The Channel 4 Dispatches programme in the UK has done some good investigative reporting in its time. It’s also been in the front lines of some un-objective reporting about the possible MMR/autism link, including its 2004 programme reported by Brian Deer.

Last Monday’s Dispatches episode, Trump, the Doctor & the Vaccine Scandal, reported by Channel 4 anchor Cathy Newman offered more of the same. It featured Andrew Wakefield 17 years on, but this time included his relationship with the President of the USA, Donald Trump, who’s credibility is not the highest in the UK at present and the President’s relationship with JFK’s environmental lawyer nephew, Robert Kennedy.

As with Deer’s 2014 programme, it seemed the main objective was to do a comprehensive hatchet job on Wakefield. The aim was to presumably encourage as many parents as possible to accept the vaccination of their children, especially those who might be uninclined to do so or undecided. This would be a laudable objective if it would achieve the best possible health outcomes for children – but the science is so opaque on this issue any conclusion one way or another is difficult to make with any degree of certainty.

Those who missed the broadcasting of the episode can view it online for another 28 days.

There is little point giving a blow by blow account of the programme here.

What’s more relevant, in our view, is to understand what’s really going on, why this kind of reporting is bad for public health and bad also for science and medicine in general. It also provides us with a clearer view on what might be done to make sure less of this kind of reporting goes on – and is in the interest of public health, not that of big industries or specific individuals with self-centred motivation.

For us as well, there is little point in making a personal attack on Cathy Newman. She was fed a lot of information from certain quarters, information that has been cleverly honed over nearly two decades to create a very persuasive argument for there being no possibility of any link between autism and MMR, or other vaccines for that matter. It could be said that Cathy Newman was doing her job, and may not have had the space or time to evaluate other sides of the argument. She did what the programme controllers wanted her to do and they are undoubtedly more than pleased with the finished product.

What were the main failings of the Dispatches documentary?

Below are some of our observations:

  1. Editors did a good job capturing the worst moments of Wakefield, Trump and Kennedy – and failed to balance them with sensible, scientifically founded and rational comments made by the three individuals about the issue

Hear Andrew Wakefield speaking along with others concerned about vaccine safety on the vaccine panel at the Conscious Life Expo in Los Angeles, February 20, 2016. Wakefield’s presentation begins 28:35 mins into the video.

  1. Paediatrician and vaccine expert (and developer of the rotavirus vaccine), Dr Paul Offit, Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was the prime authority used to debunk Wakefield and Trump’s views and (wrongly) claim safety of vaccines. The programme failed to declare Offit’s conflict of interest with the vaccine industry, or that Offit is probably the vaccine industry’s number one ‘academic’ champion, who has his own critics within academia. Offit also wrote a book in 2011 that takes a very deep dig at the anti-vaccination movement without dealing with its scientifically justifiable concerns.
  2. The documentary implied that debunking the very difficult to prove autism/MMR link was equivalent to saying vaccines (in general) play no role in adverse effects on the neurology, immune system or gut microbiome of vaccine children. These issues are quite different and there is copious evidence for the role of vaccines. Remember how long it took to force the tobacco industry to take responsibility for its role in increasing lung cancer rates? The fascinating story of the 40-year battle to overcome the might of funded science, cronies and tobacco industry apologists is eloquently laid out by Fred Pampel in his book, Tobacco Industry and Smoking. The tobacco industry had its very own Paul Offits – several of them.
  3. The documentary entirely ignored all the available evidence of vaccine side effects and payouts by government compensation schemes, including over $3.5 billion by the US ‘vaccine court’.
  4. The reporting implied vaccines are safe when they are not.
  5. The documentary failed to discuss the kinds of approaches, many based on solid and validated science, that parents who choose to not vaccinate their children might engage with to help build their natural immunity. These approaches include delaying the vaccination until children are 3 years of age, avoiding elective caesarian-sections, prolonging breastfeeding, minimising antibiotic exposure, maintaining healthy and diverse diets in weaned children that diversify and balance the microorganisms in the gut that are vital to a healthy immune system, reducing environmental chemical exposures and exposing children to microorganisms through outdoor activities (‘hygiene/microbiome hypothesis’).
  6. The programme claimed that the HPV vaccine is one of the safest vaccines, whereas data secured by the UK Independent newspaper from the UK’s medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) under a freedom of information request, suggests it has by far the highest rate of recorded adverse events

Hear Erin Crawford, Gardasil HPV vaccine trial participant tell her story

  1. The programme made digs at Wakefield’s earnings in his non-profit, the Strategic Autism Initiative, yet failed to comment on Dr Offit’s earnings from the vaccine industry which are orders of magnitude larger.
  2. The programme avoided giving recognition to Robert Kennedy Jr for his work as one of the US’s most prominent environmental lawyers, being named by Time magazine as one of the “Heroes of the Planet”. When interviewed by Cathy Newman, Kennedy referred to a much larger body of work than the 17 studies cited by Offit and other vaccine supporters that are claimed to disprove any autism/MMR link, yet information about these other (independent) papers (see www.vaccinepapers.org) were never revealed in the programme. The programme failed to mention Kennedy and many others’ (including our) concerns about the potential cumulative effect of aluminium in vaccines in susceptible children.

