“You cannot hold the truth back forever. And when that dam breaks, the flood will wash away those who have suppressed these facts to the detriment of our kids. It is time for the piper to be paid.” Meryl Dorey: President of The Australian Vaccination Network Inc, May 10th, 2011
Around the first week of May a “major investigation” breakthrough was promised by USA lawyers and anti-vaccine identities acting for certain parents, supposedly claiming to have been compensated for vaccine induced autism. Reported irresponsibly here by FOX News , the much touted “proof” was proffered by a team headed by Mary Holland. Mary is co-author of Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children.
A document compiling these Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) data would “blow the lid off” the vaccine-autism controversy. The number of cases were rumoured to be 80 plus – not “hundreds, possibly thousands”, as Meryl Dorey claimed many days later on 102.9 KOFM – see below.
The release was due to happen on May 10th. From Lisa Jo Rudy writing for About.com;
“Findings on autism and the vaccine court to be released today”
Investigators from Pace Law School in New York will be joined by parents and children with autism to announce a groundbreaking study that strongly suggests a link between vaccines and autism on Tuesday, May 10 at 12:00 pm in front of the US Court of Claims (717 Madison Place in Washington DC).
The study, which was carried out using readily available, public government data, found that a substantial number of children who have been compensated for vaccine injury by the federal government have autism – more than three times the national prevalence.
However, as the government publicly denies a link between autism and vaccines and claims these individuals have been compensated for brain damage and seizures, of which autism is often a symptom, this study casts a serious doubt on previous findings by the government regarding vaccine safety. This is the first time this study is being unveiled.The investigators will be calling upon Congress to immediately investigate the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and plan to hold Congressional briefings.
We’ll return to Lisa Jo directly.
The USA National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the associated Act and Court, serve a vital purpose. The programme quite rightly compensates children who suffer permanent disability from vaccine reactions. It’s absolutely essential. We’re familiar with Wakefield’s fraud, the misconception that autism can be an immediate side effect from vaccination, that autism can be eventually “caused” by vaccination and of course the resulting drop in vaccine coverage as a result of these fears. But we are less familiar with the very real tragedies that effect vaccine injured families – albeit at extremely low rates.
There are no-fault compensation schemes in 19 countries. Australia lags behind somewhat. Germany began theirs in 1961. France 1963, Switzerland 1970, Denmark 1972 and our pals across the Tasman, New Zealand in 1978. A review of international programmes was published earlier this year by Looker and Kelly – doi:10.2471/BLT.10.081901.
At time of writing an editorial was published today, May 6th, online in the Medical Journal of Australia – eMJA. Published by Kelly, Looker and Isaacs it is entitled, A no-fault compensation scheme for serious adverse events attributed to vaccination. Referring to the WHO criteria for adverse events following immunisation – AEFI – it suggests our “enviable reputation” in this area could be improved by better monitoring and a no-fault compensation scheme.
Such a programme would offer much to silence the appalling manipulation of media outlets, spread of misinformation and the many characteristics of outright offence orchestrated by the anti-vaccination lobby. Immediately we see adverse events following immunisation. A favourite of Meryl Dorey of the discredited and misnamed Australian Vaccination Network when interviewed publically is to obfuscate the anti-vaccination stance yet insist vaccination “is not the same as immunisation”. Immunisation is only truly gained from having the disease, whilst vaccination is a pharmaceutical hoax, they argue.
Also in the habit of denying herd that immunity has any protective effect, the AVN would be pushed to explain the following from the MJA editorial.
Any person who is injured while helping to protect the community — for instance, by contributing to herd immunity, such that there are sufficiently many people immunised to prevent widespread disease transmission within the community — should not bear the consequences of injury alone. In essence, the community owes a debt of gratitude to that person.
However, as important as acknowledging vaccine related injuries do occur and deserve compensation is, we must be careful to place them in context. Risk-benefit ratio is the key here. One is far more likely to die or be maimed doing housework or changing a light globe than be injured at all by any vaccine.
Looking at the graph below, we see encephalitis effects children at a rate of 1 in 1000 – 5000 measles cases and 1 in 1 million MMR jabs. Meningitis is similar for MMR, but presents a 5000 times greater risk for measles cases. “Convulsions” are documented as RSD; Residual Seizure Disorder in the USA.
