Jenny McCarthy joins the defense of Andrew Wakefield

12 Jan

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.

From the video that his employer at the time, the Royal Free Hospital put out:

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?

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43 Responses to “Jenny McCarthy joins the defense of Andrew Wakefield”

  1. Aaron January 12, 2011 at 07:41 #

    I agree for the most part. Although, I don’t agree that Wakefield is claiming a link between autism and MMR in the video where he calls for a suspension of the MMR vaccine. If a doctor is unsure about the safety of a drug or vaccine and there is a viable alternative, I think that is reason enough to recommend its suspension until enough safety studies can be done to reassure him. Just having possible doubts over safety is reason enough.

    I agree that it is very hypocritical and downright deceptive for anti-vaccine promoters such as Jenny McCarthy to make reference to his work in support of their campaign against vaccines. Wakefield’s work is not a scientific study and it was not meant to draw conclusions, so these people who keep trying to leverage his work for such a cause are just on a self-serving campaign of dishonesty.

  2. brian January 12, 2011 at 17:20 #

    I don’t agree that Wakefield is claiming a link between autism and MMR in the video where he calls for a suspension of the MMR vaccine.

    Of course the press conference was not the end of Wakefield’s public statements. He is quoted in this conference report as stating, “the widespread use of MMR immunization is a major determinant of the apparent (now substantiated) increase in rates of autism.” [Pediatrics 2001;107;e84] That certainly does seem like he is claiming a link between MMR and ASD. I suppose people like the Google Ph.D. can claim that he didn’t claim there was a link while at the press conference.

  3. Chris January 12, 2011 at 18:33 #

    Aaron:

    If a doctor is unsure about the safety of a drug or vaccine and there is a viable alternative, I think that is reason enough to recommend its suspension until enough safety studies can be done to reassure him. Just having possible doubts over safety is reason enough.

    Yes, but you need evidence for those doubts. What evidence did Wakefield have to justify his statements that the MMR be suspended? The MMR being used in 1998 in the UK is the same that has been used in the USA since 1971. The evidence that the MMR should be suspended should have shown up in the last forty years, what would that be?

    For a description on how another doctor caused problems with his “doubts” read the second chapter in Offit’s new book Deadly Choices titled “This England.” Dr. Wilson’s doubts caused the death of many more children from pertussis. So there had better be very good evidence for those doubts.

  4. Squillo January 12, 2011 at 19:02 #

    All the backpedaling and revisionist history from McCarthy et al. would be amusing if their actions hadn’t had real-world effects.

    I blogged about their strange convolutions a year ago when McCarthy & then-boyfriend Jim Carrey wrote their statement in support of Wakefield after his spanking by the BMC. I summed up their position thusly:

    “The retraction of Wakefield’s Lancet paper means little in the debate over vaccines and autism because it never said MMR caused autism, even though it ‘demonstrated’ that MMR ‘triggered’ autistic symptoms, so Dr. Wakefield is a hero for saving kids from MMR-induced autism because he fearlessly published a paper that didn’t tell people not to get their kids the MMR vaccination.”

    Depressing that it still applies.

  5. Aaron January 12, 2011 at 20:02 #

    @Squillo

    LOL. That is hilarious. McCarthy’s reasoning fails though even before she starts to contradict herself. Wakefield’s paper didn’t demonstrate anything. Shame on the media for claiming that it did.

  6. Aaron January 12, 2011 at 20:14 #

    [quote=Chris]Yes, but you need evidence for those doubts. What evidence did Wakefield have to justify his statements that the MMR be suspended?[/quote]

    Hmmm. That is a dangerous stance you take. A substance is considered dangerous until proven safe. We would be putting ourselves at a lot of risk if we required evidence of the danger of a substance before we could remove it from the market or not recommend it. Wakefield argued in a report he released at the time that sufficient safety studies had not been done. He was arguing for more safety studies to be done before he could be comfortable recommending the vaccine.

    Considering that there was an alternative vaccine at the time, which he was recommending; his recommendation seems perfectly harmless to me. The more safety the better; which is probably how a lot of parents feel.

  7. Chris January 12, 2011 at 20:29 #

    Except that alternative did not work as well. The problem is that separating out the vaccines (and Wakefield recommended doing them a year apart) meant that children were left vulnerable way beyond into preschool age. The MMR vaccine has been used safely in the USA since 1971, and there is copious literature indexed in PubMed dating back to the late 1960s, what evidence is there to abandon it?

