Dr. Andrew Wakefield, M.D
By: Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO
Hi, this is Dr. Mercola. Today, I'm here with Dr. Andrew Wakefield and we're
just delighted and privileged to have him.
We're going to talk about some very exciting topics primarily related to
vaccines. There has been a progressive increase in the use of vaccines
over the last 20 or 30 years and there is more on the way and the big issue of
course is, first of all, do they work and then secondly and more importantly
is, how safe are they?
And one of the most prominent researchers in answering that question with
respect to the safety and the adverse effects that could be caused would be
We're going to discuss some of the studies he has done. He's really one of
the pioneers and probably the most prominent researcher in this area that's
why we're so excited to have him.
This is literally a multi-billion dollar process of these vaccines and largely
because of the patented drugs being decreased; the big focus of the drug
companies is to be increasing the use of the vaccines.
So this is really a central part of their role and they are mounting massive
efforts at discrediting anyone especially a prominent researcher who is
attempting to counter the benefits, the supposed benefits of vaccines.
While we start, I think probably the most important…because many people
may not know who you are, if you can discuss what your academic
credentials are and let's start from there.
Dr. Wakefield: Certainly, it's very nice to be here Joe. I'm a physician. I
trained at Saint Mary's Hospital in London, qualifying in 1981. I went into
surgery, became a gastrointestinal surgeon with an interest in small bowel
transplantation and experimental interest.
Dr. Mercola: How long is that residency?
Dr. Wakefield: That residency is about eight years; eight, nine years.
Dr. Mercola: That's after you graduated medical school, which is four years
Dr. Wakefield: That's correct. Well in fact in the UK you go straight to
medical schools. You do a five-year medical school program whereas in this
country, you go to college then you go on to medical school. So, we get
thrown into the deep end at an earlier stage.
Dr. Mercola: It's a little bit different. And the training was at one of -- because
many of our listeners certainly in the United States -- was one of the most
prominent hospitals in Europe. Is that correct?
Dr. Wakefield: Its part of the University of London, which is the biggest
medical school in Europe, yes. And then I went to Canada; I did a period on
a welcome trust traveling scholarship to look at small bowel transplantation.
I went to the worlds leading center, which was Toronto at the time.
And then, we may made some discoveries, some observations there that led
into a research career when I came back to the UK and started working
initially on the liver transplant program at the Royal Free Hospital and then
joined in with the gastroenterology team and continued from that point.
Dr. Mercola: What year was that?
Dr. Wakefield: That must have been the end of the 80's so that was sort of
'87, '88. And my big interest at that time were Crohns's disease, ulcerative
colitis and we have made some interesting observations, published a great
deal on those diseases.
I have now published about a hundred thirty, one hundred forty peer-
reviewed papers looking at the mechanism and cause of inflammatory bowel
disease and then of course latterly, looking at how the brain and the bowel
interact in the context of children with developmental disorders such as
Dr. Mercola: What stimulated or triggered your interest in studying the area
of developmental disorders and bowel disease because it is not necessarily
intuitively obvious connection?
Dr. Wakefield: I had an interest in measles virus and we'd published on the
possible role of measles virus in Crohns disease, in a subset of patients with
Crohns disease. We have been exposed to measles under unusual
circumstances and this work came from our group, it came from the Mayo
Clinic and it came from Sweden, from Dr. Eichbaum in Sweden showing that
children who have been exposed to measles under unusual circumstances
were at greater risk of Crohns.
What I mean by that? I mean, kids who were exposed very early in life, in
utero exposure. So they have been exposed in the womb then went on to
develop Crohns disease. So was it possible that for a common virus an
unusual pattern of exposure increased the risk?
Now one unusual pattern of exposure to measles is clearly vaccination. You
changed the route, the dose, the age of exposure, and the strain of the virus.
So it's very unusual. Was that, part of the problem?
So we published a paper in The Lancet suggesting a possible link between
the measles vaccine in later inflammatory bowel disease and on the back of
that, a paper came out in 1995 in The Lancet…
Dr. Mercola: And the research was done in the early 90's because it takes
awhile to compile the data, write the paper and go through the peer reviewed
Dr. Wakefield: And then we got a steady trickle of calls starting in May 1995
from parents saying my child was normal, they had their vaccine, the MMR,
they regressed, they lost skills, they became autistic.
I stopped them there, I said, I know nothing about autism at all, you must
have got the wrong department and they said, but my child has got terrible
bowel problems. They've got diarrhea 12 times a day.
They're failing to thrive. They're falling off their growth charts. They got a
bloated abdomen. I know they're in pain but they've lost the ability to speak
and so I have to infer that they're in pain but they're banging their head
against the wall, there are screaming episodes, they're waking at night.
Dr. Mercola: It's a clue.
Dr. Wakefield: These kids were sick. And so we said, well, we need to look at
this and we did and it turned out that the parents were right.
Dr. Mercola: So when you looked at it you evaluated this study and you
published the results of that study, those findings?
Dr. Wakefield: That's right. The way we went about this was, in a nutshell,
we got a group of people, the best people in the world. In fact, Professor
John Walker-Smith and his team, pediatric gastroenterologists who were
then at the Royal Free group of child psychiatrists, neurologists,
pathologists, and we got this team of people together and said, how should
we investigate these very complex children?
They come to us where their stories are so complex. They're clearly unwell.
Child psychiatry/psychology has been unable to unravel this mystery. They
just labeled them with this behavioral disorder and yet these children are
physically, medically unwell. How are we going to resolve that?
So we put this multi-disciplinary team together, we went through a process
of determining which tests should be decided. The clinicians decided on the
clinical tests. I was more involved in the research side to setting up the
We then went through a process of investigating a large number of children
by the time I left the Royal Free in 2001; we looked at over 170 children. And
what was remarkably consistent about them is they had a subtle but definite
inflammatory bowel disease.
When the clinicians treated the inflammatory bowel disease, then the bowel
symptoms got better. But also the behavioral symptoms got better and that
was fascinating. Some children would start speaking. They would start
speaking where they left off many years ago. They would smile. They would
sleep at night.
I think sleep was the first thing that came back. They started sleeping at
night. When we first did this that didn’t happen. We did it again, happened
again. It kept happening and so we thought there is really something in this.
Dr. Mercola: What was the treatment that you used to address the bowel
Dr. Wakefield: Well initially, it was just a simple sort of anti-inflammatory
medication that we would use for Crohns or colitis. So a sulfasalazine-like
drug or a 5-aminosalicylate.
Dr. Mercola: So not really a natural therapy by any means.
Dr. Wakefield: No. Well, I suppose you could argue that aminosalicylates are
natural. I mean, they're produced by plants to reduce…
Dr. Mercola: But traditionally viewed natural…
Dr. Wakefield: Absolutely and the other thing that we found that was most
effective was the gluten casein free diet. This is something that the parents
had instituted rather than us but it was dramatic in many cases.
So we became very, very interested in this whole process. And when we
presented it to psychiatrists, they said, I just don't get it. I don't get this gut-
brain thing. This is a brain problem; don't talk to me about the intestine.
But as gastroenterologists, we saw this all the time. I worked in a liver
transplant program when patients became jaundiced, they became
Their brain stopped working. It started with the inability to join up dots on a
page. Then they became more and more confused. Then they went into
coma then they died.
And the way you treated that, the way you prevented that was to treat the
gut. You treat it with antibiotics to get rid of the gut bacteria, or a special diet,
or you put them on a regimen that cleans out the gut. And when you do that
then the encephalopathy goes away. They wake up again.
So we'd seen this before in a different setting; jaundice. We had seen it in
celiac disease, allergic sensitivity or an immunological intolerance of gluten.
One of the presenting features of celiac disease can be dementia. It can be
neuritis, inflammation of the nerves. It can be seizures. So these
neurological complications of celiac or primary bowel disease were not new
So, when we saw these children responding to a treatment for the gut in
terms of getting better cognitively, then that was very, very interesting but
Dr. Mercola: Yeah, I'm not surprised. Now, most of your research was done
in the '90s, a good portion of the initial research. This actually preceded the
development of the explosion knowledge about vitamin D but now with
vitamin D, there seems to be a very potent connection to inflammatory bowel
disease and improvement of the immune system because it stimulates the
production of 200 to 300 antimicrobial peptides.
