MMR FACTSHEET 2 (AUGUST
1998); SOME CRITICISMS
421. "Conclusionmeasles virus
does not appear to be present in Crohn's disease tissues"
(page one of MMR Factsheet, sixth paragraph).
422. The fact that three groups of researchers
have been unable to find measles virus in Crohn's disease tissues,
in tests which are acknowledged by all parties to be difficult,
does not in itself prove that there is not a link. If there remains
even a modest element of doubt, in a difficult area of research,
then this should be properly acknowledged.
423. "To summarise the scientific
evidence . . ." (page two of MMR Factsheet, last paragraph).
424. The Department has demonstrated a bias
in its trawling for and quoting of evidence. Also, in many cases
the research has simply not been undertaken yet. A summary of
any present "evidence" must be judged in this light.
Also, the Department makes the fundamental philosophical/logical
error of concluding that, because there is insufficient hard evidence
of a problem, it is safe to conclude that the problem does not
425. "The theory (of the Royal Free
team) is as follows: MMR vaccine might damage the bowel, and,
as a result, chemicals (opiodes) which occur naturally in the
bowel, and which would be dealt with without problem by an undamaged
bowel, might gain access to the brain and affect development.
No proof for this hypothesis has been given and there is evidence
against the theory." (page three of MMR Factsheet, second
426. This is very far from being an accurate
summary of the Royal Free work, nor does it acknowledge other
published and unpublished research.
427. In addition, researchers Sabra, Bellanti
and Colon of the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies
of Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington
DC, wrote to The Lancet in July 1998, a month before the
MMR Factsheet was published, in support of the Royal Free findings.
They stated that examination of cases of hyperactive disorder
via colonoscopy of the terminal ileum had produced findings matching
those of Dr. Wakefield at the Royal Free.
428. It is unbalanced of the MMR Factsheet
to quote Chen and De Stefano (from February's Lancet) but
not Sabra, Bellanti and Colon (from July's Lancet). No
mention is made of the work of other researchers, such as Singh
or Gupta (see also Appendix III).
429. ". . . national data seem to
indicate a rise in the incidence of autism, but it started over
a decade before MMR's introduction in 1988" (page three
of MMR Factsheet).
430. As noted elsewhere, there is no accurate
"national data". The data on autism incidence in the
UK in 1999 is still chaotic. Also, if an increase in autism really
did start over a decade before MMR, ie around 1985, we need to
be finding out why.
431. "A study in Sweden (found that)
the incidence of autism did not change as a result of MMR"
(page three of MMR Factsheet, penultimate paragraph).
432. This refers to the Gilberg study in
Gothenburg, published in 1991. It involved three different studies,
all with different criteria. The study actually acknowledges an
increase in autism in the area concerned. It misses out cases
of Aspergers Syndrome. MMR was only introduced seven-ninths of
the way through the study. The study also excluded children under
"In conclusion, the evidence is therefore
against a cause and effect link between MMR and autism . . ."
(page three of MMR Factsheet, last paragraph).
433. I would suggest that no such conclusion
can be drawn.
434. "Has there been an independent
inquiry into the possibility of a link between MMR vaccine, Crohn's
disease and autism?" (page four of MMR Factsheet, first
435. The review by the Medical Research
Council on 25 March 1998 was to review the evidence, which is
not quite the same as an "inquiry into the possibility".
The evidence reviewed depended on who was invited to submit it.
Professor Pattison's team found that there was no evidence, but
this was probably unsurprising as it believed that no actual evidence
436. "Is MMR used in other countries?"
(page four of MMR Factsheet, fifth paragraph).
437. The Factsheet does not acknowledge
that there are numerous parents' action groups, and some doctors,
in other countries that share the concerns of the parents of autistic/etc
children in the UK. A search of the Internet will reveal numerous
parents' action groups.
438. "Has the long term safety of
MMR vaccine been adequately assessed?" (page four of
MMR Factsheet, penultimate paragraph).
439. A comprehensive review of published
studies on suspected vaccine adverse events, conducted by the
American Institute of Medicine, looked at over 7,000 abstracts
and 2,000 books, and concluded that the evidence was inadequate
to accept or reject a casual relationship between measles-containing
vaccine and demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system.
440. "Has the long term safety of
MMR vaccine been adequately assessed?" (page four of
441. The Department has either ignored or
been unaware of evidence or research that is discordant with its
view. It is questionable as to how proactive it has been in seeing
out such evidence.
442. "If a doctor suspects a serious
adverse reaction to MMR vaccine, he/she can report this to the
Committee on Safety of Medicines using the Yellow Card spontaneous
reporting scheme" (page five of MMR Factsheet).
443. A recent independent study by the West
Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reactions found that only 6 per
cent of adverse reactions were reported. Even the Committee on
Safety of Medicines states that only 10-15 per cent of serious
reactions are reported. A GP may genuinely not connect an adverse
reaction with vaccination because they do not have the specialist
knowledge that enables them to clearly make the link, and because
a consequence of several weeks or even several months later, such
as progressive autoimmune reaction, may not suggest itself to
a GP as vaccination-related.
444. The following are quotes from the above
leaflet, with my own commentary added.
445. "Have children been followed
up long enough after MMR to know it's safe?" (first page
446. It is remarkable that the paragraph
following this question actually completely fails to address it.
447. There are also several references to
studies, but there is no reference to any UK studies. The leaflet
does not properly list all studies that suggest that vaccination
and autism may be linked. It is also understood that the follow-up
studies undertaken in the UK when MMR was being trialled prior
to its introduction in October 1988, monitored the trial children
for just three weeks after vaccination. This would probably have
excluded any autoimmune-type degeneration. The answer to the Department
of Health's own question therefore appears to be at least doubtful,
and probably "no".
448. A personal message from the Chief
Medical Officer . . .MMR is the safest way for you to protect
your children against measles, mumps and rubella . . .".
449. This may well be true. What is at question
is whether this or the monovalent vaccines have caused problems
for a very small minority. The leaflet does not address this issue.
450. The "personal message" is
from a new former Chief Medical Officer who, in October 1998 at
the BSE Inquiry redefined his previous use of the term "safe",
in the context of beef, as meaning "not without risk".