I should have never gone over to check the online “newspaper” of the “autism epidemic” this morning. I was met with this post:
“Please click on the Take Action Link above to send a message to your member of the House of Representatives asking him or her to co-sponsor House Resolution H.R.1757, The Vaccine Safety Study Act. This bill directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct a retrospective study of health outcomes, including autism, of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. The NIH adamantly refuses to do any study that compares health outcomes in these two groups. You have to wonder why.”
No, you don’t have to wonder why. The reason that kind of study is not done is because it would be unethical to do a randomized clinical trial, which is what these people want. Other studies, such as case-control studies, have already been done, and all show no association between vaccines and autism. But these people like to beat dead horses.
Proving that politicians don’t know crap about science, here’s some of the text of the proposed bill:
“(5) The number of immunizations administered to infants, pregnant women, children, teenagers, and adults has grown dramatically over recent years.
(6) The incidence of chronic, unexplained diseases such as autism, learning disabilities, and other neurological disorders appears to have increased dramatically in recent years.
(7) Individual vaccines are tested for safety, but little safety testing has been conducted for interaction effects of multiple vaccines.
(8) The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.
(9) Childhood immunizations are the only health interventions that are required by States of all citizens in order to participate in civic society.”
It’s the anti-vax bingo right there: Too many, too soon; correlation must mean causation; there are no safety studies, and; they’re shoving vaccines down our throat and dammit we’re Americans!
So what do they want the Secretary of Health to do?
“(a) In General- The Secretary of Health and Human Services (in this Act referred to as the ‘Secretary’), acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health, shall conduct or support a comprehensive study–
(1) to compare total health outcomes, including the incidence and risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States; and
(2) to determine whether exposure to vaccines or vaccine components is associated with autism spectrum disorders, chronic conditions, or other neurological conditions.”
I can tell you with certainty that the authors of this bill are not scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, or anything of that sort. I can further guess that they are clueless as to the state of vaccine safety in the United States. Finally, I can also guess, and even put good money on it, that anti-vaccine organizations or people had a hand in this bill. I mean, it reads like an anti-vaccine manifesto:
“(c) Qualifications- With respect to each investigator carrying out the study under this section, the Secretary shall ensure that the investigator–
(1) is objective;
(2) is qualified to carry out such study, as evidenced by training experiences and demonstrated skill;
(3) is not currently employed by any Federal, State, or local public health agency;
(4) is not currently a member of a board, committee, or other entity responsible for formulating immunization policy on behalf of any Federal, State, or local public health agency or any component thereof;
(5) has no history of a strong position on the thimerosal or vaccine safety controversy; and
(6) is not currently an employee of, or otherwise directly or indirectly receiving funds from, a pharmaceutical company or the Centers for Disease Control.”
I had to laugh about these requirements for researchers. They basically ruled-out anyone who won’t do a study because it’s unethical, and they don’t want anyone who has ever opposed the anti-vaccine groups. They’re shooting for objectivity but are really aiming for any number of quacks to step up to the challenge. I am, however, encouraged to read #5 above. That part rules out the Father and the Son, whose theories on autism have led to children being chemically castrated.
Perhaps the greatest proof that the authors of this bill are
idiots unscientific is this:
“(d) Target Populations- The Secretary shall seek to include in the study under this section populations in the United States that have traditionally remained unvaccinated for religious or other reasons, which populations may include Old Order Amish, members of clinical practices (such as the Homefirst practice in Chicago) who choose alternative medical practices, practitioners of anthroposophic lifestyles, and others who have chosen not to be vaccinated.”
Selection bias, anyone?
If the bill were to pass, I’m sure there will be plenty of cranks, quacks, and other hacks to come out of the woodwork and propose their studies. They’ll even ask for funding for them, I guarantee it. And, when the results don’t agree with their theses (if and only if they do the study right, of course), the goalposts will move and the anti-vaccine people will seek something else to prove that vaccines are the ultimate evil.
I can see “the kid” furiously writing up a proposal right now, right along with placing the finishing touches on his talk at Autism One on
how to stalk confronting the monsters under his bed.