Monday, April 17, 2017

Andrew Wakefield is the Anti-Vaxx Gift That Keeps Giving

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that at least eight children have measles.  They are all between the ages of 1 year and 4 years old and NONE have been vaccinated against measles although they are age-eligible.  Seven of the eight children belong to the large Somali community in Hennepin County and six have been hospitalised.  There may be more cases given the low MMR vaccine uptake among those in that community and only one case could be traced to a contact.

Andrew Wakefield, professional fraud made at least three trips to the Minnesota Somali community between 2010 and 2011 to pimp his faux concern about autism and measles jabs.  The result was a 50% uptake in the MMR jab as of 2013.  Even before his visits, Wakefield's fraudulent 1998 study linking MMR jabs to autism and visits from other anti-vaxx groups impacted this community and decreased the MMR vaccine uptake from ~90% to 54% sparking an outbreak in 2011 after his visits there.

Andrew Wakefield promised this community he would investigate their autism rate; he never did.  Instead he convinced them to eschew vaccination and gave them measles outbreaks.  That's the Wakefield Touch.

Update 18 April 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed a ninth measles case in Hennepin County in an unvaccinated child.

Update 20 April 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed  eleven cases of measles in Hennepin County all in children ages 1-5 years old, nine confirmed in unvaccinated children and nine in the Somali community.

Update 22 April 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed twelve cases of measles in Hennepin County all in children under 5 years old and all unvaccinated.  The uptake of MMR in the Somali community there is 42% in children under the age of two years old.

Update 25 April 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed twenty cases of measles in Hennepin County now.  One child less than one year old has been infected and 50% of infected children have been hospitalised.  Sixteen children have been confirmed unvaccinated.

Update 27 April 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 24 cases of measles in Hennepin County.  Twenty-three of the 24 cases have been confirmed UNVACCINATED.  All children infected are five years old and younger. It has been confirmed that NONE of the infected children were vaccinated, 50% have been hospitalised and the infected children are between 10 months and 5 years old.  The outbreak may have emanated from a daycare.

Update 1 May 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 32 cases of measles, 30 in Hennepin County and has spread with one in Ramsey County and one in Stearns County.  Of the 32 measles cases, only one child has received a single MMR jab, all others are UNVACCINATED.

Update 5 May 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 41 cases of measles which has spread to Crow Wing County involving another unvaccinated child.  The stats of this outbreak are:
• 1 involves an adult and the rest are children age 10 or younger
• 39 involve people who were not vaccinated against the disease
• 34 are from Minnesota's Somali community
The case previously reported from Stearns County was ruled out as measles with confirmatory testing.
Anti-vaxx groups continue to stoke unfounded fears of vaccines causing autism among the Somali community in Hennepin County.

Update 8 May 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the measles outbreak is up to 48 cases.
  • 45 in Hennepin County
  • 2 in Ramsey County
  • 1 in Crow Wing County
  • 45 confirmed to be unvaccinated
  • 1 had 1 dose of MMR
  • 2 had 2 doses of MMR
  • 41 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan 
Update 11 May 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the measles outbreak is up to 51 cases:
  • 47 confirmed to be unvaccinated
  • 1 had 1 dose of MMR
  • 2 had 2 doses of MMR
  • 1 case has unknown vaccination status
  • 48 in children (ages 0-17 years)
  • 3 cases in adults
  • 46 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan 
Update 15 May 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the measles outbreak is up to 58 cases:
  • 49 in Hennepin County
  • 3 in Ramsey County
  • 4 in Crow Wing County
  • 2 in Le Sueur County
  • 55 confirmed to be unvaccinated
  • 1 had 1 dose of MMR
  • 2 had 2 doses of MMR
  • 55 in children (ages 0-17 years)
  • 3 cases in adults
  • 49 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan
Additionally, the cost of this outbreak is estimated to be ~$1 Million Dollars.

