This post clearly links to last weeks I’ve Caught Her Virus. Following the Panorama program Chris Exley wrote to the BBC. The correspondence is here and elsewhere on the net – notably Age of Autism.
Annie has commented about a Lancet article by Heidi Larsson on the virus of misinformation about vaccines. This makes media references to Fake News and Viruses look co-ordinated. It takes chutzpah to run a Fake News/virus attack against the background of nothing but ghostwritten articles about pharmaceuticals and vaccines – doctors have been consuming for the last 3 decades.
The clear and unambiguous message that Newsnight appears to wish to put across in this piece is that all vaccines are 100% safe and only ill-informed individuals think otherwise. The view that not all vaccines are 100% safe is portrayed as only being held by individuals who are not sufficiently educated to know otherwise. They are somehow slaves to internet scare stories. The message is given that doctors are aware of ‘facts’ which demonstrate that all vaccines are 100% safe. No ‘facts’ of any sort are given or discussed. The three chosen experts have no background in either science or vaccine safety. The two in the studio are charged in their everyday lives (jobs) with the responsibility of assuring individuals that vaccines are 100% safe. The third guest appears to have no relevant expertise in vaccine safety beyond the opinion that vaccines are safe and only individuals that believe in conspiracy theories think otherwise. The only other individual interviewed (by Grossman) is the discredited ‘journalist’ Brian Dear.
This piece of reporting is clearly stating the message that all vaccines are 100% safe and that anyone who might question this is at best ‘uninformed’ and at worst a dangerous anti-vaxxer.
The case of Dr Andrew Wakefield is yet again brought to the fore as if all research on vaccine safety in the 20 years following this episode can and should be discounted.
I am the world’s leading expert on human exposure to aluminium. I have been working in this field since 1984. The majority of vaccines include an aluminium salt as an adjuvant. We have been researching the mechanism of action of aluminium adjuvants for about 10 years. Our research along with that of many other reputable scientists across the world has highlighted the toxicity of aluminium in vaccines and its role in many of the serious adverse events reported in individuals following vaccination. The frequency of such adverse events (data from the vaccine manufacturers) is acknowledged to be as high as 2.5% which for vaccines which are given to millions of individuals equates to 25000 well people per 1 million recipients becoming ill following vaccination. Fears about vaccines are well-founded. They are not fabrications of the so-called anti-vax movement, they are medical facts based upon hard science. We who are working to improve the safety and efficacy of vaccines are doing what we can to reduce collateral damage from vaccines and we very much resent the suggestion by your programme, its presenter, reporter and guests that we are somehow ill-informed conspiracy theorists who are trying to scare individuals into refusing vaccines.
The facts about vaccine safety are what are influencing individual’s decisions about vaccination and not scare stories being spread ‘like a virus’ through the internet.
Displays of lies or at best ignorance as occurred throughout this Newsnight piece are not what is needed to improve the safety and success of vital vaccines.
I have noted a few specific points of contention in the piece below using the timing from the video.
876 cases of measles. How many of these new cases were in individuals who had been vaccinated against measles? This number was given as a ‘fact’ in support of a decline in the number of individuals being vaccinated against measles. Give the full information underlying this number and then allow individuals to decide if such could be a factor or not.
Define ‘irrational fear’ in this context. You are suggesting that all vaccines are 100% safe in all recipients. However, many individuals, approximately 2.5% using vaccine manufacturer’s own data, suffer a serious adverse event following vaccination. So, the ‘facts’ as Newsnight are keen to highlight, show that 2.5% of vaccine recipients become ill following vaccination. Adverse events following vaccination include everything from a sore arm to death. Is this an ‘irrational fear’?
Medical science does not have to counter just one type of ‘virus’. Grossman likens any hard peer reviewed science that reports safety implications of vaccines as a ‘virus’. Does he also consider the lists of serious adverse events recorded on patient information leaflets provided by manufacturers as a ‘virus’? I consider it not only in bad taste to refer to vaccine safety concerns as a virus but also highly ill-informed or simply plain ignorant.
The studio guests are neither scientists nor do they have any specific expertise in vaccine safety and yet this is what they are then questioned on by Emily and this is what they seem perfectly happy to express their opinions about. Where is the ‘expert’ on vaccine safety among these ‘picked for purpose’ individuals?
Regarding the much touted theory of ‘herd immunity’, for how long do vaccine manufacturers advise that their vaccines remain effective. Most give estimates of 2-5 years, how does this equate with the herd immunity argument which suggests that 95% of individuals should be covered by a vaccine?
The inference here by Emily is that all experts say that all vaccines are 100% safe. At no point does she point out that there are many highly credible scientists working on vaccine safety because they know that vaccines are not 100% safe, they (vaccines) are far from this expected goal.
The arrogance of the ordinary consumer. These consumers have read the patient information leaflets and they have read the high quality peer reviewed science that shows that vaccines are not 100% safe. The arrogance is in the invited, so-called, ‘expert’ and not in the consumer.
But these ‘concerns’ which all contributors to this programme liken to a ‘virus’ are concerns emanating from hard science and so-called vaccine safety trials carried out by vaccine manufacturers, their own data are sufficient for everyone to have serious concerns about vaccine safety.
But based upon what is being said you are not up to date by any means and you are not providing individuals with the latest research, you are presumably just towing a government line on this issue which is that all vaccines are 100% safe.
Emily says, ‘create a public health scare’ which clearly suggests that there are no public health issues associated with vaccines, something which is completely wrong.
