Feb 12, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – In a ruling that aligns with numerous research studies, a special federal court today rejected claims by three sets of parents that vaccines caused their children’s autism.The US Court of Federal Claims ruled against claims that autism was triggered by measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or by MMR vaccine in combination with vaccines containing thimerosal.”After careful consideration of all the evidence, it was abundantly clear that petitioners’ theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive,” wrote the special master (judge) in one of the three decisions.The Court of Claims weighs complaints brought by citizens under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a federal no-fault program set up in 1986 to reduce the number of lawsuits against physicians and vaccine makers. As of May 2008, more than 12,800 cases had been filed under the program, 5,365 of those related to autism. Since 1988, the program has paid out more than $859 million to a total of 956 claimants, according to Court of Claims documents.According to court documents, today’s decisions came in three test cases based on one of three “causation theories” proposed by parents of children with autism: that MMR vaccines and thimerosal-containing vaccines can combine to cause autism. Thimerosal is a mercury-containing compound that is used as a preservative in some vaccines, including some influenza vaccines. Hearings in the three cases were held in 2007.Federal officials and public health and medical groups welcomed today’s rulings, while saying that the search for the cause of autism must continue.”Hopefully, the determination by the Special Masters will help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism,” the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement.The statement said HHS “continues to support research to better understand the cause of autistic disorders and develop more effective methods of treatment.”Dr. Paul E. Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said in an e-mailed statement, “We are glad to see that the Court upheld the strong science supporting the safety of vaccines. Unfortunately, we still do not understand the true causes of autism. Parents of children with autism are struggling to find answers and provide their children with adequate care. We urge researchers to redouble their efforts to find a cause and a cure.”The American Medical Association also hailed the rulings, stating: “Autism is a heart-wrenching condition, and the upheaval felt by parents whose children suffer with autism is understandable—as is their search for answers. We need ongoing research into the causes of autism, but cannot let unfounded myths keep us from giving our children the proven protection they need against infectious diseases.”But SafeMinds, an autism advocacy group, criticized the decision, saying the deck is stacked against claimants because HHS funds vaccine safety research and is the defendant in vaccine injury cases.The group commented, “The denial of reasonable compensation to families was based on inadequate vaccine safety science available to the court. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the defendant in vaccine injury cases and is also responsible for carrying out the very vaccine safety research that should be integral to court decisions. This conflict of interest means the deck is stacked against families when they enter ‘vaccine court’ and is yet one more reason for parents to doubt the integrity of the National Immunization Program.”One of the three families involved in the cases decided today claimed that vaccines containing thimerosal can cause immune dysfunction and that MMR vaccine can cause both autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction, according to the decision document. But Special Master George Hastings wrote that the “evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ contentions.”In another case, parents argued that a combination of thimerosal-containing vaccines and the measles component of the MMR vaccine caused their son to suffer a “pervasive developmental disorder,” similar to autism spectrum disorder. Special Master Denise Vowell wrote that the evidence presented was “voluminous and extraordinarily complex”—but unpersuasive.See also: Autism decision documentshttp://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/vaccine_files/Hastings-Cedillo.pdfhttp://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/vaccine_files/Campbell-Smith_Hazlehurst_Decision.pdfhttp://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/vaccine_files/Vowell.Snyder.pdfUS Court of Claims autism proceeding pagehttp://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/omnibus-autism-proceedingCourt of Claims backgrounder on autism proceedingshttp://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/4428Feb 12 HHS news releasehttp://www.hhs.gov:80/news/press/2009pres/02/20090212a.html
The Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) has lauded athletes and coaches for their impressive showing at this year’s African Games in Rabat, Morocco.Ghana finished the Games with 13 medals and placed 15th on the medal table. Two gold medals, two silver medals and 9 bronze medals. The highlight of Team Ghana’s participation was the men 4×100 relay team who won the second Gold medal.The entire team have been congratulated by the GAA in the following statement.The Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) congratulates Ghana’s athletes and coaches for the gallant display that saw Team Ghana register among the medal-winning nations at the 2019 African Games. It took so much effort, both before and during the Games, and despite limited resources and the unbelievable stress from various arenas that GAA and the athletes were under in the very recent past. First and foremost, it is the athletes who competed in Rabat who deserve commendation for their performance and general composure even in the Games Village. Sincere thanks also go to the leadership of our Athlete Commissions (Ghana- and Foreign-based) for their tireless efforts in working with GAA to ensure readiness and a relatively successful outcome at the Games. As various parties have come out to claim credit for the athletes’ performance, it is imperative to mention that the athletes have been part of the GAA’s grassroots athletics development program that took root almost a decade ago; literally, all of the athletes have participated in local and international meets organized or facilitated by the GAA over the past decade. For this reason, we must also express our gratitude to all those who have supported GAA over the last decade as we have evolved the system that has, over the years, laid the ground for what we saw in Rabat; but for visa issues and injuries, we should not have been surprised to see a few more golden medals. In building the structure, we must thank our members across the regions and in the Ghana Education Service (GES), Ghana University Sports Association (GUSA), and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (and particularly the Office of the Minister). Special mention must be extended to the coaches and technical departments of the various schools, as well as to the non-affiliated, personal coaches who toil day and night to train the athletes. The financial support for the system has primarily come from a number of corporate sponsors, including the Maria Tsakos Foundation, EventPR, rlg, Sea and Shore, Interplast Ghana, Africanus.net, Cocoa from Ghana, Bank of Ghana, Ghana Commercial Bank, and Just Because Fitness, as well as a host of private individuals. We salute them all and hope that they see these victories as theirs. For the 2019 African Games, we are also grateful to the team’s coaches who were in Rabat, and Team Athletics’ leader at the Games, Mr. Bawah Fuseini, who also doubles as the Chief Executive Officer (Secretary-General) for both the GAA and the Confederation of African Athletics Association (CAA) Zone II board. As our attention shifts to the 2019 World Championships where both our men’s and women’s relay teams register in the Top-16 in the World, but where we also have individual automatic qualifiers like Joseph Paul Amoah, Nadia Eke, and Josephine Anokye, as well as five others who might get the nod when the qualification deadline expires next week, we must specifically acknowledge the $3,430 we received from Just Because Fitness (JBF) and $4,913 advanced from an unnamed individual to enable the women’s team attend the Doha qualifiers at the IAAF World Relays in Japan. GAA Communications.