Update 22 May 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the measles outbreak is up to 66 cases:
  • 56 in Hennepin County
  • 4 in Ramsey County
  • 4 in Crow Wing County
  • 2 in Le Sueur County
  • 62 confirmed to be unvaccinated
  • 1 had 1 dose of MMR
  • 3 had 2 doses of MMR
  • 63 in children (ages 0-17 years)
  • 3 cases in adults
  • 57 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan 
Update 2 June 2017:  The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the measles outbreak is up to 73 cases.
  • 64 in Hennepin County
  • 3 in Ramsey County
  • 4 in Crow Wing County
  • 2 in Le Sueur County
  • 68 confirmed to be unvaccinated
  • 2 had 1 dose of MMR
  • 3 had 2 doses of MMR
  • 70 in children (ages 0-17 years)
  • 3 cases in adults
  • 60 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anti-Vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to Chair a Vaccine Commission

U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump has met with anti-vaxxer RFK, Jr. to solicit him for a committee on vaccine safety and research integrity.  Sadly but not surprisingly such an appointment is on par with Trump's other picks for cabinet positions (although this isn't a cabinet position).  RFK, Jr.'s monomania regarding thiomersal has been debunked by the scientific community repeatedly.  Which leads me to believe that failure on that front will lead RFK, Jr. to turn his sights on "too many too soon" which Trump fervently believes.

It is unclear whether Trump is unaware of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office and the Vaccine Safety Datalink or simply doing an end run around them because he can't exert any direct control over them.  In any event, Trump is feeding his own anti-vaxx proclivities at the U.S. taxpayers' expense. Ultimately it is doubtful that anything meaningful will emerge from such a committee but that doesn't mean that RFK, Jr. can't cause a lot of trouble, not to mention the new life which will be breathed into the anti-vaxx movement.  How long before Andrew Wakefield is announced as a co-chair or committee member?

RFK, Jr. admits in an interview with ScienceMag that he has no expertise in science and will place "science people and prominent Americans".
How many people will be on the commission?
A dozen people -- a mix between science people and prominent Americans.
Who will you ask to serve?
I couldn’t tell you. I just finished meeting with the President-elect an hour ago.
When you say “science people,” do you mean experts from the scientific establishment?
Prominent scientists.
Do you mean prominent vaccinologists who believe in the safety and efficacy of today’s vaccines?
We are going to look for people who have expertise in toxicology, epidemiology and in public health.
Do you have scientific training?
No.  My background is I’m an environmental lawyer.  I’m not a scientist. But I have an expertise, I would say in reading science and spotting junk science because that’s what I do with most of my time.

Translation: He is going to look for people who might know a little bit more on the subject of vaccinology who are just as anti-vaccine as he is to launch a performance art showing.  Somehow I suspect that RFK, Jr. and his future committee members aren't exactly qualified to evaluate the science coming out of the CDC.  If it wasn't for the momentary pain in the arse RFK, Jr. and his little band of anti-vaxx warriors will cause for hard-working ethical people, it would be rather entertaining.

I am going to choose to look at the bright side of this which is another Trump rock will be turned over and we will get to see who crawls out.  Just as foisting Breitbart into the spotlight emboldened racists and let us see who they really are, this committee will undoubtedly have the same effect by emboldening anti-vaxx politicians and others who have cravenly kept to the shadows on the subject.  We will get to see who they are and may they have the same backlash inflicted upon them as the racist, bigoted Breitbart fake news site has.

Had organisations such as the Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics been more proactive and damning of anti-vaxx quack physicians and activities, perhaps the creation of a committee such as this would have been more politically unsavoury.  It's time for these organisations, physicians and scientists to step up and push back against pseudo-scientific claims and those who make them and stop relying upon lightning-rods like Dr. Offit to be the only one doing their dirty work for them.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Andrew Wakefield, Dr. Bob Sears and all their other associates are inexpert has-beens and wannbes but that doesn't mean their activities haven't done substantial damage to public health and public trust in our healthcare agencies.  It's time for all of us who are interested in public health and the well-being of our children to send a clear, organised message to these anti-science predators that their meddling in affairs that are way over their heads will not be tolerated.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Aliana is dead


Aliana has passed away from SSPE, a severe, always fatal measles complication, this morning - in a short statement on their Facebook page, her father writes:

Our litte angel went on her way this morning. The last months were a hard time, she fought a lot, but sadly she lost. She went from us really peacefully with a beautiful smile on her lips. This is going to be a hard time for us, but Aliana has decided that she will be better where she is now, without suffering and without pain. We thank everyone who supported us until now and are still supporting us. Please light a candle, so we can accompany Aliana on her way to a better place.




