Rumors are swirling as the world learns of the government’s deception. Here’s what we know for sure.
William W. Thompson, PhD—an epidemiologist at the CDC’s National Center of Birth Defects and Development Disabilities who received his doctorate in biochemical engineering—has been revealed as the CDC whistleblower. Thompson broke a decade of silence over the government’s deliberate concealment of the link between the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps, and rubella) and a dramatically increased risk of autism, particularly in African American boys.
Thompson is alleging criminal wrongdoing on the part of his supervisors, and has expressed deep regret about his role in helping the CDC hide data: “It’s the lowest point in my career, that I went along with that paper.”
Here is a quick timeline of the scandal:
- In February 2004, a study of the MMR vaccine was published in the journal Pediatrics by three CDC scientists working in the National Immunization Program; one of them was Dr. Thompson. The study, in which vaccine data was gathered on 2,583 children in metropolitan Atlanta born between 1986 and 1993, concluded that there were “no significant associations” between the age at which the vaccine is administered and the incidence of “developmental regression” such as autism. This study has been used for the past decade by the those seeking to say there is no link between autism and vaccines. It should be noted that Pediatrics receives financial support from vaccine makers through advertising and direct donations, according to a CBS News report.
- That same month, Dr. Thompson wrote to Dr. Julie Gerberding (then director of the CDC, now director of Merck’s vaccine division). In this letter he discusses his intention to present, at an Institute of Medicine meeting on vaccines and autism the following week, “several problematic results” that the Atlanta study had produced.
- For the next ten years, Dr. Brian Hooker, of the Focus Autism Foundation, tried to obtain the original data from that study. This year, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Dr. Hooker received much of the data. He was also allowed to view several highly sensitive documents related to the study thanks to a request from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
- After the FOIA was filed, Hooker was contacted by Dr. Thompson at the CDC, who at that time spoke on condition of anonymity. Thompson guided Hooker to evidence that there was a statistically significant relationship between the age at which the MMR vaccine was first given and the incidence of autism—particularly in African-American boys. Thompson revealed that CDC researchers did not include any children who did not have a valid State of Georgia birth certificate, thereby reducing the study’s sample size by 41%, which dramatically skewed the statistical findings. Thompson claimed this manipulation was intentional because of top-down pressure to promote a pro-vaccine agenda, and because of the CDC’s reluctance to address the vaccine-autism connection.
- Hooker presented his own research—a re-analysis of the original data—in a paper published August 8 in the peer-reviewed journal Translational Neurodegeneration. In African American boys who received the vaccine at 24 months of age (that is, “on schedule,” as opposed delaying the vaccine until 36 months or later), Hooker said the raw data shows the incidence of autism to be 340% higher. Dr. Hooker suggests the extraordinary vulnerability of young African American boys to autism from vaccinations may result from their low vitamin D levels, given their dark skin pigmentation. The prevalence of autism in African Americans is nearly 25% higher than that of whites. “The CDC knew about the relationship between the age of first MMR vaccine and autism incidence in African-American boys as early as 2003,” Hooker says, “but chose to cover it up.”
- This week, Dr. Andrew Wakefield and the Autism Media Channel published a powerful nine-minute video revealing Dr. Thompson’s identity. “We’ve missed ten years of research because the CDC is so paralyzed right now by anything related to autism,” Thompson says. “They’re not doing what they should be doing because they’re afraid to look for things that might be associated.”
No statement has been issued either by the American Academy of Pediatrics on whether the original study will be retracted or not, or by the CDC about Thompson’s statements. There are rumors that Thompson has been escorted off the CDC “campus,” though this has not been verified by independent sources. There is also a rumor that a class-action lawsuit is being readied by the parents of autistic children who received the vaccine.
Earlier this year, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) demanded that the CDC be investigated, highlighting “the incestuous relationship between the public health community and the vaccine makers and public officials,” the manipulation of data, and the swinging door policy between the CDC and vaccine maker Merck—all of which ensures that the autism link is never thoroughly explored. We reported on the CDC’s manipulation of data earlier this year when they greatly exaggerated flu hospitalization figures in order to push the flu vaccine.
Pharmaceutical companies pay enormous amounts of money for websites to promote vaccines. According to Merck’s website, at least $3.5 million was paid to Medscape LLC, a subsidiary of WebMD Health, from 2008 through 2012. You’ll note that WebMD downplays any adverse reactions to the vaccines or their ingredients. We mentioned Dr. Gerberding as one who went through the swinging door between the federal government and the drug industry, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that courageous whistleblower Thompson once worked at Merck and Co. as well.