The news has been full of headlines trumpeting the discrediting of Dr. Andrew Wakefield`s 1998 study on vaccines (specifically MMR, measles-mumps-rubella) and childhood autism…the news outlets in the main
stream wax poetic about their belief that this discredits all autism-vaccine links…
Turpen isn’t wrong in his description of the press reaction, although they are wrong to claim that the discrediting of the 1998 study discredits the MMR-autism link. The research never had any credibility to start with and the discrediting of the link rests on proper research, of which more anon.
…Wakefield`s study was only five pages long and was a case study, not a double-blind test drawing conclusive results. It studied 12 children and made no claims, only hypotheses…
This is true. And vaccination supporters have been saying so ever since it was published, whereas antivaxxers have been trumpetting it as proof that the MMR vaccine caused gut problems and autism. See what I mean about shifting the goalposts?
As mentioned above, serious long-term research such as the Danish cohort study showed that there was no evidence to link MMR with autism. The study followed 537,303 Danish children, of whom 82.0% had been vaccinated. The ratio of the incidence of autism in the vaccinated group to the unvaccinated group was 0.92. This does not prove that the vaccinated are less likely to develop autism however as at the 95% confidence interval, the ratio is in the range 0.68 to 1.24 i.e there is no statistically significant difference between the two groups. The relevent figure for other autism-spectrum disorders is 0.83 (95% confidence interval being 0.65 to 1.07). Again, no statistically significant difference.
Back to the hagiography:-
Dr. Wakefield has never been against vaccination and has, instead, been a proponent of single antigen vaccines. In other words, Wakefield is hardly “anti-vaccine” and instead urges pediatricians and vaccine makers to use single-dose vaccines formulated for only one pathogen.
He held a patent on a single vaccine which would have been very lucrative had the use of MMR ceased. For some reason Turpen neglects to mention this other than a reference to Wakefield’s failure to disclose financial links:-
The findings of the GMC had nothing to do with his research or his methodology, but only with his failure to disclose financial links they saw as potentially conflicting and with his alleged treatment of test subjects. The panel went so far as to specifically state that their decision had nothing to do with a vaccine-MMR-autism.
As well as his patent he was on retainer to lawyers contemplating legal action over alleged vaccine damage. He did not mention it at the time and antivaxxers have skated past the matter ever since. Personally, I don’t think it matters where his money came from. All that matters is the credibility of his reseatrch evidence. I mention it merely to counterpoint the silence of the antivaxxers on this matter when they are so vocal on the alleged financial links of their opponents.
WRT Wakefield’s ‘alleged’ treatment of ‘test subjects’ (ie young children), he subjected them to procedures which were of no clinical benefit to them but were merely a fishing expedition looking for data to support his hypothesis. During this invasive procedure, the gut-wall of one of them was ruptured.
WRT the panel’s specific denial that their decision had any bearing on the supposed MMR-autism link, they were forced into this position by antivaxxers themselves insistantly claiming that Wakefield was “on trial” for publicising the alleged link. More mobile goalposts.
Turpen then claims that the panel chair is a Big Pharma shareholder. I have no idea whether or not this is true and do not much care. I cannot see how he could gain financially from the guilty verdict. Surely Big Pharma would find it more profitable for children not to receive free vaccines but become ill instead and therefore need to buy drugs for treatment.
The entire trial began because a man named Brian Deer brought complaint against Dr. Wakefield, with the help of funding and assistance from Medico-Legal Investigations. MLI is a private inquiry company funded solely by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
The suit began in 2007 and trudged on for two years. During that time, parents of the children in question attempted to bring their case to court, to force the GMC panel to allow them to testify, but the judge refused. That judge, Sir Nigel Davis, has a brother who was on the board of (again) the same big pharma company.
Brian Deer was not the complainant, as both he and the GMC have pointed out. He is in fact an investigative journalist who wrote detailed exposes on Wakefield’s dodgy research and concealed financil links. He did his work for the Sunday Times not MLI.
The comment about the judge is particularly ridiculous. The line seems to be that because his brother is on the board of a pharmaceutical company, he himself must be in their pocket.
If you`re not seeing a pattern here, you aren`t paying attention.
The pattern I am seeing is that the antivax movement are never going to concede that Wakefield was anything other than totally correct no matter how much evidence piles up against him.