CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND THE ‘SCIENCE OF IMMUNISATION’
In November 2012 the Australian Academy of Science entered the vaccination fray with its publication “The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers”
As the Australian Academy of Science has taken it upon itself to engage in this matter, it can expect to be held accountable.
For example, I forwarded emails to Sir Gus Nossal, Chair of the Oversight Committee for “The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers”, enquiring if disclosure statements for members of The Science of Immunisation Working group, i.e. detailing any possible conflicts of interest, are publicly available on the Australian Academy of Science website. (January 2013.)
My emails to Sir Gus Nossal also include reference to discussion threads relevant to the topic of vaccination on the university and CSIRO funded The Conversation website.
On 5 March 2013, I forwarded another email to Professor Suzanne Cory, President of the Australian Academy of Science, again requesting disclosure statements for people associated with The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers.
In response to my email to Professor Cory, Martin Callinan, Science Policy Manager of the Australian Academy of Science, contacted me to advise the Academy is now going to address this matter.
On 13 May 2013, I contacted Dr Callinan to check on progress. Dr Callinan advised that a ‘Central Register of Interests’ is going to be established, but was unable to advise when the register would be accessible to the public. Dr Callinan indicated that a media release is likely to be published when the Academy’s new Central Register of Interests is available.
On Sunday 18 August 2013 I forwarded another email on this matter to Professor Cory. Then again on 12 November 2013 I asked Professor Cory what progress had been made on this matter.
Dr Callinan responded: “Thanks for your email. As discussed when we most recently spoke, the Academy is in the process of establishing Register of Interests to cover all our activities. Involving database, website and management system upgrades, this process has been underway for more than a year. We anticipate it being operational in March 2014…”
March 2014 has now come and gone. As at 14 April 2014, there is still no disclosure information on the Australian Academy of Science webpage for the Department of Health and Ageing funded publication “The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers“.
It’s way past time the public was privy to the potential conflicts of interest of academics working in the areas of vaccine development and vaccination policy. I will now pursue other avenues in this regard.
For information, members of the Australian Academy of Science’s Science of Immunisation Working Group are:
- Professor Ian Frazer (Co-Chair)
- Professor Tony Basten (Co-Chair)
- Professor Francis Carbone
- Professor Patrick Holt
- Dr Julie Leask
- Professor Peter McIntyre
- Professor Terry Nolan
- Professor Judith Whitworth
Members of the Science of Immunisation Oversight Committee are:
- Sir Gus Nossal (Chair)
- Professor Ian Gust
- Professor Fiona Stanley
- Professor Robert Williamson
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