Vaccine scare doctor loses license

Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who persuaded parents that the MMR vaccine leads to autism, has lost his medical license for being  “dishonest,” “misleading” and “irresponsible” in his research, writes Tom Chivers in The Telegraph.

There were many large studies carried out, all of which failed to show any link between the vaccine and autism. A 2002 study of 500,000 Danish children in the New England Journal of Medicine found no links  while a 2005 Cochrane Library meta-analysis also came back negative and reminded the world that: “Measles, mumps and rubella are three very dangerous infectious diseases which cause a heavy disease, disability and death burden in the developing world … [T]he impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been demonstrated worldwide.” . . .

. . . MMR was introduced in Britain in 1988. Hundreds of thousands of children were given it. If there is a link, we would expect a sudden rise in autism diagnoses. There was none.

Autism levels were slowly rising beforehand, and continued to rise afterward, although it is not clear how much of that was due to new diagnostic criteria. But there was no step change in 1988 in Britain, or at the time of introduction in other countries.  There is no link between vaccination and autism.

Vaccination rates fell sharplyin Britain after Wakefield’s research — now repudiated — was published. Autism diagnoses have continued to rise. So has the rate of measles, mumps and rubella.

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  1. I haven’t been following this closely, but what was in it for him to skew the findings?

  2. While I do not condone Dr. Wakefield’s ethically questionable deeds, I do feel that he has been vilified beyond what his actions merit. He has been the target of a “witch hunt” for daring to question the status quo on vaccination. The medical establishment wants to make an example out of him to scare off other researchers from trying to publish negative findings about vaccine safety…

  3. Bill Leonard says:

    Quick questions, Crimson Wife: Do you have children, and are they vaccinated for anything — polio, for instance? Or, like that noted scientific research commentator, Oprah blabberfest regular, former Playboy Playmate and high school graduate Jenny McCarthy, do you feel that vaccinations are so dangerous that it’s safer to let your kids take their chances without any?

  4. And not just in Britain. I recall reading, a few years ago, about a measles outbreak in Iowa. It was traced back to Britain.

  5. Cynical says:

    Crimson Wife, if you would like a better understanding of just how corrupt Wakefield’s actions were (not just erroneous, actively corrupt), read this 15-page comic:
    It doesn’t even mention the deaths from measles which followed his fake MMR scare. Children are dead and crippled because he wanted to promote his own single vaccine, and had to denigrate MMR to create a market for it. The man has not paid nearly enough; he should be on trial for criminal negligence leading to wrongful death and disability.

  6. Cardinal Fang says:

    Children are dead because of Wakefield, not just children of credulous parents who didn’t vaccinate due to his deceptions, but also children who weren’t vaccinated because they were at risk, immune-compromised or just too young and who caught their fatal disease from a child who should have been vaccinated.

  7. I do vaccinate my children- just on a selective, delayed schedule. My older children had the separate measles, mumps, and rubella shots but the government last year pressured Merck into ceasing production of those. So unless the individual shot becomes available again first, my youngest will get the combo MMR when she’s older & her immune system is stronger.

    The single measles vaccine was around LONG before Dr. Wakefield published his research. That’s what I had as a kid.

  8. Bill Leonard says:

    It’s true the single measles vaccine predates MMR, but not by all that much, methinks — depending, I guess, on how one defines spans of time. As a 67-year-old who had measles and most of the rest back when they were known as childhood diseases, I can tell you they were no fun. I’m glad I missed whooping cough and especially, polio. Regular polio immunizations started thev year I started to high school. My wife is my age and had pretty much the same experience.

    You can damned well bet that our kids got every single immunization available!

  9. I remember having the (red) measles and mumps in the early sixties. Back then they were just childhood diseases, along with chicken pox. Rubella was already regarded as much more serious and a subject of concern, especially for pregnant women, although I don’t remember knowing anyone who actually had it. I wonder if anyone still makes the same distinction. I guess if all are preventable, probably not.

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    When I was in the Army, I handled hardship discharges as part of a job I had. Saw a lot of rubella in pregnancy. Terrible. That was when I heard about german measles parties. Vaccine for rubella is godsend.

