"Perhaps the most fundamental point is that having established this uninterrupted global pipeline for the industry’s products to the world’s children they have failed to ensure manufacturing standards even according to their own criteria."
An experienced pharma watcher has said to me repeatedly in the past few days: "There is something going on". He is not looking directly at pharma he is watching the prolonged and hostile media coverage of the friendship of Andrew Wakefield and Elle Macpherson as revealed to the public by the Daily Mail: something which to most people - except those who might know them personally - might be of only momentary interest, if any: but also the source of a great swirling mist of unprincipled junk journalism which has now be going on for a week. I was drawn into this maelstrom myself last week by a Daily Telegraph feature writer, Rosa Silverman, who wanted to interview me about this non-issue (certainly not a public one) and the "anti-vaccine movement in the US". Rosa quoted me a number of times, which I barely expected (that was the one thing which surprised me). Nevertheless, having thought about the article "Whatever happened to Andrew Wakefield: the curious rehabilitation of the doctor behind the MMR scare" (18 July)" for a day I felt obliged to complain about both the stereo-typing and failure to address the information I had passed to her (my letters to her and the Telegraph with information I emailed her are published below).
But the big question is “Why?”. The answer is surely with all bathetic baying and shrieking from the press about nothing in particular that the global vaccine government complex could not be in more trouble. What would happen if anyone outside our sphere started to put together the stories we have seen in recent days? Perhaps the most fundamental point is that having established this uninterrupted global pipeline for the industry’s products to the world’s children they have failed to ensure manufacturing standards even according to their own criteria. So, now we have had in a matter of days the China scandal, we have RFKjnr’s revelation that the HHS has shirked its responsibility to inspect and report on vaccine safety every two years for the last three decades, and we have the Italian CORVELVA group saying that 5 out 7 schedule vaccines they had independently inspected failed to meet biological standards.
Also running are stories about MMR in Samoa and oral polio vaccine in Kenya. We have the long running saga of Gatti and Montanari in Italy. Even before you get to the issue of whether the products could be considered safe by design, we have the great unlikelihood in many parts of the world, or possibly any part of the world, that they are routinely manufactured and delivered correctly. And rather than admit that the products are faulty the powers that be just prefer that they go on being injected into everybody’s children without saying anything, because the only important thing for them is that everyone goes on believing in the infallibility of the program.
I do not mention in this context other important stories like Dengvaxia in the Philippines , Christopher Exley's revelations about aluminium in autistic brains or Gayle DeLong’s about HPV vaccines and infertility - things beginning to impinge on the reputation of the vaccine complex.
The point at this juncture is that the global industry is in monumental trouble, acting in such a way as to strain the faith of persons normally much less sceptical of the aims of the program than the traditional readers of this column, and it needs to create a distraction - and what we have from at least the British media in Orwellian terms is this pathetic chant of “Four legs good, two legs bad”. They are attempting to drum out the very possibility of thought: all anyone needs to know now is that Andrew Wakefield - who once dared to question the vaccine project in some way - was/is a very bad man. But I would point out another possibility that most onlookers will be completely perplexed: they will just be saying like my pharma watcher as they get daily more fed up with the feeble-mindedness and illogical antics of the mainstream media: “There is something going on”.
You bet there is!
Complaint letter to the Telegraph: Case: 17796369 - Re: Daily Telegraph feature on anti-vaccination movement (anyone wishing to support write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Below are links and material I provided by email, which were acknowledged.
Re: Autism spectrum disorder: advances in diagnosis and evaluation
I have read this review with interest but disquiet . There is perhaps little point in talking about a global prevalence of autism, which Zwaigenbaum and Penner place according to literature at between 1 and 1.5% if autism is rising dynamically in many parts of the world including the United Kingdom - as I have been recently detailing in the columns of BMJ on-line . For instance, recent data from Northern Ireland showed an overall prevalence in schools there of 2.9%, having risen from 1.2% nine years ago, but there are also big disparities between economic classes and town and country, while in Belfast the rate was 4.7% [3,4]. Unfortunately, as Zwaigenbaum and Penner point out diagnosis is characteristically delayed so the true rates are likely much higher.
The rate that be can be established for England from education figures may be at the top end of official estimates at 1.5% but is rising steeply year on year - the rate of Pervasive Development Disorder (the widest possible category of Autistic Spectrum Disorders) for those born between 1984 and 1988 in the United Kingdom was recorded in official data as being 0.2% in 1999. The present figure from Scottish schools data is around 2.2%. However, dramatic reports appear from around the country , notably a report from S.W. London where five London boroughs geared to already diagnosing 750 cases a year were confronting almost double that number a year ago . Extrapolated across the capital that might be 10,000 cases a year, which would possibly be in the 10% region . I have argued that still without any officially accepted explanation for this phenomenon - and certainly Zwaigenbaum and Penner provide none - we are on the brink of population catastrophe. They state:
"Lifetime societal costs related to services and lost productivity by patients and their parents average $1.4m (£1.0m; €1.1m) to $2.4m in the United States and £0.9-£1.5m per child in the United Kingdom, depending on comorbid intellectual disability. When the prevalence of ASD is factored in, the annual estimated societal costs of ASD are $236bn in the US and $47.5bn in the UK."
However, most autism parents know from experience that these are very modest or even delusorily low estimates. Even in 2001 Järbrink and Knapp estimated an average lifetime cost per case in the UK as £2.4m (perhaps £3.8m in today's money) though they thought the overall prevalence was 5 in 10,000, which it perhaps still was in the adult population .
We come back in the end to the reality that when it comes to what could be driving these changes to our society the authors neither acknowledge the problem, or have any explanation of it. I fear they may be fiddling as Rome burns.
 Zwaigenbaum L, Penner M, 'Autism spectrum disorder: advances in diagnosis and evaluation', BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1674 (Published 21 May 2018)
 Responses to Viner RM, 'NHS must prioritise health of children and young people', https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1116/rapid-responses
 John Stone, 'Re: NHS must prioritise health of children and young people - 1 in 21 children in Belfast now have an autism diagnosis' 13 May 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1116/rr-6
 Information Analysis Directorate 'The Prevalence of Autism (including Asperger Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2018', published 10 May 2018, https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/asd...
 John Stone, 'Re: NHS must prioritise health of children and young people - what about autism?' , 19 March 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1116/rr
 Järbrink K, Knapp M, 'The economic impact of autism in Britain', Autism. 2001 Mar;5(1):7-22.
Please note my two submissions of evidence to the DCMS Committee inquiry into fake news:
and H&SC Committee on anti-microbial resistance (published last week):
John Stone is UK and European Editor of Age of Autism