The detailed examination of the Wakefiled fraud is by Brian Deer: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. The British Medical Journal editorial summarises:

Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross. Moreover, although the scale of the GMC’s 217 day hearing precluded additional charges focused directly on the fraud, the panel found him guilty of dishonesty concerning the study’s admissions criteria, its funding by the Legal Aid Board, and his statements about it afterwards.

My prevous mention of Wakefield is here.


  1. #1 ScaredAmoeba
    January 6, 2011

    Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly … report even one of the … cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the …. results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.

    Much the same observations could be made about any science Denier and AGW deniers in particular. All varieties of anti-science are to be condemned and damages the image of science in the mind of the public.

    If only the likes of Singer; Michaels and Plimer could be ‘struck-off’.

  2. #2 James Haughton
    January 6, 2011

    What an appalling man. He’s killed more children than Rachel Carson ever did.

  3. #3 Andrew Dodds
    January 6, 2011

    Makes me wonder if there isn’t some way there could be a ‘science libel’ law. Whereby people who repeatedly and publically denied areas of science, and refused to either publish new data to support their case or admit error when demonstrated to be wrong could be stripped of their qualifications.

    Although, of course, the anti-science brigade would wear it as a badge of honour. How on earth do you sanction people who are happy to argue that black is white for political reasons? (apart from directing them to zebra crossings, of course)

  4. #4 Bernard J.
    January 6, 2011

    Wakeman may not be wearing the newcomer’s mantle in the Hall of Shame for too long – I suspect that it’ll fit around the shoulders of Wegman and his colleagues quite snugly, thank you very much.

  5. #5 shinsko
    January 6, 2011

    This whole saga is appalling. I know a couple with an autistic child who (wrongly, from this sort of fiction) still can’t forgive themselves for vaccinating their child. It has caused enormous heartbreak.

    I might add that – in my opinion – the pharmaceutical industry is so self interested that when one becomes a parent it is not immediately obvious what need there is for some vaccinations.

    Why give a one day old baby a hepatitis B vaccination. Why is this on the schedule? I could understand it if during the pregnancy there was some intrauterine transmission risk to address but my newborn certainly wasn’t having unprotected sex or sharing needles…

  6. #6 Paul Foord
    January 6, 2011

    Tthe ABC has just published a report sympathetic to Wakefield [Autism study doctor a ‘victim of smear campaign’]( Just appalling.

  7. #7 Marco
    January 6, 2011

    Shinsko: there is a high risk of transmission between mother and child during child birth.

    Note that even saliva has been found to be a potential source for transmission (with low risk compared to blood, though).

  8. #8 stripey_cat
    January 6, 2011

    Shinsko, Hep B can cause chronic infection (especially if you’re exposed as a child or when run down), and is endemic in many parts of the world, so there’s a fair chance that a mother (especially if she’s not herself from the US or western Europe, or has spent time abroad) may be carrying it without realising it, and could pass it to her baby. Also, kids slobber a lot, and sideways between children is a very common mode of transmission in endemic regions; vaccinating means that you don’t have to worry about who your child plays with, or where you can take them on holiday. Although chronic infections don’t cause acute hepatitis, they hugely increase your risk of liver cirrhosis and some cancers.

  9. #9 shinsko
    January 6, 2011

    Marco – sorry, if I wasn’t clear, I meant I would understand it in cases where there was a risk of transmission.

  10. #10 Lionel A Smith
    January 6, 2011

    Careful Tim you will have Melanie Phillips on your back again but then she is rabid APGW denier too.

  11. #11 CG
    January 6, 2011

    The at birth HepB vaccine is there because we can’t remove it. The schedule was specifically designed to prevent maternal transmission of hepatitis B. It worked.

    However, a newborn doesn’t have an immune system to stimulate yet. That shot doesn’t do anything. This was discovered after the schedule was made and can only be changed by showing that there is no harm in removing the first shot. However, you can’t easily alter a procedure known to be both safe and effective.

  12. #12 Kristjan Wager
    January 6, 2011

    However, a newborn doesn’t have an immune system to stimulate yet.

    {{Citation needed.}}

    It’s of course pure nonsense that newborns don’t have an immune system. It is true that they don’t have a fully developed one until they are about six months old, but until then, they have immunoglobulin antibodies from their mother.

  13. #13 Vince Whirlwind
    January 6, 2011

    Hep B vaccination for newborns is based on the very serious outcomes (liver cancers, etc…) for people infected as infants.

    “chronic infections acquired during infancy or childhood account for a disproportionately large share of worldwide morbidity and mortality. Vaccination against HBV infection can be started at birth and provides long-term protection against infection in more than 90% of healthy people. In the 1990s, many industrialized countries and a few less-developed countries implemented universal hepatitis B immunization and experienced measurable reductions in HBV-related disease. For example, in Taiwan, the prevalence of chronic infection in children declined by more than 90%.”


  14. #14 Vince Whirlwind
    January 6, 2011

    Oh, and also you should be able to find quite a few papers (I recall reading about three from India) which find that the protection conferred by the Hep B vaccine is at its greatest when applied in infancy.

    Incidentally, a great example of “he said, she said” in The Australian today,

    Despite printing an editorial condemning the “junk science” of anti-vaccine nuts, they’ve found an anti-vaccine loon and given her a voice via their paper to prolong the fear, uncertainly and doubt about vaccinations.
    Great work.

  15. #15 Neven
    January 7, 2011

    It would help if vaccines would be produced by non-profit organisations.

  16. #16 Vince Whirlwind
    January 7, 2011

    Are dental fillings produced by non-profit organisations? How about headache tablets? Crutches, band-aids and wheelchairs?

    What’s so special about vaccines?

    If you have an irrational fear of them, just say so.

  17. #17 adelady
    January 7, 2011

    Check out this interview with Australia’s own witch leader of the anti-vaxxers. Excellent!

  18. #18 John
    January 7, 2011

    Why aren’t the brave skeptics attacking this obvious whitewash by the British Medical Journal?

  19. #19 Scott
    January 7, 2011

    Thanks Adelady for the link to the Tracey Spicer interview. She really grilled Dorny in a deserved manner. What a pleasant surprise to find a journalist finally challenging someone when they say an obvious lie. Normaly they blandy report them as some kind of alternative view for listeners to consider.

    Can we get Tracey to interview Ian Plimer?

  20. #20 Kristjan Wager
    January 8, 2011

    It would help if vaccines would be produced by non-profit organisations.

    Neve, for all practical purposes, that’s what happens in Denmark, where they are produced by Statens Serum Institut, yet it didn’t stop anti-vaxxers from going on about “big pharma” when trying to discredit the Danish studies into a vaccination-autism link (none were found), since the researchers were connected to Statens Serum Institut.

  21. #21 Wow
    January 10, 2011

    Lost at sea, a lifebelt helps me survive. But it doesn’t mean I’m no longer in danger.

    It still helped.

  22. #22 Amoeba
    March 24, 2011

    24 March 2011, 21:00 GMT on BBC Radio 4.

    ‘Science Betrayed: Part 2 – Andrew Wakefield and the MMR scare.

    In the second and final part of this series, Dr Adam Rutherford tells the extraordinary story of one of the most contentious cases of medical misconduct of the last few decades, and the serious public health consequences that followed.

    Andrew Wakefield was the doctor at the centre of the MMR scare that dominated the public health debate at the beginning of this century. His research, published in the Lancet in 1998, argued that there is a link between the triple vaccine MMR and the onset of autism in some children….’

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