So I'm wondering if…my guess is you did not look at vitamin D or maybe
you looked at it later on. Is that something you studied at all?
Dr. Wakefield: No we didn’t. It's very interesting. This has emerged, as you
say, since that time but there has been a big, big emphasis on really a very
much underestimated vitamin over the years.
Dr. Mercola: Yes, something as simple as exposure to sunshine, the basics.
So, it sounds like a massive undertaking. You have loads of clinicians, large
numbers of patients at a major university. It would have seemed funding
would be an issue, who funded that project?
Dr. Wakefield: Initially, this was just the National Health Service. So these
children were being seen according to clinical need, they were being
referred by their doctors and they were being treated according to the
So it was just a standard…there was nothing complicated about this Joe.
This is the thing, is why are these kids been missed in the past? This is not
rocket science. This is just the application of standard classical medicine.
Listen to the parent, examine the child, do the appropriate investigations and
lo and behold, the answer is there.
These children have an inflammatory bowel disease. Does it get to the root
of their autism, no, not yet. Is it a start? Yes. Is it a good grounding in terms
of understanding the biological basis of their complex disorder?
And it all comes from listening to the parents' story and not dismissing it by
saying: "Well, your kid is autistic." They are bound to have diarrhea 12 times
a day. That doesn’t make sense at all but that's what these parents were
experiencing or one from America saying that they went to the doctor and
the doctor said: "Don't tell me about bowel symptoms, I trained at Harvard."
Well what does that mean? That is absolute nonsense.
Dr. Mercola: So listen to the parents, act upon what they are telling you and
you will start to uncover the clues to this disorder.
Dr. Wakefield: That's a good strategy and it's shockingly lacking, in my
experience, in most of the physicians in this country especially in the
surgical profession, which is, you know, you're a surgeon as your primary
I'm not sure why it is and certainly not true of all but there tends to be a
greater percentage of surgeons who have this arrogant attitude, who has
got a god syndrome. They tend to follow that path and avoid listening to the
patients and sort of impose their views without applying this.
Dr. Mercola: It's really delightful to see that was not applied over on your
side of the ocean -- and refreshing.
Dr. Wakefield: Well, I'm afraid, Joe, it does. You know, it's pervasive. I've
never met so many experts as I have in autism, experts about a disease
about which we know nothing. We know nothing and yet we're surrounded
by experts and that paradox needs to be resolved.
Dr. Mercola: I would like to discuss one of the reasons you're here today
because of your appearance in the media recently as a result of these
studies that you just mentioned. The original study, which really highlighted
you as one of the most prominent academic researcher in this area in the
I mean, I don't know personally of anyone who has more prominence than
you. Largely a result of your credentials and your training and working at
one of the leading hospitals in the world and then publishing one of the
leading respected journals.
I mean, both of us strongly believe in the scientific method that there is value
in doing a piece of research under very specific criteria and then having it
reviewed by peers objectively and then analyzing to see if its true or not. I
mean, that system works.
And really forms the basis for much of what we apply and discuss.
Unfortunately, it can be perverted. We'll discuss that in a moment by a
number of different strategies and specifically, we'll discuss what happened
in this case.
But, ultimately, that process is designed to ferret out the truth which is one
of the reasons why you rose to prominence because you had published in a
peer-reviewed journal, Lancet, one of the top leading medical journals in the
world and they published your findings and then you did additional findings
and you have 130 other papers that have been published in peer-reviewed
So, you're one of the leading experts out there. So, there are literally billions
and billions, tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars involved here with the
vaccine industry. That's a lot of money. So there are forces and pressure
that would result, I mean, it's not surprising that we're going to counter any
evidence or suggestion that there is something wrong with this system.
That appears to be what's happened here.
So, recently, in the last few months, you have been criticized and bandied
about in the media and you really haven't shared your side of the story and
this is the first time you're really publicly doing that for reasons that you may
discuss with us today.
But I'd like you to address, sort of summarize what's happened so the
viewers can understand that and then counter some of the arguments that
have been thrown against you and criticism.
Because it looks like pretty bad if you just read the media report but like
every story, there are always two sides and your side has never been told.
Dr. Wakefield: Well thanks Joe for the opportunity to tell it. The reason I have
not been able to tell it is because I've been going through legal proceedings
at the General Medical Council (GMC), which is our regulatory body for
doctors in the UK and so I have been chomping it a bit but unable to say
anything so it's a great time now to have the opportunity to say something.
There had been a lot of criticisms and I'm very happy to address any of
those as we go through this conversation. But in a nutshell, what we did
was to publish a case series. Now, a case series is an observational study.
It's taking a look at a group of children or patients who have got a
constellation of signs and symptoms and findings that bracket them
There are similarities that mean they need publication. They are sufficiently
novel and sufficiently interesting but they need publication in their own
right. Its not a controlled study, it's simply a case series. So it tells the story,
the clinical story of those children.
Part of that clinical story was the bowel symptoms and that lead to the
discovery of a novel bowel disease and you would think that that would be
some course for some small celebration but oh no. Why not?
Dr. Mercola: Maybe even a Nobel Prize down the road.
Dr. Wakefield: I don't think so but nonetheless. You know, there was
something that was treatable for the first time in this disorder. You had
something tangible, treatable that you could really do something about as a
It should have been a cause for celebration but no because part of the
parents' story in the majority of children was regression after a vaccine.
Now, if those children had regressed after natural chickenpox, you and I
would not be sitting here now but they did not.
They regressed after a vaccine. Their parents were not anti-vaccine. They
took them to be vaccinated according to the schedule and they said to their
Dr. Mercola: Everything appropriately.
Dr. Wakefield: Yeah, after my child was vaccinated, they were not well. They
had a high fever for a week. They then became delirious. They then started
losing their speech and language, those kinds of things.
So it was not just coincidence. It was not just that the child, at around the
time, children were diagnosed with autism or first present with autism had
had their MMR, it was not that.
There were medical events associated with the exposure that then
subsequently led to the child's decline. And so we had to take that very
seriously. The parents were right about the bowel disease. Were they right
about the vaccine?
And when we published in The Lancet the story, we wonder about the sense
of the story, we were not going to take out the bit about the vaccine. Then,
things went very badly wrong. The other thing, when I decided that I was
going to get involved in this, now, I was not going to back away from it.
Dr. Mercola: Well, when you said they went wrong can you describe the
sequence of what happened and what specifically went wrong.
Dr. Wakefield: Sure, well I decided that I was going to review all of the safety
studies about measles and measles containing vaccines because if I was
going to get into a fight, I needed to know what I was talking about.
If I was going to challenge the status quo and say things that might have an
adverse effect on vaccine uptake, I had to know what I was talking about. So
I read all the papers and I was appalled. I was absolutely appalled that the
quality of the safety studies of the single and combined MMR vaccine in
particular and then I wrote to my colleagues in advance of the paper coming
out and I said this is going to attract a lot of attention in the media and I have
to tell you, that I have now read all these studies.
I have written a 250-page report, which I'm very happy for you to read and I
cannot support the continued use of the MMR vaccine. I will continue
vigorously to support the use of the single vaccine but I cannot support the
use of the MMR.
Now at that stage, the dean of the medical school Arie Zuckerman had
decided that he was going to have a press briefing, a press conference. Get
people together, tell them about the findings of the study.
And, I wrote to him, I copied this letter to him so he had an opportunity at this
stage to say no press briefing. We don't want to get into the vaccine issue.
Wakefield does not attend the press briefing or if the question is raised at the
press briefing, it does not go to Wakefield. He had three opportunities to
diffuse this, he did not. As soon as the question came up at the press
briefing, which inevitably it was going to do, he directed it straight to me.
And I responded in exactly the same way that I said I would respond in
advance of that press briefing.
Now, it was not based upon the observations in 12 children, it was based
upon reading all of the safety studies and producing a 250-page safety
report on those studies which I'd offered to my colleagues to read.