I am tired. How often do we need to report on preventable deaths? My thoughts and deepest condolences are with her family. Please light a candle. Please vaccinate your children.

Friday, September 9, 2016

News in brief: Bob Sears to face medical board over recommendation not to vaccinate and poor record keeping

The OC Register reports yesterday (8 September 2016) that Dr Bob Sears has to face charges over "medical negligence" when he failed to take a detailed medical history of a toddler before writing him an exemption from further vaccination (and other oversights). He is also facing charges of poor record keeping, because apparently, this letter was not on the child's file.

The consequence for Dr Bob can range from a reprimand to the loss of his medical license.

I am sure this decision will find a lot of attention, given the recent introduction of SB277 in California, which mandates vaccines for school attendance unless the child has a medical exemption and fears that some "vaccine friendly" doctors would distribute such exemptions liberally without clear cause, undermining the public health benefits intended by the law. Dr Bob, whose "The Vaccine Book" had been criticised as fuelling irrational, scientifically unfounded, and potentially dangerous fear of vaccines, has been among the vocal critics of this law.

Orac gives a more detailed description of the charges (with a side of Insolence), as does the Poxes blog.

I would hope that any verdict of the medical board would be 100% based on the charges at hand (and any extenuating circumstances, i.e. other instances of writing medical exemptions without rigorous examination of the child, or lapses in record keeping) rather than the notion of making an example of Bob Sears to discourage other doctors.

Addendum (9.13.16): Richard Jaffe is representing Bob Sears.
“I represent Dr. Bob Sears in the California Medical Board’s case against him for writing a medical exemption from vaccination.
We take the board’s accusation seriously. But this case is very clear: this child had two unusual and severe vaccine reactions and his situation warranted a medical exemption. To continue vaccination could have put the child at risk of further harm.
All physicians have an ethical duty to do no harm to a patient. This is no less true when a child suffers serious side effects from any medical intervention.
We anticipate this case will do much to further public education on the importance of recognizing severe vaccine reactions and providing informed consent for medical care. ”

Rick Jaffe

let the education process begin! community support appreciated.

rj

Monday, August 29, 2016

All Those HPV Vaccine Deaths Aren't After All

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or VAERS is a surveillance program designed to monitor post-market vaccine safety.  It is a passive surveillance system which means that entries are largely self-reported although healthcare professionals and vaccine manufacturers are required by law to report any adverse events from vaccines.  It also means that this type of reporting scheme can lack pertinent information regarding the vaccine, recipient and adverse event.  Select adverse events are followed up on although causality cannot be established; however a signal may be detected that warrants further investigation to examine the possibility of a correlation between a vaccine and adverse event, even very rare events such as between RotaShield and intussusception.

Reporting schemes such as VAERS are very useful when used correctly but they do have limitations and cannot be used to establish causality or for epidemiological studies.  Unfortunately VAERS is open to abuse by pseudo-scientists, laypeople, scientists with anti-vaccine agendas and even lawyers.  Those of us involved with the vaccine issue affectionately refer to this as VAERS dumpster-diving and unfortunately there is no shortage of dodgy investigators who engage in this deceitful activity.  One particular vaccine type stands out for VAERS abuse which protects against some strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  The current two vaccines are Gardasil and Cervarix.  It wasn't difficult to find an example of how egregiously VAERS is abused to make a personal, emotionally-overwrought argument in light of the fact that all serious adverse events are followed up on and none can be traced to HPV vaccines.

It just so happens that a fellow skeptic ScienceMonkey was kind enough to mine the VAERS database (for good and not for evil) and collate it to make the entries for "deaths" concise and readable for those who wish to demonstrate to the anti-vaxxer they are debating how HPV vaccines are not responsible for all the deaths they do like to claim.


VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) is ONE of the CDC’s methods for tracking and documenting any potential negative reactions to vaccines. ANYONE can submit to VAERS. (Physicians would use the Vaccine Safety Datalink.) The details are open to the public and, as people are wont to do to promote their agendas, statistics can be manipulated and misrepresented. All of the VAERS data are accessible to the public and the individual reports are publicly-available in the VAERS Wonder system.

From the CDC: “A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described.  It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.”

For reference, 80 million dose of Gardasil were administered in the U.S. between 2006 and 2015.

VAERS has 11 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2011. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

417137-1 Died 29 days after vaccination. Onset 29 days. F 17 TN.
419237-1 Anecdote from a filer of multiple reports.
421582-1 Anecdote. Cardiac arrest.
425513-1 Chronic depression. Suicide.
425598-1 Anecdote from a filer of multiple reports.
425680-1 Anecdote. Internet.
429007-1 Consumer reported he had nothing to live for because Gardasil killed his daughter.
430780-1 Pathologist stated cause of death as consistent with cardiac insufficiency, due to cardiac arrhythmia, due to probable early cardiomyopathy. Child Death Review Team felt this death was consistent with a diagnosis of sudden cardiac death.
437735-1 Relapse of ITP: 18-year-old female with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, diagnosed in 1995 and in remission from 2004 to 2011 following treatment with Rituximab. Relapse in early April, 2011, followed administration of Gardasil vaccine on 10-26-10 and 1-7-11. Relapse of ITP led eventually to death from intracranial hemorrhage on 07/06/2011. Onset 84 days after vaccination.
437999-1 Suicide.
442402-1 Limited details. Patient on Depakote, Lyrica, Diazepam, Adderall for a Seizure disorder.

5 (45%) were anecdotes. 2 were suicides. 1 was not a death. 2 were clear other causes of death. 1 has limited information but onset occurred almost a month after vaccination. 1 patient has a disorder and was on other drugs.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2011.

VAERS has 6 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2012. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

449334-1 Symptoms onset 968 days after vaccination. Patient was found to be positive for a genetic mutation (FUS) recently recognized as associated with early-onset, rapidly progressive ALS.
450655-1 Limited detail. Michigan 2/27/12. (I can find zero external details on this one.)
453010-1 Limited detail. On other meds. Onset 9 days after injection 2.
457904-1 14-year-old male. Suicide.
464953-1 Anecdote, and “the nurses found that there was no record of the patient in local registry for GARDASIL patients”
471590-1 Anecdote was “from a consumer, who learned from a foreign radio channel of fatal cases after GARDASIL vaccination”

2 (33%) were anecdotes. 2 were other clear causes. 2 reports had very limited information and searches added nothing.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2012.

VAERS has 19 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2013. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

482344-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
482352-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
485188-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
485757-1 A patient on anti-seizure medication and suffering from an upper respiratory infection died.
489163-1 Mother was vaccinated during pregnancy. Baby died 59 days after birth.
492468-1 Anecdote – someone knows someone who died.
494024-1 Patient had a cerebral hemorrhage and leukemia.
500225-1 Child passed out. Mother did research on the internet and heard about someone who died. There was no death here.
501081-1 Student found dead in dorm room three days after vaccination. Date and story likely link case to a well-publicized case. (The CDC/ATSDR Policy on Releasing and Sharing Data prohibits linking these data with other data sets or information for the purpose of identifying an individual.) The death was attributed to bulimia complications.
501663-1 Limited details. Nothing in file implying death liked to vaccines.
505344-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report. File notes same person filing many similar reports.
505350-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
505364-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
510130-1 Patient died from myocarditis.
511528-1 Patient died from acute liver failure.
513554-1 Patient died 111 days after vaccination from influenza complications
513728-1 A mother claimed her daughter was killed by Gardasil five years earlier.
514814-1 Someone saw an anti-HPV video and filed a report.
515434-1 A asthmatic patient on Albuterol died 42 days after vaccination.

11 of 19 (58%) reports were anecdotal. 1 was not a death. 6 deaths were attributed to other causes. 1 death had limited detail in the file. The wording in some of the filings was identical. Some of the Wonder files even noted it was the same person doing many of the anecdotal filings.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2013.

