Earlier this year, a conference was held in Jamaica. The declared subject: vaccine safety. Even from the beginning, it was clear that this was no ordinary scientific conference. It had all the signs of a junket. A meet-and-greet for vaccine “skeptics” and wealthy patrons. Precisely the sort of junket that people complain about “Big Pharma” hosting. Well, not precisely. I suspect even Big Pharma doesn’t put on such a lavish event.
The number of speakers was small (only 19), and didn’t include anyone who is a vaccine researcher. 21 presentations were made in the course of a week, leaving a lot of time for people to enjoy the resort and to network.
Talks included “Rethinking the germ theory”, “Vaccination Programs: Prevention or Corruption?” and “Gardasil: Prophylaxis or Medical Misconduct?”.
Getting a picture of the conference agenda? And by “agenda”, I do not mean the schedule.
The conference received some brief public attention when Anderson Cooper interviewed Andrew Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield (who refused to be on the segment if Seth Mnookin were included) appeared via Skype from that conference in Jamaica. Mr. Wakefield’s talk at the conference: “Autism & Vaccines: a Research Strategy Focused on Cause”.
I’ve been to a lot of scientific conferences. I’ve even helped organize scientific conferences. None of them were ever held in a place remotely similar to the Tryall Club. Heck, when I think of “big pharma” hosting junkets for doctors, it’s in places not nearly as nice as the Tryall Club.
In case you didn’t get a chance to see the website, here’s a picture of the Tryall Club:
Nice, isn’t it? The Tryall Club isn’t a hotel. It is a collection of 86 Villas (including 73 privately owned estate villas) plus 13 “great house” suites.
The property’s 86 villas offer visitors a dazzling array of options, from beachfront bungalows to elegant hillside chalets. Each carefully situated villa offers distinctive architectural elements, a singular style and a unique floor plan. A couple may choose a cozy one-bedroom retreat, while an extended family of several generations may opt for a 7- or 8-bedroom manor.
Consider as an example, the six bedroom “Twin Palms” Villa. Cost for 1 week: $30,000, or $5,000 per bedroom. (Cost is $40K/week if you include the master suite). The Villa comes complete with a staff of 9 and “Dining areas are designed to seat 20 guests or more. Formal dining is in the 80’ dining room under Italian chandeliers at place settings of Lalique crystal, Tiffany china and silver from France.”
As I said, not like any conference I’ve ever attended.
So, who put this conference on? Aside from a stay in Jamaica, were the attendees compensated? I wondered these questions so I emailed the contact address on the website. Here’s the response:
The conference was co-sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center and private individuals and family foundations who are concerned about the safety of vaccine ingredients, preparations, combinations and schedules. Speakers volunteered to speak as is customary for scientific conferences, and accommodations were provided in private homes donated by or as guests of individuals who are concerned about vaccine safety. No funds exchanged hands except to reimburse for travel expenses, which were funded by donations to the National Vaccine Information Center.
The Vaccine Safety Conference
“No funds exchanged hands except to reimburse for travel expenses, which were funded by donations to the National Vaccine Information Center.” Nice. Reimbursing the speakers directly probably isn’t tax deductible. Donating to NVIC is. And it lets NVIC look like they are pulling more money.
Who put this on? The sponsors are listed clearly on the conference website:
Albert J. and Lisa Claire Dwoskin Family Foundation
Cmdr. Richard and Joan Curtis
Mark and Candace Hart
Daisy and Paul Soros
Danny and Stency Wegman
We are talking some serious money was backing this conference.
Case in point. First in that list is the Dwoskin family. Claire Dwoskin has worked as a board member of the National Vaccine Information Center.
Apparently, they also set up the “vaccine safety” conference website. Mrs. Dwoskin is listed as the contact for the website:
Dwoskin, Claire novaccine4me@XXXXX.com
Vaccine Safety Conference
No, I did not make that email address up. It really is listed as “novaccine4me”. Pause a moment to consider that choice.
The physical address given for the website contact is that of the McLean, Virginia home of the Dwoskins. It is sizable and valuable. As the domain registration reports, this is also the address for “Vaccine Safety Conference”. It seems reasonable to assume that the Dwoskins are the primary organizers of the conference. The Dwoskins also appear to own other valuable property. Mr. Dwoskin is a real estate developer, so this is no great surprise. But, one property which they (or their business) are associated with: Twin Palms. Yes. the 7 bedroom Villa in Jamaica described above. What leads me to believe this? The website twinpalmsjamaica.com is registered to A.J. Dwoskin & Associates.
Seems reasonable to think that the first tier of presenters at the conference were hosted in Twin Palms.
In case you are curious as to the Dwoskins’ position on vaccines, Mrs. Dwoskin wrote in an email to John Stossel of Fox: “Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems.”
Seriously. A holocaust of poison.
There is nothing wrong with wealthy people hosting gatherings of people on a subject they feel strongly about. Anyone who chooses an email address “novaccines4me” and considers vaccines “a holocaust of poison” certainly has strong feelings.
Wealthy people have a right to offer their hospitality to people who may promote their views. People with less means have the right to accept the largess of the wealthy.
I have the right to voice my opinion. This was a junket. Seriously. 6 days to have 19 speakers present? Rooms costing $5,000 a week? I wonder how much time at the “vaccine safety” conference was spent talking about safety and how much was spent talking about the “holocaust of poison” view of vaccines.
Next time I hear or read about Big Pharma buying off doctors with exotic junkets I’ll be thinking of Andrew Wakefield, talking via Skype from the Tryall Club in Jamaica.