Research linking vaccines to autism a fraud
January 20, 2011
Filed under Archives
In 2009, Andrew Wakefield, author of a 1998 study linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism, had his medical license revoked and his study withdrawn. Now, allegations of bad science with accompanying charges of fraud in the study have emerged, reports National Public Radio.
Since Wakefield’s study was published, there have been increased reports worldwide of measles, whooping cough and polio — all of which are serious diseases that require vaccines, reports MSNBC.
Newsweek reported that 10 of the study’s 12 co-authors withdrew their names in 2004.
“Wakefield would only talk about data that supported his hypothesis,” said co-author Nicholas Chadwick, who withdrew his name, to Newsweek. “Once he had his theory, he stuck to it no matter what.”
British Journalist Brian Deer was suspicious of Wakefield’s study. Deer discovered that the medical records of the 12 children studied did not match the study’s data. In fact, many of the children showed signs of autism before receiving the MMR shot.
Deer suggested the reasons for the contradictions are financial in nature.
According to Discovery News, Wakefield planned to earn $40 million from his autism diagnostic testing kits alone, not including the proceeds from his patented “safer” vaccine.
Wakefield discussed joint business deals while still studying the first child in his research. He also received funding from groups hoping to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine, according to the British Medical Journal.
“Independent laboratories with no vested interests could not repeat his results,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Michele Malotky.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Wakefield denies allegations that he falsified the patients’ symptoms. He called Deer “a hitman (hired to) take me down,” in a CNN interview.
Autism awareness groups have publicly defended Wakefield.
“In all honesty, the ‘beat the Andy piñata’ came up and is a surprise,” said Lisa Ackerman, executive director of non-profit organization Talking About Curing Autism, in an e-mail interview. “We support Dr. Andrew Wakefield for being courageous, examining sick children and for listening to parents.”
The allegations of fraud have erupted a firestorm of controversy between parents, autism awareness groups and the scientific community in an already delicate debate.
“I’m a little suspicious of vaccines myself,” said senior Christina Shoffner. “I’m unsure if everything in them is healthy. But if I had children, I probably would have them vaccinated. I’m borderline on the issue.”
What is needed to end the controversy is honest scientific research.
“Unless we come up with another answer, people will hold fast to the alleged claims of a relationship between vaccines and autism,” said Malotky. “We need to be able to turn in an unbiased fashion and begin to reconstruct and look at what other kinds of factors may be involved in autism.”