And that was the basis for my recommendation that parents be allowed to
use the option of the single vaccines.
Dr. Mercola: And when did that press briefing occur?
Dr. Wakefield: That was in February 1989 (1998?). Now, what happened then
is at that time, single vaccines were still available in the UK. Otherwise, I
would not have made that recommendation.
In September of that year, the government withdrew the importation license
for the single vaccines. So here was the demand that it's maximum for the
single vaccines, parents that still wanted to get their children were
I was encouraging the use of the single vaccine but the government took
away the option of single vaccines on the NHS from parents.
Dr. Mercola: Its an important point for our listeners and viewers is that you
were not advocating not to vaccinate, you were encouraging people to
vaccinate, you just said, lets get them singly because from your review,
exhaustive review, there appeared to be some complications when you
combined them all together.
Dr. Wakefield: Yeah. We got a problem here and until that problem is
resolved, children need to be protected but give parents the option of the
And they, the government, at the height of the requirement, the need, the
demand for the single vaccine, withdrew that option. In other words, protect
the policy MMR and not protect the children.
Dr. Mercola: So specifically, a response to the concern you brought up.
Dr. Wakefield: Yeah. So here they are, the government or the Department of
Health putting the concerns for the protection of the policy before concerns
for the protection of children. So, I'm afraid it's my opinion that it is entirely
their responsibility that there has been a declining vaccine uptake in the UK
because they removed the option of the single vaccines and there have
been outbreaks of infectious disease as a consequence.
Dr. Mercola: Interesting. So what happened after that because there is this
whole series of events that really have gotten you into the media recently?
Dr. Wakefield: Well then what happened is we went on and saw more
children, published more papers. We published a total of about 19 papers
on this disorder in total.
Dr. Mercola: And they were all in peer-reviewed scientific literature?
Dr. Wakefield: All peer reviewed. Strangely, these have never been
discussed when it comes down to the public relations exercise of the other
side to discredit the only paper that is discussed is that Lancet paper.
Dr. Mercola: And which Lancet paper was that?
Dr. Wakefield: That was the first. That was the 1989.
Dr. Mercola: The very first one. The original one.
Dr. Wakefield: They don't talk about the detailed characterization of the
bowel disease that we went through. What happened to kids who had not
one shot but two shots of MMR? Were they worse than the kids who had
one shot? All those sorts of things never get discussed.
Dr. Mercola: So, continue along the path to get us up to date where we are
now and then we'll kind of go backtracking to address some of the other
Dr. Wakefield: Here we are as academic researchers doing this work
thinking this is useful and yes, it's contentious but nonetheless, it's very
In the background, things were going on behind the scenes that we did not
know about. And what had happened is that the Department of Health had
contacted my medical school, the dean in particular, and had tried to close
this research down; had tried to close down the clinical care of children with
autism at the Royal Free, expressing concerns that it was unethical that all
these children had autism. It was not fair to them to go through these
procedures. Were they justified?
Well, here you had the world's leading pediatric gastroenterologist and his
colleagues saying, yes, they are justified and here are the findings. We're
happy to show you the findings at any stage, in any venue that you like.
But nonetheless, there was a concerted effort behind the scenes to stop the
work. And it was particularly the concern of the Department of Heath that
there was pending litigation that I had agreed to act as an expert in the
litigation giving access to these children, to the process of justice.
Not trying to prove that it was right or wrong but giving them…doing my
best as an expert to determine whether there is a case in law against the
Dr. Mercola: What year was that?
Dr. Wakefield: Again, this was 1996-97.
Dr. Mercola: Okay, so still about 15 years ago.
Dr. Wakefield: I hope I'm getting the dates right here but its in 1996-97. So, I
had agreed to do that and I wrote to my colleagues in '97 saying why I
agreed to do it.
Saying that I felt there was a professional and moral obligation because
these children, when their parents die or become infirmed, they are on the
street, no one cares, and no one is going to look after them.
And if society does not fulfill its absolute moral and professional and social
obligation to look after these children, they're going to die on the street and
that's a fact and it's already happened. So I felt very, very strongly that as a
doctor looking at this, I had a duty to get involved in litigation.
Now what I thought at the time, what the lawyers thought is that it was the
drug companies that were going to be sued. It was not. What had happened
when the MMR was introduced in the UK is that somehow the Department of
Health or the government had done a deal with the manufacturers of one of
the vaccines, SmithKline Beecham to indemnify them against litigation.
Now, why would they do that? What was the purpose of that? Well, it turns
out, that the vaccine that they had at the time contained a strain of the
mumps virus, Urabe AM9, which was dangerous. It caused meningitis.
It was first introduced and produced in Japan. It was introduced into
Canada and very quickly in Canada, when it came into use as MMR; they
found that it caused meningitis.
Rapidly after that, it was withdrawn, it was then withdrawn in Canada and it
was still introduced in the UK and it's my opinion that SmithKline Beecham
did not want to introduce it because they knew of these problems.
They had a potential liability, a real liability. And the government therefore, in
order to give the contract to the home team, to a British company,
Dr. Mercola: In the U.S. it requires passage of legislation through our elected
officials. Did they require a similar process in the UK?
Dr. Wakefield: Well, I think a lot of that process was circumvented. For
example, they relied on safety studies of the Merck vaccine that is M-M-R II,
which does not contain this dangerous mumps strain. So it's a much safer
Dr. Mercola: So there are two other options that they have?
Dr. Wakefield: Absolutely.
Dr. Mercola: But they were not British.
Dr. Wakefield: They were not British. One was French, one was American.
They did not want to give it to that company for some reason.
So what they did is take those safety studies from America using a different
vaccine and say, oh it looks pretty good to us therefore we can introduce
this vaccine in the UK. You can't do that.
You can't take one anti-hypertensive brand from one company and one from
another and say well, that’s fine so we're going to give that one a license
and that's what happened.
Dr. Mercola: Well, you potentially could because there is a lot more
standardization into the structure of a drug but for a vaccine, many of our
viewers may not understand, it's a far different complex process involving
biology and growing these cultures on tissues, tissue cultures and
extracting and contamination. There are so many other variables that it's
preposterous to even consider that.
Dr. Wakefield: Good, and particularly where you've got a brand of the
vaccine where there have already been problems. So the vaccine with this
dangerous Urabe AM9 strain came into the UK and lo and behold, it had to
be withdrawn four years later overnight because it was causing meningitis.
It was causing the complication that had been seen in Canada, that had been
seen in Japan and had been seen in Australia. And the vaccine was
withdrawn. Was it taken off the market? No. What happened to it next?
It was put into storage and then it was sent to Third World countries like
Brazil to be used in mass vaccination campaigns. So here you have a
vaccine that has been taken away from different countries, First World
countries but has not been discarded and is then sold to Brazil. What
happens when they do a mass vaccination campaign in Brazil? They have
an outbreak, an epidemic of meningitis.
Dr. Mercola: So were there any legal options that the individuals that were
vaccinated over that four-year period while it was still in the market. Did they
have any recourse at all?
Dr. Wakefield: Well, you would have thought they would have done that and
that was part of what I was involved in but that litigation was abandoned
some years later in 2004 when it was quite clear to me that there had been
And what really provoked me into getting more and more involved in this is
that a member of the Scottish Department of Health, a whistleblower met me
on Newcastle station in the north of England, met with me and with the
lawyers and exposed this process.
He said: "I came from Canada to advise the UK government on the
introduction of MMR. I said Do ot use this vaccine. They ignored me." I said,
"You have to have active surveillance for adverse events. You got to go out
and look for these adverse events because they are real in Canada and they
may well be real in the UK. So you have to look for them." They ignored me.
And they went ahead and they introduced this vaccine and lo and behold, it
had to be withdrawn. And so he felt very bad about this and he knew in his
opinion that children have been damaged and he felt the need to expose this
Dr. Mercola: That was in 2004. So six years later, still nothing has resolved,
no compensation or I guess reprimand or any other process that was
directed at those responsible for making that decision.
Dr. Wakefield: That's correct and it seems ludicrous to me and it's now
therefore time for this to be exposed. It's time to get this out there because
I'm no longer under this legal stricture that prevents me from doing so and
so, it's coming out.
