“Autism Caused By Vaccines” Data Faked?

There’s Science, There’s Bad Science And Then There’s Lies

Breaking, from the UK Times Online:

THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

In 1998 Andrew Wakefield’s study, published in The Lancet, indicated a relationship between instances of autism in children and the MMR vaccine.  It involved 12 cases. But in more than half of the cases the symptoms described in the Lancet paper do not agree with he hospital records, and the records of the patients GPs.

This bombshell does explain the lack of repeatability and corroboration in the relevant data sets collected over past decade.

The correlation is coincidental because the MMR vaccine is given at the age when autism symptoms usually appear, they concluded.

The researchers also examined seven studies from five countries that showed the presence or absence of thimerosal — an ethylmercury-containing preservative — in vaccines did not affect autism rates.

This is an emotional topic, and one in which people were caught up in personal tragedies and the tragedies of some very public people.  And that’s a shame, because it is one of those cases where the heart cannot be allowed to overrule the head, if only because it’s so easy to let that happen.

But if this story is at all true, then Wakefield has done more than just “bad science”, and more that merely committing fraud.  If this story is at all true then he has committed a horrendous crime to the public health that verges on attempting genocide on the young who need virus protection the most.  Think I exaggerate?  From The Independent (UK):

The number of cases of measles rose by more than a third last year, to reach the highest total since records for the illness began.

There were 1,348 cases in England and Wales in 2008, a 36 per cent increase on the previous year.

Half of the cases (662) of the potentially fatal disease occurred in London, where the MMR vaccination rates are lowest, the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which published the figures, said. It was a record number of measles cases in the capital. Records have been kept since 1995.

Nationally, 88.3 per cent of children have had their first MMR dose, given at around 14 months, and 76.3 per cent have had the second dose at age five, according to the latest available figures for September 2008.

But in London vaccination rates are as low as 29.9 per cent (in Hackney), well below those in the rest of the country.

In the Austrian paper The Age:

Victoria is having its biggest measles outbreak in years. There have already been 11 cases this year: there were only two in the whole of last year.

They go on to note how unvaccinated children over the age of 6 are most at risk.  It doesn’t take much of a Google search to find that outbreaks are also reported is Switzerland, Vietnam, Germany, India, the Philippines… shall I go on?

Major hat tips to Phil Plait for the original link, and for his constant attention to this topic.

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3 Comments on ““Autism Caused By Vaccines” Data Faked?”


  1. [...] Buckley of In Other Words has a strong reaction to the news: “Autism Caused By Vaccines” Data Faked? if this story is at all true, then Wakefield has done more than just “bad science”, and more [...]

  2. Becky Says:

    I, who have made sure my children have had every vaccination available to them, got into a dispute about this on another blog a while back. I’m still burned out on the subject :)

    But…the only vaccinations I can remember getting when I was little are smallpox and polio, and maybe some version of tetanus. The first two are pretty much out of action, so the premise behind them worked.

  3. joe Says:

    That sounds like a familiar story, Becky. I remember that I was the one who came home with measles first, then the BBD got it a day later, followed by our sister – bing, bing, bing. Prompted a house call by the family pediatrician (the last recorded house call in history, I’m sure), too. It was fun staying home from school (for about an hour).


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