The ‘expert’ suggests that anyone who suggests that vaccines are not 100% safe are part of a conspiracy theory.
Having a view that vaccines are not safe is ‘creating public scares’.
I am not against life-saving, effective and safe vaccines. I am against vaccines with high levels of collateral damage where perfectly healthy individuals are made ill by a vaccine. I am always against obfuscation of science-based ‘facts’ relating to medicine and human health and it is highly concerning that Newsnight, having responsibly raised many such important issues in the past seem in this instance to be blind to the damage being caused by some vaccines.
Professor Christopher Exley PhD FRSB
Thank you for your email of 5 November and the detailed explanation of your
complaint about the item on vaccination which was broadcast on the above edition of
Newsnight. I have now had an opportunity to watch the programme and carry out
some additional research into the issues you have raised. I understand the reason for your concerns but having considered the content of the programme I do not believe there are grounds for me to uphold your complaint. I hope I can explain the reasons why I have reached this decision.
I should begin by explaining the remit of the Executive Complaints Unit is to consider
whether the content of the item in question breached the BBC’s editorial standards, as set out in its Editorial Guidelines. The guidelines on Accuracy and Impartiality refer to the concept of “due accuracy” and “due impartiality” where the term “due” means “adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation”. The guidelines on Impartiality also make it clear “Due impartiality is often more than a simple matter of “balance” between opposing viewpoints”. This is set out in more detail in Section on Due Weight (4.4.2) which says: Impartiality does not necessarily require the range of perspectives or opinions to be covered in equal proportions either across our output as a whole, or within a single programme, web page or item. Instead, we should seek to achieve “due weight”
For example, minority views should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus.
As you know the item on the programme considered why there has been a continued fall in the number of people receiving the MMR vaccination and why there appears to be “an increasing scepticism towards vaccinations for other diseases that can be lifechanging or even fatal”. As the presenter, Emily Maitlis, said in the introduction:
…we are going to ask why the “anti-vaxxers”, as they are known across the pond, seem to be regaining the upper hand in telling us when facts can simply be dismissed. Have we had enough of experts or do we genuinely believe science is now up for debate?
In practice, the guidelines I have set out above mean I have to take account of where the weight of informed scientific opinion lies in this debate when considering whether the scope of the discussion and the choice of contributors met the requirements for due impartiality. My understanding is all the leading authorities and bodies responsible for public health support the use of vaccination, and say there is no evidence for the kind of public safety concerns outlined by Ms Maitlis in her introduction. Vaccination is not completely risk free but the side effects tend to be mild; serious side effects are extremely rare. Medical professionals around the world therefore agree the benefits far outweigh the risks. The NHS, for example, has a page on its website about vaccination benefits and risks which says:
All medicines have side effects. However, vaccines are among the safest and the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risk of side effects.
When you’re considering a vaccination for yourself or your child, it’s natural to focus on the potential side effects. But a better approach is to try to balance the benefits of having a vaccine against the chances of harm.
Most side effects from vaccination are mild and short-lived.
I think it is also reasonable to say leading health bodies around the world have expressed concern about the growing number of websites which question the safety of vaccination or suggest the potential side effects are greater or more harmful than the medical community believes. I note, for example, the World Health Organisation says:
Due to the success of immunization, some diseases are no longer perceived as a threat. Certain groups have even questioned the utility of vaccination in spite of its proven success in controlling disease. In recent years, a number of web sites providing unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information have been established, which can lead to undue fears, particularly among parents and patients. Acknowledging the above-mentioned issues and urged by governments, key non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WHO initiated, in 2003, the Vaccine Safety Net Project (VSN).
I am therefore satisfied it was reasonable and appropriate to select the contributors who took part in this discussion. I do not share your view that it was necessary to include a contributor who had “a background in either science or vaccine safety” bearing in mind the topic of the discussion (“Have we had enough of experts or do we genuinely believe science is now up for debate?”) and the weight of informed opinion about the safety and potential side effects of vaccines.
I accept there are some, including yourself, who are concerned about the ingredients which are used in vaccines, such as aluminium. I also appreciate you and others have conducted research which suggests a correlation between aluminium in vaccines and conditions such as autism. However, I am unaware of any studies which have demonstrated a causal link and I have to take account of the fact the vast majority of scientists in this field take the view vaccines are safe and consider appropriate measures are in place to investigate reports of suspected serious side effects. The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, for example, issued a report into vaccine safety in 2013.
The associated website says:
Vaccines are among the most safe and effective public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death. Because of the success of vaccines, most Americans today have no firsthand experience with such devastating illnesses as polio or diphtheria. Health care providers who vaccinate young children follow a schedule prepared by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Under the current schedule, children younger than six may receive as many as 24 immunizations by their second birthday. New vaccines undergo rigorous testing prior to receiving FDA approval; however, like all medicines and medical interventions, vaccines carry some risk.
Driven largely by concerns about potential side effects, there has been a shift in some parents’ attitudes toward the child immunization schedule. HHS asked the IOM to identify research approaches, methodologies, and study designs that could address questions about the safety of the current schedule.
This report is the most comprehensive examination of the immunization schedule to date. The IOM committee uncovered no evidence of major safety concerns associated with adherence to the childhood immunization schedule. Should signals arise that there may be need for investigation, however, the report offers a framework for conducting safety research using existing or new data collection systems.
In conclusion, I do not believe the choice of contributors or the manner in which the discussion was conducted led to a breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Impartiality.
