Sunday, 8 February 2009

Shame on him

You may be aware of a doctor by the name of Andrew Wakefield, a turd of a man who first claimed that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine was the likely cause of autism.  His initial study was always known to be dodgy (for instance, it used a sum total of 12 children, and was open to numerous sources of bias).  Somehow (it is still not clear how) he got his article published in the prestigious Lancet journal, and this was enough to send shock waves throughout the maternal community.  Vaccination rates have declined since then, and more deaths (from measles, for instance) have now been the result. 

This would all be justifiable if the evidence was good, but it wasn't.  Several well-designed trials have subsequently investigated the alleged link between MMR and autism and have come to decidedly the opposite conclusion to Wakefield. It is undeniably medical consensus that absolutely no link exists between vaccination and autism.  For what it's worth, the paper has since been retracted by ten of Wakefield's twelve co-authors, the Lancet has issued an apology, and Wakefield is facing an inquiry by the UK General Medical Council for serious professional misconduct.

The above is all old news; the dust has settled on the matter, even if a few know-nothing activists continue to peddle the deadly misinformation.  What is new is that a (British) Sunday Times investigation has may have found the reason for Wakefield's odd results: it looks as though the data were made up.

I, for once, am speechless.

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