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Feature Secrets of the MMR scare

How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 06 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c5347

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Re: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed

For many years, David Lewis has been locked in dispute over his sewage sludge research with the US Environmental Protection Agency, from which he was terminated.[1] He has been represented by the Washington employment lawyers Kohn Kohn & Colapinto, which operates what it calls the “National Whistleblowers Center”,, a domain registered to one Stephen Kohn. It should not be confused with, the influential not-for-profit Government Accountability Project.

In January, Lewis and Kohn were guests of anti-vaccine campaigners at the 2,000 acre Tryall Club villa resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where struck-off former surgeon Andrew Wakefield headlined the cabaret. An autism website reports that travel costs and hospitality at the five star holidayspot were paid for by the promoters.[2]

You couldn’t make this stuff up, but pursuant to his high season Caribbean trip, Lewis concluded that Wakefield in addition to himself had been “targeted for retribution” by sinister commercial and/or government interests.[3] In a bid to evidence this fascinating proposition, and perhaps find consolation en passant over his sludge research grievance, Lewis got from Wakefield some gut histology proformas.

My BMJ reports of January 2011 [4] made little of sewage or histology, but it may be recalled that in 1998 Wakefield alleged that (a) MMR apparently precipitated autism in 8 of 12 children within days of vaccination; and (b) 11 of the 12 had “colitis”. He announced “a unique disease process”, and fostered lucrative legal claims that a “new variant IBD” made the gut wall leaky, causing autism. [5]

The forms [6] were devised by a pathologist, who doesn’t mention “colitis” – much less anything “unique”, “new variant” or “leaky”. He sees almost entirely unremarkable, likely protective, non-specific changes in what has been called the “state of controlled inflammation”[7] in healthy gut mucosa.

God only knows how this helps Wakefield. Previously (a), and now (b), above have been exposed as false. As for “whistleblower”, please watch the most disgusting performance I’ve ever seen by a doctor.[8]

But I’m grateful for the forms, which further illuminate how the appearance of a link between MMR and autism was manufactured in an elaborate fraud.[9][10]


[1] Lewis D. A summary of court records in civil actions filed by David L Lewis Ph.D, RA McElmurray III and G William Boyce. Land application of processed sewage sludge (biosolids) 1997-2011. Hallman & Wingate attorneys, 28 September 2011.

[2] Sullivan. The 2011 “Vaccine safety conference” in Jamaica. Leftbrain/Rightbrain. October 6 2011.

[3] Lewis D. Research misconduct project. Text archived, June 2 2011.

[4] Deer B. Secrets of the MMR scare. BMJ 2011; 342:c5347, 342:c5258, 342:c7001.

[5] Deer B. Pathology reports solve “new bowel disease” riddle. BMJ 2011; 343:d6823.

[6] Deer B. Tabulation of pathology proformas behind “new inflammatory bowel disease” claims.

[7] Fiocchi C. The normal intestinal mucosa: a state of ‘controlled inflammation’. In Targan SR, Shanahan F, Karp LC (eds). Inflammatory Bowel Disease: From Bench to Bedside (2nd ed), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.

[8] Deer B. MMR whistleblower threatened and betrayed.

[9] Godlee F, Smith J, Marcovitch H. Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent. (editorial) BMJ 2011; 342:c7452

[10] The New York Times. Autism Fraud. (editorial). 13 January 2011.

Competing interests: My investigation led to the GMC proceedings involving Andrew Wakefield

10 November 2011
Brian Deer