I have also considered the specific aspects of the debate which you said were “Displays of lies or at best ignorance” and assessed whether they were materially inaccurate or would have left the audience with a misleading impression. I propose to address each one in turn, following the chronological order of the list you sent on 5 November.
1. The figure for 876 laboratory confirmed cases of measles in England came from Public Health England. The Head of Immunisation at PHE said “The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe. The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children”. I therefore do not believe it was materially inaccurate or misleading to cite the figure since it is clearly the informed view of PHE that non-vaccination is a significant contribution to then increase in confirmed cases of measles.
2. I think the most reasonable inference to be drawn from the use of the phrase was that it was irrational for people to fear “the thought of injecting themselves with a disease supposedly to inoculate them against something else” when the evidence demonstrates the risk of possible side effects from vaccines is far outweighed by the benefit of protection against fatal diseases such as small pox. I therefore do not believe viewers would have understood the reporter, David Grossman, to suggest all vaccines are 100% safe.
3. The use of “virus” in this context was clearly a play on words and has to be judged accordingly. Mr Grossman began his report as follows: “This is the story of a virus and how it has spread round the world affecting countless millions. This is not though a biological virus but an idea that is now blamed by some doctors for the deaths and illness of children on every continent”. When he went on to say “it’s clear then that medical science doesn’t have to counter just one type of virus. There are those which affect our bodies and those which affect our minds” this was referring back to the original “idea” that ill-informed members of the public believe they know more than medical experts. In this context, I see no reasonable basis for concluding the audience would have assumed there were no grounds to be concerned about vaccine safety.
4. I addressed this point in my response to the due impartiality of the discussion.
5. Helen Donovan from the Royal College of Nursing spoke about a “small decrease” in vaccinations and said one of the reasons this was significant was because “We know that the WHO recommend that we need to have 95% of all our children immunised against all of our vaccines”. It seems to me reasonable to cite an international body such as the WHO when explaining why a fall in vaccination is regarded as a cause of concern. I do not see a requirement to explore this in more detail in the context of a discussion about “an increasing [public] scepticism towards vaccinations”.
6. Professor Michael Patrick Lynch was talking about what he perceived as the danger of social media sites which provided news and information tailored to the preferences of users. He expressed concern this “can reinforce the sense that we can be our own experts on almost any topic”. Ms Maitlis followed up by asking “So is it because we feel smarter or is it because authority has let us down? We don’t have the same sense of deference; we don’t want to believe the experts anymore?” Her questions clearly went beyond just the safety of vaccines and so I do not share your impression of what viewers would have understood Ms Maitlis to be saying.
7. Professor Lynch was expressing a professional opinion about why public attitudes towards experts appeared to be shifting. He was not talking specifically about vaccine safety and I think it is reasonable to assume viewers would have understood the broad point he was making about “arrogance on the part of the ordinary consumer, arrogance of a certain type that we know it all”.
8. I did not share your impression the “concerns” which Dr Pauline Paterson identified were “emanating from hard science” as you suggest. As I mentioned in Point 7 above, the discussion was about the spread of information and the idea that “everyone can be seen as having equal weight when it’s in cyberspace”. Dr Paterson clearly stated “anyone can be seen as an expert on social media, on the internet, and also concerns can spread very quickly with the internet, with social media”. Viewers would, I think, have understood she was making a far broader point than one about scientific evidence and was referring to the spread of opinion dressed up as evidence.
9. Helen Donovan was making the point that nurses are generally regarded as trusted and so it was important they were “as up to date with all the information that’s out there”. I appreciate you think the current information from the NHS, WHO, NAS etc. is misleading but I imagine the audience would have understood Ms Donovan was simply expressing the view that nurses need to have the latest information to allow them to respond to questions or queries from the public.
10. All the leading medical bodies take the view vaccinations are an essential public health intervention to prevent serious disease and death. The benefits to human health are considered to outweigh by far any potential risks. I therefore do not believe it is inaccurate or misleading to suggest those who try to push the public away from vaccination are responsible for creating “a public health scare”.
11. Professor Lynch was expressing a professional view rather than an incontrovertible fact and the audience can be expected to judge his comment accordingly.
12. As in Point 11, Professor Lynch was expressing a personal view.
In conclusion, I do not believe there are grounds for me to uphold your complaint. I should explain there is no provision for further appeal against this decision within the BBC’s complaints process but I would be happy to consider any comments you may wish to make about my finding. I would be grateful if you could let me have any such comments by 26 November.
Alternatively, if you do wish to take your complaint further, you can ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider your complaint. You can find details of how to contact Ofcom and the procedures it will apply at the following website: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/how-to-report-a-complaint. You can also write to Ofcom at Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA, or telephone either 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.
Colin Tregear Complaints Director
From: Christopher Exley :
To: Colin Tregear Cc: Tony Hall – DG
Subject: Re: 1800506 Newsnight Executive Complaints Unit Finding (12 Nov)
Dear Mr Tregear,
You are not a scientist and so I do not expect you to directly address the issues of science brought up in my complaint. However, I did expect you to provide answers with respect to the integrity of reporting by the BBC. You simply avoided answering the majority of the legitimate questions brought up in my complaint. Like an errant schoolboy hiding behind his father’s fists.
Professor Christopher Exley PhD FRSB
Dear Professor Exley
Thank you for your email of 12 November.
