Offit’s Deadly Choices

Paul Offit (2010) has a new book out: Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All (New York: Basic Books).

Dr. Offit says vaccines do not cause autism. In his own words to Sanjay Gupta, Offit says, “About 20% of children with autism will regress, often between the first and second birthdays, so statistically it has to happen, where some children will get a vaccine, who’ve been fine, they get the vaccine, and they’re not fine anymore.” At 1 minute and 55 seconds into the video embedded here, see Offit say why. He says, “It’s been asked and answered. Vaccines don’t cause autism.”

He and colleagues have argued that a newborn infant should be able to handle up to 10,000 disease agents in a single shot on the same day. They say, children can theoretically cope with “about 10,000 vaccines at any one time” (Offit et al., 2002, p. 126).

Offit, P. A., Quarles, J., Gerber, M. A., Hackett, C. J., Marcuse, E. K., Kollman, T. R., et al. (2002). Addressing parents’ concerns: Do multiple vaccines overwhelm or weaken the infant’s immune system? Pediatrics, 109(1), 124–129.

Dr. Offit is the creator of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, manufactured by Merck and holds the patent on it. He also occupies a $1.5 million Merck sponsored research chair at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Attkisson, 2008; see her CBS special report on July 25, 2008).

He also has agreed with the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP, 2006), a committee on which he also served from 1998-2003 reportedly voting three times out of four to promote rotavirus vaccines, but abstaining from one vote regarding a competitor’s product.

He is reported to have stated at one documented meeting in question, “I’m not conflicted with Wyeth, but because I consult with Merck on the development of rotavirus vaccine, I would still prefer to abstain because it creates a perception of conflict.”

The rotavirus vaccines have involved an estimated expenditure of about $1 billion (according to Olmsted &Blaxill, 2010; also see on the costs and benefits analysis the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc). Dr. Offit and the CDC claim that the neurotoxic and genotoxic preservative thimerosal is safe in flu shots and in other vaccines sanctioned by the World Health Organization. He has agreed with the current CDC policy. They claim thimerosal is safe for infants and the unborn babies of pregnant women.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. (2006). Thimerosal in vaccines.

Offit, P. A. (2007). Thimerosal and Vaccines: A Cautionary Tale. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(13), 1278–1279.

Offit, P. A., & Jew, R. K. (2003). Addressing parents’ concerns: Do vaccines contain harmful preservatives, adjuvants, additives, or residuals? Pediatrics, 112(6), 1394–1397.

Are Dr. Offit’s claims correct? Is there no association between autism and vaccines?

Thimerosal is one of the most offensive of the known toxic components of the vaccines that have been used during the spectacular rise of autism. That whole class of disorders has gone from a rare condition prior to 1970 into an exponential growth throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and continuing through the decade just ended in 2010. Genes do not change that fast, so something else must be causing the rise.

During the whole period in question vaccines have also been on the rise. From 8 “mandatory” vaccines before 1980 the schedule has become crowded with additional vaccines numbering a staggering minimum of 36 exposures in 2010 prior to age 6.

The crowded schedule up to age 6, not including shots for adolescents and adults.Vaccine components still include (1) thimerosal (also known as Merthiolate, or in the British spelling, thiomersal), (2) aluminum (a toxin used to jump start the infant’s immune defense systems), (3) formaldehyde, (4) yeast additives, and (5) many different “adventitious” contaminants consisting of foreign animal protein fragments, viruses such as Simian Virus 40 (SV40), the virus that causes “wasting disease” in pigs, and many others that keep turning up. As biochemical assays are improved more and more of the former unknowns are being found in widely used vaccines. The contaminants are ones that come into the vaccines through manufacturing processes that often require routing through the biosystems of a chicken, sheep, pig, cow, or monkey.

Are such vaccines and their components safe to use with tiny infants and unborn babies during pregnancies? Are they safe in ever increasing numbers as new vaccines are being added to the mandatory schedule? Are they safe for children, adolescents, and adults over the long haul? Dr. Offit and the CDC say that the rapidly growing number of vaccines and the disease agents they contain are not only safe, but that they are essential to public health. Meanwhile, the CDC continues investigations of thimerosal while maintaining that they cannot find any association with autism, neurological diseases, brain injuries, and so forth.

But what about the toxicology research? For that matter, what does the actual history of vaccine use show? The first widely used mandatory vaccine, the cowpox vaccine, which the CDC claims resulted in the eradication of smallpox in 1977, was mandated in the United Kingdom in 1853, and began to be widely used in the U.S. about the same time. What has actually happened with respect to smallpox epidemics and deaths by infectious diseases during the nearly 16 decades since that vaccine was first mandated? And, what about the introduction of additional vaccines during the 20th century? Are the combined administrations of DPT and MMR, for example, along with recommendations for additional vaccines safe to present to a child all at the same time? Is it safe to combine multiple disease agents with multiple toxins? What about the interactions? What does the research show?

Let’s Look at the Research

Toxicology research with rodents, sheep, monkeys, and humans shows that thimerosal’s key ingredient, an alkyl mercury compound patented by Eli Lilly’s employee, Morris Selig Kharasch using ethyl mercury as its active killing agent, is highly genotoxic and neurotoxic with long-term effects in parts per billion (fouling mitochondrial communications essential to immune defenses), and having lethal effects in parts per million (there are multiple well documented cases of deaths in humans caused by thimerosal exposure). For an extensive review of the research and the biochemistry underlying alkyl mercury compounds, see Oller & Oller (2010) especially in chapters 4-6, pp. 109-194.

