Controversies surrounding mercury in vaccines: autism denial as impediment to universal immunisation

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In 2004, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a paper showing that there is no link between the age at which a child is vaccinated with MMR and the vaccinated children’s risk of a subsequent diagnosis of autism (1). One of the authors, William Thompson, has now revealed that statistically significant information was deliberately omitted from the paper (2). Thompson first told Dr S Hooker, a researcher on autism, about the manipulation of the data. Hooker analysed the raw data from the CDC study afresh. He confirmed that the risk of autism among African American children vaccinated before the age of 2 years was 340% that of those vaccinated later. Hooker published his findings in the peer-reviewed open-access journal, Translational Neurodegeneration. However, within hours of CNN publishing the story of the CDC whistle-blower, Hooker’s article was removed from the website of the open-access journal. It was stated that the journal and publisher “believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest”. The full article is now available only on the PubMed website (3).

The MMR vaccine contains no Thimerosal, but the story of Thompson and the paper on MMR serves to illustrate how disputed the areas of vaccine-related injury and autism have become.

 

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