Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud’

A now-retracted study linking autism to vaccine was an “elaborate fraud,” concludes an investigation published by BMJ, a British medical journal.

The study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, “misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study,” charges investigator Brian Deer. Of the 12 cases in Wakefield’s paper, five showed developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine and three never had autism, said Fiona Godlee, the journal’s editor.

Wakefield received $674,000 from lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers, BMJ reports.  He also hoped to make money from  diagnostic and other tests for autism and MMR-related issues, said Godlee.

Wakefield was stripped of his medical license earlier this year.

“Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession,” BMJ states.

The now-discredited paper panicked many parents and led to a sharp drop in the number of children getting the vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after its publication, falling as low as 80 percent by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.

Measles cases are up in the U.S. as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90 percent of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown.

“But perhaps as important as the scare’s effect on infectious disease is the energy, emotion and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it,” the BMJ editorial states.

Evidence of fraud isn’t likely to change the minds of true believers. The damage continues.

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.

Researcher fudged data on vaccine danger

The British doctor who started the scare over a link between the MMR vaccine and autism “changed and misreported results in his research,” charges a Times of London investigation.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.

After the paper was published in 1998, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%.

Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.

Here are details on the 12 children in the study.

Wakefield worked for a lawyer trying to build a case against vaccine manufacturers, emphasizes Mike Dunford on The Questionable Authority.  Some of the parents came to Wakefield’s clinic in hopes of proving the vaccine caused their children’s problems.

Will this change minds?