    Remember that the single measles and mumps vaccines, and the habit of only vaccinating girls for rubella was not working, but the MMR (even the one with the Urabe mumps strain replaced in 1992) did work!

    What evidence did Wakefield have to say that sufficient studies had not been done? He certainly did not have in his series of twelve case studies. Please, tell us.

    Or are you going to go with the “Precautionary Principle” that caused a pertussis epidemic in both Japan and the UK?

  8. Gina January 12, 2011 at 20:44 #

    Aaron, I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean here.

    “Hmmm. That is a dangerous stance you take. A substance is considered dangerous until proven safe.”

    Not that you need to explain yourself to me, but if you could clarify for me. I believe the MMR vaccine has been around since the early 70’s. Wakefield’s report was published in 1998, and it was not a report on the MMR vaccine itself, but of bowel disorders in developmentally inhibited children. To say, “a substance is considered dangerous until proven safe” is confusing and, in my opinion, off point. Chris was pointing out that since Wakefield questioned MMR’s safety in his press conference about his Lancet paper, it would stand to reason that his paper would be focused on the safety of the MMR vaccine specifically. In what context were his doubts of MMR founded in, I guess that is the question.

  9. Gina January 12, 2011 at 20:47 #

    I’m sorry, Chris. I didn’t realize you had responded. I restated what you had said.

  10. Aaron January 12, 2011 at 22:34 #

    Chris, I understand, based on your comment, why you are convinced of the safety of vaccines, but it is a rather unscientific stance you hold. The existence of a product on the market for a long duration is not scientific proof of its safety. Also, I question your wording. What do you mean by “used safely since 1971”. Are you claiming that its safety was proven prior to 1971?

    Wakefield did not claim to have evidence that MMR was unsafe. He simply had an opinion that prior safety studies that had been done on it were insufficient to ensure its safety. He pointed out the flaws he found in previous studies in a separate report he published at the time. If you wish to understand why Wakefield reasoned that insufficient studies had been done, I suggest you read that report.

    Chris, are you of the opinion that MMR was proven safe prior to 1971 and therefore safety studies done after that year are redundant?

    For the record, I do think Wakefield’s report of the 12 children was sloppy and unprofessional; even if it wasn’t meant as an actual scientific study. Certainly, higher standards should be expected for inclusion in a medical journal.

    • Sullivan January 12, 2011 at 23:00 #

      Aaron,

      If you wish to understand why Wakefield reasoned that insufficient studies had been done, I suggest you read that report.

      has Mr. Wakefield ever made his 200+ page report on MMR safety studies public? When was the first time he mentioned it? Did he refer to it when mentioning his fears about the MMR in 1998? He used his own research to try to convince investors that there was a link and that there would be a highly profitable company in his inventions.

      Given his history, I wouldn’t believe his analysis of MMR safety without reading it and checking it closely myself.. I’ve fact checked part of his book, and he failed.

      • Sullivan January 13, 2011 at 00:13 #

        Here’s the mindset Mr. Wakefield had going into the press conference. This is from a letter he wrote shortly before, discussing the upcoming press event:

        “Any drug, and especially one that involves 3 live viruses, must be considered dangerous until proven otherwise: this has never been proven and, therefore, all claims of adverse events should have been thoroughly investigated. They have failed to honour this obligation.

        In an attempt to avert the House-of-Cards collapsing, I will strongly recommend the use of measles vaccines as opposed to the polyvalent vaccines. This will not compromise children by increasing their risk of wild infection, and may reduce the risk of an apparent synergy between the component viruses that has been identified by Dr Scott Montgomery as a risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease, and may well be a risk factor for autism in our children, currently under investigation.

        He didn’t say “don’t vaccinate”. He said “don’t vaccinate with MMR”. That was not supported by his paper. That was not explained well enough to make people satisfied that even single-valent vaccines were safe.

  11. Gina January 12, 2011 at 22:48 #

    I’m sorry, again, I have to ask of Aaron, on what grounds, either from his Lancet paper or other sources, does Wakefield establish his doubts of the MMR? He made the claims within the context of his Lancet paper’s press release. If he had doubts established from other studies or topics, it certainly isn’t appropriate to use that press release as the opportunity to air them without sufficiently citing the source. Does that not seem reasonable?

    What report did he produce that “pointed out the flaws he found?” What studies did he find to be “insufficient?”

