I’ll admit it: Wakefield’s research has been replicated over and over again

Calm down, will you? As long as you’ve been reading this blog and you think that I’m about to absolve Andrew Jeremy Wakefield? Not at all. I’m about to nail the (by my count) 145,345,364th nail in the coffin of his “MMR causes Autism” theory. See, the anti-vaccine “Wakefieldites” have been claiming that his “research” has been duplicated by other scientists. I put “research” in quotes because his paper is no research at all, from an epidemiological and even medical point-of-view. It was a fraud, but we’ll leave that for later.

Wakefield’s retracted paper has the following conclusion:

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.”

My emphasis in bold.

That’s it. That’s their conclusion. Later on, the authors state that there is inadequate evidence to link the vaccine, that the onset of symptoms occurred after the vaccine, and that (as is the case in most research) further studies were necessary.

So, yes, further studies were done, and they all replicated Wakefield’s findings of no association. If you remember, it was Wakefield’s opinion that the MMR vaccine caused autism. Perhaps encouraged by the pay day coming with his patent for the single measles shot, or some other incentive altogether, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield decided to inject his opinion into this, even after the facts didn’t support his findings:

“Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.”

My emphasis in bold, again.

Read that last quote again, ladies and gentlemen. The anti-vaccine activists, all the harm they’ve done to herd immunity, all the anti-science and hate they spew, the cheering of murders in Pakistan of vaccine workers, all of that… All of that came from how Andrew Jeremy Wakefield felt, not from fact, not from evidence, not from anything tangible… Just how he felt.

12 thoughts on “I’ll admit it: Wakefield’s research has been replicated over and over again

  1. The truth is that Wakefield’s preliminary research has been replicated several times and to refuse to see and admit to that is nothing more than a high level of refusal to face the facts, and deliberate denialism.

    Dr Andrew Wakefield – MMR Vaccine – Truth and Reality
    [Redacted to delete spamming link]

    • Yes, it has. It keeps showing that there is no association, just like his 1998 paper confirmed. Did you not read this blog post before you commented, Lowell?

  2. ” It’s cold. It’s maybe even callous. But it’s the world we live in.” That took a lot of guts to say that. It’s a start…
    There are a few of us, who just watch and wait. The “correlation does not equal causation” is a real pisser when it happens on the way home from the shots. And few…VERY few have been as honest as you.

    • Too subtle is right. They’re sharing it left and right on Facebook. It’s hilarious. Made my day to see them all worked up when sharing it and then really, really pissed when they read it.

  3. As the parent of a child who suffered a severe fever immediately following the MMR, lost the ability to walk by the next morning and didn’t speak again for more than a year, I’ll respectfully disagree.

    He broke out in head-to-toe measles between receiving the MMR Friday and begin admitted to Children’s Hospital days later. His chart even lists the cause as “MMR reaction, encephalopathy”. The vaccine didn’t protect him from the measles — it gave him the measles.

    To dismiss all claims of vaccine injury based on one flawed study and dozens of others that don’t account for the consequences of immunologically compromised children whose pre-existing conditions and genetic predispositions are worsened by challenges to their fragile, still developing immune systems is equally dangerous. Our son had a previously identified IgA deficiency that even the CDC lists as a medical contra-indication for the safety and efficacy of live attenuated virus vaccinations. But we didn’t know that at the time, the multi-page, fine-print vaccine insert was never presented to us for review and our pediatrician gave it to him anyway.

    There are children with compromised or contra-indicated conditions that are unknown, overlooked or ignored whose vaccine injuries are both provable and preventable. But the accurate implication of vaccine injuries as the cause of even a subset of cases of autism becoming widely publicized undermines the medical and moral authority of those whose power and profits hinge on an absolute policy that deems individual suffering acceptable collateral damage.

    • JR, you are correct in some respects. No vaccine is 100% safe nor 100% effective. There have and always will be reactions to them, some minor, some very bad, as it seems to be the case with your child. Nowhere does any respectable scientist dismiss “all claims of vaccine injury.” No one “worth their salt,” anyway. As you have stated, your child had a condition which should have been a contraindication for the vaccine. I’m truly sorry it wasn’t caught, and I can only imagine how nightmarish all that could be.

      The flip side to this is that measles itself could have done this to your child. The wild-type virus is even more virulent (severe in its presentation) than the vaccine. If we allow the MMR vaccine to be discontinued or spaced-out, and if we allow exaggerations of its “danger” to be put out to the public, many, many more children with conditions similar to your child’s will have to deal with true measles. Some of them may even die, a fate worse than autism or any other vaccine injury.

      I could assure you that no one I know in public health “deems individual suffering acceptable collateral damage.” God, how I wish there wasn’t any collateral damage. Unfortunately, to keep thousands from dying, we need to take the chance of hundreds to get hurt. It’s cold. It’s maybe even callous. But it’s the world we live in.

      Then again, if everyone who could get vaccinated did get vaccinated, we could eradicate measles, chickenpox, rubella (German measles), and even mumps in one or two generations, like we did with smallpox.

      Thank you for you comment.

      Comment edited 7/14/13 to delete “other” in “or any other vaccine injury. I makes it read like I’m including autism with vaccine injuries, which is not the case under any circumstance.

    • My kid had seizures from a now vaccine preventable disease. So I am always concerned with the relative risks, because truthfully actually getting measles has a much higher risk of causing neurological problems.

      Unlike us, because the seizures were caused by the disease and not a vaccine, you have recourse with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. And from your description it is a table injury. Let us see, first there is III B (Encephalopathy), and then V B (Vaccine-Strain Measles Viral Infection in an immunodeficient recipient). I assume they tested to see if it was a wild or vaccine strain virus.

      I am sorry for what you had to go through. I understand because it happened to us with an actual disease, and who knows who he caught it from, and there was no vaccine for it yet, but there is now.. Trust me, the vaccine is much safer.

      I hope your claim with the NVICP went well.

    • @ J.R. McMillan: I can only reiterate what Chris has stated to you about your child’s “MMR reaction, encephalopathy”), which is classified as a Table Injury in the Vaccine Court.

      I believe you may be mistaken about MMR vaccine being contraindicated in the presence of a primary IGA deficiency…according to the CDC guidelines, (TABLE 13. Vaccination of persons with primary and secondary immunodeficiencies)


      I am a retired public health nurse and the parent of a child (since deceased), who was born with a primary immune deficiency…and I can assure you that I and my colleagues do not consider children who have an exceedingly rare severe adverse reaction to a vaccine, as “collateral damage”.

  4. Bravo! This is well-written, well-reasoned and a powerful indictment of those who try to make spurious claims about Wakefield’s pseudo-research. I’m the proud aunt of a severely autistic niece, who did not develop her condition from any vaccine. My brother died from meningitis before a vaccine was available, so I never even knew him. Those who continue to promote this horrifying anti-vax agenda will someday have much to answer for. They do already.

  5. Well, I think that we need to work on having Andrew Wakefield charged with, at the VERY least, negligent homicide…

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