Dr. Mercola: And there is going to be a few other surprises as we go out and
continue with the conversation. So we're up to 2004, so why don't we
continue on the journey until we get to present day.
Dr. Wakefield: Between then and 2004, between the publication of the paper
in 2004, I lost my job at the Royal Free and there was a great deal of pressure
to stop this work and the new professor of medicine sat down with me and
the secretary of the medical school and he said: "You no longer form part of
my plans for this department, the future of this department." He said, "Your
science is not good." I said, "Its interesting you should say that. Have you
ever read any of the papers that we have ever published?"
And he paused and he said, "I don't need to." So we got into a little
discussion about who was the bad scientist and our relationship did not
improve from that point on. So I left the Royal Free.
Dr. Mercola: What year was that?
Dr. Wakefield: I left in 2001, November of 2001.
Dr. Mercola: You stayed in the UK.
Dr. Wakefield: I was in the UK at that time, traveling backwards and forwards
to the States where the story was exactly the same as I had heard in the UK,
as I heard in Canada, or as I have heard in Europe, exactly the same story.
And I had been introduced to the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) community at
that stage and talked for the first time and met Bernie Rimland and realized
how pervasive this problem was and how rapidly it was growing.
He is one of the pioneers in the medical field of autism in other words, taking
autism from the psychological and behavioral and putting it firmly in the, this
is a medical disorder camp was Bernie Rimland, the late Bernie Rimland.
So he was a fine man and someone who had a big influence upon where I
went and what I do with my career. So, I initially looked at helping setup a
center in Florida and then finally settled on Austin, Texas which has a
tremendous community spirit.
Dr. Mercola: So that's where you live now in Austin.
Dr. Wakefield: In Austin, yeah.
Dr. Mercola: And then you came over to the United States in what year; to
live here permanently?
Dr. Wakefield: I started to live here in about 2005.
Dr. Mercola: So you've been here for five years now in the United States. Is
there anything else that happened in that time frame that occurred prior to
what…the recent media attention you have received?
Dr. Wakefield: Well that was the beginning of the media attention. In 2004, I
suddenly got this contact from a freelance journalist Brian Deer working on
behalf of the Sunday Times making a whole series of allegations against my
colleagues and I.
In his opinion, these children did not need investigation, in his opinion, these
children did not need a colonoscopy or a lumbar puncture or these other
investigations that my clinical colleagues had deemed, they most certainly
Dr. Mercola: And he had no formal medical training.
Dr. Wakefield: None at all.
Dr. Mercola: He's just a journalist.
Dr. Wakefield: None at all but it was his opinion. He believed that I had got
together with a lawyer, had rounded up these children for the purpose of
creating a legal case against the manufacturers of the vaccine in order to
bring about the downfall of the vaccine in order to launch my own vaccine
onto the market. It was a great story.
Dr. Mercola: If he had done his homework, he would have found that it was
impossible because the manufacturers were indemnified.
Dr. Wakefield: Well, it was just so fanciful. Where do you start to unpick a
story like that? But the bizarre thing is that what mutated from that original
story none of which really made any sense.
The children were not involved in litigation when they were referred to the
Royal Free. They had nothing to do with litigation until afterwards. They
were not herded, rounded up by lawyers. They did not come from lawyers.
These were parents who heard about the work or read about the work or
had been talking to friends at child groups who made spontaneous contact
with me because in the newspapers they had seen the work on Crohns
disease. That's how they came.
So he made so many factual errors but he nonetheless managed to
persuade the General Medical Council to initiate a process of investigation
against us. And by that stage, this had become such a political hot potato,
the Minister of Health, and a number of people from the department had put
there all in and decided this needed to be investigated but they constructed
this case against us.
And we, my colleagues and I, had recently been found guilty of some of the
most ludicrous charges. For example, experimenting on children in the
absence of ethical approval. So they determined that the world's leading
pediatric gastroenterologist was not fit to determine whether these children
needed a colonoscopy or not for clinical indications. They determined it was
Dr. Mercola: Was this a physician council that made that determination?
Dr. Wakefield: There were three physicians and two lay members.
Dr. Mercola: Okay, so maybe you can get us up to the details that lead to that
and summarize what the process was and that was sort of part of the
conclusion or rebuttal but I think there is probably a bit more to the story.
Dr. Wakefield: Joe, it's huge. It's absolutely huge. Let me characterize it by
one example. In medicine, as you know, communication is essential.
Communication is the key.
Dr. Mercola: Absolutely.
Dr. Wakefield: Doctors to doctor, doctor to patient, patient to doctor.
Dr. Mercola: Well, it is this tangent aside that most physicians are trained,
they should be trained. The primary reason for most malpractices is lack of
communication. That is the reason why most all physicians are sued.
Dr. Wakefield: Right. So what happened is when the parents called me with
this highly complex story, I could not help them but I knew someone who
could and that was John Walker-Smith. So I said, you need to get a referral
from your doctor, your family doctor to Professor Walker-Smith.
Dr. Mercola: Is he a physician?
Dr. Wakefield: He's a physician. He is the professor of pediatric
gastroenterology. In fact, he is probably the founding father of the discipline
of pediatric gastroenterology worldwide.
Dr. Mercola: Is he still alive?
Dr. Wakefield: He's still alive. A very eminent doctor who was a co-
defendant at the GMC. So I recommended that the parents seek a referral to
That is my communication to them, sign posting them to a doctor who might
help their child. I also offered because of the complexity of the whole story
to talk to their doctor, the family doctor if it would help to communicate what
we were thinking in terms of how the gut and the brain might be linked and
what we might be able to do in terms of professor Walker-Smith's clinical
input, my research input to help this child.
And that offer was on the table. So some doctors contacted me, some
parents put me in contact with the doctors and I spoke to them. I
communicated to them and the referrals were made accordingly or not. At
the GMC, I was found guilty of causing children to have, for example, lumbar
punctures, spinal taps because of this communication.
Now, that's got to be a completely new charge causing children to have
these tests. I did not do the test. I was not there when the tests were done. I
did not prescribe the tests. But I caused the children to have them because
the parents called me and I suggested getting a referral to Walker-Smith.
That is how complex and how bizarre and tortuous this process has
Dr. Mercola: And these were the findings that came out this year?
Dr. Wakefield: That's right.
Dr. Mercola: Just a few months ago actually. So what are some of the other
results of that? Can you discuss some of the charges, other charges that
Dr. Wakefield: Certainly, well the principal charge, the principal finding
against us is that we had investigated these children without ethics
We had undertaken and a series of investigations had been undertaken on
these children without ethics committee approval. Now, firstly, let me make it
absolutely clear that tests that are clinically indicated are not researched and
they do not require the approval of a hospital ethics committee.
They are just like you going to the doctor, the doctor saying, "Wow, you got
a bad throat. I'm going to take a blood sample to see if you got strep titers."
That is a clinical test.
And my clinical colleagues were perfectly capable of making the decision
about those clinical tests but the GMC argued that those were research
tests. They were not.
They also argued that the research tests were not covered under an ethical
approval. That also was false. What they had failed to identify in their due
diligence was that there was an existing ethical approval for the research
elements that were undertaken in The Lancet paper and that was work that I
did and that was related to a detailed microscopic examination of the tissues
in the children.
So, they were wrong on both counts. They had called clinical tests research
tests wrong and they had said there was no ethical approval for the research
tests that formed part of The Lancet paper, wrong also.
So the major conviction against me, against my two colleagues was that
there were tests being done that were researched that did not have ethical
approval and they were wrong on both counts.
Dr. Mercola: Well, it's somewhat shocking to believe that they could come to
that conclusion. I mean, surely an opportunity to provide this information to
them and they can listen to the three physicians, two lay people. I mean,
how could any rational logical individual come to that conclusion?
It does not make sense. It's just an irrational response. Do you have any
theories or understanding as to why this conclusion was reached or this
Dr. Wakefield: I think there are two possibilities.
They rarely get confronted with research issues and they were unable to
distinguish between research and clinical. It was beyond their remit. They
did not get it.
