To anyone who’s been at all interested in the pseudoscientific nonsense that’s sprung up around vaccines, claiming to link them to autism, this is excellent news. Andrew Wakefield, now stripped of his medical degree for admitting to falsifying data in his infamous MMR-Autism study (the lie that launched Jenny McCarthy’s “mommy knows better than science” career) has been outright accused of “elaborate fraud” by the British Medical Journal after a very thorough investigation into his study. This is important, not only because the UK is one of the most hostile jurisdictions to libel/slander in the world (and therefore this case against him must be exceedingly well documented), but also because this is the first time someone has unearthed solid evidence and accused Wakefield of mendacity rather than error in building his false case against the MMR vaccine. The BMJ’s summary table:
How the link was fixed
The Lancet paper was a case series of 12 child patients; it reported a proposed “new syndrome” of enterocolitis and regressive autism and associated this with MMR as an “apparent precipitating event.” But in fact:
Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism
Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were “previously normal,” five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns
Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioural symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination
In nine cases, unremarkable colonic histopathology results—noting no or minimal fluctuations in inflammatory cell populations—were changed after a medical school “research review” to “non-specific colitis”
The parents of eight children were reported as blaming MMR, but 11 families made this allegation at the hospital. The exclusion of three allegations—all giving times to onset of problems in months—helped to create the appearance of a 14 day temporal link
Patients were recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study was commissioned and funded for planned litigation
Andrew Wakefield spawned a legion of pseudoscientists who have sowed misinformation and uncertainty about vaccines, and CHILDREN HAVE DIED BECAUSE OF IT. And he did it all because he had a patent on a competing way to vaccinate kids. And he was paid over £450000 by lawyers who were involved in trying to build cases against the medical community on behalf of parents of autistic children.
Fraud doesn’t even begin to cover it. The man is a mass murderer, and beyond that, has spawned a movement of well-meaning but misguided mothers to perpetuate the lies that are empirically harming children. Harming children and breaking down herd immunity against certain diseases, potentially giving them purchase to resurface in new and novel ways. If some kind of super-mumps appears and decimates populations, that blood should rightly be on his head.
Maybe all the money he’s made off these dead, dying and potential future dead kids, will help him buy a new conscience.