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Introduction
Chapter I: pre-1999
There's Mercury In Vaccines?
Chapter II: 1999-2000
Simpsonwood
Chapter III: 2001
IOM: Biologically Plausible
Chapter IV: 2001-2002
CDC World Travel
Chapter V: 2003
It's Rotten In Denmark
Chapter VI: 2004
IOM slams the door (quickly)
Epilogue: present day
Better science, better kids, and a DJ
Chapter III:2001
IOM: Biologically Plausible
"When members of an advisory committee have financial relationships with different companies whose products are being reviewed, subtle pressures can be brought to bear to respect the parochial interests of other committee members. This sort of clubby relationship can lead to an overall decline in vigilance in matters under review. Such a lack of vigilance was noted in the deliberations over the Rotavirus vaccine." - Conflicts of Interest in Vaccine Policy Making, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, August 21, 2000
"Mr. Speaker, I will say tonight that mercury should be taken out of every vaccine in the country, and it should be taken out today. There should be an instant recall on any vaccine that is going into our children that has mercury in it." - Congressman Dan Burton, Speech before the US House of Representatives, May 15, 2001
"The Committee concludes that although the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines could be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders is not established and rests on indirect and incomplete information, primarily from analogies with methylmercury and levels of maximum mercury exposure from vaccines given in children, the hypothesis is biologically plausible." - October 2001, Immunization Safety Review: Thimerosal - Containing Vaccines and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Institute of Medicine
Late 2000 and 2001 was a rough time for the CDC. Simpsonwood had already highlighted the challenges CDC faced with the data they were sitting on. In August of 2000, two months after Simpsonwood, Dan Burton's Government Reform Committee released a highly critical document on the conflicts of interest at CDC and FDA for decision made on the Rotavirus vaccine, recently recalled due to intussusception in children (a severe bowel disorder), and critical of vaccine policy making in general.
In January 2001, parents associated with the nonprofit group SafeMinds published an article in a peer-reviewed journal titled Autism: A Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning. Chairman Burton continued to hold hearings, browbeating public health officials over the lapse on thimerosal and what was being done about it. This was followed up that May by a speech by Chairman Burton demanding FDA recall any vaccine containing thimerosal at once (they didn't).
Once it was clear that unsafe levels of mercury were in the vaccine supply, FDA was required to hire the Institute of Medicine to review thimerosal and any role it may play in damaging children. With the weight IOM carried with the scientific community, IOM's conclusions, expected to be published in late 2001, were of grave concern to CDC. By the summer of 2001, CDC was aware of IOM's likely conclusion, which was not particularly favorable to CDC: they were going to say that the notion that thimerosal created neurological disorders was "biologically plausible" and merited further study. CDC had already given IOM their data from the VSD, which had been manipulated enough to neither prove nor disprove an association.
Perhaps most frustrating about the recommendations of the IOM in October 2001 is that CDC did not pursue any of them. Where IOM recommended further work to assess biologically plausibility (like measuring mercury levels in autistic children), CDC would focus exclusively on epidemiology, a statistical science easily manipulated. Where IOM encouraged CDC to explore the growing reports of autistic children recovering after chelation therapy, a treatment to remove mercury and other metals from the body, CDC never did anything to explore the reports further. Where IOM encouraged CDC to replace any thimerosal containing vaccines immediately, CDC still has vaccines with thimerosal targeted at infants today, five years later.
Luckily for the children, what CDC did not realize was that parents would dig into their own pockets to fund biological research to prove what had been done to their children, as we will discuss in Chapter 5.
CDC was in a bind. They knew what the Generation Zero data had shown and how explosive that information, if released, would be to the National Immunization Program, their jobs, and vaccine manufacturer liability. They also knew IOM was not going to let them off the hook, and that more work and analysis would be recommended. It left only two alternatives for CDC, both of which they continue to follow today:
1.  Never, ever let anyone else see the Generation Zero data nor any of CDC's other internal data. Given all the shortcuts and assumptions CDC made to manage down the risks, independent researchers would most assuredly come to a different conclusion. Even though laws required CDC to share this data publicly, they would become experts at buying time and "losing" data when pressured.