Alternatively, there was pressure on them to find us guilty. Now, I don't like
to believe that that's the case. I don't like to believe that they acquiesce to
any kind of external pressure from the government to find us guilty.
I really hope that that's not the case. I like to believe that there is still justice
and there is still fair mindedness. I will never know I suspect.
Dr. Mercola: At least in the peer review process. That's an interesting
tangent to this peer reviewed part because part of this conviction, your
paper, your initial original paper that's published in The Lancet in '89 that
started this whole process was actually removed.
I don't even know if that has been done before but it was removed. You've
explained to me earlier today some very interesting details that I don't think
anyone knows about. So, why don't we go into some of these details
because I think it will be enlightening for the world to hear this.
Dr. Wakefield: Well the paper originally underwent a partial retraction in
2004. What does that mean? It meant that the editor of The Lancet, Richard
Horton asked that we issue a partial retraction of the interpretation that MMR
vaccine causes autism.
Well, we had never provided that interpretation. Is it a possibility? Yes. Can
you retract the possibility? No. It's totally illogical. So, many of my
colleagues, who I think were quite frightened by this whole process decided
to issue a partial retraction. Three of us said, no.
Dr. Mercola: How many colleagues were involved in it?
Dr. Wakefield: There were 13 and 10 retracted and three said no. This does
not make any sense scientifically. You can't retract the possibility. We did
not come to the conclusion that the vaccine causes autism but quite the
So, no we're not going to get involved in this. When the final decision came
at the GMC, principally that there was not ethical committee approval for this
study then, Dr. Horton decided to completely retract the paper even though it
was a clinical case series that did not need ethical approval for the test that
were done clinically.
Again, totally illogical but allowed Dr. Horton to put further clear blue water
between him and this paper and there is no doubt by his own admission in
his various books he had been the subject of severe criticism for publishing
this paper in the first place. So he was able to gain some redemption by
removing the paper from the written record.
So, what we were left with then is a situation where this paper, these
children, the reality of the bowel disease, the existence of these children,
their demise after the MMR vaccine was effectively removed from the
Does that make any difference? Absolutely not. That's just political
posturing. Does it actually mean these children did not exist, that their
problems were not real, that they did not regress after the vaccine? No.
In fact, I think what has happened is it's alienated a great number of the
scientific and medical community because it's just a piece of big brother.
Its just censorship trying to deal with dissent against the possibility that
vaccines are not as safe as they have been purported to be.
And so, it's interesting therefore when you look at The Lancet, it's owned by
Elsevier, the publisher is Elsevier and there has been a very interesting
article on autism, which looks at the links between Elsevier, its chairman and
his board position on Glaxo SmithKline.
Dr. Mercola: And Elsevier is a massive publisher. Perhaps the largest
publisher of medical journals in the world. I mean, they have hundreds of
hundreds of different journals that they publish, The Lancet being one of
Dr. Wakefield: Which brings us to the next point, which we were also
discussing earlier, is we subsequently published a paper in another Elsevier
journal that is Neurotoxicology. And this was part of a long, long study.
It's interesting and I'll just go into the background very briefly, it's a study
that should have been done years ago. When you do vaccine safety studies,
they are very often done in primates, non-human primates before they go
The rhesus macaque, an old world monkey is one of those primates and so
we decided some years ago, eight or so years ago, to do the study that had
never been done. To take the vaccine schedule, what happens in the real
world if we expose these infant primates to what kids get between the age of
day one and preschool boosters, the vaccine schedule in the 1990's with
Thimerosal in it. What's the outcome?
What's the outcome in terms of their development, in terms of their
cognition, in terms of their intestinal function, in terms of their immune
function, brain imaging, all those kinds of things a very, very detailed study.
It should have been done. It was never done.
It had never been done, extraordinary. Parents might expect that the total
vaccine schedule that their children are going to get has been looked at for
safety in total, it has not. The individual vaccines are looked at but the
schedule is not.
So we decided we do the study. The first paper just looked at the effect of
the Thimerosal, the mercury containing hepatitis B vaccine on day one and
looking at the acquisition of essential reflexes like feeding reflexes.
And we compared with unvaccinated animals; animals that have been given
saline as a control. And what we found is there was a significant delay in the
acquisition of these basic life saving reflexes in the recipients of the
As early as the first few days of life, very, very worrying. We published that
paper; it went through rigorous peer review. It was published online in
Neurotoxicolgy and then lo and behold, after the GMC decision, they decided
not to proceed to publication with the paper itself. The paper was
Not based upon its clinical and scientific merits, they have been through the
process of peer review that you and I talked about, a process that we
recognize as absolutely essential to the conduct of science. It had been
through that. It had been published and then it was withdrawn.
We all have our own opinions but the fact is that when a colleague of mine
contacted the journal's editor to say why has this happened, the journal
editor directed that person to Elsevier. This is extraordinary.
Had it been withdrawn for a scientific reason, the editor would have been
able to deal with it but it was not withdrawn for a scientific reason. The
contact was directed by the editor to Elsevier itself; the publishing house.
Well, the publishing house should not be telling the journal what they should
and should not publish.
Dr. Mercola: The owner of the journal.
Dr. Wakefield: That's right. It's absolutely an extraordinary situation. So this
was a decision that had come from the top, from the publishers. And as I've
said before, we do not know that Elsevier and Glaxo SmithKline have this
common denominator this link and the chairman of Elsevier.
So one can speculate about whether that is involved or not, I don't know.
Huge potential for conflict of interest. It should be disclosed and something,
which should not and one hopes it did not influence the decision to
withdraw that paper.
But the important factor is that it was a decision taken by the publishing
company and not by the editor, the scientific editor of the journal itself.
Dr. Mercola: And this is the drug company that actually manufactured the
vaccine that was removed from the UK after four years of causing these
increased incidence of meningitis as a result of the contamination.
Dr. Wakefield: That's correct.
Dr. Mercola: So an interesting point of information that has really not been
exposed prior to now. So, one of your biggest critics in the United States is
Dr. Paul Offit who is recognized as one of the leading advocates for vaccine,
actually not just vaccinations but mandatory vaccinations, compulsory
vaccinations which essentially eliminates the freedom of choice of a parent
to decide for themselves whether or not they chose to give their children this
And this is actually the same physician, Dr. Offit who has huge potential for
conflict of interest because he has generated millions of dollars from
developing his own vaccine, a rotavirus vaccine. And interestingly, one of
the other rotavirus vaccines was just recently found to be contaminated with
That's another side issue but this Dr. Offit has been noted to say that it is
safe and to not expect any side effects from giving an innocent infant or
child 10,000 vaccines on one day. It is just profoundly absurd to think that
anyone could make this statement, let alone someone who is purported to
be an expert in vaccines. So I'm wondering if you could comment on that;
on his comment I guess. You want to think about it for a bit but…
Dr. Wakefield: No, I'm very happy to talk about it. Something that has given
me cause for concern. So let's just put Dr. Offit in the frame, in saying what
I'm going to say, I have offered on several occasions by recorded delivery
and mail to debate Dr. Offit in public at any time in any place of his choosing
and that he has never taken me up on.
And I don't suppose that he is going to. Let's just characterize Dr. Offit's
sense of proportion and due diligence in what he says. For example, in his
book about false prophets, Autism and False Prophets, he claimed that I had
made the recommendation to use single vaccines in the UK in February 1998
when the single vaccines were not available. They were. I would not have
made the recommendation had they not been.
If you Google that. If you put in 'withdrawal single vaccines UK' into Google,
the first website that comes up gives you the precise date on which they
were withdrawn in the fall of that year; six months beyond what I had said.
That is all Dr. Offit had to do to check his facts. That was all he had to do.
Dr. Mercola: Use Google.
Dr. Wakefield: He did not do it. Instead, he decided to go into his book, go
into print and defame me by suggesting that I would make a
recommendation, which was in effect unethical.
So that is a measure if you like of Dr. Offit's application to the task at hand.
Now we come to your specific question about the use of 10,000, which I
think he's now revised to a hundred thousand vaccine antigens on one day.
