MMR scare doctor Andrew Wakefield: Measles outbreak in Wales proves I was right

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The discredited doctor who triggered the MMR scare 15 years ago has pinned the blame for the outbreak of measles in south Wales on the Government.


In an extraordinary intervention, Andrew Wakefield, who was struck off the medical register, said the “British Government is entirely culpable” for the outbreak and accused officials of “putting price before children’s health” – despite a widespread consensus that it was the panic over his flawed research that led to the surge in the disease.

The number of measles cases in the Swansea area rose to 693 on Thursday. It is now the largest outbreak in the country for over a decade, exceeding the 622 cases recorded in Merseyside in 2012.

Public Health Wales warned that the outbreak was unlikely to peak for “two to three” weeks because of the incubation period for measles. Children return to school after the Easter holiday on Monday and will begin mixing with a wider group of their peers, which could accelerate the spread of the disease.

Health officials urged parents to take their children to one of the drop-in vaccination clinics set up in the wake of the outbreak.

They say at least 6,000 people remain unprotected in south-west Wales and it is only a matter of time before a child develops serious complications as a result.

Written By: Jeremy Laurance
continue to source article at independent.co.uk

28 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Perfect Tommy:

      What a worthless piece of human waste.

      Ad hominem attacks cheapen and weaken arguments, aren’t worthy of this website, and I wish people would stop posting them.

      S G

      • I agree with you, I really need to stop knee jerking to these stories. Especially when I am about to hit the sack.

        In reply to #11 by Stafford Gordon:

        In reply to #1 by Perfect Tommy:

        What a worthless piece of human waste.

        Ad hominem attacks cheapen and weaken arguments, aren’t worthy of this website, and I wish people would stop posting them.

        S G

      • In reply to #11 by Stafford Gordon:

        In reply to #1 by Perfect Tommy:

        What a worthless piece of human waste.

        Ad hominem attacks cheapen and weaken arguments, aren’t worthy of this website, and I wish people would stop posting them.

        S G

        I couldn’t agree more. I do understand how tempting it is to attribute “colorful labels” to an individual responsible for the needless suffering of children. I am not above that urge myself. But I think we should have the good sense to keep those to ourselves and elevate the discussion above this kind of smearing.

    • In reply to #2 by fuzzylogic:

      How is he claiming this proves him right?

      You should know it’s fuzzylogic ! I think he argued that they should use the single measles vaccine and if they had there wouldn’t have been this problem.

      Michael

  1. It seems to me that there are two seperate issues here. Andrew Wakefield was struck off over the MMR vaccine row, but the single Measles jab was never in question, so why wasn’t it used?

    Surely it’s better to stick needles into children than to let them run the risk of contracting diseases; prior to the MMR compound everyone had to undergo the unpleasantness of “multi-pricks”.

    Had parents simply become confused, or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

    • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

      It seems to me that there are two seperate issues here. Andrew Wakefield was struck off over the MMR vaccine row, but the single Measles jab was never in question, so why wasn’t it used?

      Surely it’s better to stick needles into children than to let them run the risk of contracting diseases; prior to the MMR compound everyone had to undergo the unpleasantness of “multi-pricks”.

      Occurred to me, also

      Had parents simply become confused, or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

    • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

      It seems to me that there are two seperate issues here. Andrew Wakefield was struck off over the MMR vaccine row, but the single Measles jab was never in question, so why wasn’t it used?

      To be fair, the MMR jab was also never really in question. A whole lot of unsupported media squawking and hoo-haa shouldn’t really count as ‘being in question’ in medical matters.

      I would imagine it’s a case of economics and logistics, amongst other things. A single MMR jab (whilst being less distressing than a whole battery of jabs for children) will be cheaper and easier to manufacture and administer. It makes no sense to break this back down into two or three jabs (for no good reason, remember) just to appease a relatively tiny minority of people who are gullible. Additionally, the more jabs that are required, the more likely (I would imagine) that a child will attempt to get out of taking further ones and thus avoid vaccination for one or more diseases. Vaccination take up rate figures for one or multiple jabs might prove or disprove that, though, I’m just an ignorant layperson.

      Had parents simply become confused, or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

      Some (many?) parents who bought into the jab scare also conflated the hysteria over the MMR jab with all vaccines in general. If they weren’t going to send their kid for the MMR jab, they were probably unlikely to send them for any jabs at all – so splitting out the jabs would likely have made no difference anyway.

