by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
I am, now and have always been fiercely pro vaccine. I had all six of my children vaccinated. I believe that vaccines have saved the lives of hundreds of millions of humans over the past century and that broad vaccine coverage is critical to public health. But I want our vaccines to be as safe as possible. The new revelations in the following article support what I have been saying for eight years: Thimerosal is brain poison. When you vaccinate, always ask for Thimerosal-free vaccine, which are now available for virtually all vaccinations on the CDC schedule.
A senior CDC vaccine safety scientist, Dr. William Thompson, has invoked the protection of the Federal Whistleblower Statute following the release of his taped conversations disclosing pervasive corruption within CDC’s Vaccine Safety Division. Dr. Thompson, a sixteen year veteran and a senior scientist at CDC’s Immunology Safety Office is currently employed at CDC’s National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Thompson is an author of two of the three epidemiological studies on American population touted by CDC to “prove” the safety of Thimerosal against developmental disabilities. Thimerosal is a controversial mercury based vaccine preservative that research scientists and vaccine safety advocates have connected to the epidemic of brain disorders in children. The vaccine industry’s foremost spokesman and the world’s premier champion for Thimerosal in vaccines, Dr. Paul Offit, stated in 2008 that Dr. Thompson’s “wonderful” 2007 study was the “definitive” study on Thimerosal safety.
But Thompson now says that his bosses at CDC pressured him to alter the results of that study to conceal Thimerosal’s risks. Dr. Thompson says that his superiors at the CDC Developmental Disabilities Branch pressured him to manipulate the study’s findings and to bury the links between Thimerosal and brain damage. In response to this pressure, the published version downplayed data showing that Thimerosal causes “Tics”, a family of grave neurological injuries – including Tourette’s Syndrome – that are associated with Autism. Thompson now says that the data showed a definitive statistically significant association between Thimerosal and tics. “Thimerosal from vaccines cause tics….I can say tics are four times more prevalent in kids with autism. There is biologic plausibility right now to say that Thimerosal causes autism-like features.” After burying these findings, CDC touted Thompson’s study to exculpate Thimerosal for use in current flu vaccine which is administered to pregnant women and young children. Thompson stated recently, in a taped interview with Simpson University biochemist Dr. Brian Hooker, “Do you think a pregnant mother would want to take a vaccine that they know caused tics? Absolutely not!! I would never give my wife a vaccine that I thought caused tics.” http://vimeo.com/104141199
Thompson was also the co-author of a 2004 study in Pediatrics in which he now admits that, under pressure from CDC bosses, his team fraudulently withheld data demonstrating a significant link between the MMR vaccine and autism in African American boys. In a taped conversation, Thompson confessed, “I have great shame now when I meet families with kids with autism because I’ve – I’ve been part of the problem.”
In a written statement issued by Thompson’s attorney, Rick Morgan of Morgan Verkamp of Cincinnati, Ohio – a firm that specializes in Federal whistleblower cases – Thompson said: “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the Journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”
Thompson described a pervasive culture of corruption at CDC’s Immunization Safety Office directed toward concealing statistical links between vaccines and brain injuries, particularly autism. “I have a boss who is asking me to lie. The higher ups wanted to do certain things and I went along with it. I was, in terms of chain in command, I was number four out of the five. Colleen [Boyle] was the Division Chief. Marshalyn [Yeargin-Allsopp] was a Branch Chief. Frank [DeStefano] was a Branch Chief at the time.”
Immediately after release of Thompson’s audio taped revelations, Dr. Frank DeStefano, now Chief of the Immunization Safety office, admitted in a September interview to CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, that vaccines may indeed trigger autism in some vulnerable children. http://sharylattkisson.com/cdc-possibility-that-vaccines-rarely-trigger-autism/#audio
Thompson’s attorneys have handed over thousands of damning CDC documents to Congressman Bill Posey of Florida. Last week, Posey’s staff said that the Congressman is working with Committee Chairman, Lamar Smith, to schedule a hearing this spring on Thompson’s revelations before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Posey hopes to subpoena Dr. Thompson, who is still employed by CDC; Thompson has promised that he intends to come clean about CDC. “If forced to testify, I’m not going to lie. I basically have stopped lying.” http://vimeo.com/user5503203/review/106398908/44f9634e1b
Dr. Thompson told Dr. Hooker that “[CDC researchers] are not doing what they should be doing because they’re afraid to look for things that might be associated [with autism].” Thompson says that corruption is so rooted within the Immunization Safety Office that the only way to get to the truth now is for Congress to take the vaccine safety research away from CDC and give it to independent contractors who can create a transparent process. According to Thompson, the autism controversy has brought vaccine safety research to a halt. “CDC is….they’re paralyzed. The whole system is paralyzed right now and the whole branch is paralyzed and it’s becoming more paralyzed. So there is less and less being done, as the place just comes to a grinding halt.”
Thompson also stated that he feels angry at himself for having participated in CDC’s decade of deception to conceal the links Thimerosal and brain damage including autism. “I have great shame now when I meet a family with kids with autism, because I have been a part of the problem….Here’s what I shoulder. I shoulder that the CDC has put the research ten years behind. Because the CDC has not been transparent, we’ve missed ten years of research, because the CDC is so paralyzed right now by anything related to autism. They’re not doing what they should be doing. They are afraid to look for things that might be associated. There’s still a lot of shame with that….”
