CDC Cleared

29 Sep

Close on the heels of the New England Journal of Medicine’s publication of a new CDC study finding no connection between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental deficits, Sen. Mike Enzi released a report detailing the findings of a lengthy investigation by his committee staff.

One’s first reaction to the prospect of Congress taking on a scientific issue is to brace oneself, but look! On the first page in bold type, the report reads,

“Congress is not in a position to substitute its judgment for that of scientists. Therefore, this report does not render an opinion on the safety of thimerosal in vaccines. Rather, the investigation assessed allegations of misconduct by government officials and private entities in connection with the thimerosal controversy.”

How refreshing! A legislator who does not believe himself to possess greater powers of discernment than experts in a technical field!

It gets better.

“Allegation #1a: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) interfered with the 2001 and 2004 Institute of Medicine (IoM) studies on vaccine safety.”

“Finding: The allegation is not substantiated.”

“Allegation #1b: There were conflicts of interest among the members of the Immunization Safety Review Committee (ISR Committee) and the studies they relied upon.”

“Finding: The allegation is partially substantiated. While we identified shortcomings in IoM procedures for screening potential committee members for possible conflicts of interest, there is no evidence to support the allegation that the work of the IoM’s ISR Committee was compromised by conflicts of interest.”

“Allegation 1c: The five studies that the Immunization Safety Review Committee (ISR Committee) based its findings upon have conflicts of interest with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and vaccine manufacturers.”

“The allegation is not substantiated.”

“Allegation #2: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) convened the Simpsonwood Conference to cover up the finding that thimerosal causes autism.”

“Findings: The allegation is not substantiated.”

(Somebody tell the Methodist women.)

“Allegation #3: Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, MD, MSc, was pressured into changing his research position regarding a causal link between thimerosal and autism.”

“Finding: The allegation is not substantiated.”

“Allegation #4: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) effectively made the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) non-public contrary to its statement that the link would be accessible to the public.”

“Finding: The allegation is not substantiated.”

“Allegation #5: International organizations were established to obscure knowledge about the safety of thimerosal in childhood vaccines.”

“Findings: The allegation is not substantiated.”

“Allegation #6: Thimerosal remains in childhood vaccines being supplied to third-world and developing countries.”

“Finding: The allegation is substantiated.”

Guilty! String up those pharma connivers for supplying poor children with lifesaving vaccines in formulations that make it possible for many doses to be administered without the truck space and refrigeration required for thousands of single-dose vials.

“Allegation #7: FDA inappropriately utilized Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines regarding the dangers of mercury in vaccines containing thimerosal.”

“Findings: The allegation is substantiated. … The use of inappropriate guidelines from EPA was a source of confusion and contention in determining the appropriate response to concern regarding thimerosal in vaccines. … This error has caused countless individuals to conclude that ethyl mercury can be linked causally to autism.”

Reuters mischaracterized this a bit in their wire story, but the report elides some of the history, so that’s not surprising. What happened was that when FDA started looking at whether kids were exposed to too much mercury, there were three different guidelines by different federal agencies for how much methylmercury was too much. FDA tried to be conservative by assuming the most stringent – the EPA’s – was the appropriate one. But we now know that methylmercury just isn’t comparable to ethylmercury, and here FDA had set vaccines up to clear the highest bar in a competition in which it shouldn’t have been entered in the first place. *This* is what the report means by “inappropriate guidelines.” It does not mean that FDA should have been stricter about defining a safe level of mercury exposure.

You know, I’m not even finding a need for (further) snark here. It sounds so ridiculous laid out in print, I can’t believe Enzi’s staff had to spend what the report describes as “thousands of hours” putting this conspiracy bunkum to rest. But hats off to them! They did so decisively and with a degree of elegance.

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3 Responses to “CDC Cleared”

  1. Isles September 30, 2007 at 03:43 #

    Do’C, from some of his comments, I’m not sure even Burbacher understands what his study means.

  2. Ms. Clark September 30, 2007 at 06:04 #

    Thank you, Isles, for giving us the highlights of the committe’s report wtih commentary. It helps to digest this kind of thing.

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  1. CDC Officials Cleared of Vaccine Misconduct - September 29, 2007

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