VAERS has 16 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2014. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

518872-1 Patient on Adderall and Celexa died 44 days after receiving third Gardasil injection.
522070-1 Anecdote. Nurse reports of multiple people reporting internet anecdotes.
525311-1 Anecdote of 53 deaths.
526687-1 Patient with cardiomegaly. Myocarditis.
527990-1 Anecdote. Someone read something on Facebook that 15 people had died.
528766-1 Anecdote. Nurse read about something on a website.
532797-1 Patient had seizure 43 days after vaccination.
*538295-1 Patient died 1 day after Gardasil. Mother claims it was the vaccination.
540269-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
540899-1 Barely an anecdote.
541912-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
541916-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
544217-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1. (Physician aware of the anecdote corrected the age!)
546064-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
557260-1 Anecdote. Reporter claims deaths tied to Gardasil and product needs to be pulled from market. File states this reporter has done this many times.
559863-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.

*I have to do a side note here on 538295-1 as I found this specific case on many anti-vaccination websites when I dove deeper. Based on the age of the girl, the date of the incident, and the location, I am certain of who this girl was. (The CDC/ATSDR Policy on Releasing and Sharing Data prohibits linking these data with other data sets or information for the purpose of identifying an individual.) The mother claimed the vaccination was the cause of her daughter’s death. The coroner found no causation from the vaccination and concluded the death was caused by diphenhydramine intoxication (Benadryl overdose). Despite the coroner’s conclusion, many anti-vaccination websites still tout this case. Six of the other filings for 2014 are for this specific case.

12 of 16 (75%) cases were anecdotes. 6 of the anecdotes were the same story!

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2014.

Here’s a side note on disability filings for 2014: Permanent disabilities are said to be caused by HPV vaccines. 41% of the permanent disabilities out of a total count of 83 reported in 2014 were anecdotal. 7% of the reports had no disabilities reported. 10% were vague enough to where I “kind of” wanted more details and 15% were vague enough to where I really wanted more detail. Many filings were belief based – they “know the vaccine caused the harm.” 17% of the files noted the onset of adverse effects started more than 90 days after the vaccination. Several reported the onset occurred years after the vaccine.

There were 12 files where I really wanted more information and the results of the follow ups.

Several of the files noted their daughter’s attitudes changing after the vaccine. Since the attitudes of girls in their early teens are always extremely stable . . .

Here’s your 2015 “death from HPV vaccine” breakdown from VAERS/Wonder:

562128-1 Anecdote (Twitter)
568282-1 Allergic reaction symptoms 127 days after injection.
570801-1 Syncope. Died in ER 496 days after injection.
591496-1 Anecdote (television show)
597263-1 Anecdote (website)
603438-1 Anecdote (website)
607441-1 Anecdote (“one of several reports from the same reporter”)
611113-1 Anecdote (digital media)
611452-1 Upper respiratory tract infection anterior to the injection. Died three days after vaccination. Would like to see a follow up on this one, but couldn’t find anything from other sources.
611827-1 Anecdote
612231-1 Anecdote (online article)
612719-1 Onset 98 days after vaccination. Pontine Glioma Tumor.
613330-1 Anecdote (Twitter)
615613-1 Anecdote (website video)
615626-1 Anecdote (file even says “non-valid social media” spontaneous report)
616449-1 Anecdote (social media)

12 of the 16 (75%) are anecdotes, almost exclusively from the internet.
One had an allergic reaction 127 days after the vaccine.
One died 496 days after vaccination.
One had a pre-existing URI, but there isn’t enough detail in the file to say anything concrete either way. I couldn’t find any public detail on this and there is not any filing with the U.S. Court of Claims for a vaccine injury with details matching this case as of August 22, 2016. (If anyone has any details on this case, please post!)
One had symptom onset 98 days after vaccination. Death from brain tumor.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2015.

