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The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield
diversion sign
A fifteen page story about the MMR vaccination controversy. As ever, I'm sure a few spelling errors have slipped past me. Feel free to point any out so I can correct them.

The reference links for the strip are in the next blog entry.

Now! Let's have a heated debate!

2013 update. Since I wrote this blog entry, this cartoon strip as well as many others on such subjects as homeopathy, chiropratic, evolution, and the supposed NASA Moon hoax landings, have been published in a book: Science Tales in the UK (Myriad Edtions) and How To Fake A Moon Landing in the US and Canada (Abrams). Here's the link to my main blog.

1 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

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I just read this in a book this weekend. A fiction novel at that!
"In the public mind, anecdotal "evidence" and false promises trump science every time."

Just one spelling mistake - he is no longer 'Dr' Andrew Wakefield. At least not in the UK.

I read his study when I was a 3rd year undergraduate public health student (before it was officially rescinded by the Lancet). Even I could see the flaws of the so-called 'study' and our lecturers were questioning it. It's shocking that the Lancet published it at all.

And now people have died as a result of all of this - and it could have been prevented.

Thank you for letting me know some of the 'back ground' to what I already knew in my head and heart - MMR is perfectly safe for nearly all babies/children (there's always going to be exceptions to every medicine). Did nobody stop to ask - perhaps those children were going to develope autism anyway? That no matter what course of action the parents took the outcome would have been the same for their child, except of course thousands of other children would not be at risk of such symptoms as blindness or death from measels now?

and in the meantime there is a measles epidemic starting and people will die or be disabled as a result.

Very interesting and thought provoking.

In addition, with the current measles outbreak in wales, Wakefield claimed that the government were putting the mmr ahead of children's health, I guess he's still trying to push his patented single vaccine.

Asking them to fact check and use reporters that actually know about the subject?
Of course that's too much to ask!
Might as well ask them to fly to the moon by flapping their arms while they are at it.

excellent bit of work - and convenient as I'm having a bit of a debate on this very issue!!

Just seen this, excellent summary, well done. Willbe reposting.

A 25 year old has died in South Wales and there have been nearly 1000 cases.

Wakefield has blood on his hands

Well told. I hope it goes viral (pun intended).

All of this is far to much to ask, in this new age of unreason. IMNHO we should suffer the little children to die for their parent's mistakes.

Edited at 2013-04-21 11:45 am (UTC)

I wonder if more open access to scientific journals, and encouraging more people to read an understand the importance of peer-reviewed articles, would help. Not that I expect the majority of the general public to read them, but it might help push things in the right direction. I bet your average joe on the street doesn't even know that wealth of knowledge and expertise exists in published, readable form.

January 28, 2013. US Vaccine Court awards millions of dollars to two families of autistic children essentially admitting that the MMR triggered a regression from normal developing children into a state of Autism. Pioneers in the medical field are often ridiculed at first, like Wakefield. No doubt he will come to be known as Sir Andrew Wakefield eventually.

essentially admitting that the MMR triggered a regression from normal developing children into a state of Autism

...where "essentially" here means "not".

In both cases, compensation was given for encephalitis - which is an acknowledged (but extremely rare*) side-effect of MMR vaccination. While there were certainly claims made of autism, that was not upheld in the findings of fact.

Coverage here, with links to more including the court findings.

*Somewhere in the neighbourhood of one in a million... compared to the one-in-a-thousand risk of encephalitis for the unvaccinated who contract measles.

Great cartoon! Very illuminating, puts in an easily digestible format, thank you. I just had a quick question regarding your discussion of the media's role in the scandal. Your pictures seem to feature the headers of papers like The Sun and the Mail and focus on these more, with the headers of other papers like the Times and the Independent obscured in the background. Is this deliberate or a result of anti-tabloid bias? Broadsheet papers were equally to blame for propagating the message, and it's unfair to pick on the tabloids more than them. I'm sure this is just incidental though! Great article.