Tom Leonard is The Daily Mail's US Correspondent. According to LinkedIn, Leonard is based in Brooklyn. Leonard has a little problem with factual reporting, at least related to Wakefield, vaccines, and autism, as his April 22 2016 article on Wakefield and De Niro showed. Let's start with the offensive.
Either way, both sides in this vicious battle hopefully realise the most important thing is never to lose sight of the main goal — finding a cure for this soul-destroying condition.
Soul-destroying? My contempt for Leonard knows no depths. Finding a cure? How about finding ways so that autistics are accepted and supported as the over-arching goals.
Back to the article.
Furious with the British medical establishment, Wakefield moved to the U.S. He founded the Thoughtful House Center for Children to further his work on autism and set up a non-profit organisation to commission studies into the condition.
Well, not quite. By all accounts,in 2001 "Dr Wakefield resigned from his £50,000 a year NHS post" while The Daily Mail and other UK papers launched a Wakefield support campaign. At some point in 2001, Wakefield moved to Florida to work with Jeff Bradstreet's Christian medical organization, The Good News Doctor Medical Foundation (which seems to have gone out of business), and or Bradstreet and Jerry Kartzinel at International Child Development Resource Center. Remember that Wakefield was unlicensed to practice medicine outside the UK. Then in March 2004, Ten co-authors on the 1998 Wakefield Lancet paper issue a retraction and editor of the Lancet says, with hindsight, they shouldn't have published the paper.
During the same 2004 time period, a group of wealthy parents who believed in the vaccines-cause-autism myth set up Thoughtful House in Austin, Texas and hired Wakefield, at a reported $250,000 per year salary. From say 2004 to 2010, Wakefield was employed by Thoughtful House at quite the generous salary. In late January 2010, the UK's General Medical Council found Wakefield to be a dishonest, irresponsible doctor. After the guilty verdict, Wakefield either resigned, or was forced to leave, Thoughtful House in February 2010. Then in late May, 2010, Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register. What did Wakefield do between 2010 and 2015? Well, there was the Strategic Autism Initiative, which again was lucrative for Wakefield but did not produce much in the way of research results, and seemed to have petered out in 2013. Since then, he's been involved with the Autism Media Channel.
Leonard writes of Wakefield's "work on autism". First, whatever qualified Andrew Jeremy Wakefield to "work on autism"? He trained as a gastroenterologist, not a psychiatrist or neurologist or pediatrician, the medical specialities that most often provide useful services for autistic children. What has Wakefield ever done to improve autistic lives? Many feel his work has actually harmed the autistic communities. But back to the article.
The movie contains a bombshell revelation: the existence of a 1994 study (pre-dating Wakefield's findings in The Lancet) by the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that buried the suggestion the MMR jab was associated with a 340 per cent increased risk of autism in African-American boys
Uh no, just no. The film Vaxxed is all about DeStefano 2004 and Brian Hooker's botched reanalysis. I have no idea what Leonard is on about with the "1994". Hooker's retracted study is old news from 2014.
Here is another howler:
With the commercial value of holding the licence to make a government-prescribed single vaccine worth as much as $30 billion a year in the U.S., Vaxxed suggests that rich pharmaceutical companies could hardly have had a stronger vested interest in promoting their vaccines.
Leonard is making stuff up, or Wakefield is. In 2014 the entire world market for all vaccines, including animal vaccines was $30 billion. But back to the article.
As for Wakefield, he tells me he hasn't 'earned a cent for three and a half years' as he and his wife, Carmel, a classical music radio DJ, survive off the proceeds of selling their home in Kew, South-West London. He now calls himself a professional filmmaker.
Oh sure. Wakefield raised $400,000 for a 90-minute film that recycles a lot of old footage. I wonder how much Wakefield is being subsidized by say Barry Segal or Claire Dwoskin. I wonder what his fee was for the ConspiraSea cruise?
Not surprisingly, many parents of autistic children believe Wakefield, although discredited by his peers, raised worrying issues.
It would be more accurate to say that maybe <0.01% of autistics and maybe 10% of the parents of autistic children buy into the "vaccines cause autism" myth.
Tom Leonard should be ashamed of his shoddy journalism.
Mike Stanton contributed to the analysis in this article.
An index of the reviews for Vaxxed can be found here. Also see An index of articles discussing Is De Niro's Demand for "The Truth" about Safe Vaccines and Autism Justified?