And now we enter 2016 where the art of data stuffing has caused the “deaths” to skyrocket. Here’s your 2016 “death from HPV vaccine” breakdown from VAERS/Wonder through August 22, 2016:

618174-1 Anecdote (Twitter)
618364-1 Anecdote (Magazine)
618411-1 Anecdote (Social Media)
619115-1 Anecdote (Social Media)
619116-1 Anecdote
619400-1 Anecdote (This one may be worth going into Wonder to read. Fun!)
619827-1 Anecdote (media, “Same filer”)
619835-1 Anecdote (online article)
621565-1 “Possible Lyme disease, 3 and a half years of pain with seizures and tachycardia. Seizure led to heart attack and death on 1/12/16.”
622366-1 Anecdote
622986-1 Brain tumor. 1,651 days after vaccination. For the mathematically impaired, that’s 4.5 years.
625990-1 Anecdote
626063-1 Anecdote (social media)
627312-1 Anecdote (Pharmacist inquiry. No death reported.)
628774-1 Anecdote (Report blamed death on “dTpa vaccine.”)
634742-1 Anecdote (“This is one of several cases received from the same source.”)
636334-1 Anecdote (“This is one of several cases received from the same source.”)
636483-1 Anecdote
638043-1 Anecdote
638257-1 Anecdote
639404-1 Anecdote
641317-1 Symptom Text field literally says just “Death.”

So 19 of 22 (86%) of the reports for 2016 through August 22 are anecdotes. One didn’t even have a death reported. One blamed the death on other causes. One was a brain tumor 1,651 days after vaccination. One said just “Death.”

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV so far in 2016.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Paging De Niro and Hightower...Wakefield isn't really in it to help autistics

Much ado has been made recently regarding the film Vaxxed: From Cover up to Catastrophe and rightfully so.  There have been numerous criticisms of the film and fortunately, Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams has been keeping a running list.  I won't be adding to that list any time soon, my interest is of a different sort.  Recently, it was revealed that Andrew Wakefield gave an email exchange he had with Grace Hightower, Robert De Niro's wife, to Celia Farber, a rabid HIV-AIDS denialist who serves as Wakefield's lackey to release personal communications that Wakefield apparently wants publicised.  Ms. Farber published an email exchange on her blog between Wakefield and Hightower but pulled it about an hour later.  It has been cached here (Hat tip: Mrs Pointer).

There are some revealing statements from Andrew Wakefield that warrant discussing.  First is this:
From: Andy Wakefield [email address redacted]
Date: Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 2:55 PM
Subject: IMPORTANT
To: Grace DeNiro [email address redacted]

Did you share the confidential link to our movie with third parties? If so, who were these third parties?

From: Office Of Grace Hightower
Date: Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 4:45 PM
Subject: Re: IMPORTANT
To: Andy Wakefield

Bob shared it with Jane Rosenthal and she shared it with her sister Pam Rawlings [sic]. These are the two people I am aware of his sharing it with. I shared it with no one.
This was two days after Wakefield's film was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival. First, Jane Rosenthal is the co-founder, along with Robert DeNiro, of the Tribeca Film Festival and also co-chair.  She has an extensive and impressive portfolio of films she has produced, many featuring Robert De Niro.  Pam Rollins (not Rawlings) is Jane Rosenthal's sister and an associate professor at the University of Texas and an expert in communication and autism spectrum disorders.  Then:
On Mar 29, 2016, at 9:18 AM, Andy Wakefield wrote:
Grace, whatever may have happened – and I guess I will never know – in truth my heart goes out to you and Bob. Not only has your family’s life been blighted by autism, but you have experienced some of the relentless and ruthless pressure that has been my life for as long as I can remember.
In truth and healing
Andy

Andy Wakefield
Director
Autism Media Channel
Emphasis added.  Let that sink in.