  12. Jackie January 12, 2011 at 22:48 #

    Jenny just won’t let this go, this is about her desperate attention seeking behavior, not about helping people with Autism.

  13. Aaron January 12, 2011 at 23:31 #

    Gina, I see where you are coming from and your interpretation of Wakefield’s statements at the press conference paints a very revealing picture.

    Had Wakefield come to his opinion through other research, outside the 1998 case-series, he still would have had to answer the question posed to him honestly, by giving his honest opinion on the matter; but most people, as you have, would immediately assumed that he came to his conclusion based on the 1998 case-series. Which would be an assumption.

    Possibly this is why this whole thing was blown out of proportion? People took his statement at the press conference as an endorsement of the conclusion that his 1998 case-series supports an MMR-autism link?

    Maybe Wakefield deceptively intended this. I really couldn’t say. To make a claim either way would be an assumption on our part. I would have expected him to have given his honest opinion at the press conference, whether that opinion was brought about by his 1998 case-series report or not.

  14. Chris January 12, 2011 at 23:37 #

    Aaron:

    Are you claiming that its safety was proven prior to 1971?

    Why, yes. A quicky search on PubMed using the terms “measles mumps rubella vaccine” comes up with 2688 papers, and of the relevant ones there is one in 1967:
    Studies on active immunization in measles, mumps and rubella.
    Stokes J Jr.
    Johns Hopkins Med J. 1967 Nov;121(5):314-28. No abstract available. PMID: 6075620 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    Then just before Wakefield started his “research” there were papers like: Safe Administration of the Measles Vaccine to Children Allergic to Eggs.

    Also, there are several articles about meningitis in the UK from their MMR vaccine with the Urabe mumps strain, so they switched to the Jeryl Lynn strain version in 1992. Of course this muddied Wakefield’s research, since just including an American child means that there was the Jeryl Lynn MMR, not just the Urabe MMR.

    I found lots more studies, but it was tedious to tease out the specific MMR (there are several, including one developed and used in the USSR). So this is why I am asking on what basis did Wakefield have to say not to use the MMR vaccine (which had already been replaced with a safer version by 1992). If you could provide which papers in the almost a thousand before 1998, were the basis of his concern, please share.

  15. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 00:15 #

    Well, why don’t I supply you with the explanation from the horses mouth. This was taken from the Lancet article titled “MMR—responding to retraction” at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(04)16017-0/fulltext#

    “The opinion on choice of single vaccines pending scientific resolution of any possible association, expressed by AJW at the press briefing, was based not on the findings in these children alone, but on a detailed investigation of the history of MMR vaccine and its safety. AJW’s opinion, then and now, has been restated in Jefferson and colleagues’ subsequent 2003 Cochrane Review2—ie, that “the design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine safety studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate”, and furthermore, that Jefferson and colleagues “found limited evidence of safety of MMR compared to its single-component vaccines from low risk of bias studies”.

    • Sullivan January 13, 2011 at 00:24 #

      Six years after the 1998 paper he comes out with an explanation? I wonder if there is a public comment before that.

  16. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 00:23 #

    Sullivan, that is very interesting indeed! After reading that, it seems clear that Wakefield suspects any measles vaccine is unsafe.

    And yes. I agree with the rest of your comment as well. I definitely think he should have been a little more thoughtful about how his comments would have been taken by the public; regardless of his personal opinion.

  17. Chris January 13, 2011 at 00:37 #

    Aaron, quoting the Lancet:

    but on a detailed investigation of the history of MMR vaccine and its safety.

    Which MMR vaccine? The original UK version approved in 1988, or the one approved after 1992? How about the Japanese or Russian version?

  18. C Woods January 13, 2011 at 00:50 #

    Just a quick note: Jenny McCarthy is NOT Anti-vaccine. Do your homework.

    • Sullivan January 13, 2011 at 01:02 #

      “Just a quick note: Jenny McCarthy is NOT Anti-vaccine. Do your homework.”

      I don’t believe I have ever called her anti-vaccine.

      She does make dangerous statements, backed up by bad or no evidence. Her organization does recommend that people be undervaccinated, at the least. Check out her “favorite” vaccine schedule.

      1. No vaccinations until a child is two years old.
      2. No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury).
      3. No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur).
      4. These vaccines, to be given one at a time, every six months, beginning at age 2:
      1. Pertussis (acellular, not whole cell)
      2. Diphtheria
      3. Tetanus
      4. Polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)

      So, she recommends against using the MMR vaccine, either as combination or as separate vaccines.

