The quack where Oprah, Arianna and Jenny McCarthy get their Autism causes insert malady here nonsense has finally been censured for his quackery.
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist at London’s Royal Free Hospital, published a study in the prestigious medical journal Lancet that linked the triple Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism and bowel disorders in children. The study — and Wakefield’s subsequent public statements that parents should refuse the vaccines — sparked a public health panic that led vaccination rates in Britain to plunge.
Wakefield’s study has since been discredited, and the MMR vaccine deemed to be safe. But now medical authorities in the U.K. have also ruled that the manner in which Wakefield carried out his research was unethical. In a ruling on Jan. 28, The General Medical Council, which registers and regulates doctors in the U.K., ruled that Wakefield acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” during his research and with “callous disregard” for the children involved in his study.
The General Medical Council, which will now decide whether to revoke Wakefield’s medical license, highlighted several areas where Wakefield acted against the interest of the children involved in the 1998 study. It criticized Wakefield for carrying out invasive tests, such as colonoscopies and spinal taps, without due regard for how the children involved might be affected. It also cited Wakefield’s method of gathering blood samples — he paid children at his son’s birthday party $8 to give blood — and said that Wakefield displayed a “callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer.”
The panel also criticized Wakefield for failing to disclose that, while carrying out the research, he was being paid by lawyers acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR jab.
The panel’s ruling follows a refutation of Wakefield’s research from the scientific community. Ten of 13 authors in the Lancet study have since renounced the study’s conclusions. The Lancet has said it should not have published the study in the first place, and various other studies have failed to corroborate Wakefield’s hypothesis.
If it takes over a decade to discredit this quacks cooked up research and appropriately discredit his professional credentials, something needs to change about how the scientific and medical experts build public consensus regarding its findings. Wakefield is currently in Austin running an autism research center, so believe that there a bunch of unvaccinated kids running around due to the effective ground work of the marketing firm of Winfrey, Huffington and McCarthy. I doubt we’ll hear any retraction from any of them soon. Meanwhile Winfrey’s final season is being celebrated, the Huffington Post has been held up as the future of journalism and Jenny McCarthy is being exalted as a font of motherly advice and as far as the children who follow the quackery they promote:
Vaccination rates among toddlers plummeted from over 90% in the mid-1990s to below 70% in some places by 2003. Following this drop, Britain saw an increase in measles cases at a time when the disease had been all but eradicated in many developed countries. In 1998, there were just 56 cases of the disease in England and Wales; by 2008 there were 1,370.
Public health has been set back decades.