Wakefield’s Fraud Ignored by U.S. Media

It is news in the UK.

It showed up 2 days ago on some high-traffic blogs: Pharyngula, Neurologica, Bad Science, several scienceblogs such as Aetiology, to name a few.

But as of this writing, searches of CNN.com, MSNBC.com, FoxNews.com, and LATimes.com turn up ZERO articles (many links to other sites on LATimes.com) covering the discovery that the findings of the already ethically questionable study by Wakefield (the one that scared parents out of vaccinating their children for a decade and counting) were fabricated.

A blog entry by Dr. John Crippen illustrates the consequences and, frankly, breaks my heart.

I have recently seen a case of measles. The last time I saw a case of measles was over twenty years ago when I was doing hospital paediatrics. The child I saw recently was ill. He did not need admission and, thank God, has fully recovered. The next child might not be so lucky. I am on the front line of medicine. I am not a research scientist. I do not have the scientific expertise of some of the Holford Watch team. But I see the children and, more frustratingly, I see the parents who are reluctant to allow their children to have the MMR. Are these parents mad? Well, frankly, a few of them are. They are “allergic to diary and wheat”, they dose themselves up on St John’s Wart, they have intestinal thrush, a kitchen full of Gingko Biloba and a shelf-full of avidly read books by the likes of Gillian McKeith and Patrick Holford. There are beyond rational discussion and there is little point in trying. I feel so sorry for their children.

In the UK, measles is once again an epidemic. This man (Wakefield) started the scare that led to the severe reduction in MMR vaccinations which, in turn, led to the return of measles.

In the U.S., children who do not receive the MMR vaccine are not permitted to attend school or daycare. However, chickenpox and some other vaccines are merely recommended. We are certainly not immune from the scaremongering and preventable diseases like chickenpox and Hib can and do kill children. A small portion of children who are vaccinated may contract the disease if exposed, but their chances of exposure drop to nearly zero when all of the children with which they interact have been vaccinated. If only half of us do our part, we are all at risk.

Although I am not optimistic that reporting the fraud will stamp out the “antivax” movement, we have to try.

Spread the word.

1 Comment

Alex on February 12th, 2009 at 11:41

I read about this in a Times of London article that was linked on HuffPost.

I was telling Astrid when Keith Olbermann had him in his Worst Persons segment as that day’s World’s Worst that this guy is basically finished and most likely won’t be doing science anymore. It’s pretty sad and lame.

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