I have touched on this subject before (here and here) but this does bare pointing out. It is being reported that the always highly dubious 1998 study that linked vaccinations with autism has had the final nail hammered into it’s coffin; The British Medical Journal has stated the study is “an elaborate fraud”. This is far from surprising though I dare say it shall be ignored by those who claim vaccinations are dangerous, despite the incredible lack of evidence to back such a claim.
Posted 2 hours 9 minutes ago
A 1998 study that unleashed a major health scare by linking childhood autism to a triple vaccine was “an elaborate fraud,” the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said.
The study was blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in Britain.
It was retracted by The Lancet last year and its senior author disgraced after the country’s longest-running hearing for conflict of interest and unethical treatment of patients.
But the BMJ has taken the affair further, branding the paper a crafted attempt to deceive.
“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” it said in an editorial.
“There are hard lessons for many in this highly damaging saga.”
The journal pointed the finger at lead author Andrew Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastro-enterology at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
Mr Wakefield and his team suggested they had found a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease among 12 children.
Autism is the term for an array of conditions ranging from poor social interaction to repetitive behaviours and entrenched silence.
The condition is rare, predominantly affecting boys, although its causes are fiercely debated.
Mr Wakefield and his team linked the syndrome to the MMR vaccine, which they said had been administered to eight of the youngsters shortly before the symptoms emerged.
Other scientists swiftly cautioned the study was only among a tiny group, without a comparative “control” sample, and the dating of when symptoms surfaced was based on parental recall, which is notoriously unreliable.
The study’s results have never been replicated.
The controversy unleashed a widespread parental boycott of the jab in Britain, and unease reverberated also in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The BMJ says hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against these three diseases.
In 2008, measles was declared endemic, or present in the wider population much like chicken pox, in England and Wales.
‘Evidence of falsification’
Mr Wakefield was barred from medical practice last year on grounds of conflict of financial interest and unethical treatment of some children involved in the research.
The BMJ says Sunday Times investigative journalist Brian Deer has “unearthed clear evidence of falsification”.
It says not one of the 12 cases as reported in the study tallied fully with the children’s official medical records and diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked in order to draw a convenient link with the MMR jab.
It says only one of the nine children described by Mr Wakefield as having “regressive autism” clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all.
The journal adds the findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine.
It says Wakefield had been confidentially paid hundreds of thousands of pounds through a law firm under plans to launch “class action” litigation against the vaccine.
Mr Deer, in a separate piece published by the BMJ, compared the scandal with the “Piltdown Man” hoax of 1953, when a supposed fossil of a creature half-man, half-ape turned out to be a fake.
Mr Wakefield, who still retains a vocal band of supporters, has reportedly left Britain to work in the United States.
He and his publishing agent did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment.
Mr Wakefield has previously accused Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) of seeking to “discredit and silence” him and shield the British government from responsibility in what he calls a “scandal”.
The Lancet says it will not comment on the accusations.