Interview with Dr. Andrew Wakefield about Vaccines and Autism

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This is the interview with Dr. Andrew Wakefield, about vaccines and autism, on Monday Night Radio. Monday Night Radio is an online (Internet-based) talk radio show where different experts are interviewed, and people around the world can listen via the Internet, and call in to talk with the expert, and ask them questions.

The Internet Patrol’s Anne P. Mitchell, Esq., is the host of Monday Night Radio.

This Monday Night Radio show with Dr. Wakefield was first aired on 10/18/10. In addition to reading the interview below, you can listen to the recorded show via iTunes – where you can also subscribe to the podcast of all of the recorded shows. Here is the iTunes link:

Links to the guest’s website and book, if any, are at the end of the interview.

Male: You’re listening to Now You Know, talk radio where you get to ask the questions. Call us now 877NYKRADIO. That’s 8776957234. And now, Anne Mitchell.

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Anne: Welcome to this very special edition of Monday Night Radio. I am so very pleased to be able to introduce our first guest. I will do so in just a moment. First I want to talk a little bit to you parents in particular out there (everyone out there, but especially parents or those who at some point will be a parent), the decision whether to vaccinate your child or not or which vaccinations to let them have is a deeply personal decision. There is a great deal of information out there. Some of it is misinformation, but more of it is just a confusion of information. When I had my first child, let’s just say she is an adult now planning a wedding. I won’t reveal her age. When I had my first child quite a while ago, there was never a question but that you would always immunize your child. You would do whatever the pediatrician said and every thing would hopefully turn out well. But now, things really are quite muddled. In part that seems to be due to the profusion of immunizations that we are told to give our children. My son who is considerably younger than my daughter, had we given him the full course of immunizations he would have had dozens, literally dozens of different types of vaccinations by the time he was just two years old. We electively immunize, which means that we immunize in the instances that we feel it to be very important and urgent. But, we don’t give him all of the immunizations. I’ll give you an example. When I was a child, when my daughter was a child, there was not a vaccination for chicken pox. Kids just got it. Everyone gets it. Now, you are told you should vaccinate against chicken pox. I don’t know how my guest feels about the chicken pox vaccine, but I can tell you that we chose not to have our son immunized for chicken pox. In fact, we went out of our way to ensure that he got them naturally, which as we understand it confers a much better life long immunity. In any event, the point is that for every family they need to make their own immunization decisions weighing what they feel the risks may be, what the benefits may be how they feel about the importance of what’s known as herd immunity. This means that because you vaccinate your child, and then the child next to them won’t be at risk, because your child won’t be a carrier. All very personal decisions. Our guest is Dr. Andrew Wakefield. He is a British doctor. A researcher who published a paper several years ago with many colleagues having to deal with, and if I get this wrong Dr. Wakefield as soon as I bring you on please correct me, but having to do with the study of about a dozen of their patients who they noticed had some things in common having to do with their gastrointestinal functions. Noting that they had all seemed to decline in some way or other following vaccinations, and so this paper suggested that perhaps it would make sense to look into that and see if there is something there. What followed can only be described as a firestorm. If you have ever looked into the issue of immunizations for any reason, whether you are for, against or unsure, I’m sure that our guest is known to you at least by name. So, without further ado, let me bring on Dr. Wakefield. Hello, are you there?

Dr. Wakefield: I am indeed.

Anne: Good evening. Thank you so very much for joining us. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show.


Dr. Wakefield: It’s a pleasure to be with you.

Anne: Now, before we get into talking at all about really anything, let me just tell everyone out there if you have questions or comments for Dr. Wakefield the call in number as always is 866Monday6. You can also send us a message by Twitter at @mondayradio. E-mail your question to We will try to get to all callers, but people are already lighting up the switchboard. So, just please be patient and we will do the best that we can. Dr. Wakefield, let’s just cut right to the chase, as I understand it there was a paper that was published with your name along with several of your colleagues in “The Lancet” several years ago. That paper was what’s known as a case study, meaning you were simply reporting on observations you and your colleagues had made with respect to some of your patients. This was not in fact research or a research paper. Is that correct?

Dr. Wakefield: That is correct. It was a clinical observation reporting the parents’ story, what they thought had happened to their child, and the clinical findings, what was discovered on colonoscopy and blood tests. Yes, that is correct.

Anne: What were those things that the parents were reporting? What were the findings? What was the impetus to look at all the totality of those cases and what you were seeing that caused you and your colleagues to think, “You know we should bring this to the attention of people just to see if it merits further investigation.”