      She recommends giving the pertussis, diptheria and tetanus vaccines separately. Unfortunately, this is impossible to do. There is no single pertussis vaccine.

      Children should be vulnerable to infectious disease until they are two years old.

      I didn’t say she’s “anti-vaccine”. I do think her advice is ill founded and dangerous.

  19. Chris January 13, 2011 at 00:56 #

    Sullivan quoting Wakefield:

    “Any drug, and especially one that involves 3 live viruses, must be considered dangerous until proven otherwise: this has never been proven and, therefore, all claims of adverse events should have been thoroughly investigated. They have failed to honour this obligation.

    Another question: How does Wakefield’s training as a gastroenterologist make him a better at determining the safety of vaccines versus virologists, infectious disease specialists, immunologists and others specialists who study vaccines?

  20. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 01:17 #

    Chris:

    Which MMR vaccine? The original UK version approved in 1988, or the one approved after 1992? How about the Japanese or Russian version?

    Are you suggesting that Wakefield has a vendetta against MMR vaccine, and so he’s blacklisted them all, regardless of the research that has gone into proving each strain of vaccine safe?

    Or are you suggesting that due to the shear quantity of vaccine research that has been done, there is no way in which Wakefield could have come to his determination without reviewing an inconceivable amount of data?

  21. Chris January 13, 2011 at 01:26 #

    No I am asking which MMR vaccine did he base his conclusions on? Obviously he must not have blacklisted all of them, so it had to be a specific version. So which one?

    And now that you mention it, what evidence was he using for his statements?

  22. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 01:37 #

    Another question: How does Wakefield’s training as a gastroenterologist make him a better at determining the safety of vaccines versus virologists, infectious disease specialists, immunologists and others specialists who study vaccines?

    Oh come now Chris, I may not be that smart, but I’m certainly not dumb enough to swallow that dogma. Stick to your “overwhelming quantity of vaccine research” argument. It is much stronger.

    There are plenty examples of people who have pointed out fundamental faults in the reasoning of main-stream experts. None of us are infallible, and often those infallibilities can apply to assumptions of an entire discipline. A classic example is the “Monty Hall Problem” – a very basic probability problem which incorporates historical information. Statistical professors across the country were befuddled by this problem. Once you understand the problem, it is almost unbelievable to consider that a stats prof could get it wrong and in many cases *insist* that they had the right answer.

    I’m not saying Wakefield has anything. But dogma like yours would not convince me to disregard the possibility.

  23. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 01:49 #

    No I am asking which MMR vaccine did he base his conclusions on? Obviously he must not have blacklisted all of them, so it had to be a specific version. So which one?
    And now that you mention it, what evidence was he using for his statements?

    Please stop with the baiting. We all know Wakefield is referring to the safety research of all those MMR vaccine strains. So my assumption about your reasoning has proven to be correct.

    It is clear you are trying to argue this:

    It would have been unreasonable of him to have blacklisted all of them, and since he did blacklist all of them, it follows that he is being unreasonable and possibly dishonest.

    In regards to his evidence, well, he did provide a citation there to another article by a different set of authors who had arrived at the same conclusion as he. You may wish to start there. And, as was stated previously a 200+ report, which I have not read. Until I read all of his reasoning behind his opinion on the matter, I will reserve judgement as to whether what he said sounds reasonable.

    • Sullivan January 13, 2011 at 02:10 #

      “We all know Wakefield is referring to the safety research of all those MMR vaccine strains.”

      Actually, we don’t. I (at least) have never seen his report. Mr. Wakefield did discuss recently a meeting he had with a man who brought to light the safety concerns behind one MMR formulation (where the mumps strain was thought to cause rare but serious side effects). One interesting thing in that story is that Mr. Wakefield appears to have not acted on that information. He only brought the subject up recently as part of his self-defense. At least, I never heard or read of this subject until about a year ago.

  24. Chris January 13, 2011 at 02:43 #

    Aaron, I am not trying to bait you. I am trying to get you to provide the evidence that shows that Wakefield did not make the statements on the safety of any particular MMR vaccine because of this.

    Now provide the evidence that Wakefield was using to show that the safety of the (okay, I am choosing one) Jeryl Lynn version of the MMR vaccine that has been used since 1971 in the USA and in the UK since 1992 has not been thoroughly evaluated.

