By, Gary Null, PhD, Jeremy Stillman, and Nancy Ashley, VMD, MS
A bombshell revelation coming out of an investigation by the drug safety group Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (CoMeD) has rocked the foundation of a belief widely held by mainstream medicine – the idea that vaccines do not cause autism. In a news release last Tuesday, CoMeD exposed a cover-up by authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and vaccine researchers who deliberately omitted critical data from a 2003 article on mercury and autism that was carried out in Denmark. The conclusion of the article denied any causal relationship between the mercury-laden vaccine ingredient Thimerosal and autism. However, documents obtained by CoMeD indicate that the authors of the article, with the full approval of the CDC, decided to leave out large quantities of data which, in fact, supported a strong link between Thimerosal and the incidence of autism.
The documents, which were acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reveal correspondences between individuals at the CDC and scientists working on the Danish article. The article examined rates of autism in Denmark after a nationwide phasing out of all Thimerosal-containing vaccines in 1992. The unearthed communications prove that the data collected during the study actually reflected an overall decrease in the incidence of autism since the phase-out was implemented. However, the article’s authors chose to use only select data which bolstered the conclusion that rates of autism in Denmark had risen since 1992. This decision was deemed entirely acceptable by officials at the CDC.[i]
In one missive to the CDC that was turned up in CoMeD’s investigation, a researcher working on the study called attention to the exclusion of important data associating Thimerosal-fortified vaccines with autism. Part of the communication stated “attached I send you the short and long manuscript about Thimerosal and autism in Denmark … I need to tell you that the figures do not include the latest data from 2001 … but the incidence and prevalence are still decreasing in 2001.”[ii] The documents also reveal that the lead author of the article was aware of the extensive omissions of data before submitting the final draft for review and publication. The CDC chose to ignore the deeply flawed science behind the article’s conclusion and even went so far as to send a recommendation letter to editor of the American Academy of Pediatrics journal, Pediatrics, which called on the group to fast-track the article’s review and publication. Since it was published 8 years ago, the article has been highly touted by major medical institutions and health care professionals as definitive proof of no association between mercury and autism spectrum disorder. [iii]
What is Thimerosal?
Thimerosal is an organic compound made up of equal parts ethylmercury and thiosalicylic acid. Developed by Eli Lilly, Thimerosal was registered in 1929 as a compound with antiseptic and antibacterial properties and was widely used in a variety of products prior to the development of antibiotics. The use of Thimerosal as a preservative in vaccines appears to have been based on a single, uncontrolled and poorly-reported human study in the 1920s: the FDA never required the pharmaceutical industry to conduct truly scientific safety studies on Thimerosal and consequently, it has never been proven safe.4
The medical literature is replete with references to the dangers of mercury, a heavy metal known to be toxic at certain levels. Its toxic effects on the developing brain may progress to severe brain damage, cerebella ataxia, delayed achievement of developmental milestones, neurological abnormalities, constriction of the visual fields, and loss of hearing. Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to mercury in the womb. According to EPA guidelines, doses of mercury should never exceed 0.1 micrograms/kg/day. This means that a child receiving a vaccine containing 12.5 micrograms of mercury – the lowest amount of mercury in a mercury-containing vaccine – would be receiving a toxic dose. A rare study comparing DTaP vaccines with and without Thimerosal shows that the Thimerosal-containing vaccine caused higher rates of speech disorders autism, and cardiac arrest.5
Scientific Evidence Connecting Mercury, Vaccines and Autism
An investigation published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in July 2011 offers great insight into the relationship between autism and mercury. Australian researchers David Austin, PhD and Kerrie Shandley surveyed a group of adults who were survivors of Pink Disease or Infantile Acrodynia, an ailment historically caused by exposure to mercury found in teething powder, diaper rinses and other materials. Since the survivors of Pink Disease were proven to be sensitive to mercury, the study set out to find whether or not higher rates of autism were present in their grandchildren. Austin and Shandley demonstrated that 1 in 25 of the survivors’ grandchildren had some form of autism spectrum disorder. The frequency of autism among children in the general population of Australia in the same age group as those surveyed is 1in 160.5.6 The results unequivocally suggest that children with a family history of susceptibility to mercury poisoning are far more likely to develop autism.