      • In reply to #7 by BenS:

        In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:
        … Additionally, the more jabs that are required, the more likely (I would imagine) that a child will attempt to get out of taking further ones and thus avoid vaccination for one or more diseases. Vaccination take up rate figures for one or multiple jabs might prove or disprove that, though, I’m just an ignorant layperson.

        The previous link to the HPA website mentions that vaccination rates improved after the introduction of MMR, though I’m guessing this was due, at least in part, to a concerted campaign to encourage uptake (e.g. A successful measles campaign as a model for achieving high uptakes of MMR, Public Health 104(1) 1990 – Link to abstract: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033350605803427)

        Had parents simply become confused, or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

        Some (many?) parents who bought into the jab scare also conflated the hysteria over the MMR jab with all vaccines in general. If they weren’t going to send their kid for the MMR jab, they were probably unlikely to send them for any jabs at all – so splitting out the jabs would likely have made no difference anyway.

        I suspect you are right. I have seen seen both; those that avoid MMR specifically (due to ‘autism’) and those that avoid all immunisations (due to mercury/autism/”it’s not safe to expose kids to all those chemicals” etc.) Y’know, they never can give me a good explanation why they should knowingly let their child be a vector for unpleasant diseases. The answer is always “I’ve done my research and I don’t wanna…” Sigh.

    • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

      It seems to me that there are two seperate issues here. Andrew Wakefield was struck off over the MMR vaccine row, but the single Measles jab was never in question, so why wasn’t it used?…

      I think BenS has covered the major point of health economics i.e. triple the cost & effort to administer for separate jabs. Also, as mentioned here on the Health Protection Agency website – about a third of the way down (http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/MMR/GeneralInformation/), the currently importable single jabs have not been tested for efficacy compared to the attenuated viruses in the MMR.

      The other issue is spacing out of the jabs – there’s no real evidence of how long you should leave it between jabs (even with the current MMR) but 6 injections means 5 intervals after the first – plenty of extra time to pick up measles, mumps or rubella before full immunity kicks in and therefore equivalent to being unimmunised for longer.

    • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

      It seems to me that there are two seperate issues here. Andrew Wakefield was struck off over the MMR vaccine row, but the single Measles jab was never in question, so why wasn’t it used?Surely it’s better to stick needles into children than to let them run the risk of contracting diseases; prior to the MMR compound everyone had to undergo the unpleasantness of “multi-pricks”.Had parents simply become confused, or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

      The single vaccines were not licensed for several very good reasons.

      Risk to the child – separate vaccines at separate times to ensure only single doses of each vaccine increases the amount of time that the child isn’t fully protected (eg the time allowed between each vaccine -measles one month, mumps the next etc). Also all vaccines have minor side effects which are best minimised by not doing them to often – if a vaccine raises temperature for example, far better to have that happen once or twice rather than six times.

      Logistics – People would quite simply probably miss one or two. It is hard enough to coordinate bringing a child to the doctors for the few routine vaccines we have. To do the jabs separately would involve six separate vaccinations on six separate dates rather than two on top of what we already have. It is hard enough to keep on top of as it is

      Cost – the NHS is not a limitless pot, why take money out of that pot to pander to the whims of stupid people because it isn’t just the increased cost of the single vaccines its the additional staff to deal with three times the amount of vaccinations, to call the parents in, to arrange appointments etc.

      The risk of appearing to give substance to crackpot ideas – you can’t really let media hysteria about already discredited research govern medical treatments. Otherwise the NHS would be offering homeopathy and reiki for free because some loony daily mail reader thinks its great. Quite simply doing that would have suggested his ideas had some credibility and would have decreased uptake of the perfectly safe mmr jab.

      The man should have been imprisoned for fraud and hopefully someone will sue him for something. I’m just annoyed the NHS aren’t pursuing him for the costs of the massive mop up vaccination operation in Wales now parents finally realise what morons they’ve been.

    • Wakefield was backing the single injection, for profit, that’s why he was against the MMR. Unfortunately people that buy into the “not trusting big pharma” buy in completely so all of Wakefields’ conniving and criminal activity was all for naught – even for him. How sad.

      In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

      It seems to me that there are two seperate issues here. Andrew Wakefield was struck off over the MMR vaccine row, but the single Measles jab was never in question, so why wasn’t it used?

      Surely it’s better to stick needles into children than to let them run the risk of contracting diseases; prior to the MMR compound everyone had to undergo the unpleasantness of “multi-pricks”.