I am sorry if you think I have failed to address the majority of the “legitimate questions” you raised in your complaint. I am, however, unclear which questions you are referring to. I set out the relevant editorial guidelines against which I considered your complaint; I set out the subject and nature of the programme content as relevant to your complaint; I took account of the weight of informed scientific opinion on the safety of vaccines and the risk of serious side effects; and I responded to each of the specific examples you provided of “Displays of lies or at best ignorance”.
If you wish to identify the questions you believe I have failed to address I would be happy to consider them. It is also open to you to ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider your complaint. You can contact Ofcom using the details set out in my finding of 12 November.
From: Christopher Exley
To: Colin Tregear
Dear Mr Tregear and Mr Hall,
I am a simple member of the public who has watched Newsnight almost every night since its first broadcast. I have never complained about its content previously and it is probably true to say that I have not previously really been in a position to do so. However, one of the areas of my research is vaccine safety and I was personally insulted by the Newsnight piece on this subject. This is why I complained. I have not said that Newsnight were complicit in their errors only that these errors were many and prejudicial.
If you cannot see where you have avoided answering my questions on the subject of this broadcast then I may have to change my opinion on Newsnight’s role in spreading lies and insults about this important subject.
There was a time when the BBC was also an investigative ‘journalist’, these times are clearly long gone under the shadow of government control.
No need to answer.
Copyright © Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd.
Very slippery. The people who criticise official government science are neither necessarily incompetent or ill-informed, wherever it is they comment. I have from the CMO, Dame Sally Davies, what her evidence base is for saying “we know MMR is safe” – it really does not bear examination – and I hope to publish within the next two days. All they have left is the appeal to authority.
Of course some people will say silly things on the web. We had someone on Age of Autism last night claiming all infectious diseases were psycho-somatic – I let it pass but of course it is not really the flat-earthists that governments are worried about, it’s the people who have a better grip on the detail than they have.
IN MY VIEW: Not giving a child their jabs is a form of abuse…
Until recently, we thought measles would soon join the ranks of the infectious diseases that, thanks to vaccines, have been all but eradicated — yet it would appear not.
Already this year, there have been more than 900 cases in England alone, compared with 259 in 2017 and just 55 in 1998. By any definition, that is a steep rise: enough for Public Health England to declare a national measles outbreak.
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness — infected particles can linger in the air for two hours after a person has sneezed. It starts with a high temperature, followed by a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and, by the third or fourth day, a widespread rash, initially on the face.
Just before the rash breaks out, spots can be seen in the mouth that look like grains of salt — these Koplik’s spots confirm the diagnosis.
But it rarely stops there. Measles temporarily suppresses immune response so, in 30 per cent of cases, another infection, such as pneumonia, can occur.
There is also a risk of complications including corneal scarring, convulsion in infants and brain inflammation, which can result in lifelong brain damage. A deeply unpleasant, but rare, complication is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a progressive degenerative brain disease occurring ten years or more after the measles infection. It starts with personality and behaviour change, leading on to dementia and, finally, a vegetative state and death.
In developing countries, the death rate from measles is 4 to 10 per cent of affected children — but, as measles is a virus, there is no effective treatment, just hope. And we escape none of the dangers of measles in a civilised society.
But what we do have is easy access to the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine — two injections, given at 12 months and three years, to ensure protection from this disease.
Yet, in England, take-up has fallen for the fourth year in a row. In my view, parents who opt not to let their child have the MMR are at best foolhardy and at worst guilty of neglect.
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ASK THE GP: Dr Martin Scurr answers your health questions
13 hours ago · … concerns in his weekly Good Health … the rest of my life? Dr Martin Scurr answers your health … VIEW: Not giving a child their jabs is a form of …
In the Daily Mail, paper copy, the wording is:
In my view…Not giving a child their jabs is a form of neglect …
As a medical doctor, Dr Scurr should realise that measles (and other childhood viral illnesses) are cyclical, meaning that they come around every 2 or 3 years or so, which has always been the case. So for him to quote a certain number of cases in a particular year and then related it to the 2 previous years, is not really a sensible comparison.
Furthermore, as Dr Exley mentioned in his original letter, vaccine protection (if there is any at all in some people, as ‘vaccination does not equal immunisation’) wanes over time. The measles vaccine is thought to last about 20 years at best, so to achieve ‘herd immunity’ of 95% would mean that all the adults who had their MMR 20 or more years ago should have a booster MMR. But that doesn’t happen, so this mythical figure of 95% won’t be achieved until regular boosters are administered.
Until vaccine safety is taken seriously by public health bodies, parents are going to continue to be cautious. Clearly there is an issue, which is why increasing numbers of parents who did vaccinate their child and saw adverse events with their own eyes, are now cautious and being labelled as ‘anti-vaxxers’.
It isn’t some rumour spread by social media – I personally met a grandfather a few weeks ago whose grandchild was in intensive care following vaccination and he told me that 5 other children in the Emergency department at the time they visited had also had serious adverse reactions. However, the medical doctors never acknowledge these ‘coincidental’ temporal events as being a vaccine reaction.
The BBC is too arrogant and self regarding to respond in a mature manner to even somebody who works of the level of Chris Exely. They use the same techniques on an expert in the field as anyone else who just can be fobbed off and give the run around. The ‘here are the routes to make a complaint if you are not happy’ is insulting. Chris E and others don’t need advice about where to make complaints. Often these presenters seem more like actors than serious journalists – switch the sound off and watch them pen waving, making angry faces at those they disagree with, cutting in .even down to wearing clothes ‘appropriate’ to the part they are playing safari suits, sparkly outfits etc – they have obviously rehearsed the part but still carry the script with them..