  11. I happen to have autistic children and can tell you that “back in the day,” autism was NOT diagnosed nearly so easily as it is today. The diagnosis rates climbing or NOT climbing in **1988** would hardly be proof of anything. Good grief. People don’t suddenly get autism at diagnosis. They are what they are, and the physician simply is labelling what’s there. That’s why we’re seeing so many newly-diagnosed ADULTS on the spectrum. It just wasn’t routinely diagnosed because it wasn’t looked for the way it is today. Now, it about drives me crazy that people are over-worried about their children who are obviously NOT autistic.

    I was fully vaccinated and got measles anyway. The whole vaccine thing has terribly divided the autism community. I think the truth is that vaccines have risks and benefits and we should let PARENTS DECIDE what is best for their children.

  12. SuperSub says:

    Mrs. C –
    True, vaccines have risks. The problem is that not one legitimate scientific study has even suggested that autism is a risk for the MMR vaccine. And yet, what do you think is the primary concern for parents when it comes time for their children to receive it? The autism scare has and will continue to be the primary non-health related reason that families will refuse the MMR vaccine.

    Everyone –
    Here’s the really scary thing about vaccines like MMR. They only work if a sufficient amount of the population receives them. Due to inherent differences in each individual’s biology and the various strains of the disease, there is no guarantee even that vaccinated individuals will have 100% immunity to whatever the vaccine is targeted for. Vaccines simply reduce the risk of infection, not remove it. As a result, if the population of non-vaccinated individuals gets high enough, the infection will be able to spread to those are vaccinated.
    So, individuals like Mr. Wakefield not only put those who turn down the immunizations at risk, but the entire global community including those who did accept vaccination for MMR.

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    Yeah, but then they’d buy his medicine.
    No worries.

  14. Supersub, where are you getting your information about the “primary” reason parents are refusing to vaccinate their children? Some refuse because of immoral practices on the part of the VACCINE INDUSTRY:

    Using aborted fetuses in the development of the MMR is immoral. That is why I am refusing these vaccines for my children. My 3-year-old is almost entirely nonverbal and has never had MMR so naturally, I can attest to the fact that MMR doesn’t cause autism.

    But why won’t they make measles and mumps shots separately available for parents like me who morally object to the rubella vaccine? Instead of having two of those three diseases vaccinated against, I can’t immunise against measles and mumps at all because it simply isn’t something I can purchase.

    I don’t think Wakefield is a hero of any kind, but have to wonder if he developed a working vaccine that would make lotsa money if his unethical practices would have been overlooked…

  15. SuperSub says:

    Mrs. C –

    Well, first off, I have never even heard about the debate around using stem cell lines to culture the rubella vaccine. Not to sound too egotistical, but I have been following the issue of vaccination refusals and I am assuming that since I have never heard about the debate, neither has most people.

    Also, the significant increases in refusal to vaccinate followed Mr. Wakefield’s scare campaign, so while I cannot say with 100% certainty that it caused the increase, I will say that it is the likely reason.

  16. I’m not sure… I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was really wondering where you got that information because it isn’t what I come across. I can tell you that in conservative Christian circles, that this stem cell thing is a biggie. I myself just got whatever vaccination they said was due for my children because I trusted my doctors… until the thimerosal debate happened and more people began questioning the vaccines.

    I still think it would be best to allow for separate vaccines so that parents could choose the measles-mumps rather than letting their children go without altogether.

    I support the idea of vaccination, but not the idea that the medical community can put whatever it wants into these things and then tell us we HAVE to take it into our bodies.

    I know that they could make a rubella vaccine using rabbits instead, but it would be slightly less effective. Well… “slightly less effective” than a regular vaccine would still be WAY more effective than the zero vaccine we are receiving now.

    Ok, but that has little to do with Wakefield. 🙂

  17. SuperSub says:

    I normally am without hesitation when it comes to individual liberties as you are Mrs. C, but I am torn with regards to the vaccination issue.
    Vaccinations are not only for the benefit of the individual receiving it, but for any person that individual comes into contact with on a regular basis. The only reason that many diseases that were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries are not commonly found in the US now is due to universal vaccination. I wonder if we would still be battling smallpox and the like if vaccinations weren’t mandatory.