« Happy Valentine's Day | Main | Without A Trace - Update 2/15 »

February 16, 2004

A Conspiracy Theory Worthy of The X-Files

For all you X-Philes, out there, remember that running theme in show that human beings were being catalogued by the aliens through our smallpox vaccines? It sounded so deliciously loopy at a time when Hillary Clinton complained (rightly) about a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

Well, that loopy conspiracy theory involving childhood immunization vaccines might not be so far off after all...

Dwight at Wampum reports that "The Centers for Disease Control published a study last fall repudiating any possible link between thimerosal and developmental problems like autism in children." However, the Internet is now abuzz with news that the CDC may have covered up findings from "a February 2000 study that finds a significant association between exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines, and developmental issues like autism in children." Various news sources obtained the transcript of a 2000 meeting between members of the CDC, the FDA, representatives of the vaccine industry, and others.

I stopped at the CDC web site and found this:

Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organzation (HMO) Databases

6. There have been reports that one of the CDC scientists who worked on this study now works for a vaccine manufacturer and that this was never mentioned in the publication of the study. Is this true?

Yes. From the time the study started to the time it was published took about 4 years and during that time one of four CDC scientists involved in the study left CDC to work for a pharmaceutical company called GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). In addition to the CDC scientists there were also researchers from three health maintenance organizations (HMOs) who participated.

Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, the researcher who left CDC in 2001 to work for GSK, worked at CDC during the critical time when the study was designed and the data were analyzed. As a result, the journal Pediatrics, which published the study on November 4, 2003, listed Dr. Verstraeten’s affiliation as the CDC. Pediatrics, like many professional journals, has a policy of identifying an author’s affiliation at the time a study was conducted (rather than their affiliation when the article is published). This article was thoroughly peer reviewed before it was published. However, to avoid any perceived conflict of interest, CDC should have assured that Dr. Verstraeten’s current employment status, as well as his status when the work was carried out, were both disclosed in the journal article. Once Dr. Verstraeten’s began working at GSK, his involvement in this study was limited to reviewing drafts of the manuscript.

The CDC is also conducting a thimerosal follow-up study and a thimerosal and autism case-control study.

The transcript of the 2000 meeting mentioned above is available online here:

Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information
June 7-8, 2000
Simpsonwood Retreat Center
Norcross, Georgia

Posted on February 16, 2004 at 11:38 AM | Permalink


I must get ready for work, but two things. First,we have to be careful to avoid the decision NOT to vaccinate our kids because we believe there is little risk they will encounter the virus (otherwise the children become dangerous transmittors if they do so come in contact - and that is how epidemics begin) while at the same time keep a synical eye on the medical proof. That doesn't seem too daunting, now, does it?

My comment on your Hissy Fit post got me a visit from "Ray." His comment to me in turn brought out two friends, one from the woodwork, practically, ready to protect me from all evil. Do you have a needlepoint somewhere hanging in your house that reads, "Go Ahead. I Dare You"?

Posted by: Catherine at Feb 17, 2004 7:35:11 AM

Well, thimerosal is not the only thing the autistic community is concerned about. The levels of mercury in the blood of autistic children is generally very high. Where do they get that? The MMR vaccine....If you know of anyone whose child starts losing language around the ages of 18 months to 2 years, then you can pretty much start early intervention, because that's autism. And that usually happens very soon after their 18 month shots...... There is a HUGE faction in the autistic community that is anti-vaccine.

The number of cases of these diseases have gone down immensely but I don't know if it's solely because of the vaccines, because when you get the vaccines you can still get the diseases anyway. I had both kinds of measles and mumps when I was a kid, and I had the vaccine. I came out ok. Maybe I should have taken that risk with my son. Then he might have been able to live on his own one day. Now all I can hope for is that he might get into a group home, because after we go, he has no one.

Posted by: Moi ;) at Feb 17, 2004 10:49:23 PM

Thimerosal is a pharmaceutical preservative that was used to extend the shelf-life of vaccines like MMR and many other liquid-based injectionable drugs(like antibiotics for instance). Thimerosal is made up of Mercury at 50% by volume. It's the active ingredient to the preservative.
Because adults have a matured immune system, thimerosal was not seen as a danger. And thimerosal was not used in kid's vaccine's all that much until approximately 25-30 years ago. Then it became the standard because with ever increasing population growth, MMR vaccines became more in demand and more expensive to produce.
So, for example, if pharmaceutical companies have thimerosal based MMR vaccines that have been on the shelf for, say, 10 years(the cost of which to manufacture 10 years ago as significantly lower) but they sell it based on TODAY'S costs...well,increased shelf life equals bigger savings for the pharmaceutical companies. Ergo, bigger profits. MUCH bigger profits. The tobacco industry has got NOTHING on these guys when it comes to raw wealth and power.
So the issue was the thimerosal 'IN' the MMR'S, not the MMR vaccine itself.
So when more and more cases of diagnosed autism began to show up with virtually no logical explanation, studies began on the possible causes until somebody noted a possible thimerosal/autism link.
Families became furious over the fact that they were never informed of this information so that they could make a choice between shelf vaccine, or the increased cost of newly a produced mercury free vaccine(I know I would have liked to make that choice)
So families began to consult lawyers, which led to several very large, however unsuccessful class-action lawsuits. It ended up just like the silicone breast implant class action suits.
Even now, there are more suits primed to try again.
Since those suits, thimerosal has been completely taken off the market, and more new studies have begun.
My 12 year old son suffers from autism. Kanner's autism.

Posted by: Michael Capanzzi at Feb 18, 2004 1:30:46 AM

Thanks Michael for the chemistry info. I was thinking that Thimerosal was the thing that caused the severe deformity in - what was that, I forget the name, they stopped giving it becausez of that in the 60s? Brain Fart, I am old, what can I tell you?

Anyway, I also would have liked to make the choice for a more expensive vaccine. If you hear of any suits that any parents can join, count me in. My 11 yo son has Asperger's, but it's low functioning enough that we are not sure if he will ever be able to live on his own.

Posted by: Moi ;) at Feb 18, 2004 6:47:24 PM

You might be thinking of Bendectin or Thalidomide. Bendectin was given for nausea I believe and Thalidomide was given to help prevent spontaneous abortions. Both were pulled off the market and both were linked to birth defects. Thalidomide I believe, was the more severe defect.... Limbs were missing.. etc.

Don't worry about being old and having brain farts... that was a LONG time ago.... lol as in 40 years!!!! LOL

As far as a class action suit.... I wouldn't look for one in your lifetime.. or your child's lifetime. If a definitive link is ever made between Thimersol and autism..... they won't release that information while people are still around and records are readily available to pursue an action. JMO

Posted by: Chief at Feb 18, 2004 8:03:01 PM