Wakefield innocent, Deer lied, Earth flat

The good citizens from The Twilight Zones of teh interwebs keep us reliably informed, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, that Wakefield is “innocent”.

Andrew Wakefield is infamous for the fraudulent invention of ileal hyperplasia and non-specific colitis induced by the measles component of MMR. Leaving the bowel damaged and “leaky”, this allowed the escape of opioid peptides into the bloodstream and eventually the brain whereby they caused autism. So infamous, that two words, “Wakefield innocent” are only rivalled in this story by “Deer lied”, yet another commandment from The Twilight Zone.

Yet innocent of exactly what aspect of the raft of calculated, cruel and callous transgressions committed? Or what part of his planning and financial inducements leading up to his academic fraud? The invasive abuse of his small sample and manipulation of data gleaned? The fabricated patient selection criteria, clinical histories, and neuropsychiatric diagnoses? Or how his filing for a patent for a “safer [monovalent] measles vaccine” in June 1997 predicated his surprise (in fact well kept secret) announcement to the press in February 1998 that MMR was a likely cause of autistic disorders?

In general it doesn’t really matter. So distorted has the issue become in almost 14 years that specifics don’t count. In effect “Wakefield innocent” is a vaccine myth with multiple faces. A licence to not vaccinate. It means that all vaccines do horrible damage to children. That they do so due to ghastly toxins with long dastardly names, heavy metals that poison the brain, alien cells and viruses that ravage young bodies, promote disease, drain vitality, bring death and much more.

“Deer lied” is the inescapable binary to this scenario. It signifies his mythical role as a Big Pharma hit man paid a whopping journalists salary with expenses to destroy Wakefield. To keep the truth hidden by governments, pharmaceutical companies and medical establishments. That vaccines are not only unnecessary but experimental, or knowingly useless poison pushed for profit. The conspiracy is all powerful and so encompassing it accommodates any bizarre fantasy. Evidence has no impact.

Today “Wakefield innocent” can also mean all vaccines cause autism and brain damage. That they do not prevent disease. That they are not needed. That today’s children are the sickest of any generation in memory. That vitamins, a few herbs, some homeopathic hanky panky and a connection with the cosmos is all that’s needed to defeat vaccine preventable disease.

The real point is, those defending Wakefield have just as much a predetermined agenda as he did. Facts will not get in their way. The BMJ is “disgraced”, in a “panic” or existing in terror of the day Wakefield is “vindicated”. As Meryl Dorey puts it, “digging a deeper and deeper hole”.

Three weeks after the BMJ published Brian Deer’s How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed, eminent enemy of conventional medicine Mike Adams gushed, Documents emerge proving Dr Andrew Wakefield innocent; BMJ and Brian Deer caught misrepresenting the facts. Really? A Trifecta Mike? Do tell:

Newly-revealed documents show that on December 20th, 1996, a meeting of The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group based at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School featured a presentation by Professor Walker-Smith on seven of the children who would later become part of the group of patients Dr Wakefield wrote about in his 1998 The Lancet paper (which was later retracted by The Lancet) […]

These documents reveal that the British Medical Journal has been caught in its own fraud for willfully ignoring this evidence, which was presented to it long before its recent publication of Brian Deer’s article calling Dr Wakefield a fraud […]

[Brian Deer] lied about his identity and entered the home of one of the parents of the autism children. Specifically, he claimed he was working for The Sunday Times even though he was never a Sunday Times employee.

It’s pretty much a direct copy and paste of Wakefield’s own document. That and email correspondence with Fiona Godlee is here in PDF under the amusing Gaia Health heading DR. ANDREW WAKEFIELD WAS RIGHT. BRIAN DEER IS THE LIAR. THERE WAS NO FRAUD. NO HOAX. HERE’S PROOF. Age of Autism, Vaccine Safety First, Child Health Safety…etc, all crowed vindication.

The nonsense about Brian Deer is hearsay from a “letter to The Sunday Times”, seeming to serve no purpose beyond trying to label him a liar. Wakefield himself also alludes to the BMJ not “checking facts”. Yet the actual “proof” strikes me as tenuous. Wakefield confidently writes:

I present evidence that completely negates the allegations that I committed scientific fraud. Brian Deer and Dr. Godlee of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) knew or should have known about the facts set out below before publishing their false allegations. [….]

His [Professor John Walker-Smith’s] notes of the presentation continued: “I wish today, to present some preliminary details concerning seven children, all boys, who appear to have entero-colitis and disintegrative disorder, probably autism, following MMR.

Speaking of not checking facts. Deer had already quite arguably dispatched with Wakefield’s chronological innocence in writing How the case was fixed…:

Curiously, however, Wakefield had already identified such a syndrome before the project which would reputedly discover it. “Children with enteritis/disintegrative disorder [an expression he used for bowel inflammation and regressive autism] form part of a new syndrome,” he and Barr explained in a confidential grant application to the UK government’s Legal Aid Board before any of the children were investigated.

