Vaxxed: The controversy surrounding a discredited doctor's film

Andrew Wakefield is a true believer in the maxim that “the ends justify the means.” He believes, in opposition to multiple well conducted scientific studies including one from Kaiser Health with more than 300,000 participating children, that measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) is a causal factor in autism. Wakefield is wrong, but being wrong has not changed what he is saying. He is also no longer Dr. Wakefield – he lost his license to practice medicine in England because of lying about his results in a study.

Wakefield made headlines last week because his “documentary,” “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe” was going to be shown Tribeca Film Festival. It now has been rejected after howls of anger from the scientific community deluged Robert De Niro and other members of the board.

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family,” said De Niro in a statement, who has a son with autism. “But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

Benard Dreyer, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics said, “This was a totally dishonest film spreading lies about measles vaccine and autism that have caused a lot of damage to public health and children around the world.”

Wakefield is now stating that he is being unfairly censored, though actually, in my opinion, he is being fairly censored because he has already demonstrated that he is willing to lie to support his point of view.

In 1998, he published a paper in the Lancet, a British medical journal, an article reviewing only eleven cases that he said showed a correlation between receiving the MMR at one year of age and soon after developing autism. This 1998 paper was the prime mover in fueling the anti-vaccination movement. When the Lancet, a number of years later, asked to see his original data, it was clear that he had changed the numbers to suit his theory. The paper was retracted and he lost his license.

Measles, mumps, and rubella are serious diseases. When one case of measles was imported from the Philippines into Disneyland in California last year it resulted in over 300 cases in over 30 states and two deaths. Before the wide use of the MMR vaccine, mumps was the number one cause of male sterility in the United States. When women contracted rubella in early pregnancy pre-vaccine, it resulted in many thousands of deaf, blind, or deaf and blind newborns every year in the 1940s and 1950s.

Because of the vaccine, people have forgotten the dangerousness of these diseases. After Columbus came to the new world in 1492, bringing measles, chicken pox, and smallpox with his ships, 90 percent of all Natives Americans were killed by just those three illnesses within 50 years. Measles was the number one cause of death during this time.

Wakefield seems to believe strongly in the false connection of measles and autism. He has proved he will do anything to support it including manufacturing evidence. His film can only hurt more children.


 

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