Dr. Andrew Wakefield responds to UK public health officials call for censorship on MMR vaccine safety debate, measles vaccine failure, and issues a further challenge for open debate (full transcript beneath). While he has been booked to appear on several media programs, all have cancelled just prior to airtime.
Below is the transcript.
Good morning. The first thing that I want to say is that I did not
seek out this latest media maelstrom. It came about because of an
outbreak of measles in South Wales in the United Kingdom for which I
have been blamed by her Majesty's government. So I did not seek this
out but now it seems I have been denied the opportunity to redress the
allegations that have been made against me by members of the government;
by members of public health and that is clearly unacceptable.
So legitimate debate about the safety of MMR vaccine and the origin of the measles epidemic in Wales have now been effectively blocked by the government insisting that the British media do not give me air time; do not allow me to respond. And that is the purpose of this. So I did not start this current fight.
The important thing to say is that back in 1996 -- 1997 I was made aware of children developing autism, regressive autism, following exposure in many cases to the measles mumps rubella vaccine. Such was my concern about the safety of that vaccine that I went back and reviewed every safety study, every pre-licensing study of the MMR vaccine and other measles containing vaccines before they were put into children and after. And I was appalled with the quality of that science. It really was totally below par and that has been reiterated by other authoritative sources since. I compiled my observations into a 200 page report which I am seeking to put online once I get permission from my lawyers. And that report was the basis of my impression that the MMR vaccine was inadequately tested for safety certainly compared with the single vaccines and therefore that was the basis of my recommendation in 1998 at the press conference that parents should have the option of the single vaccines.
All I could do as a parent was to say what would I do for my child. That was the only honest answer I could give. My position on that has not changed.
So, what happened subsequently. At that time the single measles vaccine, the single vaccines were available freely on the National Health Service. Otherwise, I would not have suggested that option. So parents, if they were legitimately concerned about the safety of MMR could go and get the single vaccines. Six months later the British government unilaterally withdrew the importation licence for the single vaccines therefore depriving parents of having these on the NHS; depriving parents who had legitimate concerns about the safety of MMR from a choice; denying them the opportunity to protect their children in the way that they saw fit.
And I was astonished by this and I said to Dr Elizabeth Miller of the Health Protection Agency why would you do this, if your principal concern is to protect children from serious infectious disease. Why would you remove an option from parents who are legitimately concerned about the safety of MMR. And her answer was extraordinary. She said to me if we allow parents the option of single vaccines it would destroy our MMR programme. In other words her concern, her principal concern seemed to be for protection of the MMR programme and not for protection of children.
Now, were parents concerns about the safety of MMR legitimate? Did they have a reason to be concerned? The answer is unequivocably yes.
When the MMR was introduced in the UK in the late 1980s there were three brands that were introduced. Two of those three brands had to be withdrawn hurriedly four years later because they were causing meningitis in children at an unacceptable rate. In other words two thirds of the licensed vaccines in the UK had to be removed from circulation because they were dangerous.
And what is very disturbing about this and this was brought to my attention by a government whistleblower, Dr Alistair Thores, who was working at that time for the Joint Committee On Vaccination And Immunisation, the regulatory body in the UK. He made it clear to the British government that they should not use those dangerous vaccines. He made it clear to the committee prior to the licensing of the MMR in 1987. Why? Because he was brought in from Canada where they were already having problems with this vaccine under the name Trivirix, the identical vaccine to the vaccine which was introduced into the UK under the name Pluserix. And there they had noticed that there were cases of meningitis which were far in excess of those which they had previously seen. This meningitis was being caused by the mumps strain; Urabe AM-9.
And so he advised the Joint Committee not to touch this vaccine: it was dangerous. They ignored his pleas and they went ahead and introduced it anyway. Four years later it had to be hurriedly withdrawn because it was causing precisely the complication that he had warned them of. Moreover, they were asked, David Salisbury specifically, was asked to allocate funds to active surveillance of adverse events. For the government to go out there and to look and ask doctors if they had seen cases of this meningitis. He said no. That was denied and they relied on passive surveillance: in other words the spontaneous reports coming in from doctors and hospitals. That is known to pick up perhaps 1 to 2% of true adverse reactions. In other words it was going to inevitably underestimate the true numbers of this reaction. Hence, the delay of four years for the removal of a vaccine that should never have been licensed in the first place.
It was with that background and with that insight into the practices of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation that I took the stand that I did on MMR. I was deeply and justifiably concerned. So the next question is beyond the fact that MMR vaccine is not safe and has not been adequately tested; not just my opinion but the opinion of many; is does MMR vaccine cause autism?
Now this question has been answered not by me but by the courts, by the vaccine courts in Italy and in the United States of America where it appears that many children over the last 30 years have been awarded millions of dollars for the fact that they have been brain-damaged by MMR vaccine and other vaccines and that brain-damage has led to autism. That is a fact.
Now it has been argued by the government that some poor judge has been forced into making this decision that on balance the vaccine caused the autism in the face and in contradiction to the evidence that is available, the scientific evidence. No. That is grossly misleading. Three of these cases at least least; Poling, the Italian case, and more recently the Mojabi case, have been conceded by the government experts. In other words the government experts, the government themselves have conceded that the vaccine cause the autism. They didn't fight the case. They conceded it based upon the evidence available to them - all of the evidence - that the MMR vaccine caused the child's autism.