This is based upon a theoretical study that he did looking at the sort of
genetic variability of the genes responsible for antibody production and
saying, well, based upon the number that we have available; we should be
able to produce this number of antibodies.
That is an entirely theoretical mathematical piece of jiggery pokery. It has
absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the real world and it's bizarre that
he would go out there and say that. That really, really worries me from a
If you just take for example, MMR and you add in the varicella vaccine, the
chickenpox vaccine, MMRV as ProQuad what happens is you double the rate
of convulsions as an adverse reaction.
So just adding one and not 999,000 but just one extra vaccine in, you double
the rate of an adverse, and potentially serious adverse reaction. To the
extent that that ProQuad vaccine had to be withdrawn.
So the notion that you could give a child a hundred thousand vaccine
antigens on one day is utter nonsense. And what is extraordinary, what is
telling I suppose is that no other immunologist or vaccinologist or any other
person with any credible standing has stood behind Dr. Offit and said yes,
you can go for it.
The thing that really worries me, Joe, is that there is a tendency and it's a
public relations exercise to separate this into pro and antivaccine. It's much
easier for Paul Offit to call us anti-vaccine than it is to engage in the debate.
I am not anti-vaccine at all. In fact, ironically, it is people who are putting the
safety first agenda, a safety first vaccine agenda, not profit or policy but
safety first vaccine agenda who will ultimately be the saviors of vaccine
policy in this country and around the world because vaccine policy, as you
know, depends upon public confidence. And if the public lose confidence in
people like Dr. Offit which is a real risk, then they will withdraw from vaccines
altogether across the board and that will lead to the resurgence of infectious
disease and problems.
Now, vaccines are imperfect and there needs to be a safety first agenda that
optimizes the safety of those vaccines above any other issue that puts the
health of children first. And so, you have this situation where those who are
driving the safety first agenda are in fact the ones who will preserve public
confidence in the long run rather than destroy it by making extraordinary
statements like you can give a child a hundred thousand vaccine antigens
on the same day. That in the end will be the downfall of this program.
Dr. Mercola: And one of the major organizations in the United States is the
NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center) run by Barbara Loe Fisher.
She has been promoting this for over 25 years, is essentially a volunteer
organization run on a shoestring budget and really has been preaching the
message of vaccine safety first; they're not anti-vaccine by any way, shape
Yet, interestingly, The Lancet just wrote an editorial or an article about the
anti-vaccine people or movement and characterized her as one of the
leading organizations in this movement.
One of the arguments that they gave against this and essentially a proof that
they are making some negative results of the public listening to them is that
there has been an increase or relative increase in measles and mumps as a
result of people listening to this message and choosing not to vaccinate.
So the results, the incidence of vaccinations has gone down, the incidence
of these diseases have gone up. I'm wondering if you can…that seems to be
their central argument as a justification that the organizations that are
proponents of vaccine safety are having a negative public health impact and
eventually, they're going to use this as some type of justification to
implement mandatory vaccinations. So I'm wondering if you can address
that because that seems to be their main argument.
Dr. Wakefield: It's a very important issue. Let's just break that argument
down. Let's take measles first. Has there been a resurgence of measles in
the UK, yes there have been some more cases. How might that have come
about? You'll remember that I recommended the use of single vaccines.
In February 1998, I recommended the use of single vaccines. Six months,
seven months later, the government withdrew the importation license
therefore that option was taken away from parents.
So parents who were not anti-vaccine were having a major option taken
away from them for how to protect their children when they had genuine
safety concerns about MMR; concerns which were engendered in the fact
that a few years earlier one had to be withdrawn for safety reasons. So they
were perfectly justified in being concerned.
So the government removes the option and lo and behold, what happens,
measles comes back. So, who is to blame for the resurgence of measles?
They're putting protection of the policy before protection of children.
Let's come to mumps now. Mumps is extremely interesting. Mumps in this
country, in the U.S. the CDC did a study. When Maurice Hillerman went from
Merck, the head of vaccines at Merck went to the CDC…
Dr. Mercola: Who since passed away.
Dr. Wakefield: I have a mumps vaccine; I would like you to use it. They did a
study and they said there is no need. Mumps is a trivial disease in children;
we do not need this vaccine. Exactly the same thing happened in the UK.
The Department of Health, the Medicines Control Agency, the regulators in
the UK said, this is a trivial disease in children. We do not need a mumps
But it got in. It got in and there is a story behind this that will be published in
a book by Patrick Tearney that will be coming out sometime later, hopefully
What they did is they got the vaccine into the program. Now, the problem
has been that the mumps vaccine does not work. It does not protect enough
people in the first instance and those that it does protect, the protection
does not last. Now, they foresaw this problem. They said one of the big
problems with the mumps vaccine…
Dr. Mercola: And today is this Merck.
Dr Wakefield: This is Merck in this country and this was SmithKline in the
UK. The mumps vaccine, the antibody levels, the protection levels fall off
very quickly and they had anticipated this.
They said, here is the problem, if the vaccine does not work, its called
secondary failure, the antibody levels falling off the protection diminishing
over time, then we are turning a trivial disease in children into a potentially
more dangerous disease in adults because you and I know and people out
there know that mumps in adult males can cause testicular inflammation and
sterility. It can cause other problems.
Dr. Mercola: Orchitis.
Dr Wakefield: Orchitis. So there was the risk. If they introduced this vaccine,
is there going to be a long-term problem because they're taking a trivial
disease and turning it into a more dangerous disease. That is exactly what's
happened. So we're now seeing outbreaks of mumps in highly vaccinated
populations; populations of people who have received not one but two
doses and more because re-boosting them with another vaccine does not
Dr. Mercola: That's a very important point. I wonder if you could just review
that again. So your suggestion is that if you have a population that is not
vaccinated, their likelihood of getting mumps as an adult is much lower than
a population that was.
Dr. Wakefield: That's right because if they caught it as children, if they
caught it as infants, they've had a mild trivial dose of mumps, they developed
lifelong immunity and therefore they are immune.
Dr. Mercola: So the natural immunity that they would typically get in a
community that had not been vaccinated is going to be far superior and
prevent essentially eliminate the only known dangerous complication of
mumps which is this testicular inflammation and swelling which is going to
lead to infertility.
Dr. Wakefield: I mean there are other problems as well, we have
Dr. Mercola: Well, that's the major one.
Dr. Wakefield: Absolutely, that's the major one. So you have effectively
taken a trivial disease and by vaccinating, you have turned it into a more
dangerous disease. Now, they are in a real mess. They are in a real mess
because one dose of MMR does not prevent it.
Two doses of MMR do not prevent it; three doses. You are creating a
population that is dependent upon re-boosting with vaccines for the rest of
their lives to avoid this complication, a man-made complication.
Dr. Mercola: And is not that convenient and is not that perhaps the model
that they're using to have this, create a problem with a very solution that
they're proposing that requires continuous use of that solution which
massively and exponentially increases their profits because the demand for
the solution goes to the roof.
This is just one disease, mumps. This has not even been studied for the
other diseases and all the ones that are in the pipeline.
Dr. Wakefield: Was there a conspiracy to anticipate that, I don't know. You
never substitute conspiracy for incompetence. I think they made a huge
Dr. Mercola: That's a good point.
Dr. Wakefield: There was incompetence. They were incompetent. They
were so zealous. So urgently needed to get this vaccine into the market that
they ignored the potential problems and now we have a big, big problem.
Mumps vaccine is a dangerous vaccine. It does not work.
Dr. Mercola: It's hard to imagine there was incompetence on the drug
companies. Certainly, in the regulatory agencies, they may not have looked
at it carefully or thought it through but the drug companies are the ones that
are going to benefit from the increased use of this. Maybe they did not know
at the time. I guess you give them the benefit of the doubt but they are
certainly the ones that are benefiting.
Dr. Wakefield: I think there is no doubt that if you create a population that's
dependent upon boosting and boosting and boosting on a regular basis
with vaccines, your volume of sales is going go up dramatically. So there is
My concern is that this madness has to be curtailed. It has to be stopped.