Research on potential risks of aluminium in vaccines

  1. For more information about scientific publications linked to vaccination risks, please refer to the Vaccine Papers website.

End Note

The issues about vaccine safety have become so polarised that scientific consensus has moved very little, with the bulk of primary care physicians and governments being entrenched in the camp that recommends the full vaccination schedule to all children.

While the voice of those who appear to have been harmed by vaccines is getting louder, the vaccine establishment is becoming more aggressive and confrontational towards the so-called ‘anti-vaccine movement’ which could more accurately be described as a ‘concerned about vaccine safety’ movement.

We’re going to end with a statement that might be controversial to some. The success of any movement is strongly associated with the credibility of its leaders. Donald Trump, Robert Kennedy Jr and Wakefield know this very well. It is more than understandable how Andrew Wakefield became the ‘poster boy’ of the anti-vaccine movement, but he has more to offer scientifically, and his credibility has potentially been damaged irreparably by vaccine protagonists. Therefore the position he’s put in by his supporters may actually be slowing, rather than accelerating, the accurate communication of available scientific and clinical knowledge about vaccines.

Something to ponder…while we consider the various ways we’re working on trying to redress the unacceptable polarisation in interpretation of vaccine science.

Comments

  1. I was horrified by the Channel 4 program. It was unbelievably one-sided and some of the statements were just so blatantly inaccurate as anyone who reads the reports from researchers who are not aligned and funded by the vaccination industry knows. I found it absolutely shocking that a trusted news gathering organisation and documentary maker would have the bare-faced cheek to present such a biased and badly researched article.

  2. I think that if one wants to have a rational discussion one needs to be clear as to what is assumed when it is stated that vaccines are safe, that they are needed to build a child’s immunity and that especially the mmr has no link with autism. Also I think if you have seen Ty Bollinger’s excellent documentary series ‘The Truth about Vaccines’ you would have noted that even the US Supreme Court has stated in relation to the whole vaccine questions that they are “UNAVOIDABLY UNSAFE”!!!

    As concerns the safety rather that approach it from only a global perspective, one needs to approach it also from the standpoint of the known toxicity of many of the ingredients in the vaccine, the lack of testing of those adjuvants in combination which further heightens their toxicity, and the fact that even without the virus grown on animal cells in most cases the same adjuvants which stimulate an immune response also damage the immune system and cause an increase in long term inflammation in the body and brain. One of the worse things not talked about is the fact that polysorbate 80’s ability to open up the blood brain barrier and shepherd aluminum and mercury which both bind to it across the barrier into the brain. And up until now they have not done any testing for it!!! Finally I would recommend reading Judy Mikovits book ‘Plague’ which highlights the role of vaccines in human retrovirus.

    As for Cathy Newman, I’m sorry but I don’t share your opinion. After many years in broadcasting I’m sure that she knows the difference between when she has done a balanced broadcast versus when she has done something that is highly biased. But like many people nowadays, she is willing to bury what she knows in her soul to be wrong in order to receive a paycheck. As my history professor told me long ago, the road to Auschwitz is paved with indifference.

  3. I could not agree more with your end note. That is exactly the point, and the focus on the Wakefield story is also interfering with the real message of the movie Vaxxed. Q&As after the movie regularly focus on this, and the movie loses impact for this reason. We are not on a mission to restore Andy Wakefield’s reputation, and nor is he, but that keeps taking attention away from the more urgent, and probably more achievable issues.

    1. Were it not for the prominence of Andrew Wakefield (for better of for worse) I don’t think the debate would be out for general engagement as it is. The focus on AW has largely come as a first line of attack (or defence) from the pharma establishment which, if it can further besmirch AW feels that the debate will evaporate and die with him. If it weren’t AW they were attacking it would be someone else, but my feeling is that Pharma’s problem is only going to grow as the real strength comes from the sheer numbers of intelligent enquiring minds being applied, and the majority of people who do their homework soon smell a very big rat.

  4. What does the law say about informed consent before anyone is given any treatment and a cooling off period before accepting an invasive treatment such as a vaccine? The medical/ pharmaceutical industries rely on the passivity, ignorance and co ercion of the public it seems.