Thompson said that he is prepared for the personal consequences of coming clean; “So I have to deal with a few months of hell if this becomes public. No big deal. I’m not having to deal with a child who is suffering day in and day out. So that’s the way I view all of this. I’m completely ashamed of what I did.” http://vimeo.com/user5503203/review/106398908/44f9634e1b
Thompson described in chilling detail to Dr. Hooker, the intense pressure from his CDC bosses after he first broke ranks on vaccine safety. In 2004, he sent a letter to CDC Director, Julie Gerberding alerting her that CDC scientists were breaking research protocols to conceal the links between Thimerosal and brain damage in children. Gerberding never responded to Thompson’s allegations, but her deputy, Robert Chen, then head of CDC’s Immunization Safety Office and Thompson’s direct boss, confronted Thompson in an agency parking lot threatening him and screaming, “I would fire you if I could.” In 2009, Gerberding matriculated to Merck as Chief of the company’s Vaccine Division. Two years prior to the move, she approved Merck’s HPV vaccine for pre-adolescent girls – an estimated billion dollar value to the company. Following Thompson’s revelations, Merck transferred Gerberding from its Vaccine Division to Executive Vice President for Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health.
CDC’s Immunization Safety Office is a troubled agency. In recent years a series of studies by Federal Investigators and Congressional committees, have issued scathing reports highlighting the dire conflicts of interest at CDC’s vaccine and research divisions. A 2000 report by the Government Regulatory Reform Committee entitled “Conflicts of Interest in Vaccine Policy Making” identified a long inventory of corrupt financial ties between regulators and vaccine makers in FDA and CDC’s vaccine programs that are diverting the agency from its task of safeguarding public health. A 2007 US Senate investigation by Senator Tom Coburn, “CDC Off Center” found widespread corruption and mismanagement at CDC’s vaccine programs (Coburn, CDC Off Center, 2007). In 2008 an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of HHS found that 97% of Special Government Advisors on committees in the CDC vaccine program failed to disclose necessary information about conflicts of interest (Levinson, 2008). Those findings prompted a series of criminal investigations. In March 2014 the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI), Director, David Wright, quit his job issuing a searing letter claiming pervasive scientific misconduct in biomedical research at CDC, the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Public Health Service (PHS) all part of HHS which he characterized as “a remarkably dysfunctional bureaucracy.” (Wright, 2014) There is no evidence that CDC has moved to adopt the recommendations of these reports or to cure its problems in the vaccine division.
Despite the evidence, mainstream journalists refuse to report the myriad problems at CDC’s vaccine program. Instead media outlets and journalists, almost without exception, dutifully parrot CDC’s assurances that all is well and censure vaccine safety advocates who urge the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines. The pharmaceutical industry spent $3.8 billion in direct marketing to TV, radio, newspapers and other direct marketing outlets in 2013 and an astonishing $5.4 billion in 2005. Some vaccine safety advocates have questioned whether that cash pipeline accounts, in part, for the mainstream media’s blackout affecting discussions of Thimerosal safety.
Thompson is not the first scientist to complain about pressure from his bosses at CDC’s Immunization Safety Office. In 2001, CDC researcher, Thomas Verstraeten, made similar allegations. Verstraeten was the co-author of the first of three studies offered by CDC to exculpate Thimerosal from developmental disorders. (Verstraeten et al. 2003 Pediatrics 112:1039) Verstraeten’s initial analysis showed correlations between Thimerosal and autism – and a host of other neurological disorders – comparable to the causal relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer. Over the next three years, a team of CDC researchers produced five consecutive versions of the report; each one eliminating more people and watering down the Thimerosal/brain damage relationship. Finally Verstraeten complained on July 14, 2000 in an email to toxicologist, Phillipe Grandjean, a CDC consultant, “I do not wish to be the advocate of the anti-vaccine lobby…..but at least I feel we should use sound scientific argumentation and not let our standards be dictated by our desire to disprove an unpleasant theory” www.putchildrenfirst.org /media/2.20.pitl. When CDC tried to present the watered down version of the study as proof of Thimerosal’s safety, Thompson wrote a strong rebuke to CDC scolding the agency for misrepresenting the study as an exculpation of the Thimersoal autism link. http://www.safeminds.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Dr.-Verstraeten-emails-to-Dr.-Grandjean-a-mercury-expert-1.pdf. See also: http://www.safeminds.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CDC-knew-study-design-lacked-power-to-detect-adverse-associations.pdf
The CDC came under similar fire for its controversial study of Thimerosal’s links with autism ambiguous in Denmark. The authors have acknowledged that the so called “Madsen Study” employed deceptive data to make it wrongly appear that autism rates increased after the Danes removed Thimerosal from vaccines in 1993. Poul Thorsen the study’s principle investigator and CDC’s primary contact, was fired from his post at Andhaus University and is now on the run from Interpol, having stolen at least a million dollars in research monies from CDC. A subsequent study by CDC published in JAMA in 2013 has shown that autism rates dropped in Denmark every year for ten consecutive years after Thimerosal’s removal from vaccines (Grenborg et al. JAMA Pediatrics 2013).
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is an author, environmental activist, and attorney specializing in environmental law. Follow him on Twitter @RobertKenedyJr.