It will likely be worth viewing PANORAMA BBC1 tonight 8.30pm
The Great Implant Scandal – ‘Deborah Cohen investigates an Industry where some patients are treated like human guinea pigs then abandoned when things go wrong’. Rings a bell…
The MHRA is the body responsible for overseeing the safety of both drugs and medical devices – they are a disgrace.
on website – ‘MHRA is an executive agency of dept of health and social security responsible for ensuring medicines and medical devices work and are ACCEPTABLY safe’. The weasel word is as unacceptable as the MHRA itself.
I also wrote to Tregear on Friday that the claim that you could not catch flu from a flu vaccine in their recent commercial was certainly false according to the manufacturer of the Fluenz nasal flu vaccine:
I suppose when they have a false claim pointed out an they simply persist with it they become liars.
BBC Radio 4. ALL IN THE MIND. Tomorrow (Tuesday) 9pm. Myself and one of the bloggers trying to discredit our review on withdrawal from antidepressants. He called withdrawal an ‘atypical’ response. Same minimising as for benzos in the 70s. Hope I represented reality well enough.
John Read Retweeted
Peter Gordon is living proof that psychiatry can be practised morally, ethically, responsibly and free from bias. It is hugely sad to see him resigning. Psychiatry is not only shunning patients that challenge its ethos, it is turning on its own.
13 Replies to “My formal instruction of resignation as a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists”
Aye, Peter …
The Junk Safety Science Which Underpins UK Government MMR Vaccine Policy
By John Stone
I recently wrote to Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England and to the British government, asking her for the basis of her statement to the BBC regarding MMR: “It’s a safe vaccination – we know that”, and was a lucky enough to receive a reply (letter of 12 November, from which I extract):
Specifically in relation to whether MMR vaccines may be a cause of autism, a substantial body of population-based research has found no evidence to suggest a causal association. This evidence (not just for MMR, but other types of vaccine) is available for review in the published medical literature, and was summarised in a meta-analysis in 2014 which is free to download (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X14006367?via%3Dihub).
In relation to vaccine safety monitoring more generally, I can assure you that systems are in place to keep safety under review. This includes continual review of suspected adverse reaction reports (such as those submitted through the Yellow Card Scheme), evaluation of GP and hospital-based health records linked to immunisations, review of worldwide data and close collaboration with international health authorities.
It is noteworthy that the “meta-analysis” by Luke E Taylor is identical to the one cited by Thomas Insel to a US Congressional committee in 2014, but it constitutes no more than a bureaucratic fig-leaf. Dame Sally – who is the UK’s leading government adviser on medical matters – ought to be able to do a lot better than this if every child is to be subjected to these products. It is, if anything, a rather naive response citing a shallow collection of studies which were published under political pressure decades after the policy was introduced. I have since attempted a conscientious and detailed reply:
21 November 2018
Dear Dame Sally,
Thank you for your letter of 12 November. I would point out that though you are quite right I am concerned about the rise in autism I specifically asked about the evidence base for MMR safety. That said it is reasonable to point out autism for a whole host of reasons is a much more serious problem in modern Britain (and elsewhere) than measles. When the DHSC last surveyed this problem in 2004-5 the overall ASD rate among school children was ~1% which was 5 times higher than the rate for those young people born between 1984-8 mostly before MMR was introduced, as reported in the equivalent 1999 survey. Since then your department has neglected to look at the issue (apart from a couple of failed adult autism surveys) as everything manifestly got worse, year on year [1,2].
As it is, a recent survey carried out by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland showed that the rate had risen from 1.2% in 2009 to 2.9%, while in Belfast it was as high as 4.7%. Moreover, 60% are educational Stage 5 , ie the most severe level of disability, so these are not cases that could previously have been missed because somehow subliminal. Educational data from across the nation and reports of collapse in educational services in the media testify that Northern Ireland is not an isolated case, but just better documented .
Regarding the meta-review by Taylor ‘Vaccines are not associated with autism’  which you cited I note that there are just six MMR related studies included all of which have major problems. Three of the studies show apparent protective effect of MMR vaccines against autism (Madsen 8% , Smeeth 14% or 22%  and Mrozek-Budzyn 83%!!! ) which suggests bias. Of the Madsen paper Cochrane 2005 warned :
“The follow up of diagnostic records ends one year (31 Dec 1999) after the last day of admission to the cohort. Because of the length of time from birth to diagnosis, it becomes increasingly unlikely that those born later in the cohort could have a diagnosis”
It remains troubling that as with a number of studies from this Danish group the co-ordinator on behalf of US Centers for Diseases Control, Poul Thorsen, is wanted for financial fraud from the CDC, though not extradited to the US now after nearly 8 years .
Of the De Stefano paper Cochrane commented :
“The conclusion, however, implied bias in the enrollment of cases which may not be representative of the rest of the autistic population of the city of Atlanta, USA where the study was set.”
And indeed in 2014 the paper was repudiated by one of the leading authors, William Thompson :
“I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”
The study by Smeeth  is compromised by its patchy data source, the General Practice Research Database where the autism rate represented is perhaps only one tenth of cases diagnosed . Cochrane commented :
“In the GPRD – based studies (Black 2003; Smeeth 2004) the precise nature of controlled unexposed to MMR and their generalisability was impossible to determine…”
It remains problematic whether the unvaccinated in this study were genuinely unvaccinated.