    I am trying to get you to support your contention:

    If a doctor is unsure about the safety of a drug or vaccine and there is a viable alternative, I think that is reason enough to recommend its suspension until enough safety studies can be done to reassure him. Just having possible doubts over safety is reason enough.

  25. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 02:57 #

    I just ordered Offit’s new book Deadly Choices. Thanks for the reference Chris.

  26. Chris January 13, 2011 at 03:06 #

    You are welcome. I have a copy from the library, I may get myself a copy.

  27. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 03:27 #

    Aaron, I am not trying to bait you. I am trying to get you to provide the evidence that shows that Wakefield did not make the statements on the safety of any particular MMR vaccine because of this.

    LOL. I call that baiting Chris. OK, I’m trying to understand where you are going with this… you are saying that since he was trying to patent a measles vaccine which he thought was safer, this is prove that he personally thought the other MMR vaccines were unsafe?

    Honestly Chris, when I get my hands on that 200+ page mystery report that he wrote on the safety of vaccines I will forward it to you. I really cannot tell you if his evidence against the safety of MMR vaccines was reasonable or not until I read it. Clearly he was either convinced that the safety hadn’t been proven or he had an ulterior motive. Since I don’t have his knowledge of vaccines, I can’t say which is true.

    For kicks, hypothetically speaking, lets just say that he does have reason enough to call the MMR vaccines into question… and then lets say he does have a vaccine that could mitigate those risks. How should he progress with it? How should he go about convincing the public of this going forward?

  28. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 03:34 #

    One thing I don’t understand here. If he wished to make personal gains off this patent, then why did he patent in the hospital’s name? He can’t possible expect to collect any royalties from the patent if the hospital owns it… can he?

  29. Tsu Dho Nimh January 13, 2011 at 03:46 #

    AAron asked Are you suggesting that Wakefield has a vendetta against MMR vaccine

    No, but he had a plan to make a bundle of money from selling a single measles vaccine and diagnostic tests.

    Brian Deer dropped the other shoe – the timeline of Wakefield’s investigations versus the timeline of his business discussions can be found here: http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5258.full

    His case series was barely started and he was looking for investors!

  30. Chris January 13, 2011 at 04:49 #

    Actually, Aaron, if Wakefield had legitimate concerns about the MMR vaccine he would have been more diligent about specifying which one he was researching. The cardinal rule in testing is to make sure you know your variables, minimize the variables, and try to control what is actually being tested. Which is very hard in any kind of biology, except which of two MMR vaccines was a simple one to control.

    I used to be on the “computer model before testing side” of a large engineering project. While all of my scenarios were just computer simulations, if I changed the value of one variable I had to run a simulation of that value for each variation of the other variables. That was because they interacted differently with each other. The variables I used were usually just the length of a piece of metal, or the stiffness of a hydraulic spring — not the variation in vaccine strain. Each time a design change was proposed I had to go through every single iteration of possible designs. And the results I got were part of determining the final design.

    Personally, I don’t think Dr. Wakefield even knew there were different kinds of MMR vaccines. If he had known he would not have allowed the American child to be in the series of case studies, nor would he have allowed any child in the study born after 1991 in the UK.

    And not make a video pronouncement about using single jabs when a different MMR vaccine was then being used in the UK.

    Plus he would have focused on the problem with meningitis that happened when a vaccine using the Urabe mumps strain. The PubMed search pulled up many of those case reports, and sadly, that is what happened to Robert Fletcher.

    As it was, the NHS realized there was a problem and changed the type of MMR. And so did the Japanese, except they decided to just make it voluntary and only offer an MR vaccine with just a measles and rubella portion. Now they have an epidemic of mumps. I saw a news article editorial chastising them for not accepting any vaccine developed outside their border that I can no long find. Rats! By the way, the Urabe strain came from Japan. But so did the DTaP and varicella vaccines used in the USA. Why they will not use the Jeryl Strain is quite confounding.

    Thank you for actually seeking out that 200 page report. I would be interested to look at it, though I am not sure I’ll read the entire thing.

  31. Aaron January 13, 2011 at 05:55 #

    Plus he would have focused on the problem with meningitis that happened when a vaccine using the Urabe mumps strain. The PubMed search pulled up many of those case reports, and sadly, that is what happened to Robert Fletcher.
    As it was, the NHS realized there was a problem and changed the type of MMR. And so did the Japanese, except they decided to just make it voluntary and only offer an MR vaccine with just a measles and rubella portion. Now they have an epidemic of mumps. I saw a news article editorial chastising them for not accepting any vaccine developed outside their border that I can no long find. Rats! By the way, the Urabe strain came from Japan. But so did the DTaP and varicella vaccines used in the USA. Why they will not use the Jeryl Strain is quite confounding.

