When Brian Deer wrote one of his 2009 article for the Sunday Times: Focus: Hidden records show MMR truth , he introduced the article with a discussion of the father of Child 11, the only American child in the Lancet 12:
ON a Monday morning in February 1997, a taxi left the Royal Free hospital, in Hampstead , northwest London. It turned out of the car park and headed to the renowned Institute of Cancer Research, six miles southwest in Fulham.
Mr. 11, as he is known, was the one parent who chose to confirm the results he was given by Mr. Wakefield’s team at the Royal Free. In particular, he wanted to confirm whether the tissue samples taken from his son really contained measles virus, as he was told. After taking samples to people outside Mr. Wakefield’s team at the Royal Free:
“It took a big fight to get the information,” said Mr Eleven. “They told me there was no measles virus. I had the tests repeated three times at different labs in the US, and they all came back negative.”
This comes as no surprise to readers today. Mr. Wakefield’s graduate student, Nicholas Chadwick , was telling him all along that the virology results were negative.
In a later report, How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed , Mr. Deer also introduced the article with Mr. 11. He noted that Child 11 was listed in the Lancet article as having a first behavioral symptom of “Recurrent “viral pneumonia” for 8 weeks following MMR” as occurring 1 week after the administration of the MMR vaccine, a point critical to Mr. Wakefield’s claims. However, according to documents available to Mr. Wakefield, the child showed signs before the MMR. Per Mr. Deer:
But child 11’s case must have proved a disappointment. Records show his behavioural symptoms started too soon. “His developmental milestones were normal until 13 months of age,” notes the discharge summary. “In the period 13-18 months he developed slow speech patterns and repetitive hand movements. Over this period his parents remarked on his slow gradual deterioration.”
Enter Dan Olmsted, proprietor of the Age of Autism blog. Mr. Olmsted sought out Child 11’s father to corroborate Mr. Deer’s story. Such is the importance of contradicting Mr. Deer that he was willing to contradict Mr. Wakefield’s claim in the Lancet as well. Mr. Olmsted claims that Mr. 11 wrote him that rather than 13 months, “The onset of his autistic-like behaviors began around 18 months.”
The one thing that Dan Olmsted, Brian Deer and Mr. 11 apparently agree upon: the report in The Lancet is incorrect. Somehow I expect there is some convoluted explanation Mr. Olmsted would offer to avoid this problem, but lets move on. Unfortunately to a rather odd back-and-forth where neither party (Deer and Olmsted) communicating directly. To start, Mr. Olmsted would have us believe that Mr. 11 is annoyed? angry? with Mr. Deer’s reporting and thinks they “misrepresented the facts”.
Mr. Olmsted wrote [edit to add: Mr. Olmsted is quoting Andrew Wakefield’s defamation complaint here. I.e. these are Andrew Wakefield’s words]
Indeed, the child’s father has since written Deer and the BMJ to explain that Deer was misrepresenting facts about child 11, yet Deer and BMJ have printed no retraction, correction, or mention of this fact.
Mr. Deer noted this claim by Mr. Olmsted in his declaration:
Neither I nor (to my knowledge) the BMJ have received any letter from this father accusing me of “misrepresenting facts.” Nor have we received any request from this father asking for any retraction, correction, or for us to take any action at all. On the contrary, the father confirms the terms of the medical record (which he gave me at a meeting in California in September 2007), but disagrees with the accuracy of that record. The matter is thus purely a (very common) situation where parental recall and medical records do not coincide, and naturally parents believe their recollection to be right.
In a recent article, Mr. Olmsted wrote:
But the father told me: “Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration,” a clear contradiction that called for a prompt correction.
See what Mr. Olmsted did there? He cut short Mr. 11’s sentence and added his own ending. Which made me wonder, what was the full sentence and what was the full context.
If you are wondering that too, here is the full sentence from that email, in context:
Based on the incorrect discharge summary I shared with him, Mr. Deer reasonably inferred that my son’s autistic symptom, predated his receipt of the MMR vaccination, which they did not. Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration, but until the incorrect dates in the discharge summary were pointed out to me this week, I failed to realize that thee discharge summary was inaccurate. While the inaccuracies in the Royal Free discharge summary may be chalked up to sloppy record keeping, if my son really is Patient 11 , then the Lancet article is simply an outright fabrication.
Is that an accusation of “misrepresenting facts” by Mr. Deer, as Mr. Olmsted asserts? Rather than call for a retraction or correction, as Mr. Olmsted claimed, Mr. 11 noted that “The Lancet article is a clear misrepresentation of my son’s history”, and that “the Lancet article is simply an outright fabrication.”
How do I know what is in the full email? Brian Deer entered it (redacted, of course) into the public record as an exhibit to his declaration. Given the way Mr. Olmsted was clearly cherry picking the email, I wanted to obtain the source for myself.
With apologies in advance for any transcription errors. But mostly with apologies to the young man who was Child 11 and to his father:
Mr. 11 asked for courtesy and discretion on confidentiality issues. I would put to Mr. Olmsted that when he published the first name of Child 11, he may not have been heeding Mr. 11’s wishes.
The father has made a few more statements about these events:
First, about the Age of Autism series: “Olmsted’s logic is twisted and emotional”.
About the research at the Royal Free: “We all make daily human errors, but I guess some people ( Royal Free ) do it for a lifetime !”
“What a HUGE embarrassment, and scientific fiasco ! “.
Mr. 11 asked “That brings me to my third reason for contacting you, which is to express my hope that we can all move on from this debacle and search for real causes of the current explosion in autism cases”
Whether one agrees with the “epidemic” or not, the idea of moving on from the “debacle” (which I read in context to refer to the story about Mr. Wakefield and the Lancet study) and focusing on research is a very wise suggestion. As Mr. Olmsted has shown, not only has Mr. Wakefield been a huge distraction, but his supporters have been as well.