Of the Uchiyama study  Cochrane commented :
“The cohort study of Uchiyama 2007 was potentially affected by a different type of bias, considering that the participants were from a private clinic and that definitions of applied Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis and of methods used for ASD regression ascertainment were not clearly reported.”
And the Uno study  will suffer from similar issues since the cases came from the same clinic. Moreover, in both instances the studies were far too small (904 persons and 413) to necessarily provide any clear result even if they had been better controlled.
Nor can the Taylor meta-analysis  cover up the entire absence of pre-marketing studies. In 1988-9 when the British government was persuaded to introduce Pluserix, MMR2 and Imravax there were no safety studies at all, and successive governments have been forced into the defence of a policy which they had embarked on without safety evidence.
As to the robustness of the yellow card reporting system I note the recent correspondence in the columns of BMJ On-Line regarding monitoring of Pandemrix vaccine from Wendy E Stephen and Clifford G Miller , which has serious implications for how the MHRA monitor all products. The MHRA has, of course, the ultimate conflict of being entirely funded by the manufacturers. It may be mentioned that in 1992 the Pluserix and Imravax vaccines were withdrawn not apparently by the British Government concerned about patient safety but by the manufacturers catching the government on the hop .
We are confronting a catastrophic situation among our young people with chronic illness replacing infectious illness as the main issue and cost to the state, and laying the emphasis on infectious diseases (with endless hate campaigns in the media against critics labelled “anti-vaxxers”) is a distraction, and a distortion of policy. It would be unfortunate if ministers were being advised about the safety of the programme on such a threadbare and inadequate basis. Re-examining the policy is both essential and urgent.
 John Stone, ‘Response to David Oliver I (The Indisputable Rise in Autism)’, BMJ Rapid Responses 28 August 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3596/rr-12
 John Stone, ‘What about autism?’ BMJ Rapid Responses, 21 August 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3596/rr-0
 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-children-ni-2018.pdf
 Responses to Viner RM, ‘NHS must prioritise health of children and young people’, https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1116/rapid-responses
 Luke E Taylor et al, ‘Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies’, Vaccine 2014, https://autismoevaccini.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/vaccines-are-not-associated-with-autism.pdf
 Madsen et al, ‘A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism’, NEMJ 2002, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021134
 Smeeth et al, ‘MMR vaccination and pervasive developmental disorders: a case-control study.’ Lance 2004, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15364187
 Mrozek-Budzyn et al, ‘Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.’ Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19952979
 Demicheli et al, ‘Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children.’, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Oct 19;(4):CD004407.
 Office of Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services, Fugitive Profiles, https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/fugitives/profiles.asp
 John Stone, ‘An old story: the GPRD does not provide credible autism data’ 11 February 2014 https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/10/e003219.responses
 Uchiyama et al, ‘MMR-vaccine and regression in autism spectrum disorders: negative results presented from Japan.’ J Autism Dev Disord. 2007 Feb;37(2):210-7.
 Demicheli et al, ‘Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children.’, Cochrane Systematic Review – Intervention Version published: 15 February 2012, https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004407.pub3/full
 Uno et al, ‘The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and the total number of vaccines are not associated with development of autism spectrum disorder: the first case-control study in Asia’, Vaccine. 2012 Jun 13;30(28):4292-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.01.093. Epub 2012 Apr 20.
 Responses to Godlee, ‘A tale of two vaccines’ BMJ 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4152/rapid-responses
 Report, BMJ 26 September 1992, https://www.bmj.com/content/305/6856/777
When your government, the BBC or the mainstream media tell you that MMR is safe, this the best that the British government can do. After three decades of pure bluster they need to go back to the drawing board.
“The MHRA has, of course, the ultimate conflict of being entirely funded by the manufacturers.”
It’s worse than that – Bill and Melinda Gates have also got involved with the MHRA!
Best of luck to Peter G. his humanity is inspirational. Each individual has to decide when enough is enough ,and for sure we have had more than enough of the coll of psychs. It might have been hoped that the college would change at least some of it’s spots over the years but they have grown even more cancerous.
A useful, unusually honest insight into how the college developed is given in the interview by Rob Poole and Catherine Robinson of Bangor Uni dept Health and Science , with Vanessa Cameron ex CEO when she retired in 2016.
BjPsych Bulletin 2016 Dec 40(6):341-345 published courtesy of college of psychiatrists
‘PROFILE: Vanessa Cameron – 36 years at the royal college of psychiatrists’.
Re the apparently ‘increasing scepticism’ about vaccination, Emily Maitlis asks “Have we had enough of experts? Or do we genuinely believe science is now up for debate?”
The answer is yes Ms Maitlis, more discerning citizens have had enough of conflicted ‘experts’ and we do think that biased and often industry-funded vaccination ‘science’ is up for debate.
In regards to questioning of vaccination, Brian Deer hits it on the head in the Newsnight clip: “You get these messages rippling through society, completely unmediated by the traditional gatekeeper, the television producer or the newspaper journalist. And these messages are now out of control.”
The natives are getting restless and waking up to the gross exploitation that is going on under the guise of the blessed ‘vaccination’. But the self-appointed gatekeepers continue to expect citizens to be compliant and swallow the vaccine propaganda forced upon us by the mainstream media, including the BBC, a licence payer-funded institution which is failing utterly to critically analyse the increasing morass that is international vaccination policy.