There has to be an injection of common sense into the whole regulatory
process. It's not there at the moment. It's not there. And we're seeing
mumps epidemics occurring all around the developed world as a
consequence of this. So in blaming it on Barbara Loe Fisher and NVIC is
Dr. Mercola: Are there any other diseases that are similar to mumps that you
can see or predict or project that maybe an issue coming down the road?
Dr. Wakefield: I think the one that concerns me most in that respect is
chickenpox. I have real concerns about a chickenpox vaccine that may
produce the same effects because chickenpox, for the great majority of
children, is a mild disease.
Dr. Mercola: Similar to mumps.
Dr. Wakefield: Similar to mumps. Chickenpox in adults can be an extremely
severe disease producing inflammation of the brain, a major problem.
So if you are again displacing the age of susceptibility to an older age
because you vaccinated and the vaccine does not work over a long period
then you've got major problems. And there are other issues with chickenpox
vaccine that go beyond that.
We're now seeing shingles in children. We're seeing shingles in adults
because they're not getting the natural re-exposure in the community to
children who are infected with chickenpox, that natural boosting of immunity
over time. So, if I were to single out a vaccine that I would be particularly
concerned about and certainly deserves long term study, it would be the
Dr. Mercola: So another concern certainly one of my significant concerns is
the absolute ludicrous insanity of recommending that a child, a newborn,
harmless, innocent child be given hepatitis B vaccine on the day they are
This is a disease that is really only blood borne so it has to be contracted by
getting a transfusion or through having sexual intercourse. There is no
really other known routes of exposure except getting it from the mother
which is easily, if they were that concerned about it, they could just do a
blood test and find out if the mother has it and then if she does, then you can
give the child a vaccine. But that's not being done.
Most of the newborns in this country even unknown to the parents are…well
the child is taken away in the nursery and is given a shot, they're not even
So, to me this is insanity and actually, if you're vigilant about it you can
refuse it but you have to be very, very careful and know that before. So I'm
wondering if you could comment on hepatitis B.
Dr. Wakefield: This is a huge issue. I mean, quite apart from the fact you
could make a very good case for hepatitis B immunization given the endemic
nature of this disease and the high mortality and morbidity worldwide,
coming down to the specific issue…
Dr. Mercola: I mean, you're trained as a gastroenterologist, you're
particularly qualified to address this.
Dr. Wakefield: Coming down to the issue of giving it on day one of life, there
are several issues that surround that. The first is when we did this primate
study giving that hepatitis B vaccine on day one. We looked for the safety
studies of that policy. What had been done to establish the safety of giving it
on day one?
Not just giving it on day one but giving it on day one to every infant whether
they were born at 24 weeks or 30 weeks or 36 weeks or 40 weeks, whatever
their gestational…their birth weight was, whether they were 10 lbs or 3 lbs or
2 lbs, they were getting the same shot at day one as a matter of policy.
Dr. Mercola: Nonexistent.
Dr. Wakefield: We could not find them. And that was really shocking, really
shocking. How could this be? If you're going to make a case for it, if you're
going to do it, you're going to make it a matter of policy for every kid in the
country then you've got to be absolutely certain that you got the safety right
because if not, you may produce insidious problems, minor degrees of
damage which you do not pick up straight away but are catastrophic later
on. So you better make sure you've done the homework and they had not.
Dr. Mercola: And they still have not.
Dr. Wakefield: And so this is a real source of concern for me. Then you
come to the other issues that you raised and that is it's the hospital policy.
So here is a mother who has just been through 24, 48 hours of labor, who is
absolutely exhausted, is not in a position to give informed consent, is simply
not in a position to do it. They're not even asked in many cases.
As you say, the child is just taken away because its policy. Now this has got
to stop. That is criminal assault and that has got to stop. There has got to
be some degree of legal control over that process because that mother is
not in a position to give fully informed consent and as often, as you point
out, never asked.
So there are separate issues here; one about the safety profiling of this
whole process and the other is about the policy issue that surrounds how
Dr. Mercola: Informed consent really is a central right that we all have. That
has been taken away from us. Not even told that we've lost it, we're not even
Dr. Wakefield: The word informed consent is an oxymoron. To be able to
give informed consent, you have to have the information to give. If the safety
information does not exist, you're not in a position to give that information.
So the process of informed consent never gets out of the starting block.
Dr. Mercola: It's a good way to look at it, as an oxymoron. If the data is not
there, how can you possibly…how can any parent possibly know the
potential complications, they can't. It's just not known. That's really been
NVIC's primary position is to push the vaccine safety first.
We got to do the safety studies. I appreciate your comments on informed
consent and interestingly, if you can call it a benefit but one of the benefits
that had come out of World War II is that we have the Nuremberg trials where
the atrocities in Germany were addressed and we developed the Nuremberg
Code which really had this whole aspect on informed consent to give
because that was one of the atrocities that occurred, they were performing
these experiments on humans.
And what the code essentially developed was that it's unethical to perform
these trials without informed voluntary consent. Interestingly, Dr. Offit, as
mentioned earlier, is really a very strong proponent of mandatory
vaccinations for the benefit of the public health because the benefits
outweigh the risk, which is really preposterous in light of the information
you've just shared because we just don't even know what the risks are
because the studies haven't even been done. So I'm wondering if you can
comment on that.
Dr. Wakefield: Sure, just as a sort of reflection on the General Medical
Council, I was called unethical and I just wanted to make the point that as
you say, ethics is about fully informed consent, truly informed consent and I
have never done anything without informed consent.
So I adhered to the ethical codes throughout. It's particularly alarming to
here talk about mandatory vaccination. Mandatory vaccination itself is a
reflection of the failure of the process. If you have to mandate a vaccination,
if you have not got the will of the people, if you have not got the confidence
of the people in your vaccination policy and therefore you have to mandate
it, you have to coerce people, you have to threaten them with not going to
school or no social welfare. Then you have failed.
You have completely failed in your aim to gain the confidence of the public in
your public health policy. So it's a reflection ironically of the failure of the
system, the need to mandate the process.
I am completely and utterly against the idea that you can take the rights of
the parent away for the care of their child, for the decisions made in the
context of what their child should and should not have and hand them over
to the State.
One of the most telling cases I ever came across was a mother at a meeting,
a mother of an autistic child and her job had been as a nurse to take the
children who had been made wards of the court because their parents
would not vaccinate them and vaccinate those children; to forcibly vaccinate
To take them from their parents and give them the shot because their
parents had voluntarily decided not to and the government had intervened
and determined that it had the right.
And what had happened to her in the cruelest of ironies is that her child had
regressed after a vaccine and become profoundly autistic. She has to live
with that knowledge for the rest of her life. That she did that.
That she was part of that system that encouraged, that endorsed that
process which is more reminiscent of Stalinist Russia than it is of latter day
Dr. Mercola: I think that also brings up the point of the challenge we have in
this country where you have probably one of the best disciplines,
pediatricians and literally one of the lowest paid.
Really incredibly motivated dedicated individuals. I mean, there is just no
question but that is reflective of the majority of these pediatricians. And yet,
they are so firmly committed to this process to the point where they almost
become violent if someone opposes them.
And yet, for them to seriously reflect on the possibility that they might be
causing harm is so massively abhorring to them that they can't even
consider it. It's just not something they can objectively review. It's the same
And really one of the challenges that we have is to have them overcome that
because they would be admitting that the bulk of what they're doing is
actually potentially causing more harm than good.
Dr. Wakefield: Yes, I feel extremely sorry and then concerned for
pediatricians as a group in as much that they have been driven down a path
largely by the insurance industry where they'll be remunerated for five
minutes, or 10 minutes or a brief consult and within that time, you've almost
got your pen in your hand to write the script or to give the vaccine.
So, you are dependent in order to make an adequate living on getting
information from the CDC, from the AAP, from all of these people and
believing in that information and acting on that information but not being in a
position to go away and assimilate it yourself.
Now, I don't believe that. I think that if people were really concerned, they
would actually go and read these papers and come to their own
determination of what was right and what was wrong and what to believe
and what not to believe.
An example of this was we wrote a paper recently in response to Dr. Ari
Brown who is a proponent of vaccines and a spokesman for the
Immunization Action Coalition, which was utter nonsense. It was a written
for the people.
