Tag: Poul Thorsen

Does Congress Really Agree About Vaccines?

Believe it or not, Congress has a lot to do with whether or not folks get vaccinated.

“As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly disease.”

Sens. Lamar Alexander et al Dear Colleague Letter

We saw what happened in the mid-1980s when Federal funding for vaccine programs went down – we got measles outbreaks.

Congress and Vaccines

But it isn’t just that members of Congress have their fingers on the purse strings.

Over the years, while the great majority of lawmakers do agree that vaccines work and that they are safe and necessary, a few have created unnecessary fear about vaccines and have likely scared parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Remember when Michele Bachmann went on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and told her HPV vaccine story?
Remember when Michele Bachmann went on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and told her HPV vaccine story?

And then there are the Congressional hearings…

Remember Dan Burton?

The former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana (1983-2013) has been described as being “antivaccine through and through” and “organized quackery’s best friend in Congress.”

Dan Burton held over 20 Congressional hearings trying to prove that there was a link between vaccines and autism.

Because he thinks that his grandson developed autism from vaccines, Dan Burton continues to believe that vaccines are associated with autism.
Because he thinks that his grandson developed autism from vaccines, Dan Burton continues to believe that vaccines are associated with autism.

Hearings that gave a high profile platform to Andrew Wakefield and are best described as:

“carefully choreographed to generate as much negative feeling toward the vaccination system as possible.”

Arthur Allen on Vaccine The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver

Who replaced Dan Burton?

It seems to be U.S. Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL), who has been described as “vying to take over the title of the most antivaccine legislator in the U.S. Congress since Dan Burton retired.”

He got a little help from Rep. Darrell Issa, who conducted a meeting of the Subcommittee of Government Operations in 2014, Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Okay. Let’s stop it right there. Because every time we have ever talked about doing one of those studies, some idiot in the media says I am suggesting that children intentionally don’t get vaccinated. And I don’t know that anybody ever has ever proposed that. But there are plenty of children whose parents will not allow them to be vaccinated. There are plenty of cultures where children are not vaccinated. And there are other reasons children are not vaccinated. And there are children who take large doses of vaccination, and children whose parents decide to have them take one vaccination at a time to avoid thimerosal. And I have not been able to ascertain that there has actually been a legitimate study done that wasn’t tainted by the touch of the international colossal scumbag Poul Thorsen.”

Rep. Bill Posey questioning NIH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. in the Congressional hearing on Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Who else might be joining him?

Since the verbal evidence she hears says kids are getting too many vaccines, Rep Maloney asks the CDC Director why we can't just space out the vaccines kids get...
Since the verbal evidence she hears says kids are getting too many vaccines, Rep Maloney asks the CDC Director why we can’t just space out the vaccines kids get…

There is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Maloney also spoke at a 2012 hearing planned by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on the federal response to rising autism rates.

“Are you looking at vaccination? Is that part of your studies? I have a question. Are you looking at vaccination? Are you having a study on vaccination and the fact that they’re cramming them down and having kids have nine at one time. Is that a cause? Do you have any studies on vaccination?”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in a hearing on Rising Autism Rates

Rep. Carolyn Maloney was also a co-sponsor of Rep. Bill Posey’s 2015 Vaccine Safety Study Act bill, which called for “a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States, and for other purposes,” even though many experts have long pointed out the problems with using intentionally unvaccinated folks as a comparison group.

But Rep Maloney got her start long before Bill Posey ever came to Congress…

In 2006, in response to a series of articles by Dan Olmstead, who later created the website, Age of Autism, Rep Maloney held a briefing at the National Press Club where she proposed the Comprehensive Study of Autism Epidemic Act of 2006, a bill that sounds awfully similar to Posey’s Vaccine Safety Study Act.

Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) was another co-sponsor.

But we shouldn’t forget Rep. Dave Weldon MD (R-Fl), who introduced the Mercury-Free Vaccines Act of 2004 and the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act of 2007. Weldon also sent a number of letters to Julie Gerberding questioning a study about thimerosal by Thomas Verstraeten, a study that was investigated and cleared by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in 2005. Because he was a doctor, Rep. Burton also had Weldon do a lot of the questioning during his hearings.

And there is also Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who was a cosponsor when  Maloney reintroduced the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act in 2009.

Not surprisingly, many of these members of Congress have been getting donations from anti-vaccine organizations.

