy also draws huge parallels with the current issue at hand. As the 70s were rolling into the 1980s Americans were suddenly hearing about a horrific and deadly virus we all know now as AIDS. The regulatory agencies were made aware that three separate cases of AIDS in hemophiliacs had been confirmed. The ramifications of this were huge.
Individuals suffering from hemophilia depend on a medical blood product called Factor VIII for their very survival. Factor VIII is a clotting factor product that prevents excessive bleeding. It can take anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 blood donors to manufacture one small vial of Factor VIII. One brave and vigilant scientist at the CDC realized the meaning and sounded the alarm among the inner circle of experts. The blood supply was most certainly tainted with the AIDS virus, and if something wasn't done immediately, the virus would be inadvertently spread to innocent people across the nation, and especially hemophiliacs in the U.S. and across the world that depend on American produced Factor VIII.
A meeting was held in 1982 with some of the top scientists at the CDC, experts on hemophilia, and of course representatives for pharmaceutical companies that manufactured medical products from the blood supply were also invited. The brave CDC scientist, it is documented, at one point in the meeting actually slammed his fist down on the table and shouted "how many dead will it take, 4, 40, 400"?. And he was swiftly admonished if not attacked by everyone in the room, that his words were over the top, entirely too harsh. The pharmaceutical companies took umbrage with his tone and insinuation that they would put their own profits ahead of human lives. Yet, the primary concern expressed in the meeting is that if word of this got out, it would destroy the public trust in the blood supply. The claim of course was that it could not be proven at that point that the supply was tainted. The ultimate end result is that absolutely nothing was done, no alarms were sounded and not a word went out, even to doctors around the U.S. that might prescribe and administer the clotting factor products to their patients. What notices were sent out of course recommended "No change in treatment protocol" and assured all that the blood supply was safe, when the truth is they did not know that, and actually suspected just the opposite. And the most devastating result of all, and little known to average Americans, is that a subset of Americans, hemophiliacs, were nearly all infected with the AIDS virus.
It was estimated at that time that there were between 11,000 and 15,000 hemophiliacs in the U.S. in 1982. 8,000 of those would be infected with AIDS thanks to Factor VIII. By 1998, 3,000 of those infected had died. In that meeting, despite the warnings and the cries of one brave scientist, all those involved sealed the fate, signed the death warrant for hemophiliacs across the world, by their simple inaction. By keeping the information within the inner circle and refusing to withdraw the products from the shelves, they also ensured that unsuspecting doctors and nurses would also have no knowledge of the tainted blood products. Most important is that neither Hemophiliacs nor their families knew for years the risks others were taking with their lives. And the irony is that there was an alternative, non-blood derived product, that while less affective, would have been much safer, and possibly saved thousands of lives.
Like the SV-40 controversy, the tainted clotting factor issue is still alive today. You can search online and find the information, the history, and the aftermath of this devastating and deadly decision to keep the entire issue under wraps. But you would have to know about it, which unless you have a loved one or a patient with hemophilia who was infected with the virus, the odds are great that you have never heard of this unthinkable act of treason against the American trust by our federal oversight agencies and the pharmaceutical companies they seem to protect instead of the public, which is their task. There are law suits still pending today from people across the world, the irony in all this is that only those outside of the U.S. are being allowed to sue for damages. Americans are only being allowed to sue if they were also infected with hepatitis. Why? Because the pharmaceutical companies, despite the fact they obviously knew, or at least they did after that historic meeting, are hiding behind the fact that there was no known test for the AIDS virus at that time, but there was a test for hepatitis and they simply were not being done. There has still been no compensation to victims or their families as if the government and pharmaceutical companies realize, all the victims will simply die if they delay long enough.
THE AFTERMATH AND THE PARALLELS
Both of these events are more than adequate to show that it does not take a conspiracy of thousands to withhold the truth from the American public. Doctors take their cues and act on the information they are fed by both the federal agencies whose task it is to monitor and protect, and the pharmaceutical companies that not only produce the products but bestow the physicians with information, free samples, and gifts. Doctors simply do not have the time to become experts on every product and issue that might exist.
We have twice in recent history seen from these examples where the primary concern was not the potential medical affect on hypothetical individual patients, but protecting the image and loyalty of the American people to the much vaunted vaccine program and the blood supply. In one case the potential to cause the devastating disease of cancer, and in the other, the certain death of affected individuals. For those diehard defenders that seem offended by the proposition that officials might hide a horrible affect from vaccines such as the lifelong and devastating disorder such as Autism, it has to be disheartening to know they had no problem doing the same when the outcome would be death. It is no wonder that the CDC will do anything at all to deny the epidemic of Autism, including doing nothing to investigate the claims of parents and individual families. They have shown a pattern of behavior that says 'National Programs are more important than individuals, no matter what the outcome'.
Did the American public have a right to know that their Polio vaccine might contain a virus that is actually used in clinical settings to 'cause' cancerous tumors? Did the American public have a right to know that the American blood supply had been tainted with the AIDS virus which could mean their certain death? They did and still do today. The CDC did not want to alarm the public that the vaccine program might be unsafe, even though it was unsafe. They did not want the American public to think that the blood supply was unsafe, even though it was unsafe. They do not want the American public to again think the vaccine program is unsafe, but it is unsafe, and every single human being that might receive vaccines or have them administered to their innocent children has a right to know the truth.
So to every single person who has ever questioned how something this devastating could be covered up by pharmaceutical companies with thousands of employees, huge federal agencies with thousands more employees, thousands of scientists across the nation, and by thousands of pediatricians, family doctors, and nurses, it is not. Most simply are never given the privilege of the information any more than you or I. There is no conspiracy here, just business as usual and the hard to digest reality that as individuals, we simply don't matter. As more Americans realize the truth, and more and more scientists and doctors defect from the party, the truth may finally come out, and when it does, I will take a moment to honor those that have suffered from these two horrible examples of American greed and callousness to individual lives.
Kendra is the mother of a daughter recovering from autism. She lives in Oregon.