Dr. Wakefield: It began where all medicine began, and that was with the parents’ story in this case, or the patient’s story. What had actually happened and what was our duty to act upon the parents’ story and to find out whether it had merit or not. The children that were referred to us, the parents said, “My child was developing normally, and then they regressed into autism.” In eight of the twelve children, that regression started immediately after an MMR vaccine, a measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. The child had been developing entirely normally before, was indistinguishable from their peers, and then suddenly lost skills. They lost eye contact, speech, language; they didn’t interact with their siblings anymore. They were not interested in playing. Sometimes they would scream inconsolably, waking all night long. It was a terrible situation. They were eventually diagnosed with atypical or regressive autism. The other problem that they had was that they had intestinal symptoms which were very severe. The first mother reported diarrhea up to twelve times a day in her child. Bloating of the child’s abdomen and clearly in pain, but the child had lost the ability to express that, to say they were in pain. So, they would be hitting their head against the wall or injuring themselves in an attempt to get away from it. The doctors that they had seen had said that this is just part of autism. Well, no it’s not actually; this child was clearly physically unwell and needed to be investigated properly. So, with my colleagues including the world’s leading pediatric gastroenterologist we decided to take this very seriously and investigate these children as was our duty as physicians. That’s what we did. Lo and behold the parents were absolutely right. The children had a novel and previously un-described bowel disease, an intestinal inflammation. It was very interesting, because when we treated that, as you would treat crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with anti-inflammatory medication, then, not only did the bowel symptoms, the intestinal symptoms improve, the diarrhea got better for example, the pain went away, but also the autistic symptoms got better. The child would start talking or laughing or enjoying life for the first time. That was the beginning of a very interesting journey.

Anne: Now, your background is actually as a gastroenterologist, or a specialist in gastroenterology in children I believe, is that correct?

Dr. Wakefield: My interest, my expertise is in inflammatory bowel disease in adults and children, crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. So, I was the generalist, the non-pediatrician among the group.

Anne: In fact, in this paper which ended up becoming so controversial in part as I understand it in reading the reports from all sides, in part because it was cast as a research paper and as if you were actually suggesting a causality rather than a case study in which you were suggesting let’s look to see if there is causality. As I understand it, you were actually primarily the point person. The information, and the clinical data and information that was in there in the case study had actually been put together and collated or promulgated by your colleagues who were actually seeing these children. You were the one who kind of put it all together and wrapped it up and put the bow on it and submitted it for publication. Is that correct?

Dr. Wakefield: That’s right. The parents first came to me because of my interest in this subject. Then, I coordinated the research for the team that then investigated these children. So, that was pediatric gastroenterologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and so forth. We got together as a collaborative team to decide what was in the best interest of these children. What needed to be done in order to establish precisely what was going on. It was a very exciting time and a very important time. The key question that arose out of this was the role of the vaccine. You were just talking about chicken pox. Well if this disorder, this bowel disease and the regression had occurred following natural chicken pox, then this fuss wouldn’t have taken place. But, because it occurred or appeared to occur following a vaccine it was something that was beyond the pail. It couldn’t be discussed. It was, how could you mention this? How could you call into question the safety of vaccines? Well, I’m not here to appease public health or to appease the pharmaceutical industry. I’m here to address the questions that the parents raise about their children. That is my duty as a doctor. That is my obligation. That is what we were in the business of doing, and we did that quite appropriately. As you say it started a firestorm. Particularly from those with an interest, either through policy or profit in the outcome of the work.

Anne: Let’s talk about that interest, because one of the allegations that was leveled against you, and indeed am I right in understanding has the case for erasure of your license in Britain concluded now?

Dr. Wakefield: No, far from it. We are appealing the decision. The decision was an extraordinary one. It went completely contrary to the evidence that was presented. We felt at the end of it that they had no case at all. Their case had been demolished. Yet, they found all of us guilty on practically every charge, which was absurd. So, it is now being appealed in the appeal court. That will take place hopefully later this year.

Anne: So, part of that case, alleged case, well there is a case, but it may or may not be accurate against you, is that as you mentioned that part of the reason for this firestorm is because you were calling into question not just the ethicacy, but also the safety of these vaccines, and there are interests from every walk. The companies that make the immunizations, and of course public health officials who indeed are trying to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number. Let’s assume that. So, part of what they have leveled against you was that you were not forth coming in an alleged link between you and a legal action and a legal action that was in fact pursuing a case against the vaccine manufacturers on behalf of some families who felt that their children had been vaccine injured. So, they were saying that it was unethical because there was a conflict which you did not divulge when in fact that case had absolutely nothing to do with your putting this research, or this clinical information together and submitting it to “The Lancet”. Is that right?

Dr. Wakefield: That’s right. It was a very curious allegation, because my involvement with the (?) had been in the national newspapers long before the paper was ever published. It was widely known, it was known throughout the medical school, it was known to my colleagues. I discussed it with everybody. It was as I say, reported in the national newspapers, so the idea that it had not been disclosed is an utter nonsense. “The Lancet” paper, the twelve children in “The Lancet” paper came to us for clinical reasons. When they came to us they were not involved in any litigation at all. Therefore, it would have been inappropriate to mention the litigation in “The Lancet” paper. It was disclosed to “The Lancet” immediately after publication and they took no action at all. It was of no interest to them. It only became of interest to them some years later. Six years later when the editor of “The Lancet” found himself under considerable pressure, his job under considerable pressure for having published this paper in the first place. All of the sudden it became (?). He declared there was a conflict of interest. In fact, that conflict of interest did not exist. I obeyed “The Lancet” disclosure rules to the letter. That is well described in the book as you know.

Anne: Indeed, “The Lancet” actually changed their disclosure rules following this didn’t they?

