GP: Before the publication of the Lancet Paper in 1998, written by a team of twelve colleagues including Dr. Alexander Wakefield, a press conference was called by Professor Arie Zukerman, Dean of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, where the study was conducted. The press conference was to take place a day before the publication of the paper by Lancet. In preparation for that meeting , Dr. Wakefield sent the following correspondence to the eleven other members of his team stating his position on the use of the MMR vaccine ( a polyvalent vaccine as distinguished from a monovalent vaccine).
…I felt that in view of the imminent publicity regarding our work, it was important to write and clarify my own position. Clearly, pending a press-briefing or other communications with the press, which now seems inevitable, we need to have considered our points of view, well in advance of publication. There may be points upon which we disagree…
…my opinion is also based upon a comprehensive review of all safety studies performed on measles, MR and MMR vaccines and re-vaccination policies. This now runs into a report compiled by me of some 250 pages, which I am happy to let you see. In summary, the safety studies are derisory, and appear to reflect sequential assumptions about measles vaccine safety, MMR safety and latterly, two dose vaccine safety, where each assumption has potentially compounded the dangers in inherent in the first.
In view of this, if my opinion is sought, I cannot support the continued use of the polyvalent MMR vaccine. I have no doubt of the value of the continued use of the monovalent vaccines, and will continue to support their use until t he case has beej proven one way or another of rthe measles link to chronic inflammatoryi bowel disease….I recommend that measles vaccination is deferred in children with a strong family history of IBD.
Paradoxically, attempts to sustain credence in MMR safety by quoting data from a surveillance scheme that is widely recognized to be inadequate, and to dismiss parents’ claims of a link between their child’s disorder and MMR without due investigation, in breach of the most fundamental rules of clinical medicine, is unacceptable. The failure of the regulatory authorities to honour their commitments to MMR vaccine safety has created a House-of-Cards that threatens all vaccine policies.
When parents have their claims dismissed, out of hand…they create frustration, resentment and distrust; similarly disaffected parents form into self help groups such as AIA and JABS, lmany of the members of which are articulate and well-read. Their anger is compounded as the case=numbers grow and their anxieties go unheeded. Finally, Doctors such as us, perceive a pattern to the disease and its links with the MMR that becomes self-evident. When the data are presented, the anger of many parents boils over, the press has a field day, and the House fo Cards crashes to the ground.
Loss of trust in the regulatory authorities is inevitable and vaccination compliance, across the board, is affected – a difficult and dangerous situation. There is no doubt in my mind that responsibility for this volatile state of affairs rests, not with us, but firmly upon t he shoulders of the policy makers; that is, the JCVI and the Department of health. They have started from the position that the MMR vaccine is safe, and that any change in the policy following claims of adverse events, must be set against that position. Their starting point was, and remains, wrong. Any drug, and especially one that involves 3 live viruses, must be considered dangerous until proven otherwise: this has never been proven, and, therefore, all claims of adverse events should have been thoroughly investigated. They have failed to honour this obligation.
In an attempt to avert the House-of-Cards collapsing, I will strongly recommend the use of monovalent vaccines as opposed to the polyvalent vaccines. This will not compromise children by increasing their risk of wild infection, and may reduce the risk of apparent synergy between the component viruses that have been identified by Dr. Scott Montgomery as a risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease, and may well be a risk for autism in our children, currently under investigation.