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Andrew Wakefield returns to UK for controversial documentary screening

Disgraced doctor, Andrew Wakefield, has returned to the UK to reignite his ‘anti-vaxx’ message with a new documentary

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Earlier this month, Andrew Wakefield, well known for his now discredited paper on the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and its association with autism and bowel disease, received an award and gave a Q&A session at the UK premiere of his controversial film Vaxxed.

The event took place at Regent’s University in London  and was hosted by the Centre for Homeopathic Education (CHE). A university spokesperson said in a statement that the university had not been provided with the title of the film and had since severed links with the CHE.

Wakefield was the chief author of the 1998 paper “Enterocolitis in children with developmental disorders,” which alleged a link between the MMR vaccine and increased rates of autism in children. The paper was declared fraudulent by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after an extensive follow up study conducted on over 95,000 children.

The original paper was published in The Lancet, which retracted it in 2010; the same year that Wakefield was removed from the General Medical Council’s medical register in the UK.

‘Vaxxed’ is a documentary directed by Wakefield in support of the anti-vaccination (‘Anti-vaxx’) movement. The film focuses on the claim that the CDC omitted data in their study dispelling the link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and heavily defends Wakefield’s 1998 study. Wakefield is currently a leading member of the ‘anti-vaxx’ movement, which has support from President Donald Trump.

The documentary is estimated to have grossed over $1 million in initial box office sales, but was recently removed from both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Curzon cinema prior to screening due to the controversial message of the film. It had also been due to be shown to European Parliament, but this was abandoned after public protests.

Concerns have been raised that the film could reignite public doubt in the MMR vaccine. This could lead to another generation of un-vaccinated children and further outbreaks of preventable disease, such as the 2012 outbreak which resulted in 1,219 measles diagnoses in children across Swansea.

Dr. Simone Turchetti from the University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine commented: “What is interesting about scientific controversies is that they never end. Uncertainties always keep on haunting us. But vaccines affect so many people that this lack of closure heightens public concerns.”

Although it has been almost 20 years since Wakefield’s paper linking MMR to autism was published, there is still widespread public doubt on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and propaganda from ‘anti-vaxx’ groups could reignite public skepticism and endanger the health of many who go un-vaccinated.

  • Judith

    Like Chinese Whispers – the same incorrect information gets spread about Andrew Wakefield:

    What the Wakefield critics don’t tell you is that the study was coauthored by 12 other scientists and the paper made no conclusion whatsoever between MMR and autism.

    Wakefield’s paper was a “Case Series”, which is not a hypothesis testing paper. He simply took the doctors referrals, treated the disease and reported the information provided by the parents, the referring doctors and the outcomes of his investigations. Also, his 19 other papers were never retracted, and the investigations into gastrointestinal disease has been replicated multiple times around the world. The study involved a group of children who had presented with gastric complications, the parents of whom had approached Wakefield (the top gastroenterologist in the UK at the time) and his research team to try and assist them with their children’s condition, which is exactly what they did During this investigation 8 of the 12 parents revealed that these symptoms, along with the so-called autistic regression had started coincidentally with the administering of the MMR vaccine and what the scientists discovered was that when they treated the bowel disorders, the neurological and behavioural aberrations were similarly ameliorated.

    They thus concluded that there should be further study into the MMR vaccine as the claims of the parents had seemingly turned out to be valid.

    It was also recommended that instead of continuing the combined vaccine protocol, the GMC should perhaps revert to the single shot mumps, measles and rubella vaccines until conclusive studies had been undertaken on the combined MMR vaccine.

    Where in any of that does it show that Wakefied was making a causal link? It was simply never stated – ever. In fact, Wakefield was advocating vaccine alternatives – he was pro-vaccine but pro SAFE vaccines.

    Merck, who owned the exclusive licence (and obviously the British monopoly) for the MMR vaccine brooked no debate about withdrawing it for further study and the GMC backed this decision, in fact they actually went as far as to remove the single shot vaccine option altogether which had, up until the time of the Wakefield study, been available. Once this had been published, the single shot vaccines were no longer commercially available in the national vaccine programme.

    Coincidence?

    It is of interest that the person that retracted the study, Sir Crispin Davis, was making a large salary in a non-executive director position on the board of UK MMR makers GlaxoSmithKline. The “investigation” was funded by The Sunday Times whose owner at the time, Rupert Murdoch’s son James, was making a large salary in his director position on the board of UK MMR makers GlaxoSmithKline. In the 1998 press conference Andrew Wakefield recommended using the monovalent measles vaccine option that had a safety record dating back to the late 60s, so he actually recommended vaccinating against measles. Unless you’re going to tell us that Andrew Wakefield was psychic, why isn’t the NHS for removing said option from the schedule over six months later at the request. Dr Walker Smith worked in the same capacity as Wakefield and was exonerated.

    The GMC proceeding was a multi-year, multi-million dollar prosecution against Drs. Wakefield, Walker-Smith, and Murch. Based on the GMC prosecution, both Drs. Walker-Smith and Wakefield lost their licenses to practice and the Lancet article was officially retracted. The GMC alleged that the physician-authors had failed to obtain necessary ethical clearances and that they had subjected the twelve children in the study to unnecessary medical procedures.Justice John Mitting, in Case No: CO/7039/2010 in the Royal Courts of Justice Strand, London, ruled on the appeal by Walker-Smith, saying that the GMC “panel’s determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it.” He said that its conclusions were based on “inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion.”

    Dr. Walker-Smith’s professional insurance coverage paid for his appeal; Dr. Wakefield’s insurance carrier would not.

    • sabelmouse

      and now wait for the same old nonsense replies ;)

    • Proponent

      Judith: “Also, his 19 other papers were never retracted..”

      Incorrect.

      Another Wakefield paper that was withdrawn:

      Neurotoxicology | “WITHDRAWN: Delayed acquisition of neonatal reflexes in newborn primates receiving a thimerosal-containing Hepatitis B vaccine:
      Influence of gestational age and birth weight.”

      “Abstract

      This article has been withdrawn at the request of the editor. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.”

      … …

      Why didn’t you know this, Judith? Was your ‘research’ incomplete, then?

      … …

      And insofar as the rest of your post/comment is concerned.. you’ve been spoonfed the information that directly contradicts all of your claims/assertions.

      Time.. and time again.

      • Judith

        “Withdrawn at the request of the Editor” yes pressure from you know who. Just like there was pressure to remove the film VAXXED from various film festivals.

    • TH

      You’re completely right Judith. If people are genuinely interested, they will watch the film vaxxxed. It’s dangerous and disastrous to be closed minded (blasé) about such a massive issue.

  • AutismDadd

    Geez I wonder what side the author is on?