Dr. Wakefield: That’s right. The original rules were in the active voice. It was up to me to decide what I considered to be a conflict. I thought very hard about it and I did not disclose the litigation because it was not relevant to these twelve children. Since then it has become the passive voice. In other words what would someone else possibly perceive to be a conflict? Anyone could perceive anything they liked. So, the rules have certainly changed. What was extraordinary is that I was judged under the 2010 rules when in fact I obeyed “The Lancet” rules of 1997 to the letter.

Anne: So they basically…Well here in the United States we have a known position against ex post facto laws. You may or may not there. I confess I am not that familiar with British law, but it would seem that that is exactly what they were trying to do with you. They changed the rule about what sort of disclosure was required and then applied the new rule to you and were trying to sort of (?) you with that despite the fact that you had followed the rule as you say to the letter under the old rule which was the rule under which you were operating because you know you may be many things but I doubt you are prescient. So, I doubt that you could have foreseen that in 2010 the rule would have been different.

Dr. Wakefield: No, you are quite right. This is one of the reasons for the appeal, because the law in England is the same as it is in the states. There’s no post facto changing of the rules, so we are appealing this as a matter of fact they were wrong in their decision.

Anne: Now, Dr. Wakefield, there are many, many interesting points that you raise in your book. Sadly we don’t have time to go into them all. I have confess that being an attorney, which I hope you won’t hold against me, I found a lot of the information having to do with the intricacies of the proceedings really very interesting. Again, we don’t have time to go into all of them, but some of the things in particular that I found very interesting just from a personal perspective. I know that in one of your papers, I don’t know if it was in the original Lancet paper or not, you recommend, and I hasten to add that in this paper you did not even say, “I believe that the measles, mumps, rubella-the MMR vaccine is causing autism.” You never actually said that in the paper, is that correct?

Dr. Wakefield: That is correct.

Anne: You just said, let’s see if there is a link, because this is too many children to be a coincidence.

Dr. Wakefield: That’s right. There was clearly a scare. Parents were frightened. They didn’t like this vaccine. In fact in England two brands of the MMR had been withdrawn for safety reasons some years before. So, the public had reasons to be scared of this vaccine. Now, these children were presenting in increasing numbers with regressive autism and a catastrophic disorder. So, our job was to address those concerns.

Anne: Just to remind everyone, you can call in with your questions and comments. We do have some callers already lined up, but we will take you all. 866Monday6. That’s 866Monday6. You can send us a message on Twitter @mondayradio. E-mail your comments to If you are in our chat room as I see many, many of you are and there are already questions coming in that way. Please feel free to yell out your questions in the chat room as well. So, about that, what I was going to say is that you recommend at least at the time, you recommended what is known as the monovalent version of these various immunizations. That’s something with which I am familiar, because as we were looking to make the vaccine decisions for our son, and MMR was coming up and I was very concerned about what I perceived as there being at least a potential for there being some sort of a causal connection with injury. We asked our pediatrician if he would get the monovalent form of one of those three components for us. He was all too happy to do it. In the end we ended up not coming in to use it, and he told us not to worry about it, because many other parents were so interested to be able to have that available to them. What I noted was that that was your recommendation as well. You were not saying don’t get your children vaccinate. You were saying don’t have them get this triple vaccine that has three components, one of which may or may not be somehow linked to this. Have them one at a time. The response by one of Britain’s top immunization experts, Dr. Horton, was to say that it was not available as a monovalent form. Did I understand that correctly? Even I know that it is available that way.

Dr. Wakefield: Well you see what is fascinating about this, Anne, the reason for my putting this position forth is that I am for a vaccine safety first agenda that has put safety as the priority. What I did before making that recommendation was to read every paper that had ever been published on the pre-licensing safety studies of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and the combination vaccines. I wrote a 250 page report which I offered to my colleagues to read. I said, “Look, this paper is coming out in the Lancet, it will provoke a lot of media interest. I cannot if asked the question ‘What would you do now as a parent?’ I cannot recommend the use of MMR, because the safety studies aren’t (?). They are certainly far worse than the safety studies of the single vaccine. I wrote this to my colleagues in great detail, spelling out my position. So, I gave them the option of not engaging with the media on this issue. I did that, and I made that recommendation. The dean went forward and had a press briefing. He asked me the question, “What would you recommend now?” I told people. So, there was full disclosure. At that time, the single vaccines were available. What happened then, six months later, the British government unilaterally withdrew the importation license for the single vaccines, thereby depriving parents of an option of how to protect their children from infectious disease. These parents were genuinely concerned about the safety of MMR. So, I said to them, “Why would you do this? If you primary concern is to protect children from infectious disease, why would you remove an option for concerned parents?” Their response was, “Because if we allow parents to continue with the single vaccines, then it would destroy our MMR program.” In other words they put the protection of the program before the protection of children. That is reprehensible.

Anne: That is not at all surprising to me. I will tell you why. Here in the U.S., one of the things that is routinely done to newborn infants even before they leave the hospital is they are given a hepatitis B immunization. I did not realize that was going to happen. So, our son had that, again as a newborn infant. When I found out during our first follow-up visit with the pediatrician I was absolutely outraged. I was livid. I asked our pediatrician, why on earth are they giving a newborn an immunization against hepatitis? I said, “I really don’t think he is going to be engaging in unprotected sex or shooting up drugs until he is at least five years old. So, why as a newborn?” Our pediatrician said the reason is because they are a captive audience. When they are out there doing those risky behaviors is a time when they are probably not going to come back in and get the immunization. So, the answer was simply because they can. To me that is absolutely outrageous. So, I am not surprised to hear you say that. But it does make me very sad that again there are always many sides to a story, but usually the personal side is not the one that is being represented and protected by either government or big business. In this case that’s really a travesty.

