Andrew Wakefield appeared on the US TV show “Today” in an interview with Matt Lauer. Mr Wakefield has just been erased from the medical register in the UK for his actions in regards to his research while at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
Much of the time is given over to taped footage from Matt Lauer’s Dateline episode on Mr Wakefield, leaving little time for the interview. Mr. Wakefield’s points were nothing new. First is his claim that his work has been replicated in five countries. It hasn’t. His second point is that the US government has been “secretly” settling vaccine-autism cases since 1991.
This was a big talking point a year ago, just not by Mr. Wakefield. At that time people were reviewing vaccine court cases for awawrdees who have ASD’s. Consider this post by David Kirby from last June:
And, more than 1,300 vaccine court cases were already paid out for encephalopathy and seizure disorders. We will soon learn how many of those children also have an ASD, though I can confirm now that it appears to be far, far higher than the1-in-150 rate reported by CDC.
There hasn’t been much discussion of that in many months. Apparently they have given this talking point to Mr. Wakefield. I was expecting something–some “hook”–that would make it worthwhile for Mr. Wakefield to be on the Today Show. Something interesting, not just a new book. I would find it odd if this is it. This information is not Mr. Wakefield’s work and has been sitting on a shelf for some time. A year ago we were told the results would be “soon”.
While we are discussing this, the idea that the government has been “secretly conceding” autism/vaccine cases is nonsense. The information they are talking about are in the decisions of the vaccine court–publicly available to anyone with WestLaw access. Many of the cases are publicly available on the vaccine court’s website–that’s how Kathleen Seidel at Neurodiversity.com got the information and first broke the story that, yes, autistic kids have been compensated in the past. See “a not so hidden History“.
The “US Government acknowledges that vaccines cause autism” argument gets even stranger when you consider that Mr. Wakefield is speaking. The US Government, through the vaccine court, declared in three separate test cases (for example, the Cedillo case) that Mr. Wakefield’s hypotheses on MRR/measles virus/persistent infection/autism are wrong. Not just wrong, “not even close”. The idea that Mr. Wakefield would use the decisions of the court to defend himself is amazing in its brazenness. “Amazing in his brazenness” is pretty much expected from Mr. Wakefield.
With that rather long introduction, here is the interview:
Mr. Lauer still doesn’t get the problem with Mr. Wakefield’s conflicts of interest. First, it is not just the money he was receiving to fund his research. Mr. Wakefield deflects criticism by claiming that the funds were for a different study. Mr. Wakefield was a paid expert in the litigation, contracted before the Lancet paper and the press conference. It doesn’t matter what studies he had ongoing and where this was funded, he was severely conflicted.
Second, while this didn’t come up in the Today Show interview, this is a defense Mr. Wakefield and his supporters rely upon: the concept that Mr. Wakefield didn’t claim the
What he did was to call for the suspension of the triple-vaccine. His statement was very irresponsible:
INTERVIEWER: But if you say there’s at least a question mark over it now, should the vaccine continue to be administered while you’re investigating?
DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: I think if you asked members of the team that have investigated this they would give you different answers. And I have to say that there is sufficient anxiety in my own mind of the safety, the long term safety of the polyvalent, that is the MMR vaccination in combination, that I think that it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines, that is continued use of the individual measles, mumps and rubella components.