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Jeni Barnett and Andrew Wakefield – what can you say?

February 8, 2009

The last few minutes of the recently infamous Barmy Barnett Broadcast…

Yasmin: … if they read the Wakefield study in the Lancet in 1998, Dr Wakefield actually said that he didn’t prove an association between MMR and…

JB: Well he wasn’t really allowed to have his say, was he, Yasmin. He was kinda…

Yasmin: I think he was. I think he said it recently in court.

And now of course, we have some great Sunday Times column inches given over to years of investigative reporting by Brian Deer, who puts the anti-MMR vaccine charlatan firmly where he should be. Let me give you some choice excerpts from Brian deer’s own excellent web site…

“In fact, Wakefield’s tabulated finding – linking MMR with the sudden onset of regressive autism in two thirds of a consecutive series of 12, seen routinely at a children’s bowel unit within the space of a few months – was both biologically implausible and statistically impossible. It simply could not happen…

Wakefield’s “finding” and “result” were thus abandoned by history, with only the sting of his attack remaining. In due course, he would up the stakes, issuing a string of false claims, including baseless comparisons between California and London autism data, published with a Royal Free sidekick Scott Montgomery Ph.D in November 1999, again in the Lancet, falsely claiming that MMR was responsible for an epidemic of autism. Then, in January 2001, the pair published a sham review of vaccine research, in Adverse Drug Reactions and Toxicological Reviews. Analysis of these texts reveals Wakefield’s motive: to attack MMR, with little heed for truth or consequence. But, with regard to the February 1998 Lancet paper, his claims were a charade: by a former surgeon with insufficient training in general medicine and paediatrics to realize that what he’d claimed was impossible

The explosive revelation about Wakefield’s £55,000, however, only scratched the surface of his pecuniary advantage. On the legal front, in December 2006 – only five months after Wakefield’s supporters issued a statement denying that he was ever paid – the Legal Services Commission answered a Freedom of Information Act request from Brian Deer with a spreadsheet of fees to paid witnesses in the MMR lawsuit, stating that, since joining Barr ten years previously, Wakefield had been paid £435,643 [about $780,000], plus expenses, for his role in backing the generic case against MMR. This money – which is believed to have been augmented by yet more, still undisclosed, for work on individual children’s records – was drawn against the cash-limited UK legal aid fund, intended to help poor people gain access to justice. During this period, Wakefield and his wife built a house on land purchased adjacent to their home, which was offered for sale in March 2007 priced £2,950,000 [$5,677,550]…

…in September 2008, a uniquely-authoritative virological study, co-authored by O’Leary – whose lab had evidently been brought up to a better standard since facing earlier criticismsrepudiated Wakefield’s core claims. The study paper concluded:

“The work reported here eliminates the remaining support for the hypothesis that ASD with GI complaints is related to MMR exposure.”

This study was ethically reviewed by four institutional bodies, and only drew on data from children who, unlike Wakefield’s subjects, were admitted to hospital for ileocolonoscopies which were purely for clinical reasons, unrelated to research. One collaborator in the project – who also now publicly repudiated Wakefield’s claims – was Dr Timothy Buie, of Harvard university: America’s leading paediatric gastroenterologist with a special interest in autism.

As pennies have dropped, views have begun to change, with some parents even writing to tell Brian Deer that they supported his investigation: which followed 20 years of similar Sunday Times public interest probes, including inquiries into contraceptive pills from the Schering AG and Wyeth drug companies, antibiotics from Wellcome and Roche, sex drugs from Pfizer, and painkillers from Merck.

With regard to the events at the Royal Free, one mother wrote in an email:

“You’ll never get a thank you for stopping the bad things happening to the kids because sadly they aren’t capable of saying it, which is the reason they became victims in the first place.”

Another parent, incensed by ex-litigants and crank rallies outside the GMC, wrote to Deer saying that she was the mother of two severely autistic children, and had been bullied into silence by anti-vaccine activists. “Now they are calling on members to attend a rally at the GMC in support of Dr Wakefield,” she wrote. “Unfortunately I will be away or I would be there with my own banner! Do you know if I and other parents like me can send our own message to the GMC pointing out that not all parents of autistic children regard this man as a hero?”

Meanwhile, a father from one of the many families only now recovering from the strain of Barr’s futile litigation wrote:

“Personally I think ‘shot by our own side’ just about sums it up. I still find it shocking what Wakefield did, and we never blame you for exposing it.”

The MMR-autism crisis – our story so far.
An investigation by Brian Deer.
Last updated January 2009.

The Sunday Times articles make fascinating reading and I urge you to buy the paper and hit the web site.

This is the charlatan that Jeni Barnett reckons “wasn’t really allowed to have his say” and that appears to offer her support on her blog…

18. At February 5, 2009 7:50 PM Andy Wakefield wrote:

“Dear Jeni,

I would like to send you a pdf that may help you with any hostility from the MMR posting. Do you have a email adrdress that I can send it to?”

http://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/mmr_and_me.php

I think this charlatan has already had “his say”, and ruined enough lives in the process.

If this is the support being offered, she should do herself a favour and look elsewhere.

And, as if that weren’t enough, David H. Gorski, M.D. Ph.D., posts a succinct, analytical summary of Wakefield and his “work” at Science Based Medicine…

“… aided and abetted by useful idiots in the media, by British newspapers and other media that sensationalized the story, and the antivaccine movement, which hailed Wakefield as a hero, Wakefield managed to drive MMR vaccination rates in the U.K. below the level of herd immunity, from 93% to 75% (and as low as 50% in some parts of London). As a result, I “thanked” Andrew Wakefield for his leadership role in bringing the measles back to the U.K. to the point where, fourteen years after measles had been declared under control in the U.K., it was in 2008 declared endemic again

Wakefield’s work and ethics are about as bad as it gets…

Either he [Wakefield] took the history from parents, for whom confirmation bias could easily have led to remembering incorrectly that their child’s behavioral changes were noted shortly after the MMR rather than before it or months later, in which case Wakefield was incompetent for not having examined the medical records. Alternatively, Wakefield did examine the medical records and lied about them in the Lancet paper. Take your pick…

Finally, Wakefield subjected children to unnecessary invasive medical procedures, and then incompetently analyzed the specimens obtained from them for measles virus. Given such a level of ideological blindness that seems to think his cause so just that good science and ethics are optional in pursuit of it, a lack of concern over blatant conflicts of interest, and an appallingly inflated opinion of himself that he is seems to believe that he is actually a persecuted Galileo, is it any surprise that Wakefield may have stooped so far as to falsify research results in his campaign?

… sometimes things are as they appear, sometimes there really is no conspiracy, and sometimes a rat is a rat.”

David H. Gorski, M.D. Ph.D.,
Antivaccine hero Andrew Wakefield: Scientific fraud?
February 8th 2009.

Don’t settle for my excerpts, they just don’t do the original articles justice. David Gorski includes good scientific explanations, whilst Brian Deer does his profession proud with the fruit of some excellent, long-running investigations.

About time the fallacies over this crucial issue were dispelled.

What a great weekend for evidence, logic and truth… for a change.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2009 4:23 am

    I’ve done another round-up post — who is saying what about the Deer articles on Wakefield in the London Times. I’ve included this post.

    11 years on, Wakefield Manufactured Data showing MMR-Autism Link?

Trackbacks

  1. Brian Deer Discusses Andrew Wakefield in the Sunday Times « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

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