Postcards from the Pétrole Epoque III
Deadly Immunity By ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
I've posted on mercury in vaccines before; looking back, now, after the damage is done, it is a tale of greed mongered excess so shocking that even Republicans are disgusted.
According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children.
The CDC paid the Institute of Medicine to conduct a new study to whitewash the risks of thimerosal, ordering researchers to "rule out" the chemical's link to autism. It withheld Verstraeten's findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that his original data had been "lost" and could not be replicated. And to thwart the Freedom of Information Act, it handed its giant database of vaccine records over to a private company, declaring it off-limits to researchers.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has received $873,000 in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, has been working to immunize vaccine makers from liability in 4,200 lawsuits that have been filed by the parents of injured children. (...) In 2002, the day after Frist quietly slipped a rider known as the "Eli Lilly Protection Act" into a homeland security bill, the company contributed $10,000 to his campaign and bought 5,000 copies of his book on bioterrorism.
For Merck and other drug companies, however, the obstacle was money. Thimerosal enables the pharmaceutical industry to package vaccines in vials that contain multiple doses, which require additional protection because they are more easily contaminated by multiple needle entries. The larger vials cost half as much to produce as smaller, single-dose vials, making it cheaper for international agencies to distribute them to impoverished regions at risk of epidemics.
The scientists and researchers -- many of them sincere, even idealistic -- who are participating in efforts to hide the science on thimerosal claim that they are trying to advance the lofty goal of protecting children in developing nations from disease pandemics. They are badly misguided. Their failure to come clean on thimerosal will come back horribly to haunt our country and the world's poorest populations.
And Bill Frist. I say to you, do no harm. But you're a surgeon, a hotshot, capable of diagnosing Terri Schiavo via videotape on Fox News.
Vaccinations save lives. Neurotoxins destroy lives. The math is easy, unless you are a mercenary scientist or bean counting industrialist. I know several people who have children on the autism spectrum. It is not a disease which lends itself to misdiagnosis, even for an uneducated rube of a layman such as myself.
1989-2003 - thimerosal generation.
NY Times weighs in:
"It's really terrifying, the scientific illiteracy that supports these suspicions," said Dr. Marie McCormick, chairwoman of an Institute of Medicine panel that examined the controversy in February 2004.
In July 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service released a joint statement urging vaccine makers to remove thimerosal as quickly as possible. By 2001, no vaccine routinely administered to children in the United States had more than half of a microgram of mercury - about what is found in an infant's daily supply of breast milk.
This article is a meandering defense of conventional wisdom. (Pies thrown at scientists! Hide the children!) Nowhere did I see a defense of mercury, which is good, because mercury is a neurotoxin. It shouldn't be in vaccines OR breastmilk. Good enough, or should I get a fucking doctorate and say it again?
Is the link of mercury to autism rock solid? Well, sadly, in spite of much hand waving and skeptic baiting in the Times article, the CDC database identified by Tom Verstraeten was not mentioned. This database was sold off to a private a company to prevent the contents from being subject to freedom of information requests, and probably would make a good starting point for further research.
Too bad no one can look at it. Makes one wonder what it contains.
Meanwhile, removing mercury from vaccines likely won't be enough to stem the tide of autism if in fact there is a link; this is the coal age in America. And China. And many such like places. Mercury - it's what's for supper.