Dr. Wakefield: Sorry to interrupt, but where you are with hepatitis B is absolutely right. You will know as a lawyer and a parent that first of all what were they doing in the first place vaccinating your child without your permission. Where is the process of informed consent in all of this? That in and of itself is a disgrace, the second thing is that we’ve just done a study on this issue in rhesus macaque monkeys, looking at the vaccine schedule in these animals. We published a paper on the infant hepatitis B vaccine, the day one vaccine. In writing that paper we did a thorough literature search to look for safety studies of that policy. There were none. None before it was licensed, and that is absolutely extraordinary, taking an infant on day one of life, despite the possibility that they are either premature or low birth weight and giving them a dose of vaccine containing the mercury preservative thimerosal. What we found in that study is that those animals who were vaccinated had a significant delay in survival reflexes such as those associated with feeding, reflexes that are essential for the survival of these animals in the wild. That was not seen in the animals that received a saline injection as control. So, as early as day one, you appear to be provoking some form of serious brain injury in these young animals. That policy was never tested before it was put into place. That to me is absolutely extraordinary.

Anne: It is horrifying. It’s absolutely horrifying. You mentioned the control group. This is the question that I had for you and it doesn’t really fit here, but I am going to bring it up anyway. One of the charges that has been leveled against you, not in your formal proceeding, but in the popular press and the medical press is that you basically single handedly have brought down the entire vaccine system and are responsible for reducing herd immunity. I think you might have turned our waters green, and global warming as well. But, what I wonder is, if it is true, and I have no reason to doubt that given our own experience, that parents are now making more thoughtful and educated choices, so there is a reduction in the vaccinated population, is it possible that you have sort of unintentionally, or not you personally, but are creating that control group of children who have not been routinely vaccinated, particularly with the MMR, such that at some point in the not to distant future it will be possible to actually look at the population of children who have not had the MMR and look at them against the ones who have to see whether there is an appreciable difference in the incidence of autism or related illnesses.

Dr. Wakefield: That’s a very good question and it is one which parents have been advocating for, for a long, long time and which the authorities, the CDC and everybody else has been very, very reluctant to do. They do not want to do that what is called the vaxed, unvaxed study. It’s absolutely essential and it may be a shock to parents to realize the short, medium and long term health outcomes of children who have been fully vaccinated have not been compared to those who are unvaccinated to see what the differences are. We are hoping that for the future this will be done. If it isn’t done by federal money, it will be done by private money because it is an absolutely essential part of the vaccine safety program. It is impossible to pronounce vaccines safe without that study having been done.

Anne: Well it seems to me that autism, there is no one that has ever suggested that autism is for example communicable. There’s no other causal link that I have seen that has been put forth that would suggest for example that it is a function of something in the environment only in industrialized nations. So, what about the host of “third world” lesser developed countries where they are not getting the MMR vaccine? What are we seeing there? Is autism a new world phenomenon?

Dr. Wakefield: Yes. It seems to be. The clues to that come from what are called migration phenomenon, migration observations. The Somali population are a classic example. In Somalia there is no word for autism. It seems to be nonexistent. It’s not that they don’t know about it. It’s not they are not aware from extended family living in this country about autism. There is apparently no autism in Somalia. Yet when the Somalis come to either Sweden, the UK, or to the US, then they have an alarming rate of autism, up to one in 28 children among Somali families have autism. That is extraordinary for a disorder which when I was at medical school was maybe 2 to 3 in 10,000 children, so rare we didn’t even learn about it at medical school. Then, 1 in 28 children is an extraordinary level. What it is? There is a clue here. What is it about the environment in Somali that is so markedly different from the environment in Minnesota where there is a large population of Somalis? Is it something to do with what they are being exposed to when they move to America. The common denominator between Sweden, England and the US is certainly the vaccination policy. The Somali parents say, “This is what happened to my child.” What happens to the Somalis when they come, they not only get vaccinated before they leave Somalia, they don’t have records when they get to the US, so they get the whole lot again, all over again, and they get repeated vaccinations far and above what a child in this country would normally receive. This may be unmasking a particular risk in that population leading to this alarming rate of disorder.

Anne: That’s interesting, and as much as I’ve always been sort of of the opinion, and of course this is a lay opinion, that there’s probably several factors. My thought is, and I’m sure that much more aware people than I have had these thoughts, is that perhaps there are children who through some environmental or genetic factor tend to be more sensitive and prone sort of, are already predisposed to developing regressive autism, and that for those children the vaccine serves as a catalyst. That would seem to sort of go along with what you have just described for these Somalis.

