How to End the Autism Epidemic
By J.B. Handley
Chelsea Green Publishing
It is great to see a new wave of books exploring vaccines, autism and autoimmune issues and to see publishers willing to go against the grain and give authors a platform to write and speak out. J.B. Handley’s book, How to End the Autism Epidemic, addresses these topics in three parts, focusing on lies about vaccines and autism, the truth about vaccines and autism and undoing the autism epidemic.
In the first four chapters, Handley rebuts the lies directed against those who assert that vaccines and autism are connected. Chapter One tackles the recent push to say that “there is no autism epidemic” and that we are witnessing changes and improvements in diagnosis rather than a true change in autism rates. Using a wide swath of statistics and research, Handley presents a factually informed argument showing that a real autism explosion has occurred over the past forty or so years.
Next, he deals with the falsehood that current vaccines are safe. Beginning with some astute financial observations, Handley notes that the market for vaccines has grown an astounding three-hundred-and-fifty-fold in under fifty years—from one hundred and seventy million to an estimated sixty billion dollars. Large margins and immense profits have colored every aspect of the U.S. medical system, pulling in family doctors, corner drugstores and even supermarkets, all of whom push and profit from vaccines.
The rest of Chapter Two covers information that may already be familiar—the myth of herd immunity; how innovation and improvements in sanitation and hygiene (not vaccines) saved humanity from infectious diseases in the twentieth century; how vaccine makers and pushers have legal immunity from liability for any ill effects caused by vaccines; and more. What sets Handley’s work apart here is the inclusion of considerable primary research from the likes of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, The Journal of the American Medical Association and similar pro-vaccine outfits. It seems that their own research at times conflicts heavily with their concerted effort to continue pushing mass vaccination on the population at every possible opportunity. “Push” is an understatement. In 1962, a child following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines would have received three vaccines by age five, but in 2017, it was thirty-eight vaccines.
The remaining chapters in the first section delve more deeply into the science and the financial and other incentives that cloud vaccine research and debate. Neither government nor insurance companies nor doctors are impartial, unbiased parties. In some sort of cosmic irony, two of the main doctors responsible for research often cited as proof that vaccines do not cause autism have very different stories to tell today. One is now on the U.S. Office of Inspector General’s “most wanted” fugitive list because of embezzlement. The other has turned whistleblower because of the fraud he witnessed first-hand.
Why would people commit fraud for vaccines? Dr. Paul Offit (rhymes with profit), a well-known vaccine pusher, can give you six million reasons why (and maybe more). Not only did Offit make large sums of money when Merck purchased his rotavirus vaccine, he also served on the CDC-affiliated committee that makes recommendations regarding required vaccines, including rotavirus. This type of conflict of interest is rampant in the U.S. government, and especially between doctors, drug manufacturers and the regulatory agencies that are supposedly overseeing them.
How bad is the conflict of interest situation? In 2000, the government’s own report on “Conflicts of interest in vaccine policy making” stated, “The Committee’s investigation has determined that conflict of interest rules employed by the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and CDC have been weak, enforcement has been lax, and committee members with substantial ties to pharmaceutical companies have been given waivers to participate in committee proceedings.” Things have only gotten worse since the 2000 report. Just as large food and agricultural players travel freely between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the FDA and private employment, so, too, do players in the medical and drug industries enjoy a revolving door of employment and access at the highest levels of the FDA and CDC.
The second part of How to End the Autism Epidemic covers the truth about vaccines and autism. Handley points to three main lines of reasoning that explain the vaccine-autism relationship: the emerging science on how vaccines trigger autism, the legal basis that they are responsible and the overwhelming amount of first-hand, parental evidence that vaccines caused autism in their children. Chapter Six was especially interesting to me and alone is worth the price of the book. Although I have read a lot about vaccine issues over the years, I have never encountered a detailed discussion of the vaccine court, the doctors who influence its decisions or the story of Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, whose professional work resulted in the denial of benefits to thousands of families in the vaccine court system. Dr. Zimmerman now appears to have shifted his views and believes that vaccines at times are responsible for autism in some children. He has even gone on record in the landmark Hazlehurst case, and Handley includes parts of the depositions from Dr. Zimmerman and another doctor (Dr. Kelley).
The third section of the book discusses how to undo the autism epidemic, starting with a chapter that details the major players who influence vaccine policy at both the national and state levels. Here again, we see that the pro-vaccine movement, and especially the non-profit side, is really just a front for the pharmaceutical industry, which pours money into pseudo-grassroots organizations that are trying to stem the growing tide of parents and other people who have seen, first-hand, what vaccines do to children. Like the lead and tobacco industries, the vaccine industry has sought to shift attention and blame about autism to other causes or completely fabricate false claims to protect their business (and big bonuses) as long as possible. However, it is getting harder and harder for the industry to do so as evidence builds and more and more doctors like Paul Thomas speak out.
Chapter Nine is the heart of the book, covering how to address and reduce the incidence of vaccine-induced autism. Handley lays out twelve proposals. The first few revolve around a radical reduction in the number of vaccines given; pre-testing and other preventive measures to protect children who may be vulnerable to adverse reactions to the remaining and vastly pared-down vaccine list; elimination of multi-illness vaccines; and more. The second set addresses the need to resolve the conflicts of interest and financial incentives that cloud vaccine safety research and policy-making. The third set involves bringing greater public awareness and open discussion to the vaccine-autism debate. Part of this requires synthesizing disparate strands of research and advocacy and presenting the full body of compelling evidence showing how and why vaccines are linked to autism.
The final chapter on treatment and recovery is very short because Handley would rather see us avert the epidemic on the front end than try and cover it up via costly, time-consuming and sometimes ineffective treatments on the back end. One of the few recommendations Handley offers is the GAPS diet, along with a strong emphasis both here and elsewhere in the book on the need for healing the gut and improving the body’s immune function.
Given the continued mockery and demonization of people like Dr. Andy Wakefield, it is no small thing to step forward and question one of the modern world’s sacred cows—the belief that it is safe and effective to inject the smallest and most vulnerable among us with a concoction of only partially understood chemicals that, in fact, are clearly unsafe (at the very least for some people). Even with my many years of reading and research on this topic, I learned a great deal from Handley’s work and research and enjoyed his writing immensely, even if at times I had to hold back tears of sadness or a heart full of anger at what has happened to our nation and its children. Two thumbs up.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2018.