25 year old Gareth Williams has become the first person with measles to die in the latest Swansea outbreak. So why in the 21st century, an age of highly effective vaccines, do we now once again have an outbreak of a very preventable highly infectious disease? It is all down to one man, Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced Doctor who was struck off for publishing fraudulent claims of a link between the MMR jab and autism.
The choice that parents made at the time was indeed rational and reasonable
- an article in a published medical journal could be cited
- at one point even the PM’s wife refused to say if their own kids had received the MMR jab
- many corners of the media were supporting Wafefield, even Private Eye claimed that Wakefield was a victim of a conspiracy
… but we have a lot more information now …
- We now know that study after study has shown no link at all between MMR and Autism
- We also know that Wakefield faked his data, the claim was not simply wrong, it was fraud. Apparently he had a financial interest in discrediting the MMR because he had planned to launch a venture on the back of an MMR vaccination scare that would profit from new medical tests and “litigation driven testing”
… and so the propagation of this bogus claim is dead? Sadly no, the groundless fear mongering still prevails …
- The independent gave Wakefield a platform last week to promote the “MMR causes Autism” claim … that was not balance, it was lunacy
- The undercurrent of fear still lingers, you have many parents dispensing Homeoapathy (the stuff that is just water and does nothing at all) as a “natural” form of protection instead of a real vaccine (the stuff that actually works).
The initial fear was understandable, but the fact that the fear still prevails even after being debunked is utterly irrational and has no scientific basis. The Independent then giving the disgraced lunatic a platform to carry promote bogus claims is really not helping, especially in the context of people now dying due to all this. Gareth Williams was only 25, he had his whole life still ahead of him.
Least you are still personally confused … here are three solid facts [Hat tip to Martin Robbins for these] …
- The MMR vaccine is safe, many tens of millions of doses have been administered worldwide, the data show no link between MMR and autism. As with any medicine there are occasional side effects, in some cases these might be serious, but the benefits far outweigh the slight risks.
- Single vaccines are less safe than MMR. They are less convenient, leading to poor uptake and more children being unprotected for longer; and they have had far less testing.
- Andrew Wakefield is about as discredited as it is possible for a doctor to get. He was found to have ordered invasive investigations on children without either the qualifications or authority to do so. He conducted research on nine children without Ethics Committee approval. He mismanaged funds, and accepted tens of thousands of pounds from lawyers attempting to discredit the MMR vaccine, being found by the GMC to have intentionally misled the Legal Aid Board in the process. He was not just dishonest, unprofessional and dangerous; his contempt for the rules and regulations that safeguard children in research projects was vile.
Vaccines save lives – in the last 150 years measles has been estimated to have killed about 200 million people worldwide, it is not just an inconvenient childhood illness, it kills.