Dr. Wakefield: I think you are absolutely right. There is now data emerging on this. For example, just today I was reading papers from the Mayo clinic talking about the genetic background to our immune system control that makes us respond differently to the same vaccine, the measles vaccine. So, different people, one size does not fit all. Some families may respond in one way to the measles vaccine where as other some other families respond in entirely different way. There’s the beginning of the problem I think, and that is the genetic background. Then, we have things like the mercury preservative in the vaccines and the aluminum addigent (?) which is put in there to (inaudible), these things alter the immune system. They poison the immune system. Then, you give a child who has a potentially poisoned immune system a live viral vaccine, a triple vaccine, or now the quadruple vaccine with the chicken pox in there as well. The immune system just puts up its hands and says, “I don’t understand this. I don’t get it.” The child regresses. I think you are absolutely right. It’s multi-factorial. It’s all of these things coming together to put a child at major risk.

Anne: Well first I have to ask you, do you think the reason that they have added the chicken pox in with the MMR to make the MMRP, at some point every letter in the alphabet is going to be in there, do you think it is because there are so many parents like us who are choosing to not have it, so they have to find another way to make sure we take our chicken pox vaccine?

Dr. Wakefield: The understanding that I have of the situation, is that the introduction of the chicken pox vaccine was entirely commercial. It was done and the original advertising, and again as I understand it was that it wasn’t done for the health of the child, it was done to keep the mother in the workplace. Chicken pox kept her at home looking after her sick child for three days, god forbid that a mother should look after her sick child. That was the imperative for introducing the vaccine in the first place. I think someone told them along the way that that was not terribly good public relations. Therefore, they changed to chicken pox more serious than you think. Chicken pox is a mild disease in children. It really is a mild disease in all but a tiny proportion of children who might merit a vaccination. But, that is it. So, to introduce it on a mass level and to combine it with three other live viral vaccines was extraordinary. It brings into play something about which I am particularly concerned. That was the finding that when you compare people and children getting the MMR vaccine with the chicken pox vaccine given separately, to those who are given the four vaccines in one shot, it doubles the rate of seizures in those children. Giving them all four vaccines in the same shot, it just goes to show that when you add these live viral vaccines together you produce unintended, adverse consequences.

Anne: Let’s go to some questions. Our questions seem mostly to be coming in over our chat line, which is absolutely fine. We have a caller or chatter from Australia in fact. She says, “Hi, Dr. Wakefield. I am from Australia. The decision and the treatment you are getting from my perspective has been disgusting. My daughter is thirteen months old. We have been concerned about getting the MMR vaccine for us. She is only 7.8 kg. We are concerned how there appears to be this large link with autism with the vaccine being a one for all and not ratioed to weight.” She is wondering did you find any increase in autism in lower weight children. She also wanted to add that they don’t have the option of the monovalent vaccine other than rubella. The vaccine they are using definitely is a live strain of the MMR.

Dr. Wakefield: It is very, very important. The answer is the only evidence that we have that would support that at this stage is from the primate study suggesting that low birth weight infants are more susceptible to the adverse outcomes from the hepatitis B vaccine than those of normal birth weight. Beyond that we do not have further evidence. It is a question that is clearly relevant, and one that needs to be asked. What is interesting, this may be relevant indirectly is that you have heard I’m sure people going out there saying there are thousands of studies that show that there is no link. Well, there aren’t actually, there aren’t. When you look at the studies of MMR and autism, there is clear evidence that children who get the vaccine at a younger age appear to be at a greater risk. So, that may be related to their weight at that time. It may be related to the maturity of their immune system. We don’t know, but that may go some way to addressing the question that this lady raises.

Anne: Now, I actually have a question that harks back to your gastroenterological background with respect to this. There are many infants who here in the states we call it the witching hour, there are many infants what was the old word for when they would have tummy troubles in very young infants, they would scream and scream and it would happen every single night. Do you know the phenomenon of which I am speaking? I am trying to remember now what the old style term was and I just can’t for that terrible tummy trouble every single night in newborns and after a few weeks that goes away and they are able to settle down in the evening. What I am wondering…My son in fact had that, there was an evening and it would always sit around like 6 p.m. and for 2 hours he would just clearly be in great gastrointestinal distress. We had to do all sort of things to get him calmed and make him feel better. I am wondering if you have seen a pattern. Oh, and thank you, one of our chatters has just put that word in my head, colic. The colicky infant, thank you Christine. What I am wondering is have you seen any evidence? I am wondering if infants who have that colicky sort of a syndrome tend to also be the children who have other GI problems such as you have seen and if maybe that might mean that they are somehow already overly sensitive and more likely to run into problems with the vaccine. I know that you area, what you were researching, what you were seeing had to do with the stomach and the GI tract, and I think you found measles virus within the tract of the children who you biopsied. Please again, correct me if I have any of this wrong, because I am not a doctor.

Dr. Wakefield: It is interesting. We do see a very high proportion of children in the clinic who have regressive autism with gastrointestinal problems who have this early history of colic, of cow’s milk intolerance, of reflux, heartburn, waking, screaming, they are very common, but it has never been subjected to a systematic analysis with a control group. Are these symptoms more common in our population of children with autism compared with neuro-developmentally normal children? We don’t know. All we can say is that they are alarmingly common. One of the fascinating things and one of the things that always perplexes people is what is the link between the bowel and the brain? One of the models that I use to try to explain this is alcohol. Alcohol is a neurotoxin. It’s taken in through the gut, but it gets through the intestine and in a very short time it affects the brain. When you put it that way, people start to get the idea that something a toxin, a poison, or something from the immune system, coming from the intestine maybe damaged, can have an impact on the brain. If it’s impacting the developing brain, the rapidly developing brain of an infant, then can it have an injurious effect that is lasting? It is a very interesting possibility and one that is part of what we are exploring at the moment; because there is no doubt that you put children on special exclusion diets, particularly those excluding wheat and milk. Not only do their intestinal symptoms improve, but their behaviors improve as well. So, there is a great deal of room for exploration in this. Importantly, ways of mediating the symptoms of autism by intervening in such things as diet.

