Drugs

“It doesn’t seem to matter how often vaccines are proved safe or supplements are shown to offer nothing of value. When people don’t like facts, they ignore them.” – Michael Specter

The movie “Vaxxed:¬†From Cover-up to Catastrophe” was the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival’s most notorious movie – until the Festival¬†pulled it from the schedule. The so-called documentary presented itself as an expos√© of the¬†Center for Disease Control’s involvement in the MMR vaccine and¬†autism controversy. The festival founder, Robert DeNiro, had lobbied for the film’s inclusion because he has an autistic son – and he hoped that the documentary would promote discussion on the subject.

It seemed reasonable. Except that study after study has debunked any connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. The only reason there was any consideration of a link in the first place was a ‘medical trial’ conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield was proved a charlatan,¬†with a financial motive – $600,000 from a law firm that was suing vaccine makers – to find a link.

Although¬†the prestigious British medical journal ‘Lancet’ published the study, it was eventually repudiated by the publication and all the co-authors. Wakefield had faked the data. His irresponsibility led to his being stricken off the medical register – thereby ending his medical career in as profound a disgrace as can be issued by the professional group.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 10.46.32 PMSurely this would have put a stop to the nonsense; you would think. No. Intelligent people fell for the scam with the enthusiasm of kids at an Easter egg hunt. Deniers collected stories of toddlers left profoundly disabled after vaccination as others might collect baseball cards. But the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Autism is commonly diagnosed at 18 months – which is also when the MMR vaccine is given. Correlation is not causation.

What does this have to do with the Vaxxer documentary? Everything. The director is none other than the reprehensible blot Andrew Wakefield – now enjoying his new status as ‘martyr’ to the powers-that-be.¬†But he cannot be rehabilitated. This excrescence has permanently shed any claim of intellectual honesty. If he were flogging swamp land in Florida, his victims would be swindled. But as his con is the denial of one of medicine’s greatest achievements, instead he is killing children.

Regardless, some anti-vaxxer zealots think that the decision to ax ‘Vaxxer’ is censorship. But there is no mandate for a prestigious film festival to give its imprimatur to mere wind. If I submitted a documentary ‘proving’ that the Pastafarian’s Fly Spaghetti¬†Monster is the one true God, it would be reasonable to tell me to peddle my wares elsewhere.

The vaccination rate has gone down in the US and diseases like measles – ones we thought had been eradicated – ¬†are roaring back. Measles may not¬†be as notorious as polio or smallpox (both almost eliminated by vaccines), but it isn’t without cost. In the 1950s – before the measles’ vaccine – an average of 450 measles-related deaths was reported each year. Also, as a result of measles virus infections, an average of 150,000 patients had respiratory complications and 4,000 patients had encephalitis each year.

What of the claim that vaccination is a ‘Big Pharma’ money maker’? Rubbish. The big money is in treating disease – not preventing it. One $2 vaccine and the cash flow dries up – that’s not good business.

But, the anti-vaxxers giddily point out, what of the exploding rate of autism diagnoses? I agree, it’s disgraceful. But why does that make it the MMR vaccine’s fault?

Autism requires a two-step trigger. First, there must be a genetic predisposition to the condition. Second it needs an environmental trigger. I suggest that there are many credible triggers. All of which are far less scrutinized than vaccines.

The search for causes should focus on industrial and commercial chemicals and the offerings of industrial food. Throw in the wild west of nutritional supplements, for good measure. The human newborn is subject to a smorgasbord of chemicals. That the MMR vaccine has garnered so much opprobrium, when there are actors so far worse, is a testament to the inability of humans to understand the scientific method.

 

 

 

 

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