Prior to the lifting of the embargo on the study itself, there was a press conference featuring some of the study authors (Lipkin and Hornig were both in attendance) and several journalists as well as ‘freelance writer’ David Kirby.
Most of the questions concentrated on what this study showed, however someone there wanted to try and use this new study to (somewhat bizarrely) exonerate the O’Leary lab’s role in the poor science done by Wakefield and in the lab’s role in the Cedillo hearing (where it was trounced for poor science).
As an example, here is David’s first question.
Now thats more a set of questions than _a_ question, the initial question regarding Hannah Poling is both inaccurate and pointless. Inaccurate as, regardless of what David claims, no statement has been published by anyone that states Hannah Poling’s autism was caused by a vaccine. Pointless as this science has absolutely no bearing on her case. It has never been claimed she had measles virus in her gut.
David’s second point regarding O’Leary is fascinating. Because one of the labs used in this new paper was O’Leary’s and because the lab performed well, David seems to be claiming that that exonerates the O’Leary lab from past errors. I’m not sure how that can be true. As Stephen Bustin clearly showed during the Cedillo hearing, the errors of the O’Leary lab were twofold. The first was one of methodology. They forgot to do an RT step. Now I don’t know what that means but it was clear that it was a fairly serious (and basic) error. What it caused was the O’Leary lab to falsely identify contaminants as measles RNA. The second error was failing to pick this contamination up. So its not just a case of contamination, its a case of poor procedure.
I’m going to hazard a guess here and suggest that since the time of Bustin’s initial investigation (some years ago now) the O’Leary lab have figured out how to do an RT Step.
David’s second question followed:
So, we’re back to the very small sub-population argument. I really want to know – if the leading supporter of the vaccine hypotheses is now angling towards this ‘sub-sub’ group, what impact does that have on the autism epidemic idea? I mean, how can you have an autism epidemic generated by a very small sub-sub group?
Anyway, the answer to David’s question from the assembled scientists was ‘uh, who knows? That’s not what our study was about’. Or words to that effect.
David’s third (and fourth) questions followed. Please listen carefully to the answers which I’ve left on. You might also want to note the (somewhat amusing) deep sigh from the guy answering David as David keeps trying to make him say that MMR isn’t totally 100% safe.
And then by the time of David’s attempted fifth question, the answering team were obviously getting a bit fed up.
So that (to me) is a pretty fascinating insight into the denial that exists even at the very highest levels of the autism/vaccine hypotheses.
Just as a postscript, David asked them (totally randomly it seemed) if the best study would be one of vaccinated vs unvaccinated kids. Here is the reply. A reply grounded in real science.