Two articles appearing in the neuroscience journal Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis in 2010 provide convincing evidence of a relationship between vaccines and autism. In the first study done by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, baby macaque monkeys were given a course of vaccinations typical of the 1990s vaccine schedule. In comparison with the control group, the vaccinated monkeys displayed abnormal patterns of brain growth and dysfunction of the amygdala – both strong indicators of autism when they appear in children.7
In the other article, researchers at the University of Northern Iowa evaluated dozens of studies that claimed to refute the relationship between autism and exposure to toxic metals such as mercury, found in vaccines. The evidence gathered overwhelmingly contradicted the studies’ conclusions and suggested that the presence of heavy metals the bodies of children is indeed connected with autism. The scientists also determined that several of these studies used erroneous statistics and faulty methodologies to come to their conclusions. 8
A 2004 study conducted by Northwestern University Pharmacy professor Richard Deth and researchers from the University of Nebraska, Tufts and Johns Hopkins University offered further evidence of a connection between vaccines and neurological disorders. The study found that toxins contained within vaccines disrupt the biochemical process of methylation in the human body. Methylation plays a significant role in normal DNA function and neurological growth in infants and children.9 The group’s findings suggest that toxicants introduced through vaccinations contribute to conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The results were published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.
In a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science in 2002, scientists at Utah State University’s Department of Biology analyzed the effect of the MMR vaccine on the central nervous system. In their evaluation, the group discovered that autistic children given the vaccine posses a significantly elevated number of a type of antibody related to measles. These antibodies trigger an abnormal autoimmune response that effectively damages the brain’s myelin sheath. Evidence suggests that such damage to the myelin sheath may impair normal brain activities and cause autism.10 In another study exposing the dangers of the MMR injection, researchers at the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University showed a significantly higher incidence of autism among children who were given the MMR vaccine and subsequently took acetaminophen. Their findings were published in the medical journal Autism. 11
The conclusions of these investigations are corroborated by the work of Dr. Boyd Haley who has done extensive research in the area of toxicology. Dr. Haley served as the chairman of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Chemistry and spent three years as a NIH post-doctoral scholar at the Yale University Medical School’s Department of Physiology. Haley’s comprehensive body of research demonstrates a startling connection between the use of mercury-fortified Thimerosal in vaccines and neurological disease. His research has identified mercury, even in miniscule amounts, to be a dangerous immunity suppressant that is damaging to neurological health and a major contributor to autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Haley’s scientific inquiries have provided strong evidence documenting how ethylmercury inhibits the process of phagocytosis (a critically important biological process of the human immune system), impairs the function of dendritic neurons in the brain and hinders the production of methyl B12. Each of these adverse events are significant factors in the onset of neurological illness.12
The Dark and Dubious History of the CDC:
The CDC has a sordid history of supporting the pharmaceutical industry and suppressing information to the detriment of our health. There are key pieces of the puzzle which need to be examined in order to understand what is behind the cover-up of the relationship between Thimerosal and autism.
The current revelation that critical data was omitted from the Danish study in order to alter the conclusion is not the only example of deceit connected with this project. A central figure involved in the scandal is Dr. Poul Thorsen, who served as the CDC’s chief coordinator for the Danish study. On April 13, 2011, Thorsen was indicted by a U.S federal grand jury for using his personal bank account at the CDC credit union to launder more than $1 million earmarked for autism research under CDC grants. He is facing 13 counts of wire fraud and 9 counts of money laundering. The U.S Attorney’s office is currently in the process of extraditing Thorsen from Denmark to face charges.13
In light of these developments, have the CDC, FDA, or any of the major journals which published Thorsen’s pro-vaccine autism research, denounced him or called his research into question? Hardly. Thorsen’s research is too important of a cornerstone in the “evidence” which dispels any link between vaccines and autism. Therefore, it is unlikely that his career and his published work will face the same fate as that of Dr. Andrew Wakefield.