It was to explain why vaccines are safe but it was I'm afraid factually, totally
inaccurate and scientifically bereft of any common sense at all. And then we
wrote a response to this and does that get out to the pediatricians? Do they
see that? Is that the leaflet the parents pick out when they go into the
But it should be because that is truly the essence of informed consent is to
look at the pros and cons.
Dr. Mercola: Well that is one of the missions of our site is to provide this
information because clearly, the media is not. I think we have an example of
what we've done last year or we were one of the primary reasons why there
was such a massive refusal at least in the United States and worldwide of
this swine flu vaccine that was purported to be the solution for this massive
pandemic which was actually one of the mildest flu seasons in history.
So the central issue is that and I think really the point to take home is that we
can make a difference. If we know this information, if we can share this with
their friends and families and that they know that there is a valid scientific
justification for making these choices, then that word can get out.
There is a valid scientific reason to be concerned because the appropriate
studies have not been done. So the more information we get out, the more
we can spread the word, the likelier we are to have a change in policy that is
rational and makes sense.
Its not that we're opposed to vaccines, we just need to do these safely and
soundly and make sense. It's not going to hurt us in the long term. I think
it's something to be encouraged about. That we are making a difference and
through the work of pioneers like yourself who have gotten a lot of arrows
on your back and we are so grateful for all the work that you've been doing
that you've taken a hit for so many of us.
You really have been personally challenged to the point where they're
discrediting you publicly, you're humiliated, you had to move to this country
and leave your position, which was a prestigious position. I mean, you've
really taken a hit for the lies and there are going to be millions of people who
are going to benefit from what you've done.
So our mission is to take what you've done and spread and share that more
people will know that there is really some truth here that they are not being
Dr. Wakefield: Well, Joe I really appreciate that. I have a couple of things in
closing and that is that it does not matter what happens to me. It's
irrelevant. You know I decided this. When you go down this path, you
decide this a long time ago, is that this story was written before you and I
were ever born. This is the history of medicine.
If you look at thalidomide, the first doctor, an obstetrician in Australia,
McBride who described thalidomide in The Lancet interestingly was struck
off. He was struck off. The drug companies went after him and his research
was criticized and the details don't matter but the process is there.
In Australia too when the Merck Vioxx trials were going on recently there
was a disclosure of internal memos and how to deal with doctors who
dissented from the safety of Vioxx and it was about isolating, discrediting
and the last one said, we may have to seek them out and destroy them
where they live.
So this what medicine has in store for it if it calls into question the safety of a
company's drugs. When I was interviewed on NBC, although this did not
make it off the cutting room floor, I was asked if I was just into conspiracy
theory and I said, this is not conspiracy theory this is more like corporate
So, the other thing to say is this pro and anti-vaccine argument, its
interesting there was a recall of Toyota cars recently because there were
safety concerns about jamming of the gas pedal. Were the people who
called for the withdrawal of those cars anti-car? I don't think so. They were
not anti-car at all. They were concerned about people crashing and dying on
the freeway. So that does not make them anti-car and so dichotomizing this
argument into pro and anti-vaccine makes no sense at all, absolutely none.
Dr. Mercola: That's a very good analogy and one that's really obvious for
anyone to see.
Dr. Wakefield: And finally, you would think that this community that's been
beaten up and impoverished and is surrounded by all these experts who are
telling them that they are wrong would go away. They're not going to go
away. These parents are not going to go away. The children are not going to
And there was a recent study, I think it was from the University of Michigan
after everything that had happened all the millions that have been spent on
public relations, all the kicking and brutalizing of physicians who get
involved in this, all of the discrediting; one in four parents believe that
vaccines cause autism.
In other words, Joe, they've lost. They've lost the public relations war.
We've done nothing. From our side, this is the first time I've spoken about it.
You and I are sitting here for the first time. We have done nothing. Our
expenditure on public relation is zero. One in four parents in this country.
Why? The answer is very simple, because it's real.
Dr. Mercola: It's the truth.
Dr. Wakefield: That's the truth and no amount of public relations, coercion,
and vilification is going to change that.
Dr. Mercola: Or Presidential mandates.
Dr. Wakefield: So I'm afraid that they either take notice of the fact that one in
four parents believes vaccines cause autism. This is not a cross section of
the population. Those one in four tend to be the intelligencia, the educated,
the professional, and the people who listen and talk and read.
So this is not a reflection, this is a real problem for the system. And if the
system does not acknowledge that and take notice of it then it is going to be
in real trouble because now, the fight back begins. And what’s that one in
four going to become?
Dr. Mercola: Well that's a challenge. I mean we are dealing with a
progressively increasing epidemic. The future of our culture, of the
children. You know, someone has got to stand up for these defenseless and
Dr. Wakefield: Absolutely.
Dr. Mercola: And I really thank you again for just making a stand and making
a difference. I'm not sure that I agree with your statement that we've done
absolutely nothing. Now, you committed your whole life's work to this.
Dr. Wakefield: In public relations terms I think…
Dr. Mercola: Yeah, public relations term is true but we're going to definitely
spread this word out to as many people as we can. This is a story that
needs to be heard. This story needs to be spread and ultimately, get that
one in four up to two in four and three in four.
At one in four, you are reaching a tipping point. At 50% that's the majority of
the people. So we're making a difference. I don't think we're far away that
we've got them running. They don't have really a choice except to change.
So thank you for everything you've done.
So, at this point, you are through the General Medical Council and the
massive media exposure and you are living in Austin. I'm just wondering if
you can tell our viewers, what are you doing at this point? Are you
conducting research? Do you have any books in process? What's your
next step at this point?
Dr. Wakefield: Well, I've got the opportunity now to get the story out there.
So there is a book. I've written a book at the GMC I was accused of callous
disregard for children suffering which rather extraordinary even to me
having experienced what I've experienced to be accused of callous
disregard for children is a stretch.
So the book is called Callous Disregard. There is just a tinge of irony in that.
And it's really about the circumstances that surrounded The Lancet paper
and everything that flowed from it but also the whistle blower in the
background and that behind the scenes action that I was not aware of at the
time but was forced into the open by the disclosures at the General Medical
So it's a story that has not been told that needs to be told. The second part
of it which I'm writing at the moment will focus largely on the American
experience and my involvement with Congressional testimony and that kind
of thing and all the behind the scenes jiggery pokery that went on there. So
that book will be coming out hopefully in time for Autism One here in
Chicago in late May.
Dr. Mercola: So you expect to have your book published before May of this
Dr. Wakefield: Yes, that’s the plan. It's just to get the story out there and
offer the other side. If people want to involve themselves in this debate and
to discuss this, then read that book. If you're really genuinely interested in
the background to this whole issue and the role of vaccines in this problem
then get informed.
Dr. Mercola: At this point, you're still conducting research in Austin?
Dr. Wakefield: Yes, I've just been offered a new position which allows me to
integrate the research efforts of a variety of autism organizations around the
world and to focus on those issues that the Interagency Coordinating
Committee (IACC) with all its money and all its power seems to loathe to do
and that is to look directly at environmental causes included within that of
course is vaccines.
So, the IACC seems to be moving around that issue but the elephant in the
room is clearly the vaccine. I don't want to look at it now. My concern is to
rule it in or rule it out. If they're fine they're fine, if they're not, they're not. We
need to know. The public needs to know. The medical profession needs to
know. So that we can make informed choices and give informed consent.
Dr. Mercola: Terrific. So at this point, I'm assuming the offer to Dr. Offit to
publicly debate in any way, shape or form is still open and hopefully, he'll
take you up on that because it would be a delight to see and I can assure
you, we would widely publicize that because we have nothing and you have
nothing to hide here. I just don't think he's going to do that any time soon.
Hopefully, that offer is still open and I want to thank you for the time for this
interview. Thank you for all that you have been doing and your life's work
and will continue to do and for really making a dent, making a difference for
all the people who really don't have the opportunity and your skill sets and
training to really expose the truth on this really important topic.
Dr. Wakefield: Thank you very much Joe.
Dr. Mercola: Thank you.