MMR Vaccine Fraud Calls For Parliamentary Inquiry

Calls for a parliamentary investigation and charges that someone at the top was, if not deceitful, assuredly incompetent: No, this isn’t another post about the testimony News Corporation’s James Murdoch gave to the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee on Thursday but about a topic I’ve been following for 14 years — the claims by a British doctor, Andrew Wakefield, that the MMR vaccine was connected to the onset of autism in children. The 1998 study in which Wakefield and others described such a connection has not only been retracted by the medical journal that published it,  The Lancet, but its findings have been discredited as “deliberate fraud.”

Now, Dr. Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into MMR fraud. At least six of Wakefield’s articles besides the 1998 Lancet one warrant “independent investigation,” she says.

In the  same issue of BMJ, an essay  by journalist Brian Deer (who has long reported on Wakefield’s fraudulent claims) examines the unpublished data that Wakefield used in a 2000 paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in which he described a “new syndrome” that he called ”autistic enterocolitis; this paper has also been retracted. After thirteen years and numerous studies, Wakefield’s results have yet to be replicated and Deer, after an examination of pathology reports about intestinal biopsies from 11 out of the 12 children, explains why: There was no enterocolitis in the intestinal specimens. Indeed, the specimens from the children were “overwhelmingly normal.” In addition, the reports left out some key information: Two of the children had a history of severe constipation and endoscopy could not reach their small intestine for samples because of “gross faecal loading.”

That is, if Wakefield’s research was not “deliberate fraud,” he would have to be said to be simply incompetent as a medical researcher.

For these reasons, Godlee has written a letter to MP Andrew Miller and called for Parliament to investigate University College of London where Wakefield carried out his research, unless the university  carries out its own:

If UCL does not immediately initiate an externally-led review of its role in the vaccine scare, we believe that parliament should do it. After the effort and time it has taken to crack the secrets of the MMR scare, and the enormous harm it has caused to public health, it would compound the scandal not to heed the warnings from this catastrophic example of wrongdoing.

Proponents of the notion the vaccines or something in vaccines might be linked to autism published articles criticizing Deer in the week before his BMJ report. Supporters of such a theory have indeed been loathe to give up their claims, despite the continued accruing of evidence and the fact that Wakefield’s claims about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism have had a lasting, and unfortunate, effect on public health. His findings were widely reported in the mainstream media and set off a massive global public health scare. Vaccination rates in the UK fell to an 80% low in 2003-4; while these have recovered, they have yet to return to the 95% level recommended by the World Health Organization to ensure herd immunity. Measles was declared endemic in England and Wales in 2008, for the first time in 14 years; the US is currently  seeing the highest rates of measles in 15 years as parents still hesitate to have their children vaccinated. Wakefield himself was struck off the UK medical register over charges of misconduct, including four counts of dishonesty, in May of last year and now practices privately in Texas.

Should Parliament decide to hold an inquiry about Wakefield’s research and MMR fraud, there will be much to discuss and deliberate on — and some blame and censure to deliver to some parties — indeed.


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Photo by Andres Rueda


Judith Howard
Judith Howard4 years ago

Don't jump the gun too fast thinking the worst of Wakefield. Research both sides of the issue.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

He won't answer or will be evasive and say that he doesn't risk getting rabies.

Lindsey DTSW
.4 years ago

Bryon, I don't know what region your statistics are meant to cover; however dogs and cats still get rabies in the United States (8% of the over 6,000 reported animal cases in 2010 were dogs/cats, with the rest being raccoons, skunks, bats, and other wildlife).

And humans aren't being given rabies vaccinations wholesale "just in case". Those who work with animals in shelters or wildlife rehab clinics, etc. often get the pre-exposure vaccine because they're at far greater risk than normal (just as I took the vaccine when I was doing wildlife rescue/rehab). Most people, however, unless they're at risk for having been exposed would never get a rabies vaccination.

But again - since you insist that vaccines aren't helpful for humans, I assume you wouldn't get one even if you were bitten by a rabid animal?

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Stanley B

Yes, there are more illnesses, it seems. And in the US, health is big business, including the claptrap new age snakeoil remedies so meany here promote.

Why have health costs shot up as well as interventions?

People are living longer, so become susceptible to far more illnesses. Cures and/or alleviations have been found for illnesses or conditions that either killed people previously or were just put up with. As people get better informed and live in a wealthier society, they will not put up with what their parents' generation put up with, much less what their grandparents suffered in silence; they denmand and get treatment And, despite what we know about nutrition and all the rest, we are actually living far more unhealthily than before. So many people are obese in the West with all the concomitant problems that this brings and we exercise less. When people were subjected to rationing in the UK during and after the war, this diet produced the healthiest people. Prisoners in the UK on a similar diet have fewer health physical problems and their health improves after incarceration. Increased sexual contact and promiscuity have led to increase in diseases that we all kniow about, herpes and trhe rest.

Yes, big pharma could do more, but there is no conspiracy to make people ill. That's just swivel eyed nonsense.

Stanley Balgobin
Stanley R.4 years ago

The Medical, Pharmaceutical, Hospital, Insurance, Industry is BIG Business. The percentage of chronic illnesses has skyrocketed exponentially in the last 50 years. Why is this? Don't we have better nutrients, more health information, better health care, and improved standards of living?
Perhaps because there are special interest at stake to keep the population sick so that profits in these Industries can be maintained

Terry King
Terry King4 years ago

Are you being compelled to be vaccinated? If not then feel free to abstain!

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Bryon S

"They" are giving rabies vaccinations to people who may have been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite. "They" are also giving rabies vaccinations to peoploe who travel to countries where rabies is endemic - if those people rquest it.

Now, answer the question. If you were bitten by a demonstrably rabid animal, would you refuse the vaccine?

Bryon S.
Bryon S.4 years ago

Lindsay D. The odds of me getting rabies is very slim. The last known cat with rabies was in 1984; the last known dog was in 1989. Rodents, rabbits, and squirrels almost never get rabies. And yet they are giving humans rabies vaccinations just in case at $600 a pop. Tell me that is not a scam.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Hi Lindsay.

I have been saved by the rabies vaccine. I was bitten by what doctors assumed was a rabid cat in the Gambia some 20 years ago. The old stomach-injected vaccine was the only one available there, so I had to fly to Dakar in Senegal to get the new one.

And I wonder how the anti-vaxers explain the defeat of smallpox.

Lindsey DTSW
.4 years ago

True, John D. That is an awkward question for many. The rabies vaccine is such a magnificent success story in the world of vaccines. (And I can pretty well guarantee that all the vaccine naysayers would get one in a heartbeat if they thought they'd been exposed to rabies....)