Also, Olmsted & Blaxill (2010) document the fact that Kharasch was also the chemist who developed the ethyl and methyl based killing agents used in fungicides and pesticides resulting in well-known and wide-spread mercury poisoning incidents in Russia, Iraq, and elsewhere. Kharasch’s search for and invention of many killing agents was spurred by the use of chemicals by the Germans in World War I. By the time the war ended the U.S. had developed some 1500 chemicals and Kharasch, known as the founder of “organic” chemistry, was credited with 1/5 of the total number. With the war over, some of the chemicals developed as killing agents were turned to “peaceful” uses in vaccines, fungicides, pesticides, antiseptics, cosmetics, and so forth. Thimerosal, for example, was even used in the rinsing solutions for contact lenses and as a disinfectant for eye surgeries until it was discovered that it destroyed the corneas of human patients undergoing the operations.

Van Horn, D. L., Edlehauser, H. F., Prodanovich, G., Eiferman, R., & Pederson, H. J. (1977). Effect of ophthalmic preservative thimerosal on rabbit and human corneal endothelium. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 16, 273–280.

Concentrations of ethyl mercury compounds measured in parts per billion cause hemolysis (rupturing of red blood cells), cytopenia (scarcity of red blood cells), and apoptosis (cell death), and intefere with the body’s biocontrol systems. (The following source and its references cover much of the relevant toxicology.)

Marques, R. C., Dorea, J. G., Fonseca, M. F., Bastos, W. R., & Malm, O. (2007). Hair mercury in breast-fed infants exposed to thimerosal-preserved vaccines. European Journal of Pediatrics, 166(9), 935–941.

Thimerosal is still being recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization for use in all countries that will allow it, and is still recommended and used in flu shots for infants and pregnant women in the United States. Dr. Offit and the CDC say it is safe and that there is no evidence that it did harm in the past to human patients.

Yet, the toxicology research shows that thimerosal can cause full-blown seizures (a condition that occurs in about 30% of persons on the autism spectrum, and the most common cause of death in that group), petit mal seizures (common to about 60% of persons on the spectrum), encephalopathies (brain damage and disease conditions; often ones that are indistinguishable from severe autism), neurological disorders (essentially all of them are made worse by thimerosal exposure), tics, and thimerosal seems to be one of the likely causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is curious that the CDC does not seem to link the well-known toxic effects of thimerosal with any of the observed conditions that tend to occur either on the day of, or within two weeks, or a month of a round of vaccinations.

The toxicology also clearly shows that when ethyl mercury is combined with other toxins such as aluminum derivatives, undesirable consequences are multiplied. The harmful interactions of the metals has been known and documented since 1973, and research in toxicology shows that they are more harmful in combination than separately. Toxic effects of organic metals, including mercury and aluminum, in addition to known harmful interactions, tend to be multiplicative as was demonstrated early on by Morris Selig Kharasch, the inventor of a plethora of killing agents.

Nash, A. G. (1973). Diathermy burn hazard. British Medical Journal, 4(5895), 783–783.

Also see Synergistic Toxicity and references there.

CDC policy recommends possibly “deferring” vaccinations at “well-baby” visits when the child comes in with a fever and runny nose. Why? Because sound logic suggests that multiple additional threats piled on top of an already burdened immune defense system, one that is fighting an existing infection or illness of some sort (judging by the symptoms of the runny nose and fever), can only increase the burden the child is already facing. The more disease agents and toxins adding to the load, the greater the likelihood of producing a crisis potentially leading to seizures, encephalopathy, and potential fatality.

Most moms and dads would just say no to the shots if they realized the additional dangers posed (not to mention the virtually certain misery caused) by adding vaccines to an ongoing illness.

Meanwhile, SIDS and autism continue to puzzle the CDC and the professionals who are administering an ever increasing number of vaccines. The CDC agrees with Dr. Offit, a go-to spokesman, who says the association of same-day injuries, or ones that follow soon after the vaccinations, are purely coincidental. The explanation, they say, is that lots of kids are being vaccinated, so some of them will appear to become ill on the day of or soon after the vaccination occurs. It is just statistical, they contend: the CDC says, the temporal association between vaccinations and infant deaths is coincidental. (For some clarifications, elaborations, and corrections of details in the following section, I am indebted to Steve Kass for two unpublished comments that are nonetheless gratefully acknowledged.)

But what does the published research show? In fact, the research shows that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) accounts for nearly half the deaths reported under the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) according to Silvers, Varricchio, Ellenberg, Krueger, Wise, & Salive (2002).

Silvers, L. E., Varricchio, F. E., Ellenberg, S. S., Krueger, C. L., Wise, R. P., & Salive, M. E. (2002). Pediatric deaths reported after vaccination: The utility of information obtained from parents. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 22(3), 170–176.

The research shows that 92.5% of VAERS reports occur within two weeks of a vaccination and 45.5% occur on the day of the vaccination. With respect to SIDS, specifically, according to Braun & Ellenberg (1997) “58% of all deaths in VAERS were attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” (p. 534). Of the 5,558 deaths and “serious nonfatal events” (the latter involving “life-threatening illness, hospitalization, prolongation of hospitalization, or permanent disability,” p. 530) reported under VAERS from 1991-1994, 90.7% are accounted for within six days of a vaccination per figures on page 531 of Braun & Ellenberg (1997), and 67.1% of reported deaths occur within 6 days of a vaccination. It is noteworthy that, according to their abstract and in the body of their text (p. 529 and p. 531, respectively) of all events reported, 45.5% had “onset of symptoms on the day of vaccination; 20.4% … the following day” (p. 531), and 92.5% of all events reported occurred within 2 weeks (14 days) of a vaccination.

