Posted by: Ticktock | February 26, 2009

Antivaccine Hail Mary!

David Kirby and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have tag teamed a pair of articles on the antivaccine friendly blog The Huffington Post.  It’s no surprise that Kirby and Kennedy, both avid vaccine haters and “big pharma” conspiracy theorists, have chosen to dismiss the autism omnibus rulings as just another example of the secret vaccine court gaming the system for their pharmaceutical overlords.  They directly imply that the vaccine court’s special masters are shills for “Big Pharma”, but then they double back and exploit a previous ruling that favors the arguments of the antivaccine fringe. There is a hypocritical double standard here that is so blatant that it barely deserves mentioning.

Last year, it was public knowledge that Bailey Banks, a 10 year old with “non autistic pervasive development delay” was awarded compensation because he was damaged by a vaccine.  Children can be harmed by vaccines on rare occasions.  That is why there is a court to compensate them.

We should put this in perspective, though. Vaccine haters are singling out singular examples of damaged children as propaganda tools to castigate one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time, our vaccines, which have cured numerous diseases and saved millions of lives.  What if there was a group who demanded that seat belts be removed from all cars because they found a few instances where seat belts failed to save a life?  How many people would die from preventable diseases if we were to eliminate the vaccine program?  How many deaths would it take to justify this crusade to eliminate vaccines.

The antivaccine hive mind must be getting smarter because they are starting to anticipate the counter-arguments.   They know that the vaccine court has never declared that vaccines cause autism.  If I defend that truth, it looks like I’m dismissing the tragedy that happened to Bailey, but if I don’t defend the truth, they trick the public into believing that Bailey has autism.  Yes, Bailey Banks has PDD (pervasive development delay) from an ADEM (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis), but he doesn’t have autism.  The court ruling clearly states at the very top that Bailey had “Non-autistic pervasive developmental delay” (bold mine).

This is not a simple case.  There was confusion among the doctors, disagreements of diagnoses, but there was a consensus that this child did not have autism:

Another pediatrician’s diagnosis noted that Bailey’s condition “seems to be a global developmental delay with autistic features as opposed to an actual autistic spectrum disorder.” Pet. Ex. 30 at 4.

Moving on to the alternative hypothesis/diagnosis of autism, Dr. Lopez distinguishes autism as a more generalized condition without a known etiology, and contrasted it to Bailey’s condition, which he says is clearly attributable to demyelination based on neuroimaging evidence. Tr. at 41-42.

Dr. Lopez also differentiated Bailey’s condition from autism, because Bailey has been affected in more than one developmental skill area; he clarified by stating that Bailey has “induced pervasive developmental delay…due to ADEM.” Tr. at 32. He noted that the conflation of designations resulted from a medical convention created for the sake of explanation to laymen, but that the two are not properly interchangeable, but actually quite distinct. Id. Speaking more directly, Dr. Lopez stated that “Bailey does not have autism because he has a reason for his deficits.” Tr. at 42.

I can find no literature relating ADEM to autism or pervasive developmental disorder, and by its nature ADEM is a primary demyelinating disorder of the nervous system….PDD is a problem with the neurons, not the white matter of the brain, so it doesn’t make sense that autistic children would have had a demyelinating disorder before. In fact, MRI scans [that] have been done repeatedly in children with PDD/autism don’t show demyelination, so there is no connection. Even if one believes the child has ADEM, there is no connection to the diagnosis of PDD.

So, how did “Non-autistic” turn into this:


Do you see the bracketed “pdd [autism]”?  Funny, how “non autistic pdd” became “[autism]” when Jenny McCarthy put out the above advertisement.  Did she think nobody would notice?

The frustrating part is that she will fool people, as she has done numerous times before.  But, how desperate do you have to be to wedge your autism “big pharma” nutball conspiracy into a singular example of one boy’s unfortunate experience?  It’s absurd and desperate.

Just what are they trying to prove?  At this point, I think that Jenny, David, and Robert are all trying to validate the investment of time and energy that they wasted on a conspiracy theory that any scholar or scientist could have told them was complete nonsense.



  1. It’s hard for me to decide if these people are outright liars, or just completely lacking in basic reading comprehension skills. Do they truly not understand the meaning of ‘non-autistic’, or do they just not care? I don’t think very highly of Jenny, so I really wouldn’t be surprised if she is just that dumb. This is exactly why we shouldn’t look to celebrities for advice on anything except maybe acting skills.

  2. […] I need not go into details here, as Orac has done it very thoroughly (and has followup info), as has Skeptic Dad. […]

  3. The government and vaccine producers are not trustworthy. They still have not come clean about the contamination of polio vaccine with the monkey virus SV40. They have done no stidies regarding the effect of allowing a cancer causing virus injected into 98 million children. This cancer virus is turning up now in rare tumors from people who were never vaccinated. I wouldn’t vaccinate my dog, much less my child. Anyone who doesn’t question their government is a lazy citizen. Do your research and learn the truth about the “science” of vaccines.

  4. jeanruss. Since you have done the research please provide evidence for each of your claims. Otherwise, someone might think you’re just making things up like the other anti-vaxxers. Thanks.

