Saturday, March 13, 2010

A modest proposal

The families with autistic children lost their case, and now pediatricians and other scientists are breathing a sigh of relief. Science has prevailed. Hooray! It is a hollow victory for the vaccine makers and physicians. How much satisfaction can any one get from winning vaccine cases in court against parents who have nowhere else to go.

I don't know whether vaccines made those children autistic. I don't know anything about the lawyers' motives taking these cases. One thing I do know is that the last word has not been uttered on this subject.

First of all where is the science the special masters are talking about. These special masters are no scientists. They trust the statements of experts and put much credence into expert opinions. So how does a scientist actually tell whether his science is good or bad?

In general the gold standard is a double blind study. Did anyone do a double blind study to prove whether children did or did not get autism after they were or were not given Thimerosal? Of course not. That would be unconscionable, giving someone a substance that is suspected of causing autism. The only test of Thimerosal ever done was done on 22 meningitis patients in 1929. All of them died. Still after that small study Thimerosal was considered a useful preservative because it was apparently not the cause of death (death in those subjects was caused by meningococcus).

The one good thing about today's decision is that, since the special masters have decided that there is no chance that the Thimerosal in vaccines could have caused autism, a meaningful study should now be feasible. Since scientific evidence shows that Thimerosal is harmless, its testing should now not have any more obstacles. So that there won't be any further lawsuits or appeals, I have a suggestion: At birth, one group of babies will be given Thimerosal with Hepatitis-B vaccine, and the other group will be given Thimerosal-free Hepatitis-B vaccine. The representative sample size could be an even 100,000. Who will volunteer their babies? The first in line would surely be the special masters' and judges' and pediatricians' children. The vaccine/autism question can then once and for all be laid to rest.

How much do you want to bet that my suggestion won't fly?


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