One of the defenses of Andrew Wakefield is that his paper doesn’t actually claim to have proven that MMR and autism are linked. You can find it in the interviews, you can find it on the Generation Rescue (Jenny McCarthy’s autism organization) website:
The mainstream media is in a frenzy over a new “study” claiming that Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper was fraudulent. For years, the media has mischaracterized Wakefield’s work as implicating the MMR vaccine in the autism epidemic. This was never true, as Wakefield himself wrote in the conclusion to his paper:
“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.”
You can find it in Jenny McCarthy’s blog post on the Huffington Post:
Is that the whole story? Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study of 12 children with autism actually looked at bowel disease, not vaccines. The study’s conclusion stated, “We did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described [autism].”
And, they are correct. The paper does state that. And it is correct, the study did not prove any link. Which leaves us with the question: how could the press have made such a mistake as to think that the paper supported a link?
For starters, from Andrew Wakefield himself.
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.
He called for a suspension of the MMR vaccine at the time. Pretty strong message to send to parents.
In addition, as Jenny McCarthy tries to distance Andrew Wakefield from linking MMR and autism, let’s take a look at her own website, Generation Rescue dot com. They claim that the number one paper that supports the idea that a trigger of inflammation and the current resultant behaviors is the Wakefield 1998 study in The Lancet:
Children with neurological disorders are often suffering from severe gastrointestinal distress and inflammation. A trigger of this inflammation and the resultant behaviors is the MMR vaccine.
We cite four published studies that support this position:
Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children
Lancet 1998 Feb 28 Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell J, Casson DM, [University Department of Medicine, Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine, London, UK]
Not surprisingly, the exact same text is included on the “14 studies” website, a site set up by Generation Rescue.
So, according to Generation Rescue, the Lancet article supports the position that the MMR is a trigger, even though the article itself says it doesn’t prove a link.
Generation Rescue and Jenny McCarthy have spent years putting the notion of a link between MMR and autism into the public’s mind. They have relied, heavily, upon the Lancet paper to make this assertion. And now they blame the media for propagating this idea?