Anne: That raises an interesting question. I am a huge proponent of breast milk for babies. In fact many, many, many years ago I spearheaded a milk drive which essentially was credited with helping to save the life of a young infant who had been adopted and the mother couldn’t nurse her, and she couldn’t keep anything else down. She was eight months old and weighed eight pounds. It was horrific. In any event, I have seen the healing properties of breast milk. I am wondering for these children that you were just describing, has there ever been the thought, or has anyone ever tried a course of actually going to a milk bank and having them drink human breast milk? Has that made a difference?

Dr. Wakefield: Yes. No, they haven’t. Again, you raise so many important points. Breast milk can I’m sure be advantageous. The caveat is that things like casein and gluten the potential toxins that may be affecting these children are present in the mother’s diet and they get into the breast milk. So, even though the infant themselves on an exclusion diet, those toxins or potential toxins may be coming through the breast milk. So, in those circumstances it would be important for the mother also to be excluding those things from her diet. So we have people who believe their children are on a casein free diet, but the mother is drinking cow’s milk. So, these proteins that seem to be provocative of getting in, so with that caveat in mind otherwise, I am an enormous proponent of breast milk. It contains things far beyond just the food substances. It contains agents or chemicals which are healing to the inflamed intestines as well.

Anne: That was my thought. Of course it also carries with it all of the immunities, particularly if it has some colostrum in it as well. We have another question from the chat line, but first let me remind people that you can certainly ask questions through the chat line. You will find that just be going the website at You can also call in at 866Monday6. That’s 866Monday6. If you are listening from outside the US and you can’t call a toll free number, we invite you to Skype us. You can Skype in and you do not need to have Skype out, which is the paid system. You can do it for free by going to the website and just clicking on the Skype link. You can send us a message by Twitter @mondayradio. You can e-mail us your comments at Dr. Wakefield, one of our people in our chat room. She says she is still confused as to why a triple vaccine is more dangerous than getting the immunizations separately. She says it seems that more shots seem worse than getting just one.

Dr. Wakefield: Yes, and I believe that the reason for this goes back to the phenomenon of viral interference. In 1969, in this country, in the US, when they first put these vaccines together, they found that they interfered with each other. The live viruses interfered with the immune response. That meant that what they had to do was adjust the amount of virus in each of the components in the vaccine to get the same immune response. The considered that to be an irritation, that interference phenomenon. The implications for safety seem to have been completely ignored. There was clearly something very, very complex going on between these three viruses in the mix that were not the same as just 1+1+1=3. They don’t. They equal something very different. This again is exemplified by the fact that when you put four viruses together, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox, you double the rate of seizures. So, you are producing some effect that is unintended and unexpected. This is because viruses are highly complex agents that deserve the greatest of respect. It’s not simply the same as just putting three ingredients together in a recipe and expecting them to behave like the individual components.

Anne: With respect to that also I think…Well let me ask you this way, what would you recommend and in your experience would be the period of time between those monovalent immunizations? So in other words to speak also to the question, it’s not that you are getting all three at the same time but from different hypodermic needles. It’s that you are having them spread out over a period of time. Is there sort of a recommended period of time between which you should get each single vaccine?

Dr. Wakefield: Well, no new work has been done on this. The closest we’ve come is that some years ago we published a study looking at the risk of whether if as an infant you had suffered measles and mumps together as the natural infection. We found that if you had experienced them together in the same year, then your risk of intestinal inflammation, crohn’s and colitis went up substantially. So, we believe that this is related to some interference phenomenon between the viruses. So, measles, I think you could make a very good case for children being protected against measles. That is the virus, the vaccine that I would recommend first. Mumps, I have to say I could not recommend at all. Mumps is a dangerous vaccine, and I will explain why, but mumps again was introduced for commercial reasons and not necessarily for the well being of children. This goes back to a study done by the centers for disease control and prevention in this country when the vaccine was first put forward. The CDC said we don’t need this vaccine. We’ve done the study. Mumps is a trivial disease in children. We don’t need it. Yet, somehow for commercial reasons, it found its way into the market place and onto the schedule. Mumps in children is a trivial disease. Mumps in post pubertal males in particular is not a trivial disease and can lead to testicular inflammation and sterility. Mumps is a dangerous vaccine because it doesn’t work. It either doesn’t protect enough individuals in the first instance or the immunity that it produces wanes very, very quickly. The problem with that is that it pushes up the age when you are susceptible to mumps to those post pubertal years. Therefore, it has made mumps a more dangerous disease. I hope that makes sense. Increasing the age at which you are susceptible to mumps because the vaccine has not worked properly. You become susceptible to mumps when you are post pubertal and you have a greater risk of these complications.