Braun, M. M., & Ellenberg, S. S. (1997). Descriptive epidemiology of adverse events after immunization: Reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 1991–1994. Journal of Pediatrics, 131(4), 529–535.

In the following figure, from the same source, a comparison is made between all vaccines contrasted with MMR. The authors note that at 8 to 9 days after the vaccination(s) the percentage of reported adverse events for MMR peaks. In fact, at that period, they say,

“For the live attenuated measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, administered to children ages 12 to 25 months, the proportion of reported events with onset during the second week after vaccination was fivefold that of all vaccines taken together irrespective of age” (p. 531).

In fact, Braun & Ellenberg acknowledge that the “excess of adverse event reports naming the live attenuated measles vaccine compared with other vaccines (Fig. 4) is biologically plausible” (p. 534). In other words, the notion that MMR with the measles agent in it may be the factor producing the bump in Figure 4, is a reasonable theory.

Looking at the data as portrayed in the figure, presumably one of the questions we might want to ask, along the lines of the usefulness of VAERS data for the purpose of “hypothesis generation” (Braun & Ellenberg, 1997, p. 533), is what other plausible explanation for the pattern in Figure 4 would exonerate all the disease agents, toxins, and interactions between them as causative factors? In other words, are the trend lines in Figure 4, attributable to chance, coincidence, or some other factor besides the vaccine components that we know were introduced on the day of vaccination?

Braun & Ellenberg (1997, p. 532) Figure 4

Percent of adverse events plotted in days after vaccination(s).

If the vaccination process has no part in causing SIDS, seizures, or long-term encephalopathies such as autism, why under CDC guidelines is there a suggestion to possibly delay vaccination if the child is already sick, say, with a runny nose and fever? The technical term is a “precautionary” deferral per the CDC statement that

In general, vaccinations should be deferred when a precaution is present (from the section titled “Contraindications and Precautions” in the CDC’s “General Recommendations on Immunization” for which I thank W&N at; “contraindication,” a decision not to vaccinate at all, per the same source is universal to all vaccines only in the case of “a history of a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of vaccine”).

Would that not also suggest to thinking persons that perhaps it is not so good an idea to give many different toxins and disease agents together on the same day? The CDC recommendations (same source) seem to suggest that even precautions are perhaps sometimes sufficient reason not to vaccinate:

Contraindications and precautions to vaccination dictate circumstances when vaccines should not be administered.

With that in mind, how about the DPT and MMR shots which are commonly administered together or one right after the other a short while apart? What does an independent examination of the research show on the record of combining the toxins and disease agents in those “multivalent” vaccines?

Olmsted & Blaxill (2010) give a deeper perspective on the toxicology and research and for the 158 year history of mandatory vaccine use, see Oller & Oller (2010).

Olmsted, D. & Blaxill, M. (2010). The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Oller, J. W., Jr., & Oller, S. D. (2010). Autism: The Diagnosis, Treatment, & Etiology of the Undeniable Epidemic. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Finally, consider the question of combining multiple disease agents and toxins on the same occasion or in closely spaced vaccinations. In particular, take the MMR and DPT triple germ shots plus the toxins and contaminants they contain. Is it true from the research that the industry and the CDC are not increasing the risk of injuries by using simultaneous or closely spaced multivalent vaccines? What does the research show?

One of the first studies by the CDC based on what it has called the “Vaccine Safety DataLink” was headed up Dr. Robert T. Chen. He and 15 CDC colleagues as part or perhaps the whole of a group at CDC called the “Vaccine Safety DataLink Team” found that the DTP shot was 300% more likely to produce seizures if given 8 to 14 days after the MMR vaccine and 210% more likely to do so if administrered on the same day (Chen, et al., 1997).

Chen, R. T., Glasser, J. W., Rhodes, P. H., Davis, R. L., Barlow, W. E., Thompson, R. S., et al. (1997). Vaccine Safety Datalink project: A new tool for improving vaccine safety monitoring in the United States. Pediatrics, 99(6), 765–773.

Interestingly, the highest risk during the 8 to 14 day group corresponds closely with the  estimated incubation period for the measles virus (Richardson et al., 2001).

Richardson, M., Elliman, D., Maguire, H., Simpson, J., & Nicoll, A. (2001). Evidence base of incubation periods, periods of infectiousness and exclusion policies for the control of communicable diseases in schools and preschools. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 2(4), 380–391.

Keep in mind that the number of cases in the data sample for DTP was 549,488 and the number in the MMR sample was 310,618, these results cannot be taken lightly. The 1997 study by Chen and colleagues was the first, and I believe also the last one published by the CDC showing conclusively that vaccine interactions, especially those involving the MMR and DTP vaccines, produce injuries. Interestingly, the researchers only considered a window of 30 days after the vaccination for the reporting of an adverse event attributable to the vaccine.

It has been argued by the CDC and Dr. Offit, that measles virus cannot cause autism or very similar gut and brain disease conditions that can only be described as severe instances of conditions that might well be diagnosed as autism. What does the research show?

