Centers for Disease Control Whistleblower Summary | #CDCwhistleblower
Breaking in 2014: The truth about a CDC researcher blowing the whistle regarding CDC data, Merck’s MMR vaccine and the studies conducted that revealed that black baby boys may be at 340% greater risk for developing autism when getting the MMR vaccine before age 3. The MMR vaccine is currently mandated to be given at 12 months and again at 4 year old.
The third whistleblower -- a senior CDC scientist named William Thompson -- only indirectly blew the whistle on Merck. He more blew it on himself and colleagues at the CDC who participated in a 2004 study involving the MMR vaccine. Here, the allegations involve a cover-up of data pointing to high rates of autism in African-American boys after they were vaccinated with MMR. In what could be high-profile House hearings before Congressman Posey's Science Committee -- hearings made all the more explosive given the introduction of race into the mix -- Merck could find itself under unprecedented scrutiny. The CDC still stands by its study although Frank DeStefano, the CDC's Director of Immunization Safety and a co-author in the CDC study, also stated that he plans to review his notes with an eye to reanalyzing the data.
From an e-mail Dr. Thompson allegedly wrote on October 18, 2002 to Melinda Wharton. "I am writing you once more regarding the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) request for a broad range of documents associated with MMR, thimerosal, and autism. I first spoke with you on September 3rd of 2002 regarding the sensitive results we have been struggling with in the MADDSP MMR/Autism study."
Further on in the e-mail Thompson wrote, "I don't think anyone has broken the law but I was extremely uncomfortable when Dr. Coleen Boyle, a coauthor on our paper, was required to testify before Congressman Dan Burton's committee in April of 2002 regarding MMR and autism. My level of concern has also caused me to seriously consider removing myself as an author on the draft manuscript."
On February 2, 2004, Thompson wrote a letter to Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control. It began, "We've not met yet to discuss these matters, but I'm sure you're aware of the Institute of Medicine Meeting regarding vaccines and autism that will take place on February 9th. I will be presenting the summary of our results from the Metropolitan Atlanta Autism Case-Control Study and I will have to present several problematical results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of MMR vaccine and autism."
“It’s the lowest point in my career that I went along with that paper,” Thompson tells Hooker in a recording played on the online Autism Media Channel. “I went along with this, we didn’t report significant findings.”
The CDC’s DeStefano acknowledges that he and his study co-authors changed their study analysis plan midstream, which resulted in reducing the statistical vaccine-autism link among black boys. But he says they did so for good scientific reason.
“[Vaccine] exposure around [three years of age] is just not biologically plausible to have a causal association with autism,” DeStefano says. “I mean autism would’ve already started by then…it probably starts in the womb. So I think from a biological argument, it’s implausible this was a causal association.”
The issue is highly-charged for several reasons: public health officials fear that the public will panic and stop vaccinating if they believe there are links between vaccines and autism. That could lead to resurgence in serious infectious diseases.
Also, vaccination is a multi-billion dollar global industry that employs law firms and public relations agents to engage in a variety of high-powered PR efforts. These efforts include: lobbying members of Congress to prevent hearings exploring vaccine safety, holding private meetings with news executives to discourage reporting on vaccines and autism, and financing nonprofits which take favorable positions on vaccine safety issues. Because pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines spend millions of dollars each year buying advertising on television, print and online, critics argue they may be given undue influence over content of the reporting media.
Pharmaceutical interests and their surrogates routinely falsely portray scientists and journalists who investigate vaccine safety as “anti-vaccine.” In his statement, Thompson emphasizes his safety concerns do not reflect an “anti-vaccine” mentality.
Ms. Attkisson’s reported in a blog on her website August 29: This week the CDC in response to a query stated that it is not currently investigating the relation between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). “Further, CDC does not have any planned research addressing vaccines and autism,” said a CDC spokesman.
“CDC believes that this topic has been thoroughly studied and no causal links have been found. Current CDC ASD related research focuses on determining how many people have ASD and understanding risk factors and causes for ASD.”–CDC spokesman
Ten years ago (February 2, 2004), Dr. Thompson expressed concerns about the study’s findings in an urgent letter to CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding; he broke protocol to contact her directly, instead of going through his immediate supervisor. Of the upcoming Institute of Medicine (IOM) 2004 meeting on immunizations and autism, he wrote “I will have to present several problematic results relating to statistical associations between the receipt of the MMR vaccine and autism.” He received no reply from Dr. Gerberding and he was removed from the IOM speaker schedule days before the meeting. The 2004 IOM report, which did not include his findings, was cited by the Omnibus Autism decision that denied 5,000 families compensation for vaccine injury claims, and the report continues to be widely cited for exonerating vaccines’ role in causing autism.
The CDC's final agreed-upon protocol came out for this particular study on September 5, 2001, and in that particular protocol they said they would consider race among the entire population. They called race a co-variant, and that’s just a term that’s used in statistics for a secondary variable, but they said that race would be used within the entire population.
Special thanks to Judy Brasher, retired CRNA, for her research and reporting on this!