So this isn't some poor judge being forced into a position in the absence of the evidence or in contradiction to the evidence. This is the government's own experts conceding that the MMR vaccine caused the autism, or caused brain damage in this case that led to be autism. And what we have are millions of dollars being paid out to these children to fund their autism treatment so when the government says it is not settled cases of autism, please bear in mind that what they're paying for the costs of the autism treatments. The government if it says that is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.
So let me turn now specifically to the measles outbreak in South Wales. The outbreak that the government is alleging is my responsibility, which is clearly in the face of the evidence from Lord Howe in Parliament and for which originally I suggested protection against measles with a single vaccines.
Now it is very important for people to bear in mind that MMR doesn't protect against measles. Measles vaccine protects against measles. The mumps and rubella components are irrelevant. So, if single vaccines were available; if the government had not withdrawn the availability of a vaccine, then there would be no outbreak of measles in Wales, there would be no discussion of measles cases and potential measles deaths. So, the blame for this must lie on the shoulders on those who withdrew the option of the single vaccine from the parents who were legitimately concerned about the safety of the MMR. Not because of me but what had happened because of that vaccine long before I came on the scene.
But there is one problem. There is one contradiction. That is as Lord Howe has said in Parliament, MMR vaccine uptake is at an all-time high. So why are we now seeing measles outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations. It would be very interesting to find out how many of those children in the current outbreak have actually been vaccinated. I suspect many. And this has been seen before.
One of the problems I think we are encountering is that of vaccine failure; primary and secondary vaccine failure. Primary failure - not enough children respond by developing immunity to the vaccine in the first place and secondary vaccine failure - those that do develop immunity that immunity disappears very quickly over time. And this has been seen with mumps vaccine. The mumps vaccine does not work and we are seeing similar outbreaks of measles (mumps) in vaccinated populations. And this is one of the long-term problems of using live viral vaccines over time, taking seed stock virus and repeatedly using it and using it and using it over time that it seems for some reason to lose its potency. And what we're seeing now is what I believe is unintended, unexpected consequence of long-term use of these live viral vaccines; and that is vaccine failure.
And that is something that is really really concerning. It is not theoretical. It has been seen unequivocally with the mumps vaccine. And I believe we are now seeing it with measles. If that is the case then 1) blaming me for the outbreak of this measles case come measles cases in South Wales, is totally inappropriate. It is not addressing the core issue of what you do about live viral vaccine failure, because if the viruses is then infecting people at an older age than the outcome may be more serious and there are no therapeutic interventions for protecting those people from measles.
So the government has in effect put all its eggs in one basket and now we're seeing measles come back. That is my belief.
What we face unambiguously is an epidemic of autism; an environmentally driven epidemic of autism now alarmingly affecting one in 31 boys in the United States of America and I saw data from Yale just the other day from South Korea showing that one in 36 children in South Korea are affected by this lifelong severe neurodevelopmental disorder. There is the true epidemic. Do we see attention being paid to that in anything like the same way that the media are applying attention to the measles outbreak in South Wales. No we do not. That is the true epidemic. And that is the one that we really have to deal with as a matter of urgency.
Now what I would like to do, I have been, Dr David Elliman has said that this was my fault and I understand that this morning he went on the news and he was saying that the media were responsible for the latest sort of debate, the latest argument, by giving me some kind of voice. So he is able to make this very very serious allegation against me and then deprive me of the opportunity of responding in the media. That is an extraordinary situation in what is supposedly a free country.
What I'm suggesting is a formal scientific debate in public in front of an audience that is televised. And specifically Dr David Salisbury I would like to debate you because I believe you are at the heart of this matter. I believe the decisions taken by you and by your committee, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, lie at the heart of this matter.
There are many things to debate with you.
I'd like to debate with you specifically why you have denied repeatedly that there was any form of indemnity for the manufacturer of the Urabe containing vaccine Pluserix when it was originally introduced; why you have denied that.
And I have here Dr Salisbury are the unredacted minutes of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation held on 7 May 1993 and here in these minutes it says "once SKB" that is SmithKline Beecham "continued to sell the Urabe strain vaccine without liability". How Dr Salisbury do you explain the term "without liability" in that context. It seems to me that this was something that was disclosed to me by your whistleblower from the government, from your own committee, who said the deal was done with the manufacturer to exempt them from liability for introducing the vaccine that they had concerns about because they were already having problems with it in Canada where it was then withdrawn.
I would also like to put it to you, I would like to ask you why you felt it necessary to contact the General Medical Council and urge them in the strongest terms to prosecute me more vigourously; indeed to admonish them for not prosecuting me more vigourously. Do you feel that was an abuse of your governmental position introducing inevitable bias into the General Medical Council. And since you are at the heart of this matter and have been according to your curriculum vitae from the very beginning, the introduction of MMR into this country, it would seem to me that you are the perfect person to debate this in public with me. And if we can exonerate MMR vaccine from causing the problems which I believe and many parents believe it is causing them that is all well and good. But that will only be resolved in an open scientific debate. And therefore I think that the time has come for you and I to have that discussion.