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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wakefield Reverb

Disability Scoop reports:

A week after calling research that first suggested a link between autism and vaccines an “elaborate fraud” a follow-up article in the British Medical Journal now says the researcher behind the study planned to make upwards of $43 million annually selling replacement vaccines and diagnostic products.

In the report published Tuesday, journalist Brian Deer reveals that Andrew Wakefield held a patent for “a ‘safer’ single measles shot.”

Meanwhile, Deer reports that Wakefield was in talks with investors to develop a business that “was to be launched off the back of the vaccine scare, diagnosing a purported — and still unsubstantiated — ‘new syndrome.’” A business plan for the venture indicates that by year three, diagnostic kits alone were anticipated to garner $43 million per year.

The New York Times editorializes:

Dr. Wakefield has accused Mr. Deer of being a hit man. But the medical journal compared the claims with evidence compiled in the voluminous transcript of official hearings and declared that flaws in the paper were not honest mistakes but rather an “elaborate fraud.”

Some parents still consider Dr. Wakefield a hero, and others have moved on to other theories, equally unsupported by scientific evidence, as to how vaccines might cause autism.

They need to recognize that failure to vaccinate their children leaves them truly vulnerable to diseases that can cause enormous harm.

Time interviews Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus:

This new report is an issue because the vast majority of people do not fall into one of the two camps, those who are against the vaccines and those who are for them. There's a kind of great middle that is somewhat undecided. That's one of the reasons why I find this new accusation of “fraud” troubling: it reintroduces this as a controversy. The irony is that the more it's talked about, the more people are going think that it's still an issue. (More on Growing Up in San Francisco's "Autism Cluster")


It's true that this is different from almost any other medical issue. Chiropractors are controversial as well. But I go to one and that's my choice. No one else is harmed. With the vaccine debate, we're seeing that more and more as more children are getting sick and they're dying. I think we're not far from the point at which we start having real discussions about consequences for people who don't vaccinate and end up bringing in disease. I don't have a background in the law, of course, but I do think the conversation is going to pivot in that direction. (More on Pseudoscience, anxiety, and other joys of taking your kid for his shots

For some reason, parents aren't being told that this "new" information about Dr. Wakefield isn't a medical report, but merely the allegations of a single British journalist named Brian Deer. Why does one journalist's accusations against Dr. Wakefield now mean the vaccine-autism debate is over?