    It is interesting that you mention this issue. Dr. Wakefield actually has a going theory that the UK government allowed this MMR vaccine strain that causes meningitis into the UK when it knew full well that it could cause meningitis. The claims Dr. Wakefield made surprisingly parallel your story here. He claimed that the reason the UK government knowingly brought the meningitis-causing strain of the MMR vaccine into the country is because they had a policy in place to insist on using the local vaccine company which produced the strain, which would not allow them to purchase the safe MMRII strain the US was using at the time. He goes on to explain that the UK government signed an agreement with the local vaccine company to indemnify them from future litigation because it was the only condition under which the company would supply them with the vaccine.

    I really doubt he was not aware of the various strains of MMR vaccine when he was doing his research in the 90’s. I find it almost inconceivable that he wasn’t aware of such basic information. He was doing research on measles virus all through the 90’s. The concepts of virology and vaccines aren’t exactly foreign to the guy.

    When I get a hold of that mysterious report, we will find out whether he addresses the safety of the vaccine strains separately.

  32. Chris January 13, 2011 at 21:11 #

    Aaron, you might find this blog posting interesting:
    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=209

  33. Aaron January 14, 2011 at 19:23 #

    Thanks Chris, but this article brings up nothing new to me. And actually, from what I’ve read, Dr. Wakefield still brings up Crohn’s disease quite regularly, so I’m not sure where the article derives its assertion to the contrary.

    Also, yes, it is clear the guy has a suspicion of the possibility of Crohn’s disease and autism being linked to MMR, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t doubt his own suspicions. I would expect that he would hold reasonable doubt of his own suspicions if he expects to be a reasonable scientist.

    On the other hand, if he seeks only to prove his beliefs, then I would doubt whether his intentions are indeed scientific. Based on the evidence I’ve been presented so far, I remain unconvinced that either has been proven.

    Personally, I would rather give Wakefield the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance to further prove himself and his suspicions one way or the other; but maybe that is because I value truth above all other concerns. I know many may wish to suppress him due to fears of him spreading misinformation to the general public. I am not so fearful of the spread of misinformation as I am fearful of the suppression of truth…. so I eagerly await with open mind (not so open that I let it fall out). In the end, if Wakefield is wrong in his suspicions, he will not be able to prove anything.

    Anyone who wishes to suppress Wakefield, I have to respectfully ask the following: Do you *really* fear the spread of misinformation, given that Wakefield is just one voice among many, or do you fear that Wakefield may prove is suspicions to be true?

    If unproven misinformation is going to be spread over the internet, I don’t think that suppressing one man is likely to stop it. For those who hold enough intellectual discretion not to buy into such misinformation, it is harmless.

    Instead of going around trying to suppress those who threaten to spread misinformation, I would rather focus on educating those who would be infected by it; not in why they are misinformed, but in *how* they were misinformed; there is an important distinction.

    • Sullivan January 14, 2011 at 19:27 #

      Anyone who wishes to suppress Wakefield, I have to respectfully ask the following: Do you really fear the spread of misinformation, given that Wakefield is just one voice among many, or do you fear that Wakefield may prove is suspicions to be true?

      I believe you have a misinterpretation going there. Or, at least, if you include me in that, I know you have a misinterpretation.

      I do not believe in “suppressing” anyone. I do believe that accurate information about Mr. Wakefield should be made available. I know that Mr. Wakefield does not do this. I have fact checked him too many times.

      Instead of going around trying to suppress those who threaten to spread misinformation, I would rather focus on educating those who would be infected by it; not in why they are misinformed, but in how they were misinformed; there is an important distinction.

      We do an awful lot of that here. Check the other blog posts. I have repeatedly made available the facts which contradict Mr. Wakefield’s claims.

  34. Aaron January 16, 2011 at 02:32 #

    Sorry Sullivan, I didn’t mean to point fingers.

    I just have found that in general, all over the internet, there is a lot of belief and opinion being tossed around on both sides of the debate and wanted to express that observation.

    Actually, I find this blog to be one of the strongest and most well-researched out there. So thank you.

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