An open letter.
It is perplexing to us why, in the face of replication by US scientists of the earlier detection of measles virus in the diseased intestine of UK children with regressive autism, Elliman and colleagues should want to ‘draw a line’ under this clearly unresolved issue’. This flies directly in the face of scientific logic and professional responsibility.
The vaccine-strain gene sequences obtained from the diseased intestine of some of these US autistic children is deeply worrying and runs counter to the prevailing belief that the vaccine virus should be cleared from the body in a matter of weeks. Further research will determine whether or not this association is causal. In this context, it is relevant that we have recently published the finding that intestinal inflammation is significantly worse in autistic children who received 2 doses of MMR compared with those who received only one i.e. a possible re-challenge effect.
A recent letter from Judith Moreton of the Department of Health to the mother of an affected child, forced to come to the US for appropriate clinical care, confirmed that the department were aware of Dr Walker’s work but indicated that it was not evident from the published summary of the work whether the children had received MMR. Any official, genuinely concerned with the issue of vaccine safety would have either attended the poster presentation in the first place – thereby clarifying this issue - or have Dr Walker put on the next plane to London in order to find out.
It is also pertinent to add that Dr Walker’s statement regarding causality was intended to indicate that whilst an association between the factors of interest had been confirmed in his study (i.e. vaccine-strain gene sequences in diseased tissues), this does not currently confirm that the association is causal. Careful rephrasing of Dr Walker’s statement may read as though he denied the possibility of any association at all. He did not.
The authors state that no other country offers the single vaccine as an alternative. On the contrary, single measles vaccine is available in many countries including the US. If the desire is genuinely to protect UK children against measles, then re-introduction of single vaccines as an alternative to MMR should be a government priority.
Every aspect of the original 1998 report of the first 12 children with this disorder has been endorsed by independent research. Initial criticisms of our work reporting a temporal link between MMR exposure and autistic regression included the fact that ‘no one has been able to find the virus in these children’s tissues’. This finding was duly reported in 2002. The government’s fallback position was that ‘no one else has been able to find it’. Now that they have, the fallback appears to be ‘stop looking’.
Dr Andrew J Wakefield
Dr Carol Stott Ph.D (Cantab).
Dr Peter Fletcher MB BS PhD
Dr Peter Harvey
Dr Richard Halvorsen
Dr Ed Yazbak MD
Jane Maroney El-Dahr M.D.