Source: The Encephalitis Society http://www.encephalitis.info/
Read page one here. Read page two here. Read the full document here.
The apparent “epidemic” claimed to be caused by the ethyl mercury containing vaccine preservative thimerosal, then the “number” of vaccines and now just vaccination itself (as each cause is shown to be wrong) is very likely due to diagnostic criteria.
A recent survey study in the UK, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, May 5th, used todays diagnostic criteria on adults. Of all new cases, not one knew they had autism. Using todays criteria, children present with 10 cases in 1000. Adults, 9.8 cases in 1000. This tells us volumes about exploitation of the fear factor by anti-vaccine lobbyists. Autism for most, conjures disturbing images. In fact since Autism Spectrum Disorder became accepted we saw the growth of many expressions including High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, and the decline of less pleasant terms such as “retarded”, “mental”, “slow”, “special”, “difficult” and so on.
This was summed up in the opening sentence of articles reporting on these findings: “Not a single person identified with autism or asperger’s syndrome during a community survey in England actually knew they had the condition, research led by the University of Leicester reveals.” See:
“Most adults with autism go undiagnosed” AlphaGalileo
“University of Leicester researchers present further evidence from first ever general population survey of autism in adulthood.” Disabled World
“Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adults in the Community in England.” Archives of General Psychiatry – doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.38
Nonetheless, with a population approaching 310 million in the USA it is expected that the VICP will be required to pay no fault compensation for life time care of steadily increasing numbers of vaccine injured children. My guess with the Mary Holland team’s grandiose promises was that something unscrupulous was afoot and legitimate encephalitis cases were being exploited. Arguably this is true for certain elements – such as Age of Autism, The Australian Vaccination Network and Generation Rescue. Personally, I conclude that “autism-like symptoms” are no doubt tragic but do not conclusively prove causality of, or existing autism.
The other concern was use of phrases like “parents of children with autism who received compensation from VICP” would speak. But we need to see “children who received compensation from VICP because of their autism… [or] … as a result of developing autism”, before one can begin to accept any claimed causal link.
Back to Lisa Jo Rudy. On May 11th she wrote Update on vaccination court raises questions, noting that The Pace Law School had contacted her and asked about her previous article.
I just heard from a representative from the Public Relations department at Pace University School of Law. She wondered why a press release cited in my earlier blog would say that members of their law school had been involved with the investigation into and presentation of “Unanswered Questions From the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury,” when there was no such involvement in either the investigation or the presentation.
I did respond to Danielle Orsino, who sent out the press release, asking the question:
Were there cases in which the vaccine court awarded a settlement for damage that manifested itself as the symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder? Was the term “autism” ever used to describe the outcome of vaccine damage (eg, “the child suffered from neurological damage resulting in autism”)?
Danielle responded quickly, saying “The study strongly suggests a link between autism and vaccines. The study found that of those who had been compensated for brain damage due to vaccines, a much-higher-than-average number also had autism. The study makes an extremely strong case for the vaccine-autism connection, which is why the study’s authors are urging Congress to investigate the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.”
This response seems to suggest that the simple answer to my question is “no”.
Not much ambiguity there. Iʼd suggest: No causal relationship between vaccines and autism as it would be accepted by the medical, legal and academic community.
To sum up, students from Pace University School of Law assisted with preparing a compelling document which was released without the promised fanfare. It focuses on DPT: diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, DpaT: diphtheria-acellular pertussis-tetanus, MMR: measles-mumps-rubella vaccines and the vaccine preservative thimerosal.
“Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A review of compensated cases of vaccine induced brain injury”.
Download here – http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol28/iss2/6/
Reading the document reveals ample use of terms such as “settled cases suggesting autism”, “language that strongly suggests autistic features”, “published decisions that used terms related to autism”, “payment of vaccine injured children with autism”, and not – as Seth Mnookin pointed out – “because of their autism”. More so, the authors spend some time arguing why there should be no distinction between autism and autism-like symptoms. This is a major concession they award themselves.
The paper includes caregiver opinion, parental opinion, phrases from doctors who gave evidence at hearings and provides a case table of “Language suggesting autism or autistic-like symptoms”. A notable concern is referencing The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic  by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill.