      Had parents simply become confused, or am I missing something here? That’s not a rhetorical question.

  2. “I triggered a scare that caused parents to stop having their children vaccinated. Now, diseases that the vaccine would have prevented are flaring up in society. Therefore, I am right!”

    Bell end.

  3. This arrogant, odious individual is originally from my town, so he held a meeting here to convince parents of his views. This was about 16 years ago, when myself and friends had children of the age to have the MMR. He was, and probably still is, an extremely convincing speaker, and many of my friends were convinced by him. I had a hard time convincing them of the science, but mothers feel guilty and worried whatever they do. He played on those fears.
    The single vaccine issue is a red herring. He had previously taken out a patent for a new measles vaccine, and would have made a great deal of money from it. It was in his financial interests to discredit the MMR, whilst still promoting the principle of vaccination. This was the main point of evidence against him as his conflict of interest, and one of the reasons he was struck off.
    How does he have the nerve to push the blame onto the government and newspapers, and show no compassion for the families that are now suffering thanks to his actions.

  4. Sadly this long discredited little toe-rag finds a band wagon to jump on, if he wants to apportion blame try the local newsrag which backed his anti MMR campaign and now we are seeing the outcome.

  5. This sorry case highlights a difference between science and the inadequacies of the evolved social structure.

    1. Judges look at the case in front of them and make a judgement as best they can. They don’t do it in a systematic way as scientists do.

    2. … the affair sparked a media storm which saw vaccination rates plummet, hundreds of thousands of children left unprotected, and measles cases soar.

    Courts and the Media make decisions, come to conclusions, based on exceptionally poor secondary and tertiary education (the majority in the media are clearly only educated to a secondary level – whatever their claims to an alternative – as is evidenced by their ready, seemingly universal, acceptance of so-called ‘balanced’ reporting), and they are Society’s main barometers – yardsticks even – of what’s right or wrong about a position, story, explanation, interpretation, or ‘spin’.

    The people who work at these coal-faces would argue, with some justification, that they must make judgements within time limits and almost always on the basis of a small sub-set of the facts. The legal profession builds in delays as much as possible in order to give the facts time to come to light – while frustrating us all (and by pure coincidence, I feel certain, pumping up the bill).

    The Media, meanwhile, has no such excuse.

    Indeed, the Media give every appearance of revelling in their ability to add their own ‘spin’ even after the truth and the full facts are known. A lie by any other name would smell as foul?

    Science, on the other hand, basks in the sunshine of truth, and revels only in the knowledge that its true discoveries may prove to be approximate, or false, at some later date.

    Politics notwithstanding:

    • Science has the luxury of time, largely because no-one else is qualified to break new ground – to identify new and improved truths.

    • Science (the project) has the luxury of being able to change its collective mind.

    • Science can backtrack.

    When he was a doctor, Wakefield was not expected to be a scientist – he was largely regarded as a technician. But in the minds of the general public (and therefore the media), and the legal profession, anyone who studies medicine for more than a year is a ‘professional’ and so an expert.

    Being a technician / expert gives you a louder voice in the public discourse – right or wrong.

    It seems to me that Wakefield’s story is a call to arms.

    What is true has a real and present pertinence to us as individuals, to our families and to Society at large. Where does that leave the (to be charitable) less than true, and the Press smear campaign? As Tony Hancock so rightly observed: “It may be just a smear to you, mate, but it’s life and death to some poor bugger.”

    Yet we know that what is true may be:

    • Approximate: Subject to revision when new facts (a.k.a. evidence) come to light

    • Approximate: Limited by our own cognitive ability to understand and to model – individually and collectively

    • Limited: By our current level of knowledge (as Sir Isaac Newton so poignantly observed: “To myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

    • Discoverable. Despite his typically British reserve (as noted above), Newton is surely one of the most influential and prolific discoverers of all human history.

    This is a call to arms that seemingly finds an unassailable wall as its first obstacle. How do we extenuate the differences between Society’s two big requirements of truth:

    • Decision / Judgement

    • Fact

    Human judgement is, far, far too often it seems to me, based on a subjective appreciation of the case in point – psychology, environment, morality (all moveable feasts), and so on …

    On the other hand, being human, I can appreciate the need for a decision now – however imperfect it may later be proved.

    Wakefield is guilty of leveraging his authority (an authority which was real whatever doubts we have, or even may have had over the authority of his specific case against MMR) in order to promote a story which, with time, was proven false. Psychology (including motive) aside, what could possibly have suckered so many?

