Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 2:32 pm | Partly Cloudy 66º


Letter to the Editor: ‘Vaxxed’ Deserves to be Seen

The controversial film Vaxxed is a must-see documentary that dares question that which must not be questioned.  If that seems overly provocative, consider the unprecedented last-minute removal of the film from the Tribeca Film Festival.  Happily, that backfired and created a buzz that only expanded the movie’s distribution.

Like recent films including Trace Amounts and The Greater Good, Vaxxed is the latest documentary to shed light on ugly truths regarding vaccine safety that have been ignored, denied, or covered up.  Vaxxed peels back just one layer of the very large topic of vaccine risk, but it’s the most controversial: The relation between the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism.  Prominent storylines include the saga of Andrew Wakefield and the corruption of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), set against the backdrop of an exploding epidemic of autism.

It’s about time that the tables are turned for British gastroenterologist (and director and co-producer of Vaxxed) Andrew Wakefield.  Wakefield was one of the first to notice intestinal inflammation associated with MMR markers in children with autism and suggested that parents be given the option of having their children get the single vaccines (removed from the market and no longer available) instead of the combined MMR.  For this and an overblown conflict of interest accusation, his career was destroyed, his medical license revoked, and his 1998 Lancet paper retracted.  Given that no mainstream media venue has given Wakefield a fair platform to state his case, Vaxxed gives him the opportunity to at least make his case in the court of public opinion regarding what he did and didn’t say about the MMR vaccine.  Most people who know who Andrew Wakefield is have never read his book, researched his science, or read his retracted 1998 paper, yet parrot the “disgraced physician” qualifier whenever his name comes up.  Their knowledge doesn’t go much further than hit pieces like Anderson Cooper’s shameful 2011 interview, which helped paint Wakefield as a villain.

In the CDC’s case, we see the corrupt machinations of so-called scientists behind the facade of an institution whose mission of public health has been supported by blind public trust for too long.  The film focuses on the 2004 “Atlanta Study” whose conclusion exonerating MMR as a risk for autism was the result of data manipulation and destruction, particularly with a cohort of African American boys.  Although senior scientist and study co-author William Thompson is known as the CDC Whistleblower, he is hardly a hero as his whistleblowing was merely the surreptitiously, but legally, recorded phone conversations he had with biochemist Brian Hooker.  Realizing the cat was out of the bag, Thompson lawyered up and currently has Federal whistleblower status.  Thompson is supposedly willing and eager to testify before Congress if subpoenaed.  He continues to work at the CDC, keeping his mouth shut, but recent word on the street is that he is preparing to publish another “reworking” of the data on the seminal 2004 MMR study.  This sounds like more of the same creative epidemiology the CDC uses to find the outcomes it and its Pharma puppeteers want.  For more on CDC vaccine data manipulation, statistical deception, and outcomes engineering, the curious reader is encouraged to research the Verstraeten study and Simpsonwood, as well as the so-called Danish papers and author Poul Thorsen.

The film also touches on the conflicts of interest and revolving door culture between the policy makers of the CDC, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical academia.  These and other uncomfortable topics like the influence of Pharma money in media and politics warrant documentaries of their own.  

Vaxxed runs through June 2nd at the Riviera Theatre in Santa Barbara.  See Vaxxed and urge your physician and elected representatives to see it too.  For William Thompson to testify before Congress, a committee chairman would need to issue the subpoena.  That person would likely be Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  He accepts significant money from Pharma, so it probably won’t happen without significant pressure.  I urge Congresswoman Capps to see this movie and join your colleagues to persuade Congressman Chaffetz to subpoena William Thompson without delay.

Douglas J. Mackenzie M.D.
Santa Barbara

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