Whilst this book is a standard bible for, and sold by, active anti-vaccination lobbyists, co-author Dan Olmsted is also the editor of the discredited and arguably offensive web site AgeofAutism.com. Blaxill is the “editor at large”. Known for colourful, personal attacks on scientists and authors, Age of Autism is not recognised by government accredited autistic organisations or health and disability groups. It is correctly seen as detracting from vaccine injury monitoring through an obsessive, vindictive and conspiratorial attack on vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry.
The authors of Unanswered Questions eventually work up to statements such as, twenty one VICP court decisions “acknowledged autism or autism-like symptoms through vaccine induced encephalopathy and seizure disorder”. Phone interviews and social communication questionnaires were conducted with over sixty compensated families, beefing up the [by now] autism in all but name, theme.
One case was compelling in that the paper presented it as compensation being awarded for acute demyelinating encephalitis leading to Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified – which is an autistic disorder.
Social communication questionnaire outcomes suggest autistic like symptoms and others – as in the Hannah Poling concession – relate to existing disorders exacerbated by vaccination. Poling had an underlying mitochondrial disorder.
The VICP insist no compensation is awarded as a result of vaccine induced autism, acknowledge some cases have pre-existing autism and refer to underlying causes. Official contacts for Unanswered Questions from the VICP claim only that it “strongly suggests” a link without offering conclusive explanation as to the mechanics of that link.
Studies around the world show no change in autistic rates alongside removal of thimerosal or cessation of vaccines. The “epidemic” appears based upon new diagnostic criteria. Officials already acknowledge vaccine-injuries such as encephalitis, RSD, meningitis and exacerbation leading to profound disorders that mimic autism. Ages of some compensated and deceased clients range up to the 20’s and 30’s. Appallingly, extreme anti-vaccination identities view this as death from vaccination. It’s probable that clients still living are older. This reinforces the expected number of acknowledged vaccine injuries still further.
Ultimately there is scant evidence – if any – to revive a distorted fear, void of understanding the risk-benefit ratio of vaccination. To do so would serve to perpetuate the rise in vaccine preventable disease in certain communities, the spread of these diseases and lead to excessive cost in managing infection.
A week after the release of the paper, on the morning of May 17th, Meryl Dorey was on the 102.9 KOFM “David and Tanya” show. Asked if it was fact or fiction that vaccines cause autism, Meryl claimed “fact”. Referring to the above, Dorey claimed;
The Vaccine Injury Compensation court “…has paid hundreds and possibly thousands of families whose children have become autistic after vaccination… this is only just coming out now because the information is only just being made public… autism, ADD, ADHD, allergies, diabetes… in the medical literature have been linked with vaccination… we’re more vaccinated than ever before and our children are sicker than ever before… according to ABS almost half of our kids are sick all the time, do vaccines play a role in that? I don’t know, but it needs to be studied”.
Unconscionable and unforgivable:
Had Meryl Dorey been interviewed 10 days earlier there’d be an unforgivable, but small thread of logic to what most had already guessed to be a misleading recasting of VICP decisions. After a full week Australians, media representatives, AVN members and listeners had a right to expect that the president of the deceptively named anti-vaccination lobby The Australian Vaccination Network could at least quote from the above paper and answer it’s detractors.
If not, perhaps Dorey could admit that presently there is not one “fact” supporting the vaccine-autism link. The best Danielle Orsino, promotor and media contact for the Pace Law School student supported paper could offer, was that it “strongly suggests” a link. But thatʼs semantics because as Iʼve demonstrated above the expected one in one million MMR induced encephalitis cases may result in autism-like symptoms. That itself is a tenuous association to autism void of accepted standards of causality. Itʼs been known for years, predicted as such and compensated correctly and justly across the globe.
UPDATE: Age of Autism’s Executive Summary from May 10th is quite clear (note 21 cases came from VICP files. So how did Dorey find “hundreds, possibly thousands”?):
The VICP has compensated approximately 2,500 claims of vaccine injury since the inception of the program. This study found 83 cases of acknowledged vaccine-induced brain damage that include autism, a disorder that affects speech, social communication and behavior. In 21 published cases of the Court of Federal Claims, which administers the VICP, the Court stated that the petitioners had autism or described autism unambiguously. In 62 remaining cases, the authors identified settlement agreements where Health and Human Services (HHS) compensated children with vaccine-induced brain damage, who also have autism or an autism spectrum disorder.