    The obvious, as plain as the nose on your face, answer (and I’ll say it only for completeness sake) is:

    Education.

    The human race must become more used to uncertainty, ambiguity, and an objective truth which is also, inevitably, nuanced. Why? Because it is the only path to greater truth. But (I hear you ask) where does that leave us in the meantime?

    It leaves us looking at a population that is conditioned by religion, tradition and the media to accept ‘authorities’ and ‘experts’ (like Wakefield) unquestionably.

    Wakefield stands as depressing testament to the power of the word even wen it’s the wrong word.

    Our demand for immediate answers, it seems to me, is rooted in the fear of death. We need answers before indecision kills us.

    From an evolutionary perspective this is clearly a good shorthand for a survival technique – deal with the now situation and move on. Even time and energy spent grieving for what might have been could, in a World lacking the tools and knowledge of today, have proved fatal.

    Have we reached the stage where we need to move on?

    Is the case of Wakefield evidence that Society needs to evolve beyond today’s inadequate structures?

    It could of course be argued that we are already evolving along these lines, to some degree. Example: All civilised societies (with apologies to US readers) have concluded that there is no truth, as judged in a court of law, sufficient to decide that a life should be taken [capital punishment is banned]..

    Peace..

    • In reply to #20 by giggity:

      What is causing the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses? What are the most valid hypotheses?

      I’ll shoot first -

      1. The NHS is improving at spotting the signs of autism.
      2. There is greater sensitivity now to the symptoms of autism than there used to be, so more cases are being brought to the attention of the NHS.
      • In reply to #23 by bob_e_s:

        In reply to #20 by giggity:

        What is causing the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses? What are the most valid hypotheses?

        I’ll shoot first -

        The NHS is improving at spotting the signs of autism.
        There is greater sensitivity now to the symptoms of autism than there used to be, so more cases are being brought to the attention of the NHS.

        Another thing I’ll mention is an interesting study from Japan where they switched to single jabs in the late 80′s (due to manufacturing issues rather than a ‘scare) so they’ve partially done the control trial we can’t in the UK – their autism rates continued to climb despite dropping MMR. (http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/vaccines/nommr.html)

        In the USA they’ve changed the diagnostic criteria recently due to the revision to DSM-V (http://www.autism.com/index.php/news_dsmV) so it’ll be intresting if diagnosis rates change. In the UK, they’re still using the ICD-10 Section F84 (http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/GRNBOOK.pdf)

    • In reply to #21 by PERSON:

      It’s not just Wakefield, it’s the media that repeated and sensationalised, even campaigned on his claims without verification.

      without doubt the media have much to answer to. when a scientific claim is made they need to get their facts straight and the real reason for this outbreak is less Andrew Wakefield and more Melenie Phillips and her dangerously incompetent crafdt she chooses to call journalism, and of course the Daily Mail who should answer to any social problem caused by a knee-jerk reaction to a non-story (or maybe their readers? i can never work out which is worse)

  6. “any serious defender of MMR vaccine safety” to a debate on live television.

    got some serious evidence to offer then?

    live tv debate is about as serious an academic you’ll ever be

    “get in the fecking sack”

  7. Don’t the Press deserve at least part of the blame for the MMR scare, as they are the ones who give airtime to any contrary crackpot that comes along, just to give the illusion of balanced reporting.

  8. His accusation makes no sense. Had the government done as he suggested there were have been even more measles (but according to him, less bowel disease). The very fact he resorts to such salad-logic suggests he was not just mistaken or unlucky in his original study; he is an active con man.

  9. Here is another scamster being taken to task!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-22186220

    Scientist Steven Eaton jailed for falsifying drug test results

    A scientist who faked research data for experimental anti-cancer drugs has been jailed for three months for falsifying test results.

    Steven Eaton, from Cambridgeshire, has become the first person in the UK to be jailed under scientific safety laws.

    Eaton, 47, was working at the Edinburgh branch of US pharmaceutical firm Aptuit in 2009 when he came up with the scam.

    Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Eaton had manipulated the results of an experiment so it was deemed successful when it had actually failed.

    When bosses at his firm scrutinised his work, they noticed that it was fraudulent.

    They stopped work on the project that Eaton was involved in, and reported him to watchdogs at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

    Investigators there discovered that Eaton had been selectively reporting research data since 2003.

    Next they need to get the homoeopaths and quackologists sorted out!

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