I have the smartest friends.
I was going to write a rebuttal to Paul Offit’s review of VaxXed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, but one of my brilliant friends beat me to it.
Gotta share this!
For those who haven’t seen it, here is Dr. Offit’s “review.”
And here is the rebuttal from my friend:
In this review, Dr. Offit makes some egregious errors.
1) “In Vaxxed, we learn that a 1994 study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) apparently buried the fact that MMR had caused autism in a small subset of African-American boys…”
What is Dr. Offit playing at here? The study in question was published in 2004, not 1994. That’s obviously not a typo. Does he actually believe that that study was from 1994? Or does he know that it’s not, but doesn’t care about being accurate?
2) “Vaccines are not tested prospectively in placebo-controlled trials or with other vaccines that are given at the same time. In fact, all vaccines submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for licensure are subjected to this kind of testing.”
Actually, vaccines are not tested in placebo-controlled trials according to the same standards as all other medications. Other vaccines are usually used as “placebo,” or worse, a solution containing the aluminum adjuvant–the most reactive component of vaccines–is often used and called “placebo.”
The definition of “placebo,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary: “an inert or innocuous substance used especially in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance (as a drug)”
Perhaps Dr. Offit is unaware that vaccines, and especially the aluminum adjuvants used in vaccines, are not inert or innocuous?
How could they be, if their purpose is to elicit a stronger-than-usual immune response?
3) This assertion by Dr. Offit is an especially stunning sleight-of-hand: “When compared with their Caucasian counterparts, African-American boys in Atlanta in 1994 were under-vaccinated. In order to qualify for autism-support programs, this subset of under-vaccinated children with autism had to get vaccinated. In other words, it wasn’t that MMR had caused autism; it was that the diagnosis of autism had caused them to get MMR.”
Dr Offit wants us to believe that the African-American boys in 1994 (except it should be 2004, right? ANOTHER Offit error!) who received MMR vaccine BEFORE THE AGE OF 3 went and got vaccinated with MMR AFTER their diagnosis of autism? In order to qualify for their autism-support programs? Remember, this is exactly the group shown by the 2004 study to have a significantly higher risk of autism.
This is simply not true, whether you look at diagnosis rates in 1994 (to use Dr. Offit’s date) or in 2004.
Autism is rarely diagnosed before the age of 3 today; back in 2004, it was rarely diagnosed before the age of 5. In 1994, it was diagnosed even later.
And African-American boys, then and now, received their diagnoses much, much later than their white counterparts.
So much later, there have been several studies on this.
Perhaps Dr. Offit should read this 2002 study, “Race differences in the age at diagnosis among medicaid-eligible children with autism,” which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and found that, “on average, white children received the AD diagnosis at 6.3 years of age, compared with 7.9 years for black children.”
Surely he’s aware of that study? It took place in his own hometown, Philadelphia.
A 2011 review of autism in African-American children published in the journal “Social Work and Public Health” found that they have more disability due to lack of access to care.
Did you catch that? Dr. Offit wants us to believe that the African-American boys whose records were eliminated from the CDC study due to lack of a state birth certificate had such great access to care, they had already gotten diagnosed with autism a minimum of 5 years before the average, but somehow “missed” getting their MMR vaccines –the ones that they HAD gotten before the age of 3, as noted in the study?
I’d really like him to explain that one.
This 2005-2006 study, “A National Profile of the Health Care Experiences and Family Impact of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in the United States, 2005-2006,” published in the journal “Pediatrics,” found that, “compared with parents of white children, those of non-Hispanic black children with ASD were more likely to report delayed or forgone care, have no usual source of care, no personal physician or nurse, have difficulty receiving care, or lack ≥1 component of family-centered care.”
That study is also interesting in that it notes “A number of studies indicate that children with ASD have increased rates of other comorbidities such as seizure disorders, sleep disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and gastrointestinal complications.” You know–the medical issues that Dr. Offit has called “coincidence” in his interviews and articles.
It’s beyond ridiculous that Dr. Offit would review a documentary he has never seen. But the fact that his review contains so many outrageous and easily-refutable errors is deeply disturbing.
One is left with two choices: to believe that Dr. Offit really doesn’t know the facts — or that he does, and is lying about them.
I’m not sure which is worse.