Anne: That makes perfect sense. What you are saying is as we know there are many vaccines which do not confer lifetime immunity. In fact more and more the recommendation is for boosters even through adulthood. So, what you are saying is that the mumps vaccine may wear off at exactly the worst time for a person in their life to get mumps which would be after they hit puberty, whereas if they did not have the vaccine, as indeed we did not as children, you would just get a horrible case of sore throat and get to eat lots of ice cream as a young child, which may not be fun but is better than being sterile.

Dr. Wakefield: That’s right and the response has been, “Well give more vaccines,” but the boosters don’t work. The boostered immunity drops off very quickly. It becomes if you like a paycheck for the pharmaceutical industry. You just give more and more vaccines, but they do not work and that is not the answer. What you have is a population that becomes dependent on this wheel of taking vaccines. They are on the treadmill and they are never going to get off. There is a real problem with that, because no one has ever done the safety studies of giving more than one MMR vaccine.

Anne: Right. You are listening to Dr. Andrew Wakefield on Monday Night Radio. You can call in and ask a question at 866Monday6. Send us an e-mail at or send us a tweet on Twitter @mondayradio. Dr., one of our chatters in the chat room asks would you please explain about the transfer factor that you developed. Is it being used? It seems like it would have great potential. In the book “Breakthrough” by Suzanne Summers there is a doctor talking about transfer factors for viruses as being the up and coming thing. I confess that I am not familiar with what she is talking about. I hope you are.

Dr. Wakefield: Transfer factor, this is something that I was accused of producing a competitive vaccine to MMR. That is absolutely not the case. It never was such a thing. Transfer factor is a naturally occurring substance, it has been extensively studied, but it has kind of fallen out of fashion now for some reason. Transfer factor is something that appears to be produced by immune cells in response to a specific infection. So, if you get measles you produce a measles specific transfer factor. It was called transfer factor because when you took that substance and you gave it to someone else who had never had measles or in this case tuberculosis, then they appeared to be protected against it. So, that is where the name transfer factor came on. It transferred immunity from one to the other. It did so in a way that didn’t prevent you getting infected but helped you deal with the infection once you got it. So, here we had a group of children who appeared to have persistence of measles in their diseased intestines. So, was it possible that by giving a measles specific transfer factor we could boost their own immunity to get rid of that virus and thereby potentially get rid of the disease? That was the hope. Now, sadly we tried to raise money to do a clinical trial, but we were unable to raise sufficient funds to do it. So, we were never able to answer that particular question. It remains something of great interest to me. As I say it has rather fallen from favor amongst the immunology community. But, there are people out there producing it. You can get it for example through the internet. It is classed as a nutritional supplement, and indeed that is what it is. Has it been tested out properly in children with autism in formal clinical trials? No I don’t believe so.

Anne: So, you can get it on the internet as a nutritional supplement. But are they marketing measles specific transfer factor and mumps specific transfer factor and the like? You have to get a different one for each potential disease?

Dr. Wakefield: You can specific kinds of factors for specific agents. Now, I haven’t looked at this on the internet for a very long time. If anyone is interested it is an easy thing to do. Just type in transfer factor or measles and transfer factor and the answer will be there.

Anne: That brings up something that is related to another question that I had which is that specifically with the measles component of the vaccine and measles in the wild as well. This harks back to I think you the person to whom you refer as George, although he eventually let himself known to be Dr. Alistair Torres, who came from Canada where as a public health official they had banned one of the strains of was it the mumps or the measles strain? But, a particular strain because it was absolutely injuring children, and again you can certainly explain that better than I, but what it brought to mind to me was that there are different strains of these viruses that are being used in the various vaccine preparations. It’s important I think to understand that there are different strains for example of measles in the various vaccines. How that relates to my question about the transfer factor is does that mean that you not only need to have a measles specific transfer factor, but one that is specific to the strain of measles to which you might be exposed. It’s very convoluted. Did that make sense?

Dr. Wakefield: That’s makes sense. Is there a need for a strain specific transfer factor for different strains of measles for example? I think that it’s likely that if transfer factor exists and works it will work across a broad spectrum and so I suspect that one would treat most. Not to say that it would treat all, but it would treat most and therefore one wouldn’t need to get overly complex with that. The point you raise, and if I might dwell on this for a second, because this is in fact the reason for why the government had to silence me in the first place was just this Canadian issue. The whistle blower, George, who came to me after I’d been involved in this for a year or two, I couldn’t understand why the medical school was so adamant that I should not do this vaccine safety research. It seemed to me obvious in light of the parents’ concerns and in light of the fact that safety studies had not been done that it should be done. The medical school came under pressure and I didn’t notice at the time from the British government. Members of the British government contacted the dean of the medical school and urged him to stop the vaccine safety research that was part of the legal aid program. They were eventually successful in doing that. I discovered some years later that this was because in the late 80s when they introduced MMR in the UK they introduced a brand of MMR which was known to be dangerous. In the same month that it was licensed in the UK, it had been withdrawn in Canada, because it was causing meningitis in children. Now, its name changed not surprisingly from Trivirex in Canada to Pluserix in the UK, but it was the identical vaccine. They brought in this doctor, Dr. Torres, the whistle blower from Canada to advise them on the introduction of the vaccine. He said do not do it. Do not introduce this vaccine, because it is causing meningitis and children are being harmed. They ignored him. They completely ignored him. Why? Because it was cheaper. They opted for a cheaper vaccine rather than protect the well being of children. They got themselves into a bit of a mess, because Glaxo, Smithkline Beecham, as they were at the time, I gather from the whistle blower were very unhappy about bringing in this vaccine because they faced potential liability. So, in a deal which is very, very dubious, the British government appeared to have underwritten the liability of that pharmaceutical company in order to get that vaccine on the market. Four years later after its introduction, it had to be hurriedly withdrawn because it was causing unacceptably high levels of meningitis in children. So, Dr. Torres’ concerns, concerns that were born out of his experience in Canada and experiences elsewhere in Japan and Australia meant that that vaccine should have never ever have been produced. Because they knew that I had this information, they had to try and silence me. That’s why this witch hunt has come about. It will be exposed. It will be revealed. It’s not conspiracy theory. It’s simple fact of matter of fact. It will come out. So, that really is one of the more important parts of the story and why the parents and others who are interested in this issue need to read the book and understand the background to this and what actually happened and not this elaborate, expensive, and ultimately highly deceitful public relations exercise that has been conducted where the parents and the children have been the main victims.

