By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
1) Originally reported to elicit the retraction of the UK’s “Lancet” paper that alleged a link between developmental disabilities such as autism mixed with bowel disorders and colitis with the MMR Vaccine were several charges including : 1) “manufactured appearance of purported medical syndrome by Andrew Wakefield,” 2) “findings and results of a small sample group were reported as facts,” 3) “clinical records were reinterpreted to suit self (Wakefield)”, 4) there was no record of children’s health concerns with National Health Service, 5) “omitted correct information about purpose of the study,” 6) “Wakefield cited for dishonesty by Medical Research Council Panel in regards to sources of funding and who patients were”, 7) ‘illegally obtained Legal Aid monies to pay for study,” 8) anonymized patients, 9) disbelief in probability that 12 families went to same hospital at same time for same thing in a matter of days.
2) Why the premeditated selection of patients was such a damnable offense by Wakefield was that it presented an inaccurate sample group, too small and without geographical range which suggests an improbable statistic that these 12 anonymized cases be representative of the whole. What was truly devastating about the Wakefield allegations were that needed vaccine usage plummeted and could have triggered epidemics. One consequence that was described in “Statistics in Medical Research” by P. Sprent has to do with “when resources are wasted when trial or experiment is too small to have any hope of determining whether or not a potentially important treatment response occurs..” Sprent claims that “statistics provide rational measures to reflect the degree of uncertainty associated with databased assertions.” Sprent goes on to say that “statistics provide indicators as to how well data conforms to mathematical models.” The statistician needs assurance that “the number of cases selected is adequate to make inferences.” The use of a sample group to make inferences relevant to a population is called inferential statistics. Statisticians are said by Sprent to “sometimes make further assumptions that are only approximately true in order to calculate the relevant measures.”
3) 3a) How the scientific process is self-correcting has to do with testing and replication of a hypothesis and peer review. Wakefield was eventually subject to peer review that tested his hypothesis and refuted it. All science is subject to this way of “replication” which as a rule weeds out weak hypotheses.
Was it in the end incumbent upon a British journalist, Brian Deer, to expose Wakefield’s fraudulent activity and business practices in a sensational series of articles? Was journalism in fact Wakefield’s police? Many people with “fear unleashed” by Wakefield’s alleged linkage of disease with vaccination potentially killed or injured or was impetus for epidemics. Science may not have covered the issues to the extent necessary or swiftly enough to save lives. The original article in United Kingdom’s “The Lancet” medical paper was not retracted for ~12 years and many people suffered insecurity with said information. There were not credible sources to verify the information and it was followed by widespread mistrust of medicine. Wakefield appeared to profiteer in a bewildering fashion and it is unclear where to find the checks and balances for healthcare profiteering. It is as if in the case of Wakefield who desired to form a company based on an anti vaccine hypothesis and related bio engineering technologies such as a molecular viral diagnostic test for Britain and America that he hoped to profit 72.5m pounds a year from.
3c) The results were startling. According to the “Jenny McCarthy Body count” which contains
Statistics from up until 2015. McCarthy reported that the anti-vaccine movement and televised promotion by celebrities from June 3rd, 2007 to July 18, 2015 there were ~152,763 directly related preventable illnesses. From June 3rd, 2007 to July 18, 2015 there were 9,028 preventable deaths connected to the anti-vaccine movement. According to McCarthy there were 0 autism diagnoses linked to vaccines from June 3rd, 2007 to July 18, 2015. The anti-vaccine movement was linked directly to a British medical report in “The Lancet” in 1998 by a gastroenterologist Dr. Wakefield, who was later indicted with myriad criminal charges when many scientific and legal examinations disproved evidence.
1)RETRACTED: Wakefield A., et al., The Lancet 1998; 351:638-641 Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children
2)http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2011/01/06/brian-deer-piltdown-medicine-the-missing-link-between-mmr-and-autism/ BMJ Opinion, Brian Deer: Piltdown medicine: The missing link between MMR and autism,
Opinion, Brian Deer: Piltdown medicine: The missing link between MMR and autism,
4)Sprent, P., Statistics in Medical Research pg. 523
5)Sprent, P., Statistics in Medical Research pg. 523
6)Sprent, P., Statistics in Medical Research pg. 523
7)Sprent, P., Statistics in Medical Research pg. 524