  5. My daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer at age thirteen. As I did research to help her I learned about the SV40 virus is turning up in bone tumors of children like my daughter, who never received the polio vaccine. The book The Virus and the Vaccine gives an indepth history of what happened. There are other cancers showing Sv40 contamination, like mesothelioma and certain leukemias. SV40 is the a lethal cancer causinf virus. It is used in cancer research because it causes cancer faster and quicker than any other virus. The government and vaccine makers have never told the truth to the American people about this contamination and have not done any studies to determine the harm. Bone cancer in children has increased forty % in just ten years. Mesothelioma is exploding, as evidenced by the litigation commercials on tv. Why should any citizen trust or believe the government or vaccine makers when they are already shown to be dishonest and irresponsible? I live in western Pennsylvania and received some of the most contaminated vaccine. The Bailey Banks case again shows that the MMR vaccine caused her disorder and she has won a large sttlement. This has gotten almost no media exposure., yet the autism study received wall to wall coberage. I think the court case, as reality, trumps any study. Their are thousands of pending cases and will be millions moree as we are still vaccinating.

  6. Jeanruss,

    By displaying this opinion, you make a fool of yourself. By acting upon that opinion, not vaccinating your child, you put her and possibly others, in danger. In my country, where fortunately anti-vaccine non sense hasn’t emerged (yet), this would be illegal, and you could be prosecuted and put in jail, where you belong.

  7. In response to jeanruss’s claims, large-scale studies have found no connection between the polio vaccine and cancer in humans:

    Potential exposure to SV40 in polio vaccines used in Sweden during 1957: no impact on cancer incidence rates 1960 to 1993.
    Olin P, Giesecke J.

    Department of Vaccine Research, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, and the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

    U.S. polio vaccines produced during the 1950s were potentially contaminated by simian virus 40 (SV40). Recently DNA from SV40 has been detected in brain ependymoma, pleural mesothelioma and osteosarcoma. In 1957, when national polio vaccination was started in Sweden, vaccine potentially contaminated with SV40 was given to approximately 700,000 individuals, mainly pre-school and school children born between 1946 and 1953. From 1958, a Swedish inactivated polio vaccine was exclusively used, which has been claimed to be free of SV40. We explored cancer incidence rates in the cohorts exposed to the potentially contaminated polio vaccines in Sweden. The Swedish Cancer Registry provided annual cancer incidence rates in five-year age groups for the years 1960-93. Cancer incidence in cohorts maximally exposed was followed during this period, and the incidence when these cohorts reached a specific age was compared to the incidence when unexposed cohorts reached the same age. For osteosarcoma and brain ependymoma overall age-standardised incidence rates were essentially unchanged between 1960 and 1993, and age specific rates were similar in the exposed and unexposed male and female cohorts. During the same period, overall age standardised incidence rates in males of brain cancers increased from 9.0 to 13.1 and of pleural mesotheliomas from 0.2 to 2.1 per 100,000. None of these increased rates was associated with the exposed cohorts. The use of potentially SV40 contaminated inactivated polio vaccines in Sweden has not been shown to be associated with increased cancer incidence. However, the exposed cohorts have not yet reached the age of increased risk of brain cancer or mesothelioma.

    Contamination of Poliovirus Vaccines With Simian Virus 40 (1955-1963) and Subsequent Cancer Rates

    Howard D. Strickler, MD, MPH; Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD; Susan S. Devesa, PhD; Joan Hertel; Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr, MD; James J. Goedert, MD

    JAMA. 1998;279:292-295.

    Context.— Poliovirus vaccine contaminated with live simian virus 40 (SV40), a macaque polyomavirus that is tumorigenic in rodents, was used extensively in the United States between 1955 and 1963. Simian virus 40 DNA has recently been detected in several rare human tumors, including ependymomas, osteosarcomas, and mesotheliomas.

    Objective.— To determine the risk of ependymoma, osteosarcoma, and mesothelioma among Americans who as children received SV40-contaminated poliovirus vaccine.

    Design.— Retrospective cohort study using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (1973-1993) and the Connecticut Tumor Registry (1950-1969), as well as national mortality statistics (1947-1973).

    Setting.— United States.

    Participants.— Birth cohorts that were likely to have received SV40-contaminated poliovirus vaccine as infants, born 1956 through 1962 (60811730 person-years of observation); as children, born 1947 through 1952 (46430953 person-years); or that were unexposed, born 1964 through 1969 (44959979 person-years).

    Main Outcome Measures.— Relative risk (RR) of each cancer among exposed compared with unexposed birth cohorts.

    Results.— Age-specific cancer rates were generally low and were not significantly elevated in birth cohorts exposed to SV40-contaminated vaccine. Specifically, compared with the unexposed, the relative risk of ependymoma was not increased in the cohorts exposed as infants (RR, 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.69-1.63), or as children (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.57-1.69) nor did the exposed have an increased risk of all brain cancers. Osteosarcoma incidence also showed no relation to exposure as infants (RR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.71-1.06) or children (RR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.59-1.22). Last, mesotheliomas were not significantly associated with exposure, although the cohorts studied have not yet reached the age at which these tumors tend to occur.

    Conclusions.— After more than 30 years of follow-up, exposure to SV40-contaminated poliovirus vaccine was not associated with significantly increased rates of ependymomas and other brain cancers, osteosarcomas, or mesotheliomas in the United States.

  8. jeanruss:
    You’ve said or implied quite a bit there that simply isn’t factual. The studies, particularly those after the book was published, simply don’t show a link. The vaccine in question was not used after 2000 and even the most indulgent fans of that book claim contamination “through the 1990s”, completely destroying your implied assertion that the vaccine is causing cancer in kids over the last 10 years, unless we want to call 20 year old adults “kids”. The Banks case shows no such link. This kind of behavior puts children like your daughter and mine at risk of needless suffering and death simply to sell books in this case. In the case of the MMR hysteria it is falsehood motivated by nothing more than profit.

    Deplorable and sickening.

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