In fact, there is a fatal encephalopathy (a central nervous, brain) disorder  that resembles “wasting disease” in pigs known by the unattractive name of Sub-Acute Sclerosing Pan-Encephalitis (SSPE) that is attributed to the measles virus. It has been argued that the virus causing this fatal disease is different from the virus found in MMR shots, but the truly disturbing result from the research is that individuals who have received the shot, are more likely rather than less to contract the fatal form of the infection. Brouns et al. (2001), Onal et al. (2006), and Akram et al. (2008) found SSPE occurs more commonly in persons who have been vaccinated against measles than in those who have not. The incidence of SSPE is much higher in males than in females (by a ratio of 3.2 to 1, which raises suspicion that the link between that virus and SSPE may be similar to that seen in the measles virus infections associated with autism.

Brouns, R., Verlinde, P., Lagae, L., De Koster, T., Lemmens, F., & Van de Casseye, W. (2001). Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in a vaccinated, internationally adopted child. Acta Neurologica Belgica, 1(2), 128–130.

Onal, A. E., Gurses, C., Direskeneli, G. S., Yilmaz, G., Demirbilek, V., Yentur, S. P., et al. (2006). Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis surveillance study in Istanbul. Brain & Development, 2(3), 183–189.

Akram, M., Naz, F., Malik, A., & Hamid, H. (2008). Clinical profile of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, 1(8), 485–488.

What About Delayed Effects?

In a recent broadcast, Dr. Sanjay Gupta argued that events occurring outside a 30 day window, that is more than a month after a vaccination, cannot be attributed to vaccine injury. Is this true? What does the research show?

The toxicology research is clear in showing that injuries sustained from mercury poisoning, and also from disease agents from vaccines, can show up months, years, and even decades after the vaccination occurred. For example, it is well-documented that the polio vaccines of the 1960s, and 1970s distributed Simian Virus 40 (SV40) to about 98 million people in the United States and through American aid programs and the United Nations World Health Organization to the rest of the world. Now, SV40 is linked to just about every imaginable form of human cancer, to AIDS, and a host of other disease conditions. In creating and mass-producing the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines, the researchers and government authorities who promoted them inadvertently introduced SV40 into the human population (CDC, 2007; Simon, 2008 Sweet & Hilleman, 1960).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2007, October 22). Frequently asked questions about cancer, Simian Virus 40 (SV40), and polio vaccine.

Simon, M. A. (2008). Polyomaviruses of nonhuman primates: Implications for research. Comparative Medicine, 5(1), 51–56.

Sweet, B. H., & Hilleman, M. R. (1960, November). The vacuolating virus, SV40. Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biological Medicine,105, 420–427.

Comar et al. (2007) found both HIV and SV40 in an AIDS patient suffering from dementia and suggested that the SV40, introduced into humans through polio vaccinations decades earlier, may be a causal factor in producing the AIDS dementia.

Comar, M., D’Agaro, P., Luzzati, R., Martini, F., Tognon, M., & Campello, C. (2007). SV40 and  HIV sequences in the cerebrospinal fluid of a patient with AIDS dementia complex. Current HIV Research, 5(3), 345–347.

Dr. Howard Urnovitz, PhD, Microbiologist and Immunologist, Science Director, Chronic Illness Research Foundation, co-founder and CEO, Chronix Biomedical, leader of the team that developed the only FDA-licensed urine-based diagnostic test for antibodies to HIV, has suggested that there may be a direct link between polio vaccines and some of the Simian viruses known to have been distributed to the human population world-wide through polio vaccinations in the Congo:

Dr. Urnowitz said on August 3, 1999 in testimony before the COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT: “Had my mother and father known that the poliovirus vaccines of the 1950s were heavily contaminated with more than 26 monkey viruses, including the cancer virus SV40, I can say with certainty that they would not have allowed their children and themselves to take those vaccines.  Both of my parents might not have developed cancers suspected of being vaccine-related, and might even be alive today.” Dr. Urnovitz is best known for the discovery of retroposons which are the enablers of retroviruses, ones that rewrite our own DNA. He and Dr. Murphy, one of his co-authors, have produced a coherent argument suggesting that the retroviruses involved in AIDS, HIV, may have come from one of the Simian viruses introduced through polio vaccines. See the following article which has been cited 105 times according to the Web of Science database as of today’s date (January 12, 2011).

Urnovitz, H. B., & Murphy, W. H. (1996). Human endogenous retroviruses: Nature, occurrence, and clinical implications in human disease. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 9(1), 72-99. [Here in the link, I have given the whole pdf version of the paper.]

Protecting the Industry

The protection of the vaccine industry is directly related (e.g., by proponents of Congressional acts to prevent suits against vaccine manufacturers) to fears about weaponized disease agents such as smallpox and anthrax. It seems that those fears may be exaggerated. Consider salient known facts concerning the “outbreak” of Soviet weaponized smallpox in 1971 and the anthrax attacks attributed to Bruce Ivins in the United States in 2001.

The smallpox “outbreak” of a weaponized variant produced at a former Soviet (Russian) bioweapons lab on Vozrozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea, later destroyed by an American military team (Tucker & Zilinskas, 2002, p. 1), killed only 3 of 10 infected people in Aralsk, Kazakhstan and did not spread as feared.

Tucker, J. B., & Zilinskas, R. A. (Eds.). ( 2002, July). The 1971 smallpox epidemic in Aralsk, Kazakhstan, and the Soviet Biological Warfare Program. Occasional Paper No. 9. Monterey, CA: Monterey Institute of International Studies, Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Similarly, though anthrax spores were sent through the mail (allegedly by Bruce Ivins acting alone) to the offices of U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, as well as ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer, the attack, probably with a weaponized variant of anthrax spores under study at Fort Detrick, Maryland, was largely ineffective as a killing method. Of all the persons exposed, probably in the hundreds, only 22 were infected and 5 died of anthrax (see the Bruce Ivins wikipedia article and its documentation, retrieved January 12, 2011, from

Nevertheless, the CDC and U. S. pharmaceutical industry is already stockpiling 300 million doses of smallpox vaccine. Is this a good plan? Is it necessary or even wise?