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield essentially called Mr. De Niro's and Ms. Hightower's son a blight on their family.  Of course the devoted flock of Wakefield would argue that he only meant that autism was a blight but it's not.  Autism is part of who the person is for better or worse, just ask an autistic person.  This is the danger of embarking upon the "autism is a tragedy" train; parents no longer see their autistic child but rather one that has been "stolen by" autism" or has had "the soul taken away from them".  Bob Wright, founder of Autism Speaks testified at a 2007 congressional meeting about federal funding for autism.  Here is a chilling quote from him:
Our grandson, Christian, was diagnosed with autism in 2004.  Helpless, we watched him slip away into the cruel embrace of this disorder.  My wife, Suzanne, likens it to a kidnapping, as if someone had taken away the life Christian was meant to live. We all want nothing more than to have him back where he belongs, restored to his family--he's a little prisoner.
This is from the man who founded, what is perhaps, the largest autism charity in the country.  And from Bradley Whitford, the then-acting president of Autism Speaks (from the same meeting):
As my friend, John, has said many times, it's as if 1 in 150 American children was being kidnapped.  What would this Congress do if that was the case? What must it do to deal with these sad facts as they truly are?...

Portia has written a book about Dov called Strange Son.  Here's how she describes the kidnapping, ``It was his mind they came for.  They came to steal his mind. Before anyone gave it a name, even before I knew what it was, I knew it was in our house.  They were very, very dark things, and there was no way to get rid of them.  When I closed my eyes, I felt their shadows passing over me.  I didn't like to think about where they came from, or where they were going.  It was too frightening.  Dov was only a baby, and something was trying to steal him away.  I knew that that was what they did whenever I accidentally fell asleep.  Night after night, I sat beside his crib.  I knew he was slipping away from us, away from our world, and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening, and there was nothing anybody could do, they told me.  So, I did the only things I could--I guarded him.  Although I knew it would do no good, because I could not guard his mind.  Then, one day, it happened. He was gone.  ''It is even more than just a tragedy for these kids, many of whom, like Dov, we now know to be of extraordinary intelligence, but trapped in bodies which do not allow them to effectively communicate or interact with the rest of us.  It's also a tragedy for our families and for our country.

As if it wasn't obvious, all people mentioned subscribe to the vaccine-causation idea of autism.  Incidentally, De Niro and Hightower are supporters of Autism Speaks. They don't accept their child has been born that way and autism isn't something done to him by vaccines.  That is what is so vile about Andrew Wakefield's statement.  More on that later.  Ms. Hightower not only doesn't appear to be bothered by such a remark but feels sorry for Wakefield:
On Mar 30, 2016, at 3:42 PM, Office of Grace Hightower wrote:

Andy,
Will you give me a call. I have an idea.
I feel awful about what happened and how it happened. I found out that the film was pulled along with the rest of the world.
Grace
The exchange continues:
On Mar 31, 2016, at 5:06 PM, Andy Wakefield wrote:

I will. I am headed for LAX and will try from there.
Andy
Sent from my iPhone

On Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 9:39 AM, Office of Grace Hightower wrote:

Andy,
Just saw Ian Lipkin’s write up in NYT on March 30th you are entitled to a rebuttal. Also he was one of two doctors that I found out consulted TriBeCa. The other is Pam Rollins of Dallas, Jane Rosenthal’s sister. Don’t know of any others but, will let you know if I hear of any others. I spoke with Ian and found him to be quite pro industry and not at all really interested in autism.
Best,

Grace
"Not at all really interested in autism"?  Let's see, Dr. Lipkin is only the principle investigator for the Autism Birth Cohort Project.  What are Andrew Wakefield's credentials again?  The exchange concludes with this:
On Apr 1, 2016, at 11:30 AM, Andy Wakefield wrote:

In flight. It seems to me that Rosenthal’s breach of confidentiality is a dismissible offense. We were assured there would be no consequence to her breach and clearly there was – one that amounts to defamation. We arrive around 12.00 in NYC. I will call and perhaps we could grab a coffee over the weekend.
Andy
From: Business Office 1

Date: Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 5:34 PM

Subject: Re: Reflections
To: Andy Wakefield
Yes, I recalled. I am in Florida now will be in NYC afternoon of April 4th.
Are you still in town? Would like to see and chat.

Sent from my iPhone
On one hand Wakefield suggests to Ms. Hightower that Jane Rosenthal should be removed from chairing the Tribeca Film Festival for "breach of confidentiality" yet has absolutely no problem handing a confidential email exchange to Celia Farber to publish.  This isn't the first time he's done this.  Wakefield's sheer arrogance is astonishing.  It will be interesting to see what transpires after this.  But this is only a part of the problem.