Henry Waxman was a featured speaker at the 2015 AAP Legislative Conference.
Henry Waxman was a featured speaker at the 2015 AAP Legislative Conference.

In contrast to all of the folks above, there was Rep. Henry A Waxman (D-CA), who retired after 40 years in Congress, but not before:

  • fighting back against Dan Burton’s misinformation in his hearings about vaccines
  • introducing the Vaccine Access and Supply Act of 2005
  • authoring the stand-alone Vaccines for Children legislation that was included in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 that created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program
  • introducing the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986

But his work on vaccines has probably been the most low-profile thing that Waxman did, which is why he is often described as “one of the most important Congressman ever.”

You’ll never hear that said about Dan Burton, Bill Posey, Dave Weldon, or Carolyn Maloney…

More on Congress and Vaccines

Has the CDC Been Hiding and Destroying Evidence About Vaccine Safety?

Has the CDC ever been caught destroying and hiding evidence about vaccine safety?

Have you seen the movie Vaxxed? They talk about a big coverup over a study about vaccines and autism, don’t they? And how the CDC whistleblower’s coauthors destroyed a bunch of evidence…

Except that they didn’t.

And no, the CDC never hid data about mercury, vaccines, and autism either.

Has the CDC Been Hiding and Destroying Evidence About Vaccine Safety?

Why do some folks continue to bring up these anti-vaccine talking points that have been refuted a thousand times already?

Does anyone else think of the word irony when Kelly Brogan accuses other folks of fraud?
Does anyone else think of the word irony when Kelly Brogan accuses other folks of fraud?

There are a few reasons, none of which are true.

The Verstraeten Study

First is a presentation of two abstracts about thimerosal containing vaccines (TCVs) by Thomas Verstraeten in 1999 at a Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) conference, which were discussed at the Simpsonwood Conference, and were later published, finding “no consistent significant associations were found between TCVs and neurodevelopmental outcomes.”

The Verstraeten abstracts.

So what’s the problem?

Anti-vaccine folks think that Phase I of the trial found statistically significant evidence of adverse events after getting thimerosal containing vaccines and that they manipulated the data to make it go away in Phase II.

“Although the analysis says the increased autism risk is not significant, testimony by Dr. Mark Geier before Congress in December 2002 said that the slope of the curve was in fact statistically significant.”

VSD Subgroup Analysis of Spring 2000 Obtained by SafeMinds from The Center for Disease Control – Summer, 2001

Many folks will find it ironic that Dr. Geier is considered an expert on manipulating data about vaccines and thimerosal, but that’s not what happened in the Verstraeten study.

The CDC Whistleblower

Of course, the other big conspiracy about the CDC destroying and hiding evidence comes from the CDC Whistleblower story.

A story in which the “whistleblower” has stated that:

“I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub ​ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his belief that CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.”

William W. Thompson, Ph.D.

Remember, Dr. Thompson disagreed with his coauthors about how they handled some of the data, and he wanted folks to know about it.

The data wasn’t thrown out in a trash can, as some have suggested.

And unlike Brian Hooker’s study, which has been retracted, the original DeStafano study, which Thompson was talking about, has been reanalyzed and found to be sound.

Myths of Fraud at the CDC

Of course, there’s more.

At least more accusations, most of which come from the same person – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the guy who’s Deadly Immunity article was retracted because it contained so many errors (some described them as lies).

Enzi's investigation made it clearn that there was no conspiracy at Simpsonwood and it cleared Verstraeten too.
Enzi’s investigation made it clear that there was no conspiracy at Simpsonwood and it cleared Verstraeten too.

What Kennedy never mentions though, is that in 2005, Senator Mike Enzi and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee conducted an 18-month investigation into allegations of misconduct by the CDC, especially in connection with the CDC’s study of vaccine safety and thimerosal.

“Our investigation shows that public health officials conducted thorough, science based studies on autism and vaccines.”

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)

But why continue to attack the CDC?

Because that’s how propaganda works.

More on Myths of Fraud at the CDC

Who Is Poul Thorsen?

Part of the propaganda machine of the anti-vaccine movement is pushing the idea that there is some big conspiracy being hidden by doctors all over the world, the CDC, and Big Pharma – and maybe some Reptilians…

The case of Poul Thorsen is everything they are looking for.

What could be better than a fugitive CDC researcher who published studies that dispute a link between vaccines and autism?

How about a story about a story of a fugitive CDC researcher that everyone is trying to cover up and keep secret?

