Wakefield was in London to present the European premiere of his filmVaxxed. Banners on the stage proclaimed it as: "The film they don't want you to see". Such conspiracy charges are often mere commercial hype, but not in this instance. In the USA, often with media support, the film had already been blacklisted at many venues, including New York's Tribeca Film Festival.
Likewise in London, where the film's producers had booked a private showing at the Curzon Cinema, a few UK scientists and self-styled skepticss, had successfully persuaded it to cancel.
Predictably, as with most attempts to suppress free speech in a free society, the censorship backfired, as publicity about the ban drew attention to its showing at an alternative venue—which was a sell-out in an even larger auditorium than the Curzon's.
Rotten at the core
The core of Vaxxed is the massive cover-up of MMR/autism data by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US government's premier public-health agency, tasked with safety-testing the nation's vaccines and recommending how they're used. It's the CDC that has incrementally raised the country's child vaccination regime from five jabs in 1962 to 24 in 1983 (including the MMR) and 72 in 2016.
This film's exposé is classic investigative journalism, but its emotional power comes from the testimony of parents with vaccine-damaged children. As almost everyone can now afford high-quality video cameras, there is abundant evidence from home movies, where the contrast between children's behaviour before and after the MMR is striking. Almost overnight, happy healthy infants are seen to regress to anguished zombies with the classic symptoms of autism: head-banging, social withdrawal and repetitive behaviours.
While this telling footage is heart-rending, what most perplexes and angers viewers is how doctors routinely fob off both the parents' concerns and the children's symptoms. As Vaxxed points out, it's surely the job of the primary-care physician to listen to patients and arrive at a common-sense diagnosis.
Nevertheless, there appears to be a near-universal refusal by medicine to acknowledge that such severe neurological symptoms can result from a mere vaccine. Indeed, the film quotes 'experts' (even Bill Gates) vehemently asserting no conceivable link between MMR and autism.
And yet officialdom, including the CDC accepts that autism spectrum disorders are rising exponentially in the US, from one in 15,000 children in 1975 (before the start of the country's mass infant vaccination programme) to one in 150 in 2000 and one in 68 in 2014.1
Experts attribute the huge rise to everything from pesticides to genetics, and even to 'greater recognition' of autism by parents and doctors, plus 'broadening of diagnostic criteria'.
But Vaxxed convincingly demolishes such excuses in an interview with autism expert Dr Doreen Granpeesheh. A clinical psychologist, she began her career at UCLA which, in the 1970s, housed the US's main autism treatment centre. At the time, autism was "very rare", she says, with only a handful of cases a year. But somewhere in the 1990s, she told the filmmakers, the growth of autism was "so high and rapid" that her clinic was overwhelmed with cases of "incredible regression" in behaviour—many shortly after the MMR jab.
The CDC cover-up
Among the parents whose children had become severely autistic after the jab was Dr Brian Hooker, a biochemist with over 60 published scientific papers to his name, who wanted to know how his daughter became so damaged. During 2003-2004, he contacted the CDC on numerous occasions, asking for their raw MMR/autism research data. His requests were repeatedly rejected and finally resulted in a letter from CDC lawyers telling him to back off.
It worked—Hooker gave up.
Fast-forward to 2014, when a call out of the blue came to Hooker from Dr Walter Thompson—a senior CDC research scientist—who seemed fully aware of the way in which Hooker had been stone-walled by his organization 10 years earlier.
"I feel great shame when I meet families with autism because I have been part of the problem," said Thompson to an astonished Hooker. "I've waited a long time to tell my story and I want to tell it truthfully. I was involved in deceiving millions of taxpayers involving the negative side effects of vaccines."
Thompson steered Hooker to an MMR study he'd co-authored in 2004 in the journal Pediatrics,2 which unequivocally concluded that there is no link between MMR and autism. As Thompson told Hooker: "We lied about the findings. I can provide a lot of information."
And indeed he did. Thompson had been the senior researcher on the 2004 Pediatrics study and, using a legal loophole, Thompson sent Hooker thousands of xeroxed pages of the original study data—the CDC's only records of the study. Hooker later learned that CDC staff had intended to shred key pages, but Thompson had secretly not done so.
As a biochemist, Hooker knew how to analyze complex data. After weeks of work, he was staggered by what his calculations showed: highly statistically significant correlations between the MMR and autistic symptoms—with an excess risk of up to 750 per cent "Ah, you've found it", Thompson congratulated Hooker during their next phone call.