  5. The question remains: how much was she paid to tell her lies live?
    Also this is all about population control as per Bill Gates. Actually this has been the master plan for a very, very, long time.

  6. I have complained to channel 4 Dispatches, got a standard reply. Have responded to that with further details regarding the imbalance within the programme, not heard back yet. Hoping that AfNH has sent in a formal complaint too!

    1. Hello Anne.

      Thanks for your comment and support.

      We have a strategy in place to educate rather than alienate and plan to contact the Dispatches reporter in order for us to try and move the debate forward and bring the two sides together. However, we would encourage members of the public to complain, as you’ve done, highlighting bias in the reporting.

      Warm Regards

      Melissa

  7. It is not Andy Wakefield that is the problem it is that the vaccine protagonists keep on dragging his name through the dirt. Even if he lived in a cave they would still do it. They need their scapegoat!

  8. Evil persists when good men do nothing . Kathy should hang her head in shame ,as all the other reporters . This is for humanity !! They need to speak the truth.

  9. Mercury and Aluminum injected into babies and young children……
    Cathy Newman acted like a Rottweiler on Channel 4 and I will never
    Feel the same way about that lady.
    What about strengthening the Immune System.in our children…they are
    Depleted…..take out the sugar and the wheat in their diet…feed them fruit
    Organic veggies and good protein and vitamins and encourage them to
    Play outside…..our schools should bring this back into the system.
    Big Pharma has a lot to answer for..
    I had Measles and my brother had Whooping cough….it strengthened our
    Immune system for the rest of our lives.
    I NEVER had the flu vaccine but I do take Vitamin D3 and I NEVER have flu!
    There has never been so many children with Autism and other Mental
    Problems…..connect the dot.

  10. It is just one more ‘justification’ for the ‘Industry’ to force parents to accept the dictates of those making huge profits at our children’s expense. They should be held accountable for ALL the ingredients that are used (which are used, regardless of their toxicity) Nobody who has ANY affiliation with these companies should be allowed to have any say in their use. It should be independently assessed.

  11. “Vaccines Are Unavoidably Unsafe”
    Don’t take my word for it. These are the words of Justice Scalia in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, LLC in a Supreme Court decision in 2011. Unfortunately, due to the protections afforded the vaccine maker in the National Childhood Vaccine Act of 1986, the Court ruled against a vaccine injured plaintiff in the case. How?

    In the 1980s, children were having adverse reactions to the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine. Lots of lawsuits were being filed against docs and vaccine manufacturers. This caused the pharmaceutical industry to threaten pulling out of the vaccine market, and the alarm bells rang that the nation’s health and safety were at risk. Why were vaccine manufacturers getting ready to take their ball and go home? Because vaccines fall into a class of products considered “unavoidably unsafe.” I am not kidding you. This “unavoidable” word comes from the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act itself “products which, in the present state of human knowledge, are quite incapable of being made safe.”

    In 1986, Congress decided on a way to compensate folks for these avoidable injuries and death. It is called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. From 2001 until 2011 the program has compensated about 2500 families a total of $2 billion. There has been close to $4 billion paid to date since inception. But, that represents only a small fraction of those who actually brought claims to the Vaccine Court. You see, there is a 36 month window to bring the claim. There is no “tolling” granted for minors, unlike all the Civil Courts in the U.S. Guess what? Neurological injuries may not present in infants for long after 36 months. Furthermore, who knows how many cases were never brought by attorneys on behalf of a vaccine injured child, because the statute of limitations ran out?

    Don’t let anyone tell you that vaccines don’t cause injury. They have, they do and they will do so in the future. For years, Thimerosal was used as a preservative in multi-dose vials. While still proclaiming it “safe”, vaccine makers “voluntarily” removed Thimerosal. It is still present in trace amounts and in flu vaccine. Thimerosal was never approved by the FDA, as the patents predated the establishment of said regulations. Worried?

    With nearly 6,000 cases pending the USCFC held the “Omnibus Autism Hearings.” They decided not to make “autism” a “table injury.” How convenient. Since there would never be enough money to pay for all who claim an “autism” injury. But, there have been many cases compensated for “encephalopathy” as a diagnosis with reference to autism. You can read it: http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1681&context=pelr

    For the record, I am not “anti-vaccine.” Both of my children were fully vaccinated. Unfortunately for us, our son was neurologically disabled by vaccines. It is indisputable, yet the government and the vaccine makers still think that there is a “greater good” to be served. They may be right. But, let’s not fool ourselves. Vaccines can be made safer. It is about money.

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