The BBC needs to stop pontificating on ‘vaccination’ and start investigating the plethora of vaccine products and revaccinations now pushed upon mass populations of children, and increasingly adults, and the conflicts of interest that surround the lucrative and burgeoning international vaccine market.
Importantly, there are also emerging vaccine failures to consider, e.g. shorter term maternally derived measles antibodies being passed on to babies by vaccinated mothers. (In this regard see my rapid responses on the recent The BMJ article ‘Measles: neither gone nor forgotten’: https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3976/rapid-responses )
Instead, as we see in the Newsnight clip, Andrew Wakefield is wheeled out yet again as the whipping boy to obfuscate the issue.
It was the corporate media in the shape of the Murdoch media empire that initiated the demonisation of Andrew Wakefield via Brian Deer and the Sunday Times, an initiative which has become the mainstay of shutting down discussion on vaccination.
But has the Murdoch media any conflicts of interest to disclose? Are there any journalists at the BBC capable of investigating this matter? So far citizens have had to do this work themselves…
For the information of Emily Maitlis, David Grossman and others featured in the Newsnight clip, the Murdoch family is associated with vaccine research and development via the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute located in Australia. This includes vaccine research funded by GlaxoSmithKline, a manufacturer of an MMR vaccine product. Rupert Murdoch’s mother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was involved in the founding of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and Lachlan Murdoch’s wife Sarah Murdoch is a Director and Ambassador of this institute. Murdoch controlled media groups News Corp and Foxtel are ‘corporate partners’ of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
How about the BBC start investigating the Murdochs’ conflicts of interest in being associated with an institute involved in industry-funded vaccine research and development, and at the same time the Murdoch media empire influencing the Australian political process with its protracted and vicious ‘No Jab, No Play’ campaign?
The Murdoch media’s No Jab, No Play campaign was obligingly adopted by Australian politicians of all persuasions, and enacted as the coercive No Jab, No Pay law in January 2016, i.e. a law mandating an ever-increasing schedule of lucrative vaccine products and revaccinations for children to access benefits and childcare. The ability to freely consider the risks and benefits of each early childhood vaccination and revaccination intervention, and make an informed decision about vaccination, has been trashed by the coercive No Jab, No Pay law.
The floodgates are now open to forcing compliance to an increasing number of vaccine products without question. Citizens such as myself are demanding accountability on this matter.
1. Newsnight 19 September 2018: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u5ex0u4acn1wlel/BBC_Two_England-2018-09-19_22-32-52.mp4?dl=0
2. Vaccine and Immunisation Research Gruop (VIRGo) – project funders include GSK Biologicals, Novartis Vaccines and SanofiPasteur: https://www.mcri.edu.au/research/themes/infection-and-immunity/vaccine-and-immunisation-research-group-virgo
3. Our History – Murdoch Children’s Research Institute: https://www.mcri.edu.au/about/history
4. Sarah Murdoch – Ambassador and Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute: https://www.mcri.edu.au/about/our-people/ambassador
5. Corporate Partners – Murdoch Children’s Research Institute: https://www.mcri.edu.au/corporate-partners
6. See for example ‘Anti-vaxers, you are baby killers’ (Claire Harvey, The Sunday Telegraph, 21 March 2015) and ‘Anti-vaccination parents face $15,000 welfare hit under ‘No Jab’ reforms’ (Samantha Maiden, The Sunday Telegraph, 11 April 2015.)
Trust me, I’m a Scientist ….. ?
“Trust me, I’m a scientist.”
(link: https://bbc.in/2r9dfTe) bbc.in/2r9dfTe
There should, of course, have been a question mark after the title. The
presumably thought the irony was obvious, but in my experience it seldom is.
The BBC were at it again yesterday (with the help of the Office for National Statistics) confusing excess winter mortality with flu mortality:
“There were around 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017-18 – the highest since the winter of 1975-76, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
“The increase is thought to be down to the flu, the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine in older people and spells of very cold weather last winter.”
A similar story appeared in the Mail and no doubt other FAKE NEWS sources.
However, from the published data Table 1 I can only make out 40,600 excess deaths (11,500 circulatory, 17,400 respiratory, 10,800 dementia and 90 injury and poisoning)
All this is possibly irrelevant since an earlier report from Public Health England (May 2018 hidden p. 21) had already stated that the total number of deaths from flu for the 2017-18 season in England was 320.
Many will also remember that reasons for the hike in the death rate at the beginning of this year were controversial and not to be explained by the bad flu season:
The government have been ruthlessly deceiving people about flu mortality for many years
and any competent journalist ought to be able to tear them. In fact, all the work has already been done for them. The trust is gone (you can look at the comments on the BBC and Mail websites) and the public are to blame.
As Brecht put it in his poem ‘The Solution:
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
I am a layman and would like to read a somewhat precise and credible description of the whole Wakefield story. Theres so much said in countless videos and documents so its a jungle to know whats up and down.
Can anyone supply me with a link?
Have David Healy written a somewhat precise story on the whole affair?
Thank you in advance. Great blog!
That is a loaded question …
WATCH THE ENTIRE, HIGHWIRE
2018: The story so far…
Brian Deer’s Sunday Times investigation
But as journalists queued to report on parents’ fears, Brian Deer was assigned to investigate the crisis, and unearthed a scandal of astounding proportions. He discovered that, far from being based on any findings, the public alarm had no scientific basis whatsoever. Rather, Wakefield had been secretly payrolled to create evidence against the shot and, while planning extraordinary business schemes meant to profit from the scare, he had concealed, misreported and changed information about the children to rig the results published in the journal.