All time low
Thompson was clearly mortified by having been forced by his colleagues to suppress the bombshell data. "I cannot believe what we did; it was the lowest point in my career," he confessed. As proof of his discomfiture, Thompson even sent Hooker copies of his emails to top CDC officials, threatening to withdraw his name from the paper—the strongest means of scientific protest.
In the end, all he could do was refuse to present the paper's data to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) before its formal submission to the journal. The CDC appointed co-author Frank DeStefano instead.
This presentation, in February 2004, was crucial to the CDC and its vaccination programme, as the IOM is a prestigious committee of top scientists, tasked with overseeing the CDC and its research. Official IOM approval of the study would add considerable weight to its manipulated findings.
According to medical journalist Del Bigtree (Vaxxed's producer), the MMR/autism link was covered-up by: (1) post-hoc removing case histories post-hoc to reduce the study's statistical power; (2) "reformatting" and ultimately removing original data; and (3) destroying original documents.
DeStefano's presentation was so convincing that the IOM declared the whole debate overwith—no further research necessary. "The committee does not consider a significant investment in studies of the theoretical vaccine-autism connection to be useful at this time," the IOM announced.3
But the true unsung hero is Walter Thompson, a mild-mannered 'company man' who took the hugely courageous, self-sacrificing decision to expose fraud from within the corrupt system he was attacking. Dr Thompson's 2014 full disclosure of the CDC cover-up can be viewed online.4
Vaxxed is a powerful exposé of arguably one of the most serious frauds in the history of public health. The US media's hostility to its contents, while professionally inexcusable, is understandable, given that US journalism now relies heavily on advertising revenue from the pharmaceutical industry.
In contrast, the British media have no such conflicts of interest and, yet, the UK press, despite a proud history of investigations into pharmaceutical industry deceptions (such as thalidomide), has ignored the film's powerful whistle-blowing story, denigrated its producers and—most astonishingly of all—supported its censorship.
Even The Times, Britain's oldest and most respected newspaper, said this in an editorial: "The dangerous propaganda of Andrew Wakefield has no place in Britain... The Curzon [was] quite right to refuse to show this film. Other cinemas should do the same."5
Fortunately, for those who believe in the right of free speech in a free society, cinemas aren't the only outlets for the film. It can be purchased as a DVD or viewed on Vimeo.com by anyone at http://vaxxedthemovie.com/stream.
Don't be surprised, though, if you also come under fire from the Thought Police.
• In 2003, CDC researchers published a study exonerating thimerosal-containing vaccines from causing harm,1 but doubts expressed about the study's veracity prompted the US Department of Justice to order the CDC to hand over their data. Instead, the CDC hired lawyers to advise them on what documents they could legally withhold.
• The CDC has carried out no safety studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children. If they had, the 750 per cent increase in autism following the MMR jab could have been "much higher".
• No studies have tested the safety of the routine practice of administering multiple vaccines all at once.
• In 1998, Britain's Department of Health withdrew the single measles vaccine—it was out of patent—leaving doctors no option but to administer the (newly patented) M-M-R II made by Merck.
• The IOM comprises 'revolving-door' members who move from various posts in science, academia and the pharmaceutical industry, and back again. "They bounce around; we're not running a credible [CDC-policing] system," says medic and former Congressman Dr David Weldon.
• Six years after the successful cover-up of her researchers' autism data on Merck's MMR vaccine, CDC Director Dr Julie Gerberding resigned, taking up the post of... president of Merck Vaccines.
• Dr Thomas Verstraeten, lead author of the CDC disputed thimerosol study (see above),1 now works for GlaxoSmithKline.
• When Dr Thompson's whistle-blowing story broke in 2014, the US mainstream media ignored it, preferring to run with a CDC press release about the annual increase in measles cases—a mere 644. That same year, the total number of Americans diagnosed with autism had reached over one million.
• An early version of the MMR (with the Urabe strain of mumps) was withdrawn in Canada in 1987 because of an increased risk of meningitis. The following year, Britain was persuaded to adopt the vaccine, but withdrew it four years later for the same reason. In 1992, vaccine stocks were shipped to Brazil, where they caused an "epidemic" of meningitis.
The case of Billy Tommey is one of the film's strongest, with extracts from 20 years of family footage highlighting the long-term consequences of vaccine-related autism. We see him as a highly distressed toddler (head-banging, screaming, no social interaction, repetitive behaviours) through adolescence (uncontrollable aggression) to early manhood (general social dysfunction with episodes of aggression).
But Billy's outcome could have been much worse were it not for the many, costly treatments his parents obtained for him—nearly bankrupting themselves in the process.
The lifetime cost of autism has been calculated as $2.4 million per patient and £1.5 million in the UK.1