In June 2000, a group of top government scientists, health officials, the CDC, the FDA and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry attended a conference convened by the CDC at the Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Georgia. Officially titled the Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information, the Simpsonwood conference was held to review the findings of a large epidemiological study evaluating any relationship between Thimerosal and autism. The meeting was not open to the public and was subject to a complete news embargo. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a transcript of the meeting became available. The transcript revealed not only damning information about the dangers of Thimerosal, but also the cold-blooded cover-up of this information. The director of the Datalink study, CDC epidemiologist Dr. Tom Verstraeten, was quoted as saying, “I was actually stunned by what I saw,” citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between Thimerosal and speech delays, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism.14
What happened to the important results of the Datalink information was best summed up by then- Congressman Dave Weldon of Florida. A medical doctor himself, Weldon wrote the following to the CDC’s director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, after reading the draft of a study authored by Dr. Verstraeten:
“A review of these documents leaves me very concerned that rather than seeking to understand whether or not some children were exposed to harmful levels of mercury in childhood vaccines in the 1990s, there may have been a selective use of the data to make the associations in the earliest study disappear.”15
Dr. Verstraeten, who by then was working for pharmaceutical-giant GlaxoSmithKline, went on to publish the manipulated data in the journal Pediatrics. The study ran counter to everything he had reported at Simpsonwood and concluded that there was no correlation between neurodevelopmental problems and Thimerosal exposure.16
The Pace University Study
In contradiction to most of the mainstream reports of studies dismissing any link between vaccines and autism, a detailed research study appearing in the Pace Environmental Law Review in March 2011 revealed that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has been quietly compensating 83 families for cases of vaccine-induced encephalopathy and residual seizure disorder associated with autism. In 21 of these cases, the word’ autism’ is actually used in court documents to describe the injuries that resulted from vaccination. The obvious conclusion is that, in paying these claims, the government has implicitly acknowledged a link between vaccination and autism.17
Gardasil – Pushing a Hazardous Vaccine on Boys
The CDC has just added another vaccine to the immunization schedule for boys ages 11-12: Gardasil. The popular human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is now being recommended by the CDC for preteen boys who, according to federal health authorities, are at risk for developing anal, penile and oral cancers stemming from the sexually-transmitted HPV. 18 One outspoken critic of this decision is Dr. Diane Harper, a former FDA researcher who played a large role in having Gardasil approved in 2006 – she currently works as the director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In an interview with ABC News, Dr. Harper stated that the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing cancer-causing strains of HPV has not been established. Further, Dr. Harper mentioned that any immunological benefits given to boys by the vaccine to boys will wear off years earlier than they would in girls. Harper also went on to say that she believes it is “misguided to think that all boys will gain any health benefit from HPV vaccination.” 19
Officials at the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) also expressed their misgivings over the CDC’s latest recommendation that Gardasil to be used on boys. AAPS director Alieta Eck, M.D, questioned the propriety of vaccinating boys for a condition that plays a relatively minor role in the risks associated with promiscuity. Eck stated that “if we knew a swimming pool was heavily contaminated, would we buy our children wet suits in case they decided to go swimming anyway?” 20
The Next Deadly Injection- Anthrax
Last Friday, the National Biodefense Science Board voted 12-1 in favor of beginning testing of the anthrax vaccine on children. The influential group claims that anthrax vaccinations would help to protect against a potential bioterrorist attack using the anthrax bacteria. The responsibility now lies with officials at the Department of Health and Human Services who are considering whether to move ahead with testing the vaccine on children. 21 Since 1998, more than 2.6 million individuals have been given the Anthrax vaccine- most of them have been members of the military who serving overseas. 22 Due to its very harmful side effects, the anthrax vaccine has been a roundly criticized by many.
In the wake of the anthrax attack on Washington D.C’s in 2001, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist commented on the use of the vaccine saying:
“There are very real and potentially serious side effects from the vaccine and anyone who elects to receive the vaccine needs to be made aware of that. I do not recommend widespread inoculation for people with the vaccine in the Hart Building. There are too many side effects and if there is limited chance of exposure the side effects would far outweigh any potential advantage.” 23
In an interview with the Washington Post, Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection condemned the idea saying that “the trial would expose healthy children to substantial harm with no possibility of benefit.” 24
Speaking during an interview on the Progressive Radio Network, bioterrorism and anthrax vaccine expert Dr. Meryl Nass of Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine, voiced her serious concern over the advisory panel’s recommendation for testing anthrax vaccines on children. Dr. Nass contended that it is “an extremely dangerous vaccine” pointing out that even the federal government has recognized that no less than 7% of anthrax vaccine recipients have experienced serious side effects. She discussed that the efficacy of the anthrax vaccine has never been established and there is no scientific evidence which indicates that mass vaccinations for anthrax would be beneficial to the population. Further, Dr. Nass pointed out that anthrax is not contagious and even if an outbreak were to occur, it would be small in scope. 25
Speculating on the true reasons for bringing about trial of the vaccine, Dr. Nass said that the vaccine’s manufacturer, Emergent, may be looking to expand the number of people eligible for the vaccine which is currently available only for people between 18 and 65 years old. 26 She noted the astronomical profit margin on the anthrax vaccine, which hovers around 300% while the profit margin for most other vaccines is usually about 10%.27 According to Dr. Nass, the promotion of the anthrax vaccine for children is a clear example the collusion that exists between government officials and the pharmaceutical industry. She cites the more than $2 billion in contracts that the US government has inked to produce the anthrax vaccine and the recent legislation which effectively stripped all Americans of the right to sue all vaccine makers for damages. 28
This latest scandal proves yet again that the CDC has failed to protect the health of the American public. The fact that the CDC, with malice aforethought, willfully withheld vital information, resulted in policies that allowed the continuation of the status quo – dangerous, mercury-laden vaccines mandated for children and huge profits to the pharmaceutical companies that produce them. Given the state of affairs, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of individuals are raising doubts over the safety and efficacy of vaccines. In fact, the findings of a study presented this month at a convention of the Infectious Diseases Society of America indicated that younger medical doctors were 15% less likely to put full faith in the effectiveness of vaccines than their older counterparts.29 Even still, the medical establishment is forging ahead with plans to expand their agenda of dangerous and unnecessary mass vaccination. Perhaps this most recent revelation will prove to be the tipping point that finally leads to a critical reassessment of the role of the CDC and the FDA in regulating the vaccine industry.