What is so very disturbing about this exchange is Wakefield's contempt for autistics while at the same time claiming to champion them.  Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie but will, although all I need to know is in the trailer.  Wakefield and company portray autistics in the worst possible light while portraying the parents as victims.

I have to ask, did anyone get informed consent from the autistic children in the film?  Did they get a say in whether they would like to be portrayed as damaged blights to their families and society?  I think we all know the answer to that.  Sadly, that is the power of Wakefield, his hustle to make himself attractive to otherwise (in some cases) intelligent people.  He appeals to the parents greatest fears and vulnerabilities.  He perpetuates the notion that autistics are less than human and exploits them for his own gain.  This is a very prevalent theme amongst the vaccines-causes-autism crowd.

Wakefield's co-producer Polly Tommey (founder of Autism Media Channel which Wakefield is the director of but isn't listed) allowed her son Billy to be exploited in this film.  Polly Tommey's daughter Bella is also in it and has a blog.  Bella wrote a post in October 2014 which was a dehumanising exposé of her own brother thinly-veiled as a special plea for her own martyrdom.  I posted a comment on the blog but it was removed:

Raising autistic children is a challenge; having an autistic sibling is a challenge but one crucial detail that is left out of this for vaccine-causation parents is that their children have the right to privacy; they have the right to dignity; they have a right to be raised in an environment which does not make them believe they are damaged.  This is the slippery-slope that ensues when parents view autism as a tragedy, something external foisted upon their children who would have been perfect otherwise.  They become less-than-human.

Lesile Weghorn of The Scientific Parent recently wrote a compelling article about how autistics feel about themselves when referred to as "vaccine-damaged".  It is gut-wrenching that autistics have to grow up in a world where they are thought of as a tragedy, a burden and now, a blight on their families.  Did Robert DeNiro and Grace Hightower even bother to talk to some autistics, perhaps even their own son about how autistics are portrayed in the media?  Perhaps they would like to talk to real autism advocates, other parent/advocates of autistic children and autistics about how they feel and how damaging Wakefield's film is, not only on a public health basis but how cruelly he depicts autistics.

Andrew Wakefield is a professional parasite who slimed his way into the De Niro's hearts preying upon their vulnerability, desperation and celebrity.  I wonder though, even if Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower subscribe to the vaccine-causation idea, would they consent to have their son portrayed in the manner Wakefield exploited in his film?  Even more importantly, would their son consent to be portrayed in such a humiliating manner?  If they don't have a problem with their son being called a blight on their family would they mind their son's personal details on display for public consumption?  If they would have a problem with that then perhaps they should reconsider Andrew Wakefield as an ally and take a critical look at who he really is because he isn't an autism advocate or researcher or even film-maker as he so recently fancies himself. 

De Niro and Hightower have the ability and resources to make a real difference and a positive impact on issues surrounding autism.  Pimping a fraud of a documentary about an issue that has been settled is intellectually and socially lazy.  Giving a platform to an unethical, disgraceful excuse for a physician who has damaged public health and profoundly contributed to the negative perception of autistics is an affront to all autistics and their families.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TMI - too much information - join National Autistic Society's new campaign

A young child in purple shirt, surrounded by many people and sounds, holds their ears shut to block out the sensory input - white on pink letters spell "TOO MUCH INFORMATION"

The British National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a new campaign today, on 1 April, the start of Autism "Awareness" Month. Shockingly, there is very little awareness or acceptance of autistic children and adults in the UK:

28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public space because of behaviour associated with their autism, 79% of autistic people and 70% of parents felt socially isolated.
The NAS argues that if someone sees only a "naughty kid" when they see a child in sensory overload, they clearly don't have enough information yet. They ask everyone: put yourself on the map and support the NAS to get everyone to understand autism.

A purple outline of the UK and Northern Ireland with bright dots representing clusters of supporters, on the left in white letters on pink background "PUT YOURSELF ON THE MAP"

Visit their site and check out the NAS' material, including a movie illustrating the sensory overload for a young autistic boy. This morning, on the BBC, he explained he hoped:

"this [movie] would cause awareness and respect, because that's as important as anything"