An elaborate fraud

Andrew Wakefield is the disgraced research who claimed to have found a link between vaccines and autism in a 1998 study. This resulted in many deaths, increased illness, and his removal from the medical register in the U.K. Now a little investigative journalism has found that Wakefield outright made up a lot of his data.

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield’s paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children’s parents.

And then children died because of Andrew Wakefield. I wonder when the public will get an apology from the media for promoting this pure horseshit? I’m not holding my breath.

In an accompanying editorial, BMJ editor Fiona Godlee and colleagues called Wakefield’s study “an elaborate fraud.” They said Wakefield’s work in other journals should be examined to see if it should be retracted.

I only include this because I had a different original source, so I hadn’t read this part of the article when I made the title to this post. I guess it’s just the most accurate way of describing the work of Andrew Wakefield.

Update: via PZ, watch Anderson Cooper engage in some responsible journalism by not letting Wakefield off the hook.

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Anti-vax crowd causing deaths

Anti-vaccine people are a significant danger. They encourage a state ignorance or fear, or both. There’s hardly a discernible reason why they want to advocate against something that has saved so many lives without once causing autism or any of the other horrible conditions they falsely attribute to vaccinations. Perhaps it’s a hatred of “Big Pharma” or maybe it’s a general anti-science attitude. I’m not entirely sure. But whatever the reason, the results are deadly.

State health officials reported Thursday that California is on track to break a 55-year record for whooping cough infections in an epidemic that has already claimed the lives of nine infants.

At least 4,017 cases of the highly contagious illness have been reported in California, according to the state. Data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control show 11,466 cases nationwide, though the federal numbers are known to lag behind local reporting.

Vaccinations would have almost certainly saved all those infants. Even if they didn’t get the vaccines themselves, if roughly 95% of all other members of at-risk groups were vaccinated, they probably wouldn’t have faced any illness.

And there’s more.

A measles outbreak has claimed the lives of 70 children in Zimbabwe over the past two weeks, mostly among families from apostolic sects that shun vaccinations, state media said Thursday.

This is both unnecessary and an extension of the anti-vax movement that is taking place in the United States and Europe. We should know better.

It isn’t surprising that religion is involved. Few religious groups overtly advocate against modern medicine based upon their religion, but many of them are hostile towards all the advances human society has made because they’re hostile towards science. There is an unresolvable conflict between science and religion so long as both exist, and this is an extension of that, just as the anti-vax movement in the U.S. and Europe can be partially labeled an extension the conflict. (All the causes, though, are perplexing, and as I said earlier, I just don’t know all the motivations.)

Children aren’t getting autism or any other disease or condition from vaccines. They’re only gaining protection needed for the stability and strength of their health.

Vaccinate.