- 1. “Scandal Exposed in Major Study of Autism and Mercury” – Yahoo! News, October 28, 2011.
- “Manuscript about Thimerosal and Autism.” Banmercury.com, October 28, 2011.
- Kreesten M et al, “Thimerosal and the Occurrene of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence From Danish Population-Based Data, Pediatrics Vol 112 No 3 September 2003.
4 Burton D, “Mercury in Medicine – Taking Unnecessary Risks,” Subcommittee On Human Rights and Wellness Committee on Government Reform, US House of Representatives, May 2003.
4 Geier M and Geier D, “Thimerosal in Childhood Vaccines, Neurodeveloment Disorders, and Heart Disease in the United States,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 8, Number 1, Spring 2003.
- “Scandal Exposed in Major Study of Autism and Mercury” – Yahoo! News, October 28, 2011
6.” Famial Susceptibility to Mercury Is a Risk Factor for Autism,” safeminds.org
- “Influence of Pediatric Vaccines on Amydgala Growth and Opiod Ligand Binding in Rhesus Macaque Infants: A Pilot Study,” Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, www.ane.pl.
- “Sorting out the Spinning of Autism: Heavy Metals and the Question of Incidence,” Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, www.ane.pl.
- Molecular Psychiatry – Thimerosal and Autism,” Nature Publishing Group, www.nature.com.
- Singh VK et al, “Abnormal Measles-Mumps-Rubella Antibodies,” J. Biomed Sci, 2002 Jul-Aug.
- Schultz ST et al, “Acetaminophen use, MMR Vaccination and Autistic Disorder,” aug. sagepub.com.
- Interview with Dr. Boyd E. Haley: Biomarkers Supporting Mercury Toxicity as the Major Exacerbator of Neurological Illness, Recent Evidence via the Urinary Porphyrin Tests.” Vran.org.
- Press Release, ”Autism Researcher Indicted for Stealing Grant Money,” United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, April 13, 2011.
- Kennedy RF, “Deadly Immunity,” Rolling Stone, June 20, 2005.
- Letter from Congressman Dave Weldon to CDC Director, Julie Gerberding, October 31, 2003, bolenreport.com.
- Verstraeten T, “Safety of Thimerosal-containing vaccines: a two-phased study of computerized health maintenance organization databases,” Pediatrics. 2003 Nov;112(5):1039-48.
- Holland M et al “Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury,” Pace Environmental Law Review Volume 28, Issue 2, Winter 2011.
- “HPV for Boys Doesn’t Solve Problem, Says Association of American Physicians and… — TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –.” PR Newswire. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hpv-for-boys-doesnt-solve-problem-says-association-of-american-physicians-and-surgeons-132695318.html>.
- Hartman, Brian. “CDC Panel: All Young Boys Should Get HPV Vaccine – ABC News.” ABCNews.com. N.p., 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/cdc-young-boys-hpv-vaccine/story?id=14809196&page=2>.
- “HPV for Boys Doesn’t Solve Problem, Says Association of American Physicians and… — TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –.” PR Newswire. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
- Stein, Rob. “Federal advisers endorse testing anthrax vaccine in children – The Washington Post.” The Washington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/federal-advisers-endorse-testing-anthrax-vaccine-in-children/2011/10/27/gIQA95i7PM_story.html
- “Postal, Capitol Hill workers offered vaccine – December 20, 2001.” CNN.com – . N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2001. http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/12/18/18/anthrax/index.html
- . Stein, Rob. “Federal advisers endorse testing anthrax vaccine in children – The Washington Post.” The Washington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/federal-advisers-endorse-testing-anthrax-vaccine-in-children/2011/10/27/gIQA95i7PM_story.html
- Nass, Dr. Meryl. Interview by Gary Null. The Gary Null Show. The Progressive Radio Network. PRN, New York: 31 Oct. 2011. Radio.
- Tinder, Paul. “Younger doctors less likely to believe vaccines effective.” Vaccinenewsdaily.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <vaccinenewsdaily.com/news/279280-younger-doctors-less-likely-to-believe-vaccines-effective>.