Vaxxed is an anti-vaccine “documentary” designed to warn people about the MMR vaccine written and directed by a British former doctor whose study linking the vaccine with autism was so phony, he lost his license to practice medicine because of it.
Based on information from the producers, the movie slams; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for allegedly hiding vital data, about drug companies for trying to “create an environment of constant vaccination from cradle to grave,” and even television news programs, for allegedly promoting the pharmaceutical industry’s agenda. Apparently the movie also ignores the fact that the original research study linking the MMR vaccine and Autism has been proven to be fraudulent (not just incorrect but purposely fraudulent).
The movie has been in the news recently because it was supposed to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, but an outpouring of criticism from public health advocates prompted the festival’s cofounder, actor Robert De Niro, to remove the movie from the festival’s program.
Some may call it censorship or denial of free speech but De Niro made the correct decision. This movie is less of a documentary and more of an attempt to scream fire in a crowded theater. The link between Autism and the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR) is the medical version of the “birther” or “truther” stories.
The original study which linked the two has never been able to be duplicated. In fact the original paper was withdrawn by the medical journal which originally published it because they became convinced the study was false. Sadly for the parents who believe it true there is not enough evidence in the world to convince them that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study was bogus (Wakefield directed Vaxxed). The study’s believers (such as “actress” Jenny McCarthy) continue to try and convince parents not to vaccinate their kids leading to unnecessary cases of Measles and Mumps in the United States.
In January 2011 the case linking the MMR vaccine to Autism was destroyed. In an article called, “Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent,” The British Medical Journal published the result of an independent investigation revealing that the British doctor who authored the study (and directed Vaxxed) Andrew Wakefield, was guilty of an “elaborate fraud” by faking data in his studies linking vaccines with autism.
Wakefield’s study and his claim that the MMR vaccine might cause autism, led to a decline in vaccination rates in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland and his continued warnings against the vaccine have contributed to a climate of distrust of all vaccines and the reemergence of other previously controlled diseases.
According to an editorial in The British Medical Journal Medical Journal mentioned above, it was not possible that Wakefield made a mistake — he must have faked the data. To back up their claim they presented evidence generated by investigative journalist Brian Deer, who generated a series of articles based on examining the same medical records that Wakefield did.
In a series of articles starting this week, and seven years after first looking into the MMR scare, journalist Brian Deer now shows the extent of Wakefield’s fraud and how it was perpetrated (doi:10.1136/bmj.c5347). Drawing on interviews, documents, and data made public at the GMC hearings, Deer shows how Wakefield altered numerous facts about the patients’ medical histories in order to support his claim to have identified a new syndrome; how his institution, the Royal Free Hospital and Medical School in London, supported him as he sought to exploit the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain; and how key players failed to investigate thoroughly in the public interest when Deer first raised his concerns.
Brian Deer published his first investigation into Wakefield’s paper in 2004. This uncovered the possibility of research fraud, unethical treatment of children, and Wakefield’s conflict of interest through his involvement with a lawsuit against manufacturers of the MMR vaccine.
Building on these findings, the GMC launched its own proceedings that focused on whether the research was ethical. But while the disciplinary panel was examining the children’s medical records in public, Deer compared them with what was published in the Lancet. His focus was now on whether the research was true.
Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.
In May 2010 after a seven month investigation, the General Medical Council, which regulates all of Great Britain’s doctors ruled:
Dr Wakefield had a clear and compelling duty to ensure that the factual information contained in the paper was true and accurate and he failed in this duty….Dr Wakefield’s continued lack of insight as to his misconduct serve only to satisfy the Panel that suspension is not sufficient and that his actions are incompatible with his continued registration as a medical practitioner.
Accordingly the Panel has determined that Dr Wakefield’s name should be erased from the medical register [in Britain that’s the medical version of disbarment] . The Panel concluded that it is the only sanction that is appropriate to protect patients and is in the wider public interest, including the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the profession and is proportionate to the serious and wide-ranging findings made against him.
In 2014 meta-analysis of scientific studies covering 1.26 million children released by the scientific journal Vaccine, researchers stated firmly, “In conclusion, this meta-analysis provides no evidence of a relationship between vaccination and autism or autism spectrum disorders and as such advocate the continuation of immunization programs according to national guidelines.”
But none of the studies disproving his fraud prevented Wakefield from making the movie accusing the CDC with perpetuating a “cover-up,” but ignoring the fact that scientific studies have proved he purposely committed a dangerous fraud.
In making a movie attempting to cover-up his fraud and accuse the medical conspiracy of trying to cover up the truth, Dr. Wakefield may be the cause of hundreds of needless childhood illnesses and dozens of deaths above and beyond the ones he already caused by his original fake study, by convincing parents not to vaccinate their children.
UPDATE: Some who have read this post believed that I am advocating that government supersede a child’s parents in deciding whether or not a child should be vaccinated. That is not my intention. It is the parents job to make medical decisions for their child, and except for rare emergencies the government’s role is limited to making sure the vaccine is as advertised and available to those parents who want their children to receive it. Government has no role in forcing a parent to vaccinate their children. That is a decision which can only be made by a loving mom and/or dad who can evaluate the individual needs of a particular child.