Activists demand CDC transparency in vaccine safety

The Oconee Enterprise, April 21, 2016:
Dr. David Lewis

This week, civil rights leaders and vaccine activists are gathering in Atlanta to demand transparency in the CDC’s research on vaccine safety. They believe CDC officials unfairly accuse scientists of research misconduct for raising concerns over vaccine safety, while looking the other way when scientists who defend vaccine safety are caught fudging data. In a related conference, I will speak about my investigations into the controversy, which I presented at Harvard University and a meeting of the Royal Society of London.

Vaccine safety is an area in which the CDC and pharmaceutical companies have major conflicts of interest. These conflicts can lead them to suppress results that raise public concerns about CDC-recommended vaccines. Few reporters, educators, politicians and even scientists are qualified to evaluate vaccine safety data. They just accept whatever conclusions are published by the CDC. Unfortunately, slipping unsupported conclusions into scientific articles has become commonplace.

Dr. Lewis’ article posted in The Oconee Enterprise – Click to enlarge David Lewis

In 2011, I took a close look at articles Brian Deer, a freelance reporter, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). He accused researchers at the University College London of faking a link between MMR vaccine and autism in a report published in 1998 in The Lancet. Specifically, he claimed that the original data sheets are missing, and that hospital records prove one researcher intentionally misinterpreted data.

Deer’s allegations led the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) to revoke the medical licenses of two of the researchers, and editors to retract the Lancet report. Fortunately, I was able to obtain many of the original data sheets Deer claimed were lost. I found no evidence of fraud in any of them. The BMJ published my conclusions, and acknowledged that the journal is sponsored by manufacturers of MMR vaccine. In an interview with Nature, a commentator for the BMJ agreed there was no evidence of fraud.

In 2012, the High Court of England dismissed all of the GMC’s findings, and restored the medical license to the one accused researcher who still lived in the UK. It found that the GMC was biased, and had rejected key evidence. The GMC agreed, and pledged to reform its procedures. Still, the CDC and news media continue to use Deer’s false allegations and the GMC’s discredited findings to accuse the researchers of fraud.

More recently, a journal retracted a paper concluding that the CDC had omitted evidence that black children vaccinated for MMR in Atlanta were at increased risk for developing autism. One CDC scientist admitted publicly that the data were removed to hide the vaccine-autism connection. CDC officials claim that the excluded black children lacked valid Georgia birth certificates needed to indicate their birth weights. Based on certificates I obtained, however, it appears Georgia had stopped including birth weights by the time children in the CDC study were born.

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David Lewis, Ph.D.

Former U.S. EPA Research Microbiologist

David Lewis is an internationally recognized research microbiologist whose work on public health and environmental issues, as a senior-level Research Microbiologist in EPA’s Office of Research & Development and member of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Georgia, has been reported in numerous news articles and documentaries from TIME magazine and Reader’s Digest to National Geographic.

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