Anne: Doctor, we have Laura Cholick in the chat room. She says she is a someone who is very, very thankful for you. She thanks you everyday for being the voice of families with vaccine injured children. She has a question, which is have you ever heard of a young child getting orchitis after the MMR?

Dr. Wakefield: It has been reported. I have not seen it personally, but there are cases in the medical literature of that happening, yes. Thank you, Laura.

Anne: We have just a couple of minutes left. We have a couple of more questions coming through the chat room. One is if you are able to say, would you recommend the rubella vaccine at this point?

Dr. Wakefield: I think you can make a very good case for the use of the rubella vaccine. There is no doubt that there has been a dramatic decline in congenital rubella syndrome following the introduction of this vaccine. Certainly rubella, congenital rubella is a cause of autism, so it may be that this vaccine is helping protect against autism caused by congenital rubella syndrome. So, yes.

Anne: That actually leads very nicely to the next question from that chat room from another one of our chatters which is did any of your studies include children with classic autism as well, and not just regressive? She is wondering if the effects of the vaccines on children with classic autism. Now, I confess that I am only inferring that classic autism is one that they have from early on and regressive where they suddenly it comes on later and they regress. But, that is just a wild interpretation. I don’t know if that is accurate. So, perhaps you should tell us the difference.

Dr. Wakefield: You’ve hit the nail on the head. Classic autism is supposedly described by Leo Kanner in 1943 is early onset. Children who never acquire skills, never engage, never have eye contact, they are often described as very quite babies who never cause any trouble compared with the type of autism we are seeing and are seeing with an increasing frequency now. That is where the child who develops normally to 12, 13, 14, 15 months and then loses skills. Have we seen children in the clinic with classic autism? Yes, we have. In my experience they tend not to have the disorder that we describe, but they do have a high frequency of things like esophogitis that you get from reflux. So there are gastrointestinal issues in these children, but they do not seem to be typical of the pathology that we see in the children with the more regressive forms of autism.

Anne: We have only a minute and a half left, so I want to say it has been an absolute treat having you on the show. I am very grateful for you taking your time out of your busy schedule and I know part of that schedule includes you being here in Boulder on Wednesday evening at a talk which I intend to attend. So, I will look forward to that. I believe that is at our Boulder public library for local Boulder people who are listening. Also I would urge anyone who has any questions, or even if you don’t to get the doctor’s book. It is called Callous Disregard. It’s available from Amazon. It’s an absolutely fascinating read. Is there anything else that you would like to say before we let you go?

Dr. Wakefield: You can also get the book at the website which is If you buy it there, the profits, the proceeds will go to further autism research. That is an alternative to buying the book. It is worth reading at least in terms of understanding what happens to doctors who really do what their conscience tells them to do rather than acting in the interest of policy and profit. If you cross that Rubicon, if you step out of line, than this is what happens. The truth is, Anne, it has been a great privilege looking after these children and helping their families. I wouldn’t change anything at all. It’s a just a fact of life. If you do this, than you are going to be ostracized and criticized, but that is not a reason not to do it. I think that medicine needs to live up to its responsibilities to the patients and to the parents and to move away from the…

Anne: Well thank you very much for being on the show. Again, I really, really appreciate it. It has been wonderful having you. I’ll see you Wednesday.

Dr. Wakefield: I look forward to seeing you, Anne. Thank you so much.

Anne: Thank you, doctor.

Dr. Wakefield: Bye, bye.

Anne: That was the first part of our Monday Night show. Stay tuned now as we talk with survivors of breast cancer. You will need to call back in as we recycle the switchboard.

Dr. Wakefield’s website

Dr. Wakefield’s book, “Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines: The Truth Behind a Tragedy”

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One thought on “Interview with Dr. Andrew Wakefield about Vaccines and Autism

  1. Anne,
    You were too easy on Wakefield. At about the same time as your interview there were reports of ten infant deaths due to whooping cough. This was attributed to parents that decided not to vaccinate their children.

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