And that grant application happened to be submitted 6 1/2 months earlier than Walker-Smith’s presentation. It was:

Proposed protocol and costing proposals for testing a selected number of MR and MMR vaccinated children (and attached specification). Submitted to the Legal Aid Board 6 June 1996. [GMC fitness to practise panel hearing in the case of Wakefield, Walker-Smith and Murch. Day 11.]

We can even get more fussy and note the language used in describing bowel inflammation and autism. Entero-colitis (used by Walker-Smith) is inflammation of the colon and small intestine. Enteritis (used over 6 months earlier by Wakefield) is inflammation of the small intestine. Both use “disintegrative disorder”. Confidentially Wakefield was postulating a “new syndrome” well before Walker-Smith offered “preliminary details”.

Just recently on November 9th this year some new information arose when David Lewis published a letter in the BMJ. Lewis came to review histopathological grading sheets that Wakefield claims were filled out and solely interpreted by co-authors Dr. Amar Dhillon and Dr. Andrew Anthony. This was after Lewis attended, “a vaccine safety conference in Jamaica, where Andrew Wakefield discussed his research”, that was a five star extravaganza paid for by the “vaccine-safety” promoters. Wakefield was the headline act.

Lewis argued in the BMJ that he did:

… not believe that Dr. Wakefield intentionally misinterpreted the grading sheets as evidence of “non-specific colitis”.

So, who is David Lewis? Well for Aussies or anyone familiar with the Australian Vaccination Network and their main academic supporter, Dr. Brian Martin, supervisor of anti-vax conspirator and PhD candidate Judy Wilyman, this is a bit creepy. Lewis is from the US National Whistleblowers Center. Brian Martin is president of Whistleblowers Australia.

Brian Martin wrote the “document” the AVN have used to dismiss the HCCC public health and OLGR charitable status findings as an attack on free speech. He has written on successfully raising dissent against scientific, government and academic consensus. He has also written extensively on challenging the origin of AIDS, going as far in 1998 to link it to the polio vaccine. He denies having any position on vaccination.

Lewis bills himself similarly:

My responsibilities include investigating “institutional research misconduct” in which government, industry, and academic institutions use false allegations of research misconduct to suppress research.

Nature News reports that Lewis claims he was “falsely accused of misconduct after alleging links between human illness and the spreading of sewage sludge”. Either way he was ejected post haste from the EPA. The US National Whistleblowers Center is listed under “Suppression of dissent” Contacts on Brian Martin’s website. Both Dorey and Wakefield have indisputably been shown to cause damage to public health and act illegally. Ironically, Wakefield’s treatment of one whistleblower is available thanks to Brian Deer.

Before publishing Lewis’ article the BMJ had gastroenterologist Ingvar Bjarnason review the material. He claimed there was insufficient evidence to support a new disease, as Wakefield et al. had done. He also notes that “The data are subjective. It’s different to say it’s deliberate falsification”.

The last sentence caused some in The Twilight Zone to go into overdrive. Brian Deer’s Charges Against Wakefield Are False: Documents Analyzed by Outside Expert offers Gaia Health. Who regrettably also adds the somewhat partisan claim:

In the end, as with most things involving conventional medicine, it’s all about money. The lives of children have been sacrificed—and continue to be laid on the altar of Profits and Greed.

Age of Autism also seize upon the few words to suggest the BMJ is crumbling and attack BMJ editor-in-chief Dr Fiona Godlee for “declaring war” on University College London. Rather, Godlee wants a parliamentary investigation. She is quite rightly stressing that UCL, who it’s been alleged used Wakefield’s claims to get money, must finalise their own inquiry having had 8 months to begin. Medical News Today quote Godlee who wrote to UCL:

Continuing failure to get to the bottom of the vaccine scandal raises serious questions about the prevailing culture of our academic institutions and attitudes to the integrity of their output. Given the extent of involvement of senior personnel at the highest level, only an independent inquiry will be credible.

This is not a call to debate whether MMR causes autism. Science has asked that question and answered it. We need to know what happened in this inglorious chapter in medicine. Who did what, and why?

The fact that the grading sheets from Dr. Dhillon show no abnormal pathology raises the question of Wakefield’s falsification of “non-specific colitis” and ileal-lymphoid nodular hyperplasia in autistic children. Wakefield omitted that Ileal-lymphoid nodular hyperplasia was viewed as benign and “normal” in children by gastroenterologists.

His supporters now seem to argue he did not intentionally misrepresent histopathological data. This is strange given the mammoth effort to show that inflammatory disease has been confirmed in the intestines of autistic children, and “in five different countries” according to Wakefield on Age of Autism in April this year. Yet Pediatrics published findings from an expert panel in January 2010 stating no GI disturbance specific to autism had been established.