An Un-Examined Approach to Health

As intelligent thinkers have been pointing out from near the beginning of the mandatory use of smallpox vaccine (from about 1853), the whole theory of vaccines is analogous to something more drastic than deliberately sipping some sewage to prevent an accidental exposure to a contaminated liquid that might result in dysentery. Vaccination exposures involve injecting, in most cases, contaminated materials loaded with particular disease agents or parts of them directly into the bodily tissues of human beings, often at the stage of greatest vulnerability, in early infancy before the tiny human’s immune systems have sufficiently matured to be at full strength.

Does this sort of paradigm not cry out for sensible and thoughtful re-examination? Can the risk of discontinuing existing programs be higher for the general population than it is turning out to be to the Amish people, home-schoolers, and those among the larger population who have looked at the autism epidemic thoughtfully and are saying, “I don’t think so. No thank-you to some or all of the vaccines.”

Is it possible that the CDC can’t  find the causes of the autism epidemic even when they hold the causes in their own hands?

It is not just thimerosal and the measles virus that need to be reconsidered. Research shows that the vaccine industry rests on an unexamined history. When we look to the outcomes of the huge experiments on tens of millions of human beings the valid conclusions are that vaccines, e.g., smallpox and polio to pick the best studied exemplars, actually increased the risk of smallpox and polio along with other infectious diseases, as well as paralysis, cancers, needless exposures to adventitious disease agents (SV40 to choose just one), allergens, and so on.

Defenders of the CDC policies point to the theory of “herd immunity”—the idea that vaccinating a high percentage of persons prevents epidemics for everyone. It’s a plausible sounding idea, but there are huge counter evidences.

What happens to the herd immunity theory when we look to examples like the Philippines where the worst smallpox epidemic in the history of the world occurred several years after the American military administered 25 million doses of smallpox vaccine to 10 million inhabitants? The people in those islands, after every person on the average got 2.5 doses of smallpox vaccine, experienced the worst recorded smallpox epidemic in the history of the world in 1918. It infected tens of thousands and killed a higher percentage than ever in unvaccinated populations. In Leicester, England the worst epidemics occurred when over 80% of the people were accepting vaccinations for smallpox while infections and deaths from smallpox, and from all other infectious diseases, dropped precipitously when people in that sizable community, 90% of them, were actually refusing smallpox vaccinations and were preferring to pay the fines imposed by the British national government. These and many other historical cases and much additional data is cited in our book (Oller & Oller, 2010).

It is clear from the research that vaccines have been over-rated with respect to their touted benefits and they have been under-rated with respect to their often lethal and destructive short-term and long-term consequences.

By contrast, there is no danger in recommending a healthy diet, plenty of rest, and wholesome regular exercise. There is much to be gained by avoiding toxic exposures and by practicing good personal hygiene, e.g., by immediately washing the face, mouth, hands, and mucus membranes when an exposure to a disease agent is suspected or believed likely. Don’t eating well, getting rest, exercising regularly, and staying clean make more sense than injecting tiny infants, pregnant moms, and unborn babies with disease agents, toxins, and adventitious biochemical leftovers from the lab animals used in producing vaccines?

The good news is that Dr. Offit’s latest title is correct in suggesting that the public has choices to make. Let’s make them wisely in the coming New Year and decade. Dr. Offit’s title, of course, is a take-off on Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s seminal article titled “Deadly Immunity.”

Choices to Make

Parents and intelligent persons everywhere are called upon to read the research for themselves and to insist that their doctors do so as well. Doctors who rely on journalists like Brian Deer, newspaper clippings, and policy statements by the CDC as well as presumptions about rather than research into vaccine history, are begging the critical questions. We must examine the history of vaccine use and the impact of their current uses. The toxicology research is critical. It must be examined. The history of vaccinations and their impact is also important for parents and decision-makers to examine closely.

When we look to the recorded history, see Oller & Oller (2010), from the research and data available it is already plain that sanitation and hygiene are better approaches to disease prevention than injections of poisons and adventitious disease agents along with extraneous animal disease agents, protein fragments, and so forth. The toxins combined with disease agents are certain to produce interactions, and those interactions alone, should justify a much closer examination of the toxicology and the history of uses of multivalent vaccines. From examinations of the limited reports of clinical trials alone, it is clear that multivalent vaccines are more apt to cause higher temperatures, more aches and pains, and an increased likelihood of adverse events. Even the most guarded reports confirm the expectation that multivalent vaccines, all else being equal, are more dangerous than single threat vaccines with only one disease agent at a time. For reasons spelled out in Oller & Oller (2010), interactive effects of multiple toxins, multiple disease agents, adjuvants (e.g., aluminum), preservatives, and a host of adventitious factors (animal proteins, oils, viruses, etc.) are costly to study, but cannot safely be swept under the carpet.

The popular story about Edward Jenner, one that we all believed as children, needs to be re-examined from a thoughtful, reasonable, and skeptical adult perspective. When that re-examination is done, the Jenner story together with the alleged success of smallpox vaccine turns out to be grounded in wishful thinking. Sanitation undoubtedly is the positive causal factor in reducing infections and deaths by smallpox, and the cowpox (vaccinia) inoculations have a history of causing rather than preventing death and infectious disease from smallpox and from other disease agents.

