Unethical is too mild a word

Am I going to face the wrath of the anti-vaccination kooks for linking to this? Bring them on. Orac has an article that thoroughly disgusted me: a report on the infamous MD, Andrew Wakefield, who published an article in The Lancet that claimed to have found a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. I had no idea that it had such a strong effect.

Wakefield’s work for the lawyers began two years before he published his now notorious report in The Lancet medical journal in February 1998, proposing a link between the vaccine and autism.

This suggestion, followed by a campaign led by Wakefield, caused immunisation rates to slump from 92% to 78.9%, although they have since partly recovered. In March this year the first British child in 14 years died from measles.

Orac has a timeline that also includes this fact: in 2003, there were 4204 cases of mumps; in 2004, 16436; in 2005, 56390. That’s in addition to the death from measles. That’s an awful lot of misery. What did Wakefield get out of this? Was it the satisfaction of advancing the cause of science? Of revealing the truth? Of combating autism? It looks like the rewards were a little less lofty and a lot more venal than that: £435,000. He’s got a little consulting gig now, getting paid £1000 per day to testify against the wickedness of vaccinations for legal firms out to sue pharmaceutical companies.


It got me wondering how much you’d have to pay me to make 50,000 children sick, and maybe kill a few. There isn’t any sum you could funnel to my bank account to get me to do that, but Wakefield would do it for the low sum of about a million dollars. Who knew evil could be had so cheaply?

Another thing that appalled me was that one of the referees for one of his papers was paid £40,000 for his review. I thought we were supposed to do this anonymously, and for free! Next paper, I should call up the author and get bids on a positive review…and if ever I should do that, strip me of my degree, fire me from my job, and throw me out on the street in disgrace. The “scientists” who perpetrated this fraud are vermin, and ought to be similarly drummed out of the ranks.

One set of things not mentioned, though, are the identities of the lawyers and the law firms who threw millions of pounds at scientists to corrupt them, and gin up the grounds for a lucrative lawsuit. There should also be an ethics investigation of those people, and a loss of their right to practice law in any way.


  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    January 2, 2007

    In a country as advanced as ours, it is appalling that we only have the 36th lowest infant mortality rate.

    The reason for this is the US’s appalling lack of universal health care. An embarrassment for the whole world. Look at the other 35…

    In no time in history has a baby had to build as many immune responses as one does today. Too many immune responses in a close proximity throw people into autoimmune disorder.

    Incorrect. There are indeed vaccines that can cause autoimmune diseases — but that’s because those particular vaccines are similar (on the molecular level) to some of your own proteins. For the same reason there are also infections that can cause autoimmune diseases. I study molecular biology, I’ve had my head filled up with far more immunology than I was ever interested in; I can’t think of a reason why “too many immune responses in [...] close proximity” could cause autoimmune reactions.

    On another note: Peanut Gallery, don’t you notice your comment is entirely off-topic in this thread? Maybe read the original post again and then tell me what it has to do with religion.

  2. #2 Mike John
    December 17, 2009

    Oh gsh lvly nc y svd m lt f tm nd frstrtn.rgrds