Or a story about a fugitive CDC researcher who used “crooked research” and tricks “to deceive the public about the evidence linking mercury laced vaccines to autism.”

Who Is Poul Thorsen?

As you might expect, as they did with the so-called CDC Whistle blower, anti-vaccine folks have gotten a little too excited about Poul Thorsen.

Poul Thorsen is one of the Office of Inspector General's most wanted fugitives.
Poul Thorsen is one of the Office of Inspector General’s most wanted fugitives.

Yes, it is terrible that he is accused of stealing grant money that had been awarded “to fund studies of the relationship between autism and the exposure to vaccines, the relationship between cerebral palsy and infection during pregnancy, and the relationship between developmental outcomes and fetal alcohol exposure.”

“Unfortunately, a considerable shortfall in funding at Aarhus University associated with the CDC grant was discovered. In investigating the shortfalls associated with the grant, DASTI and Aarhus University became aware of two alleged CDC funding documents as well as a letter regarding funding commitments allegedly written by Randolph B. Williams of CDC’s Procurement Grants Office which was used to secure advances from Aarhus University. Upon investigation by CDC, a suspicion arose that the documents are forgeries.”

Aarhus Universitet Statement regarding Dr. Poul Thorsen’s involvement in Aarhus University projects 

Over at least six years, Thorsen is said to have diverted over $1 million dollars in CDC grant money to his personal bank account and was indicted on 22 counts of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering. He is currently living and working in Denmark, but not at Aarhus University, from where he resigned in 2009.

Myths About Poul Thorsen

Is anyone trying to keep what he did a secret?

If they are, they are doing a poor job of it, as everything he did is listed on his OIG Fugitive Profile. In addition to Thorsen, who is no longer among their most wanted fugitives, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is seeking more than 170 other fugitives “on charges related to health care fraud and abuse.”

More importantly though, did his alleged Wire Fraud and Money Laundering activities affect the research with which he is associated?

As his main vaccine and autism studies were published before 2004, it is hard to understand why they would be:

  • Madsen KM, Hviid A, Vestergaard M, Schendel D, Wohlfahrt J, Thorsen P, Olsen J, Melbye M. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 7;347(19):1477-82.
  • Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, Thorsen P, Plesner AM, Andersen PH, Mortensen PB. Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics. 2003 Sep;112(3 Pt 1):604-6

For one thing, Thorsen is not one of the lead authors in either study – the researchers who made the most significant contributions to the study. His collaborators have even said that Thorsen did not have the ability to influence the scientific results of those studies.

Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper.
Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper. His name came first.

Have subsequent studies found an increased incidence of autism in Denmark, as some Thorsen critics suggest? No. That isn’t even true. Amazingly, even the studies they cite as their evidence, like one by Grønborg, don’t show that!

And there are many other studies that have replicated and confirm Madsen’s (Thorsen’s) finding – vaccines don’t cause autism.

Show Me The Money

But where did the money go?

While “bank records show that he bought a home in Atlanta, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Audi automobile, and a Honda SUV with funds that he received from the CDC grants,” it seems like he spent an awful lot of money building up NANEA, his research unit in Denmark – the North Atlantic Neuro-Epidemiology Alliance. For example, these folks didn’t fly coach – they traveled nicely, used limos, stayed at nice hotels, and had fancy parties, as Thorsen thought this was the way to build the world’s best research institution.

So did he really steal all of the money or simply mismanage it?

Either would have been quite easy, as it doesn’t seem like the folks in Denmark required him to file necessary financial status reports. While Thorsen should have been filing status reports after the end of each budget period, no one actually knew what he had been doing with the money for at least the first seven years of the grant period!

Is he on the run from Interpol, as his critics claim?

He doesn’t seem to be, as he is living and working in Denmark.

While he was charged at least three times with tax evasion, those charges were dismissed each time and ultimately rejected by the Vestre Landsret, the highest court in Denmark.

Will he be extradited to the United States? I have absolutely no idea how extradition treaties work, so I won’t comment on that, but it does not seem very likely that a country would extradite one of it’s own citizens to another country for charges like this…

I do know that there is no evidence that the crimes for which Poul Thorsen is accused tainted his research or change the fact that vaccines do not cause autism.

What to Know About Poul Thorsen

Poul Thorsen was a CDC researcher from Denmark who is accused of stealing grant money that was supposed to be used to study fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy, and possible links between vaccines and autism.

More About Poul Thorsen