Careful examination of the historical record (see the figure below from Oller & Oller, 2010, p. 219) has shown that the defeat of infectious diseases like smallpox, scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera, and the like, owe a great deal more to sanitation and hygiene than to deliberate exposures to disease agents through vaccinations. Data from two CDC sources graphed by Oller & Oller (2010) show that from 1955 through 1996 the introduction of 8 additional vaccines (including, two polio vaccines, measles, mumps, rubella, Hep, Hib, and Rotavirus) did not affect the rate of death attributable to infectious diseases during the whole latter half of the twentieth century. Sanitation  had already bottomed out the rate of death by infectious diseases and the removal of DDT from household uses from about 1955 forward seems to be the simpler and more consistent explanation for the virtual obliteration of poliomyelitis in the United States. It is very important also to note that from the CDC’s own data from 1980 to 1994, 94% of the 133 confirmed cased of polio were directly attributed to the Sabin vaccine itself.

Trevelyan, Smallman-Raynor, and Cliff acknowledge that sanitation played a large role in defeating polio and that the Sabin oral polio vaccine caused the vast majority of polio cases between 1980 and 1994.

Trevelyan, B., Smallman-Raynor, M. R., & Cliff, A. D. (2005, June). The spatial dynamics of poliomyelitis in the United States: from epidemic emergence to vaccine-induced retreat, 1910–1971. Annual Association of American Geography, 95(2), 269–293.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (1998, November 20). Paralytic poliomyelitis—United States, 1980-1994. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 46(54), 85.

It is also necessary to appeal to the sanitation issue in order to explain a huge spike in deaths from infectious diseases attributable to the unsanitary conditions on transport ships and the trenches of Europe during World War I. Trevelyan and colleagues also make the point that wars and the crowding of refugee camps contribute to the rise of infectious disease.  Immediately at the end of the war in 1918, deaths by infectious disease began to fall precipitously (see Figure 7-9, Oller & Oller, 2010, p. 219).

Deaths by infectious disease in the United States per 100K persons 1900 to 1996 plotted against the dates vaccines were introduced.

Deaths by infectious disease in the United States per 100K persons 1900 to 1996 plotted against the dates vaccines were introduced. Statistics are combined from two CDC reports: CDC, July 30, 1999, p. 243 and CDC, April 2, 1999, p. 247.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (1999, April 2). Achievements in public health, 1900-1999: Impact of vaccines universally recommended for children—United States, 1990-1998. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 48(12), 243-248.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (1999, July 30). Achievements in public health, 1900-1999: Control of infectious diseases. MMWR, 48(29), 621-629.

Paralytic polio is one of the most interesting cases to study closely. The toxicology research links that disease directly with DDT poisoning and only indirectly to polio viruses featured in two vaccines, Salk and Sabin, which were created after DDT had been banned and polio was essentially already obliterated in the United States. But the toxicology research had already demonstrated that DDT could produce the paralytic aspects of poliomyelitis:

Biskind, M. S. (1949a). DDT poisoning and elusive virus X: A new cause for gastro-enteritis. American Journal of Digestive Diseases, 16(3), 79–84.

Biskind, M. S. (1949b, January). DDT poisoning and X disease in cattle. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 114, 20.

Biskind, M. S. (1949c, February). DDT Poisoning a serious public health hazard. American Journal of Digestive Diseases, 16, 73.

Biskind, M. S. (1949d). Endocrine disturbances in gastrointestinal conditions. Review of Gastroenterology, 16(3), 220–225.

Biskind, M. S. (1953). Public health aspects of the new insecticides. American Journal of Digestive Diseases, 20, 331–341.

Biskind, M. S., & Bieber, I. (1949, April). DDT poisoning: A new syndrome with neuropsychiatric manifestations. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(2), 261–270.

Polio persists, however, in places where DDT and its derivatives are still being used (see the web site maintained by Jim West; also see research summary on the website and the images documented there advertising the safety of DDT and documenting its widespread use during the polio epidemics). We now know that the viruses, however, appear to be only incidentally involved in paralytic polio. The fact is that about 95% of individuals in the U. S. population, estimated from research, carry one or more polio viruses.

Ryan, K. J., & Ray, C. G. (Eds.) (2004). Enteroviruses. Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th edition, pp. 535–537). New York: McGraw Hill.

West, J. (1999). A critique of scientific literature: Pesticides and polio.

West, J. (2009). Pesticides and polio: A critique of the scientific literature. Retrieved June 10, 2009, from

Why then do so few individuals with the polio viruses experience polio-like paralysis?

Exposure to DDT, its derivatives, and to other related persistent pesticides seem to be necessary to explain the actual incidence of paralyzing cases of “polio.” (For the analysis and references see Oller & Oller, 2010.)

Given careful research on such facts, the whole vaccine paradigm obviously needs to be critically examined piece by piece. The public and parents should not accept CDC slogans from medical practitioners. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. argues for a better informed public and for critical examination of the vaccine paradigm while the CDC calls for increased sponsorship of research into genetics and environmental toxins, especially ones that are not being placed inside the bodies of human beings by medical practitioners. However, the agents that are put directly into bodily tissues, e.g., dental mercury placement and vaccine sources, are already known to be more potent, more prevalent, and more likely to be delivered during critical periods of genetic growth and development than most other environmental toxins combined. See Olmsted & Blaxill (2010, pp. 239ff).

