HEALTH EDUCATION

Nonprofit to File Lawsuit Against CDC Over Statement That Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

February 21, 2021 15:15, Last Updated: February 22, 2021 15:13
By Meiling Lee

Del Bigtree, founder of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) said his organization will file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to request the federal agency take down its statement that claims vaccines do not cause autism from its webpage on autism and vaccines.

“There is no science to back up the statement as far as what the CDC’s provided to say that vaccines, plural, do not cause autism,” Bigtree told The Epoch Times. “This is a false statement.”

“We will bring a case against the CDC to remove that from the website because it is actually inaccurate,” he added.

Bigtree says that the CDC has not been able to provide his organization studies that concretely show vaccines given to infants in the first six months of life do not cause autism, a neurological and developmental disorder that may be diagnosed as early as six to 12 months.

“If vaccines contribute to the issue, certainly we can isolate it inside of the vaccines given in the first six months of life because autism is appearing at six months,” Bigtree said.

The United States has seen an increase in children diagnosed with autism. In 2000, there were only 1 in 150 children with autism. By 2016, the CDC estimated that 1 in 45 children had autism, with 1 in 32 children diagnosed in New Jersey.

A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., on Sept. 30, 2014. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)

A spokesperson from the CDC said the health agency has always been upfront about its position on vaccines and autism. “CDC is and has always been clear on this subject: vaccines do not cause autism,” the spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

In August 2020, the federal agency said it was doing an update to its website and temporarily took down the statement causing a misunderstanding that the CDC may have changed its stance on the issue.

“As for the statement you reference, in the fall of 2020, as part of routine website updates to ensure consistent website formatting, CDC updated its page on vaccines and autism,” the spokesperson said. “Recently, this change has been misinterpreted on social media and among some organizations as a change in CDC’s position.”

“The headline has been added back to our website to ensure there is no confusion around CDC’s position,” she added.

According to Bigtree, the statement was taken down from the CDC website on Aug. 27, 2020, and added back again shortly after ICAN issued a press release about the change on Jan. 25.

Mark Sadaka, a vaccine injury lawyer who has handled over 180 vaccination cases, said the CDC “will never” remove the statement since the health agency is making that claim based on its own research and the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that “meet regularly and vote on all kinds of issues, including safety concerns and recommendations on who should get vaccinated and when.”

“The CDC is the U.S. premier public health agency, and like what the ACIP did, it can take currently available information and issue statements related to public health,” Sadaka told The Epoch Times in an email. “That is what the CDC is charged to do and that is what they did here.”

Sadaka said that ICAN’s lawsuit should instead focus on having the CDC “add qualifying language to the information presented to the public.”

“The best that could happen [for ICAN’s lawsuit] is the addition of qualifying language that says ‘six effects of vaccines within the first six weeks of life have not been studied’ or something like that,” Sadaka said.

“As a lawyer for people injured by vaccines, I can say that vaccines can hurt and kill. But when it comes to autism specifically, the science is just not there right now. It may come one day,” he added.

Lack of Studies to Support Claim

ICAN logo. The nonprofit said it will file a lawsuit against the CDC regarding the claim that vaccines do not cause autism. (Courtesy of icandecide.org)

In 2019, ICAN and the Institute for Autism Science submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the CDC requesting the health agency provide all of the studies it relied upon to determine that the five vaccines given during the first six months of an infant’s life do not cause autism.

The vaccines: diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP), hepatitis B, polio (IPV), Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib), and pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), are each “injected into the babies three times during the first six months of life,” the complaint [pdf] filed against the CDC in December 2019 reads.

The CDC eventually provided ICAN with 20 studies in March 2020 [pdf] after it was forced to submit to the FOIA request.

Of the 20 trials provided by the CDC, 18 did not address any of the five vaccines that ICAN challenged.

Instead, they were related to either the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), thimerosal, or both. Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative widely used to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in vaccines until 2001, when it was “removed from or reduced in all vaccines for children 6 years of age” except for the flu shot, according to the CDC.

Bigtree said two of the remaining studies—the 2012 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the 2013 antigen exposure trial, both funded by the CDC—still did not answer whether vaccines given from birth until six months cause autism.

The antigen study [pdf] published in the Journal of Pediatrics looked specifically at the number of antigens—a substance that can induce an immune response—in vaccines given in the first two years of life in children with autism spectrum disorder and those without. It did not examine the effects of other substances in the vaccines such as adjuvants and other chemicals.

The CDC says adjuvants are ingredients in vaccines that “help create a stronger immune response” or helps “vaccines work better” but “can cause more local reactions (such as redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site) and more systemic reactions (such as fever, chills and body aches) than non-adjuvanted vaccines.” A common adjuvant used in many vaccines is aluminum.

The authors of the study found no evidence to indicate an association between exposure to antigens in the vaccines and autism, or in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with regression, although, “It can be argued that ASD with regression, in which children usually lose developmental skills during the second year of life, could be related to exposures in infancy, including vaccines.”

The IOM report was the only study to address one of the vaccines, the DTaP that ICAN inquired about. The study analyzed over 12,000 peer-reviewed trials to examine whether certain vaccines caused the 158 recognized adverse effects.

Based on the available scientific literature, the IOM found only five of the 158 adverse events were not associated with vaccinations, 18 were associated with vaccines, and for the remaining 135 adverse effects, there was inadequate evidence to “accept or reject a causal relationship.”

For the DTaP vaccine, the report concluded that “the evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between diphtheria toxoid-, tetanus toxoid-, or acellular pertussis-containing vaccine and autism.”

The only relevant study reviewed by the IOM but “was not considered in the weight of epidemiologic evidence” found an association between autism and DTaP. The study was rejected because “it provided data from a passive surveillance system and lacked an unvaccinated population.”

To date, no study has been conducted on overall health effects between a vaccinated and a placebo or an unvaccinated group because of ethical concerns about withholding vaccines from children in the placebo group.

But Bigtree says the CDC can still do a retrospective and comparative study on vaccinated vs unvaccinated children using data from its Vaccine Safety Datalink that monitors “safety of vaccines and conduct studies about rare and serious adverse events following immunization.”

Bigtree alleges that the federal health agencies refuse to do this type of study, saying it was confirmed in a meeting he and Robert Kennedy Jr. had with officials from the National Institute of Health (NIH), including Director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease Anthony Fauci, to discuss vaccine safety on May 30, 2017. The meeting was set up by President Donald Trump.

“That’s all we asked for, just do a comparative study with your database, vaccinated versus unvaccinated,” Bigtree said. “And they essentially said to us, ‘We will never do that study.’”

The NIH did not respond to an email from The Epoch Times for comment.

“That study could answer this question once and for all,” Bigtree said. “Which means, if they knew they were right and they knew that vaccines made people healthier, they would do that study.”

The IOM has also suggested that a study be done between “those who receive no vaccinations and those who receive the full currently recommended immunization schedule” to address “all health outcomes and safety concerns” in its 2013 report on vaccine schedule safety.

The CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule includes 50-54 doses of 13 vaccines when the flu shot is given annually beginning at one year of age and if the combination vaccines (DTaP and MMR) are not counted separately.

The United States recommends the most vaccines to children and adolescents compared to other Western countries. In Sweden, vaccinations are voluntary, and the first dose is offered at six weeks instead of immediately after birth like in the United States. Sweden offers 22 doses of seven vaccines.

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