The news cycle has been ecstatic over a British Medical Journal report charging that Andrew Wakefield (the medical researcher who co-authored a 1998 Lancet study questioning the safety of vaccines) is a fraud:
How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed
5 January 2011
This seems to provide extra confirmation of a 2009 report by the London Times alleging the same. After all, two independent reports from respectable sources coming up with the same conclusion is pretty hard to dismiss:
Hidden records show MMR truth
February 8, 2009
Of course, the problem with this line of thinking, as anyone paying attention may have already noticed, is that both reports have the same author. So this isn't exactly two different reports, it's more like one reporter repeating himself in two places.
Meanwhile, the actual story by Deer has two primary areas of attack. One, that Wakefield made mistakes that were not mere honest accidents but part of an intentional, elaborate hoax. (On his blog, Deer compares the Lancet study to the infamous Piltdown Man fraud.) Two, that Wakefield's intentional fraud was partly inspired by greed. As TodayShow.com reports, "Wakefield was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to act as a medical expert in a class-action suit against the MMR manufacturers — and the doctor never disclosed that information."
Controversial autism doc: ‘I’m not going away’
A BMJ editorial concludes: "We hope that declaring the paper a fraud will close that door for good."
It would be easy to dismiss Deer as a hack attack artist for the pharmaceutical industry. And that's precisely what Wakefield has done, calling Deer "a hitman" on CNN. (For the record, the BMJ declares: "Brian Deer’s investigation was funded by the Sunday Times of London and the Channel 4 television network. Reports by Deer in the BMJ were commissioned and paid for by the journal. No other funding was received, apart from legal costs paid to Deer by the Medical Protection Society on behalf of Andrew Wakefield.") Still, after reading Deer's piece, this writer has to admit he makes a very strong case attacking the credibility of Wakefield. If Deer is a hitman, he sure is a good one. When Wakefield responds to the charges in writing, The Konformist will be sure to report his answers. In the meantime, it seems there are legitimate questions raised about Wakefield's work. Certainly pressure from the vaccine industry is intense, but perhaps the retraction of the study by the Lancet and 10 of the 12 co-authors has less to do with professional cowardice and more to do with a refusal to defend what they couldn't defend any longer.
That said, questions over the safety of vaccines neither begins nor ends with Wakefield's report. Former Playmate of the Year Jenny McCarthy (who may deserve more recognition for her advocacy of autistic children than looking awesome naked, which is saying quite a bit, since she looks really awesome naked) had this to say on her Website GenerationRescue.org:
"For years, the media has mischaracterized Wakefield's work as implicating the MMR vaccine in the autism epidemic. This was never true, as Wakefield himself wrote in the conclusion to his paper:
'We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.'
We hope the media will take the time to read the actual Lancet study, rather than repeating the message of a vaccine-industry funded media circus."
To read the actual Lancet study:
So ironically, Wakefield has been demonized even though his own study came to no firm conclusions. But by just making it respectable to question the safety of vaccines on children, he opened a door the vaccine industry wanted to keep shut, which probably has more to do with his Public Enemy Number One status by the medical establishment than any errors in his work.
Elsewhere on GenerationRescue.org, it is noted:
"The growth in the number of vaccines given to our children in the last 20 years is rarely discussed in the media, despite a 260% increase in vaccines administered (were millions of children dying from deadly diseases 25 years ago?). Parents should know that vaccines are never tested for their "combination risk", despite the fact that children may get as many as 6 vaccines in a single visit to the doctor. And, when it comes to vaccines, how can it be possible that one size fits all? What may present as no risks for one child may present enormous risks for another...
Vaccines have risks and parents are rarely told about these risks. Any pediatrician who represents that vaccines are "completely safe" is not presenting the facts. Many vaccines contain other toxic substances including ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant dye), benzethonium chloride (a disinfectant), formaldehyde (a preservative and disinfectant), and aluminum (another known neuro-toxin). Further, some viruses used in vaccines are cultured in animal tissue including chicken albumin and monkey liver...
Vaccine manufacturers are no different from other corporations: they want to sell more of whatever it is they make. Unfortunately, there is a revolving door between the policy-makers who determine the vaccine schedule and the pharmaceutical companies who make vaccines..."