|Andrew Wakefield: fraud|
Progressives who refuse vaccines for their kids might be shocked to learn they had been duped by the Tea Party. But that’s exactly what has happened, thanks to Tea Party congressman Dan Burton and an English doctor who was paid $668,000 to fake his data.
The English and some Europeans fell for this quack doctor with dismal consequences (2013 epidemic). Most Americans have been less gullible. But it’s still good to remember that vaccinations will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths during the lifetimes of children born during 1994–2013 in the United States (CDC).
The anti-vaccine movement can largely be traced to a 1998 report in a medical journal by now-discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefied that suggested a link between vaccines and autism but was later proved fraudulent and retracted.
Wakefield testified in 2000 at a congressional hearing at the request Rep. Dan Burton. The Clinton Administration had announced it had achieved its goal of vaccinating 95% of America’s children. House Republicans immediately launched hearings into the ‘link’ between vaccines and autism – featuring the notorious Andrew Wakefield. That was when the bogus link between vaccines and autism spread quickly through the media.
Then, in 2012, Burton called for another hearing, unsuccessfully trying to get the government to investigate the link between vaccines and autism. But the fallout of politically motivated hysteria became painfully clear.
The danger the anti-vaxers cause is to those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and to their own children, who have no say in the matter. To expose others to preventable diseases is unconscionable. (Measles can cause blindness and brain damage or even death.)
And remember the anti-vaxers are depending on others to take the supposed “risk” of vaccination for them, while reaping the benefits of a disease-free environment. If they could not free ride on the rest of us — if we all stopped vaccinating, their risk would be 1000 times greater. Before 1963 when the measles vaccine became widely available, each year 500,000 people became infected and an average of 432 died between 1958 and 1963.
Parts of California are hotbeds of the anti-vaccination movement with well educated and wealthy parents deciding to raise their children “all natural” despite the harm they may be doing to their own kids and to the weakest members of their communities.
“You should get your kids vaccinated,” President Obama urged, pointing out that not only is it good for the kids, but that we don’t want the US to return to the point where measles is again endemic in the US as it still is in many third-world countries.
Here are some of the major problems with the study, as laid out by U.K. investigative reporter Brian Deer in the British Medical Journal (BMJ):
- The children in the study were not randomly selected. None of them lived anywhere near the hospital where Wakefield’s team examined them. One came from as far away as California. All were recruited through anti-MMR-vaccine campaigners.
- Wakefield did not disclose that he was acting as a paid consultant to a U.K. lawyer who was suing MMR vaccine makers for damages. Wakefield was paid about $668,000 plus expenses. [note: the money came from Richard Barr, who hoped to bring a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers. Barr was a high street solicitor (aka trial lawyer), and represented an anti-vaccine group, JABS.]
- Despite being described as “previously normal,” five of the children had evidence of developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine.
- Only one of the 12 children in the study had regressive autism, although the study reported that nine of them had this condition. Three of these nine children were never diagnosed with autism.
- In nine cases, gut examinations of the children were changed from “unremarkable” to “non-specific colitis.”
- For all 12 children in the study, medical records and parent accounts contradict case descriptions in the published study.
The BMJ editors conclude that these discrepancies show that Wakefield deliberately faked the study.
“Is it possible that he was wrong but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases correctly?” they ask. “No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted.”
Ten of the study’s co-authors have repudiated its findings, and last year, it was formally retracted by The Lancet. And after a months-long hearing, Wakefield and his senior research advisor had their medical licenses revoked for unethical treatment of patients. (WebMD)