Where is the study comparing matched pairs of vaccinated and unvaccinated children with similar exposures to other environmental toxins?

Olmsted & Blaxill (2011) document how the CDC sent a team to investigate in Brick Township in New Jersey after parents there complained that autism seemed to be epidemic there. The CDC seemed to infer that there might be some identifiable environmental cause in the heavily industrial surroundings. A team was sent to investigate, but after confirming what the parents had already learned, the CDC team suddenly left without reporting any explanation.

It turned out upon further investigation by the parents that the CDC had evidently ruled out all the environmental sources for autism in Brick Township except for “expansion in the required immunization program” (p. 241). Olmsted & Blaxill (2010) report data reluctantly supplied by the CDC after multiple parent inquiries and a lot of digging that seems to point to the CDC’s worst nightmare: The data led the investigators, it seems, to the inevitable conclusion that Brick Township was not exceptional. The clear cause for the increasing prevalence of autism in Brick Township was the increase in exposure to vaccines and the neurotoxin, thimerosal. This was plain from the fact that the children in older cohorts who had not received the additional mandated vaccine exposures, showed no cases of autism, while the younger birth cohorts showed a number of cases exceeding prior epidemiological estimates.

Did the CDC team pull up stakes and leave because they were finding the same pattern nation-wide? The data being recorded at Thoughtful House from reports supplied to the CDC nation-wide under federal legislation are consistent with such an interpretation.

Autism is on the rise.

The blue line shows the rising incidence of the autism diagnosis in the younger birth cohorts, 3-22, while the red line shows the incidence in the 6-22 birth cohorts.

The autism epidemic appears to be very real, and nation-wide. If there had been any other plausible conclusion the CDC team could point to, say, industrial pollution in Brick Township, wouldn’t the CDC team have pointed it out? Instead, they held a short public meeting, passed out some papers, and left town.

Parents would be well-advised to require the doctors consulted about autism to read the relevant toxicology research. Many doctors, as pointed out by Dr. Brian Jepson in 2007, are not doing their homework well, or, in some cases, at all. In too many instances, when parents ask questions about autism, the doctor knows less than many individuals in the parent support group, and may be unaware of the excellent independent research that is being published that blatantly contradicts CDC public statements.

Hopefully, the ongoing controversy, highlighted by the targeting of Dr. Andy Wakefield by Brian Deer and his collaborators, may, as Lee Grossman has suggested, lead to more concern on the part of researchers and thoughtful parents everywhere about the causes of the autism epidemic. Many are sensibly calling for systematic studies of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. A matched-pairs design would make sense and is immediately feasible.

Parents Must Investigate for Themselves

When Offit says vaccines cannot cause autism because the CDC studies can’t find a link, he is relying on reports of failed searches. But failures of that kind are inconclusive. If we look into the ones the CDC points to as sustaining their claims, as we have done, all of the failed searches seem designed so that they could not possibly find any links between autism and vaccines. Why have there been no systematic comparisons between vaccinated and unvaccinated matched pairs?

To accept the CDC null findings as conclusive is a profound error from a logical (statistical research) perspective. One toxicology study showing a link between thimerosal, for example, and neuropathy, is sufficient to disprove all of the CDC’s failed searches combined. Those failures are no more conclusive that vaccines are not involved in causing autism than a million failures to launch a satellite could prove that no satellites have ever been placed in orbit. Sputnik alone was sufficient to disprove that theory. The case against thimerosal and its use in vaccines is already conclusive beyond any reasonable doubt. In using it and recommending its use in flu vaccines and in vaccines distributed to other countries the CDC and the World Health Organization bear responsibility for harm to hundreds of millions of people.

The toxicology research points to the conclusion that alkyl mercury poisoning through vaccines has invariably contributed to neurological injuries, the autism epidemic, and SIDS. An aggressive independent research program examining the interactions between disease agents, toxins, and the “adventitious” components of vaccines that can now be assayed should be undertaken.  There must be an open, public examination of the actual history and current impact of vaccines and their components. Past speculations about how many millions of people would die, or how many thousands are dying daily of rotaviral infections, need to be examined critically in light of actual published data made accessible to independent researchers who are not employed by deeply vested organizations and government entities. (Parenthetically, it is commendable that Dr. Offit has donated his royalties from Deadly Choices, as Dr. Andy Wakefield has also donated royalties from the sale of his book, Callous Disregard. Similarly, Dr. Stephen D. Oller and I have donated royalties from our 2010, Autism, book to the treatment and research on autism at Thoughtful House.)

Reports from the CDC about numbers of deaths attributed to particular disease agents, e.g., the swine flu campaign of 1976, bird flu of 2003, and the new “swine flu” H1N1 of 2005-2006, need to be critically and publicly assessed in terms of published data concerning actual confirmed deaths from the “wild” disease agents. In cases where costly public vaccination programs have been instituted, careful comparisons of matched-pairs of vaccinated versus unvaccinated persons need to be made. Also, reported deaths and injuries occurring immediately after vaccination or within a few days need to be made public. Consider what Mike Wallace discovered in a little aired 60 minutes report about the 1976 “swine flu” epidemic that never happened, but the vaccination program that did happen.

(Here also is a transcript of that 60 Minutes program for fast readers who want to save some time.)