Invite Brian Deer to speak at your event
Hear the extraordinary story of the vaccine scare, and how an investigative journalist unmasked the elaborate scientific fraud which lay at its heart
Dr. Andrew Wakefield vs Brian Deer:
The Real Fraud Revealed
Destroyed Brian Deer’s Case Completely…
Creates Fraud Himself…
This thing crumbles right here…
”I think that Brian Deer is a Sociopathic liar”…
BMJ, in response to John Stone – income from GSK …..
Thank you for both your links.
Udo Ulfkotte, a former assistant editor from FAZ (Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung), has in an interview explained how some journalists operate in attachment with shadowy elements.
See this interview:
Its not implausible that the same methods are applied in the Pharma world.
Considering ‘The Franklin cover-up’, ‘Dutroux and the dead witnesses’, etc…not to mention false flag operations…nothing cant really surprise anymore.
This may be helpful
There is also my letter in BMJ RR a few weeks ago. Like previous such letters it was not contested (though Brian Deer had earlier contributed to the same thread) :
Re: A tale of two vaccines and the “spectre of Andrew Wakefield”
The “spectre of Andrew Wakefield” certainly should not be allowed to deflect from this important issue [1,2].
I wrote to this journal in February 2010 explaining why the GMC findings against Royal Free doctors were defective , and no one challenged me. The Wakefield Lancet paper had nothing to do with the Legal Aid Board commissioned protocol; investigations were carried out according to clinical need; the order of referral was a red-herring – all of which anticipated the views of the High Court judge, Sir John Mitting, when exonerating the senior clinician and senior author of the paper, Prof John Walker-Smith, two years later . Mitting dismissed the central contention the of the GMC prosecution that the authors of the paper were executing the Legal Aid Board sponsored protocol (172/96):
“Its conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct in relation to the Lancet children was in part founded upon its conclusion that the investigations into them were carried out pursuant to Project 172-96. The only explanation given for that conclusion is that it was reached ‘in the light of all the available evidence’. On any view, that was an inadequate explanation of the finding. As it may also have been reached upon the basis of two fundamental errors – that Professor Walker-Smith’s intention was irrelevant and that it was not necessary to determine whether he had lied to the Ethics Committee, it is a determination which cannot stand ….” [para 20]
The case that Walker-Smith was undertaking research was dismissed:
“..their case was that he was in fact undertaking research, which required Ethics Committee approval, without realising that he was doing so. This is an untenable proposition, as the analysis of the letter of 11th November 1996 above demonstrates. In consequence, not only was the panel invited by the GMC not to determine Professor Walker-Smith’s intention, it was also invited not to determine his truthfulness in his dealings with the Ethics Committee.” [Par. 18]
“It is in its findings on the clinical issues in the individual cases of the Lancet children that the most numerous and significant inadequacies and errors in the determination of the panel occur. In no individual case in which the panel made a finding adverse to Professor Walker-Smith did it address the expert evidence led for him, except to misstate it. The issues to which this evidence went were of fundamental importance to the case against him. Universal inadequacies and some errors in the panel’s determination accordingly go to the heart of the case. They are not curable. Unless the remainder of the panel’s findings justify its conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct, its determination cannot stand.”
Mitting rejects the idea that there was any misrepresentation over referrals:
“This paper does not bear the meaning put upon it by the panel. The phrase “consecutively referred” means no more than that the children were referred successively, rather than as a single batch, to the Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology. The words did not imply routine referral.”[par. 157]
Finally, Mitting states:
“For the reasons given above, both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed, in two respects: inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion….The panel’s determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it. Miss Glynn, on the basis of sensible instructions, does not invite me to remit it to a fresh Fitness to Practice panel for redetermination. The end result is that the finding of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure are both quashed.” [para.186-7]
It remains concerning that the chairman (Surendra Kumar) of the fitness to practice panel in the case against the three Royal Free doctors sat on two MHRA committees and owned shares in GSK .
All this time Cochrane has been far from clear about MMR, finding safety studies in successive reviews (2003, 2005, 2012) to be “largely inadequate” . Nor do we seem to be able to rely on the MHRA and the EMA to guard the public’s safety – either with sufficient rigour or with sufficient distance from the industry.
 Fiona Godlee, “A tale of two vaccines”, BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4152 (Published 04 October 2018)
 Philip Bryan, June Raine, Ian Hudson, ‘MHRA response to BMJ Editor’s Choice – ‘A tale of two vaccines’’, r 2018, 18, https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4152/rr-11
 John Stone, “The unexplained puzzle of the GMC verdict (and responses to Peter Flegg) 10 February 2010, https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/02/unexplained-puzzle-gmc-verdict-and-reponses-peter-flegg
 In the High Court between Prof Walker-Smith and and the General Medical Council, http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/503.html&query=Walker-Smith+and+GMC&method=boolean
 John Stone, ‘Re: Financial conflicts -shock horror’, 22 October 2008, https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/02/re-financial-conflicts-shock-horror
 John Stone, ‘Response to David Oliver II (Risks of Vaccines)’, 28 August 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3596/rr-11
and 9 others
Re-Check. Press release on Cochrane’s HPV Vaccines Review
The short story of a long journey …
My dismissal is scientific judicial murder. By Peter C. Gøtzsche
My dismissal is scientific judicial murder. By Peter C. Gøtzsche. The HPV vaccines may cause serious neurological harms (but you must keep silent…).