2.  Since the U.S. data shows a high correlation, go to other countries and find willing participants to manufacture data that will "prove" thimerosal and autism are unrelated.
With that strategy in place, a few months prior to the release of the IOM study, CDC employees, under the guidance of their bosses, Dr. Walter Orenstein, Director of the NIP and Dr. Roger Bernier, Associate Director of Science for the NIP, began a world-wide inquiry to find data from other countries that would be used bail them out. Not only would CDC initiate, fund, and structure these studies, but their own employees would also end up as published authors in the studies exonerating thimerosal's role in autism.
What's Egregious About This Time Period?
1.  In 2000-2001, after Simpsonwood, CDC slowed down the timing of the release of their own analysis on thimerosal and autism (the analysis, begun in mid-1999, and discussed at Simpsonwood in 2000, would not get published until late-2003), with CDC leaders aware that the data implicated Thimerosal.
2.  Almost all of the 2001 recommendations of the IOM were ignored by CDC.
3.  A Congressman on the floor of the House or Representatives made an impassioned plea to recall vaccines with thimerosal and nothing was done about it.
4.  2001 was the beginning of a pattern that continues to this day of CDC stalling and not allowing independent researchers access to the data behind their VSD analysis of autism and thimerosal.
Where is the Evidence?
1.  2001 IOM: Immunization Safety Review: TCVs and Neurodevelopmental Disorders
October 2001
Institute of Medicine
This document from the Institute of Medicine noted the "biological plausibility" of thimeorsal causing neurological damage in children and directed more research to be done. What's most alarming about the 2001 IOM study is how few of their recommendations CDC actually followed, which highlights the clear path CDC was already on: find epidemiology studies that can be manipulated, hire IOM once the studies have been created (which they did in 2004), and close the door on the debate. IOM makes many recommendations in here that were never pursued including:
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends the use of thimerosal-free DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines in the United States, despite the fact that there might be remaining supplies of thimerosal-containing vaccines available [effectively echoing Congressman Burton's call for a recall]."
CDC response: Nothing, and thimerosal remains in vaccines today given to infants.
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends case-control studies examining the potential link between neurodevelopmental disorders and thimerosal-containing vaccines."
CDC Response: No case-control studies ever done.
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends further analysis of neurodevelopmental outcomes in these populations [children who received no thimerosal in their vaccines]"
CDC Response: No analysis ever done.
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends research on how children, including those diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders, metabolize and excrete metals, particularly mercury."
CDC Response: No research ever done.
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends continued research on theoretical modeling of ethylmercury exposures, including the incremental burden of thimerosal on background mercury from other sources."
CDC Response: No research ever done.
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends careful, rigorous, and scientific investigations of chelation when used in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially autism."
CDC response: Nothing. We know of no case where CDC investigated claims of a fully recovered autistic child or explored in any way biomedical treatment of autistic children.
IOM Recommendation: "The committee recommends research to identify a safe, effective, and inexpensive alternative to thimerosal for countries that decide they need to switch."
CDC response: No research done. Thimerosal was developed in the 1930s, no safety testing has ever been done on it, and yet the vaccine industry cannot develop a safer preservative that doesn't include mercury, the second most toxic substance on earth?
Source: IOM
2.  Letter from Dave Weldon to Julie Gerberding: "Absurd results"
October 31, 2003
From Congressman Dave Weldon, M.D. to the Director of the CDC, Julie Gerberding.
This letter was written in 2003, but highlights the conduct of CDC in the previous few years, including the management of data and the unwillingness to share data with outside researchers.
"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 [Generation Zero] disappear...This demonstrates to me how excessive manipulation of data can lead to absurd results."
Source: FOIA filing by parents.
3.  Instant Recall Speech, Dan Burton
May 15, 2001
Speech by Congressman Dan Burton before the U.S. House of Representatives
We only wish Congressman Burton's request had been honored. In 2006, Thimerosal remains in vaccines given to infants and pregnant women.
Source: Committee on Government Reform.
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