Reasonable comments and questions on facts, citations, and relevant research are welcomed. I hold to the idea of Charles S. Peirce who said:

 "The best maxim in writing, perhaps, is really to love
                       your reader for his own sake."
                                        C. S. Peirce, Mar 17, 1888

Nevertheless, the comments on this blog are moderated.  (This particular entry was updated on January 22, 2011 at 1:21 PM CST.)


About johnwollerjrontheautismepidemic

As a research professor with 16 peer-reviewed books and more than 230 peer-reviewed articles ranging across disciplines I deal with the most abstract, comprehensive, and consistent theory as well as empirical studies of language and communication. This blog is about the autism epidemic. My goal is to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of communication disorders in general as well as related disorders, disease conditions, and injuries. Causal factors in autism are also involved in many other disorders. By understanding how such factors impact biological control systems from DNA to the unique human language capacity, many former mysteries will also be solved. I do and have worked with researchers around the world and with various organizations including the Autism Society of Acadiana, the Sertoma Club of Lafayette, and Sertoma International. Any errors on this site are my own. I aim to avoid "expert opinions" in favor of sound theory and research. "Experts" are, by definition, merely persons whose opinions differ from those of other "experts." My aim is to pursue the facts, not mere opinions.
This entry was posted in autism, autism epidemic, biological control systems, causation, causation of autism, disease agents as factors in autism, interactions of toxins and disease agens, measles virus, mercury, vaccines and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Offit’s Deadly Choices

  1. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    Thank you for this in-depth critique of the most heated controversy in medicine today. We must wake up to the autism emergency. We’re losing a generation of children. One percent of kids now have autism. One in six has a learning disorder. It’s the worst epidemic in our history and we continue to allow the people in charge of the vaccine program to vouch for the safety of a mounting toxic assault on our children.
    Anne Dachel
    Media editor: Age of Autism

  2. cynthia parker says:

    I am grateful to you for your intelligent, well-researched work on autism. My daughter has autism because the hospital gave her the hepatitis-B shot at one day old and she screamed constantly day and night with pain (probably encephalitis) from the day she came home, for weeks. She was diagnosed with autism before she was two. There is overwhelming evidence that the vaccines are causing autism, and Dr. Offit as well as all the other linchpins in the labyrinth erected around big Pharma are lying to protect the money accruing to them as well as their own apparently unassailable authority. Dr. Offit said in his book Vaccines: What You Should Know, that the DPT shot never killed any child, just as he says now that vaccines do not cause autism. He says a vax/unvax study will never be carried out. Does he think he is a god, that his making a pronouncement is enough to imbue it with truth? Are people going to just take his word for it until their own child becomes autistic, and then they’ll see him for what he is? Thank you, Dr. Oller, for working so hard to unmask him.

  3. Kevin says:

    Thank you for a easy-to-read summary of everything-that-I-knew-but-couldn’t-put-into-words!

  4. Wow John! You totally “get” our kids. I am lucky to now have twins who have recovered but only after years of detoxing their bodies, hundreds of thousands of dollars of biomedical treatment.

    Keep up the wonderful work!
    Jane Casey

  5. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Where is the study comparing matched pairs of vaccinated and unvaccinated children with similar exposures to other environmental toxins? It would never pass any ethics review board. To actually check this, you would have to give placebo vaccines to thousands of children, leaving them at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases.

    • Tsu Dho Nimh, Good comment. Thank you. The fact is, however, that a placebo type comparison is not necessary. There are plenty of persons willing to participate who are willingly (and legally) saying “no thanks” to particular vaccines. The study would not need to deceive participants with a placebo or to put people at any additional risk on either side, accepting or rejecting the vaccine. What is more important, there is quite a lot of accumulating evidence that unvaccinated populations are healthier. Isn’t it best, if this is true, to get the information out to the public? Shouldn’t the CDC, NIH, and our health industries be all over this as a basis for testing the impact of toxins, disease agents, and interactions in vaccines? If the orthodox position is correct, what better way to show it than by demonstrating a contrast in health and well-being favoring vaccinated individuals and groups? From a strict theoretical perspective, looking at things in terms of the relation between ordinary true representations and working systems from genetics on up through the highly articulated immune systems to the highest levels of human social organization, law, education, and so forth, there are excellent theoretical (principled) reasons to question the validity of the foundational assumptions underlying the use of vaccines as preventative measures. Sanitation and hygiene make more sense than deliberate exposure to disease agents, toxins, and so forth in tiny infants and unborn babies.

      My argument is that the presumption that vaccines are good for everyone, especially at the most vulnerable stages of development, is theoretically inconsistent (in principle) with the aim of avoiding unnecessary injuries, exposures, and harmful agents. Also, the accumulating empirical evidence from people who are voluntarily rejecting the option of being vaccinated seems also to suggest that much of what we have been told about vaccines and the theory underlying them is not correct. I am reminded again of what Will Rogers is supposed to have said about what you don’t know. He observed that what you don’t know isn’t what hurts you. According to his aphorism, “It’s what ya know that ain’t so. That’s what hurts ya.” In any case, it seems wise to find out what happens in cases of unvaccinated populations. Careful matched pair designs are possible and would make a lot of sense. Why is there so much accumulating evidence that unvaccinated children are very healthy? Moreso than their vaccinated peers. Then, of course, there is also the history of vaccine uses (more than a century and a half) to examine, and there is the toxicology literature.

  6. Pingback: Did’s Brie Cadman Promote Censorship of Science? | Censorship in America

  7. Pingback: Did’s Brie Cadman Promote Censorship of Science? - Health Impact News

  8. iPad Golf says:

    Great story once again..
    Thumbs up. :=)

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