Wakefield seems content to pick and choose, shaping his innocence in retrospect. The original paper states he “assessed” biopsy specimens. Wakefield claimed two years ago, “Dr Dhillon’s diagnosis formed the basis for what was reported in the Lancet, I played no part in the diagnostic process at all.” Which is also strange given that Dhillon did not report any children as having enterocolitis. Yet Wakefield’s paper argued a finding of “autistic enterocolitis” which formed the basis for the primary submission of lawyers in the failed multi-party MMR lawsuits in Britain.

For colitis to be present epithelial damage must have occurred. But Dhillon recorded nothing of the sort. Deer writes:

No cell counts or clinical diagnoses appear on the forms, and neither Crohn’s disease nor ulcerative colitis was even considered “possible” by Dhillon.

Nor did Dhillon use the term “non-specific colitis”, reported in 11 of the 12 children five of whom were acute. Dhillon’s grading sheets did have a tick box for “non-specific” and from here Wakefield took his cue to claim “non-specific colitis”. Paola Domizio, a consultant histopathologist and professor of pathology education at Queen Mary’s College, London who was “astonished” at the normality of the specimen findings suggests the “non-specific” option allowed Dhillon to note “changes of uncertain significance”.

Walker-Smith conducted blood tests and colonoscopies – both of which showed no pathology. Still in search of abnormality Walker-Smith ordered ileocolonoscopies on these very ill children. The biopsies returned normal findings. All these tests were omitted from the final paper. Only when Wakefield got hold of Dhillon’s grading sheets – which also showed nothing abnormal – did “autistic enterocolitis” emerge.

Consultant histopathologist Susan Davies had documented healthy biopsies which were reported as diseased in a draft paper. After raising concerns about reported “colitis” she deferred to Dhillon after a research “review”. It seems clear that the team was intent on showing this “new condition”. In the case of one 3 year old boy Susan Davies and Amar Dhillon “found mild caecal inflammation, with no abnormality or changes in other biopsies”. When the final paper was published the same boy had the mild inflammation changed to, “Acute caecal cryptitis and chronic non-specific colitis.”

Even had the dodgy data been sound the omission of the fact almost all the children had chronic constipation would have clinical implications. Deer writes:

This omission of constipation was no small matter. It went to the heart of how the paper would be read. Specialists told me that both mild inflammation and prominent lymphoid follicles may be expected to be associated with this sign.

“The increase of colonic lymphoid aggregates found in severely constipated patients may represent a protective mucosal mechanism toward the chronic fecal stasis,” suggests a team of Italian and Swiss researchers, for example, in a study of adults.

But such prosaic observations would not have helped the lawsuits—for which Wakefield was hired before any child was referred, and which in the UK paid him more than £400 000. Five other Royal Free doctors—Davies and Dhillon were not among them—shared more than £100 000 to back him.

If there is one word that does not apply to Andrew Wakefield it is “innocent”. Fiona Godlee estimates at least six more of his reports need independent investigation and the exact role of the other authors must be elucidated.

£400 000 to push along lawsuits against MMR, plus vaccine patents, plus income from treating this new “syndrome” is a lot of reasons for Wakefield to lose his objectivity. Supporters need to snap to and remember this is not about vague interpretation of histology samples.

Labelled dishonest, irresponsible, unethical and showing “callous disregard for the distress and pain of children”, Wakefield was eventually struck from the medical register. “Erased” is the term used. His syndrome was a foregone conclusion. He joked about buying blood from children who vomited and passed out.

His fraudulent paper was retracted by Lancet editor, Richard Horton. Expunged from the evidence base of our species’ medical knowledge library to be a tad dramatic. But not before ten of the thirteen authors had removed their names, stating there was insufficient evidence for an association between MMR and autism whilst also expressing regret over the “major implications for public health”.

Another paper attempting to link thimerosal – he was learning on his feet – with neurological problems was withdrawn from the journal NeuroToxicology. He has never apologised, nor admitted his obvious guilt. He has become a beacon for disturbed and mistaken followers and quickly turned that fact into a huge income, feigning compassion as a seeker of truth. Wakefield can never be “innocent” for his crimes are so multitudinous.

So next time you hear of another anti-vaccine zealot bellowing “Wakefield innocent”, you’re entitled to ask, “Of what exactly?”

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About @advodiaboli
I'm not really a cast iron flying pig.

One Response to Wakefield innocent, Deer lied, Earth flat

  1. Matthew Cline says:

    If Wakefield actually is innocent, it doesn’t mean that he’s right or that Brian Deer is lying. Rather, it means that Wakefield is a bungling incompetent with more holes in his memory than a piece of Swiss cheese.

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