The fact that many SCAM-practitioners are latent or even overt anti-vaxxers has often been addressed on this blog. The fact that the anti-vaccination guru, Andrew Wakefield, has his fingers deep in the SCAM-pie is less well appreciated.

In case you forgot who Wakefield is, let me remind you. As a gastroenterologist at the London Royal Free Hospital, he published evidence in the Lancet (1998) suggesting that the MMR vaccination was a cause of autism. It was discovered to be fraudulent. In 2010, a statutory tribunal of the GMC found three dozen charges proved, including 4 counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally delayed children. Consequently, he was struck off the register and lives in the US ever since where he, amongst many other things, enjoys lecturing to homeopaths and chiropractors about the dangers of vaccination.

Since Trump, who seems to share Wakefield’s anti-vaxx stance, has become president of the US, Wakefield has managed to creep back in the limelight. The Guardian recently reported: At one of President Trump’s inaugural balls in January last year, he was quoted as contemplating the overthrow of the (pro-vaccine) US medical establishment in words that brought to mind Trump himself. “What we need now is a huge shakeup at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – a huge shakeup. We need that to change dramatically.”

In the US, Wakefield also founded the ‘Autism Media Channel’ which makes videos alleging a causal link between autism and the MMR vaccine. The film ‘Vaxxed’ was thus directed by Wakefield. It was put forward to premiere at the 2016 Tribeca film festival by Robert De Niro, the father of an autistic child. It alleges a cover-up of the alleged link between MMR and autism by the CDC – the institute Wakefield said needed a shake-up at the Trump inaugural ball. After much discussion, De Niro fortunately withdrew the film.

Wakefield’s private life has also seem significant changes. He is reported to have recently left his wife who had supported him throughout the debacle in the UK and is now ‘deliciously in love’ with the super-model and entrepreneur Elle Macpherson . Brian Burrowes, 48, who edited ‘Vaxxed’ was reported stating that he and Macpherson had begun dating after they were both guests at the ‘Doctors Who Rock‘ Awards in November last year. This event was to honour alternative medicine practitioners, with Macpherson handing out an award and Wakefield receiving one. Other awardees included Del Bigtree and Billy DeMoss DC.

Wakefield’s legacy in Europe is the recurrence of measles due to persistent doubts in vaccination safety. This regrettable phenomenon is fuelled by Wakefield’s multiple activities, including face-book, twitter and you-tube. Social media has provided an alternative to the “failings of mainstream media”, Wakefield was quoted in the Guardian saying – another phrase that could have come from a tweet by the US president himself. “In this country, it’s become so polarised now … No one knows quite what to believe,” Wakefield said. “So, people are turning increasingly to social media.”

And this is what I said about this strategy in today’s Times: “Such anti-vaccination propaganda is hugely harmful. It prompts many families to shun immunisations which means firstly they are unprotected, and secondly we as a people might lose herd immunity. The result is what we currently see throughout Europe: epidemics are threatening the lives of millions. It is in my view irresponsible for any institution to get involved in the anti-vaxx cult, particularly for universities who really should know better.”

87 Responses to Andrew Wakefield, Donald Trump, SCAM, and the anti-vaccination cult

  • Thanks for covering this….

    Trump is in essence just another multi-level-marketing scammer who’s learned all the basic trick of manipulative use of language and ‘positive’ self delusion. He learned much of this as a young man from his pastor, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking — with whom he kept in contact until Peale’s death in 1994. (Whenever journalists say that he seems to try to ‘create his own reality’, they don’t realise that that is literally what he is doing!)

  • Vaccines need to be evidence based, assumption is not good enough, we need real placebos in safety trials, unvaxxed Vs vaxxed studies, long term health outcomes, the full vaccine schedule studied rather than one at a time, there needs to be independence, no conflicts whatsoever, and the witch hunts against those who find harm of vaccines have to be stopped, otherwise it is pushing vaccination much too far away from anything that we can call science.

    • @Lucy

      “Vaccines need to be evidence based, assumption is not good enough, we need real placebos in safety trials, unvaxxed Vs vaxxed studies, long term health outcomes…”

      Such as these and these, perhaps?

      You might also take a look at this chart.

      • Frank Odds,

        Unfortunately none of this evidence is anywhere near enough. We know that we can vaccinate against a pathogen, induce antibodies and reduce the number of such pathogens that are circulating. However to do this we have to also inject toxins into the body causing inflammation and a risky artificial immune response, therefore we need to be looking at mortaility rates and overall health outcomes, we need studies at the cellular level to take a closer look at what is going in, relying on epidemiological studies is completely inadequate. The DTP vaccine was found to actually be reducing life expectancy, if we had designed the right tests from the start we would have known that long ago. The human body is complex and vaccine science makes far too many faith based assumptions. Real placebos need to be required for safety studies, it is not possible to take any seriously when they simply compare vaccinated with vaccinated, and even falsly calling a vaccine a placebo, like in the HPV safety studies which can only be interpreted as them trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

        We all need to demand real science, there is always plenty of money for marketing and lobbying, but funding high quality studies is never of much interest to them.

    • Lucy,

      You make a very good point – medical interventions have to be justified – and one basic objection to the present vaccine schedule is that mostly the products were never even trialed against genuine placebo. But what we have here is an attack on people: Andrew Wakefield or anyone at all who is vaguely critical of vaccines, who are all now apparently members of “the anti-vaccine cult”. This, of course, has nothing to do with science and everything with what one might describe as bad rhetoric. Again, we see Wakefield transformed into the Emmanuel Goldstein of public science, but it is a non-sequitur: even if any of the allegations were remotely true, which they are not, it would not demonstrate that any single vaccine product was safe.

      To understand the Wakefield case you have to focus I believe on two elements (1) what would happen if doctors started listening to parents about vaccine injuries (2) what would happen to industry prospects if parents were allowed to go on choosing which products to give their children (as was still the case in the UK in 1998). As I pointed out the industry succeeded in raising the cost of vaccinating a single child by 68 times between 2001 and 2014, but it is highly questionable whether this was of any general benefit to health:

      And Wakefield speaking out of turn in 1998 was threatening the entire project.

      • To understand the Wakefield case you have to focus I believe on two elements…

        No. To understand the Wakefield case, you just have to look at the FACTS. Here are some of the most egregious:
        – Wakefield has performed experiments, in part invasive experiments, on children, several of whom were autistic, without proper informed consent from parents, and without approval from an ethics committee – both prerequisites that were (and still are) compulsory. This alone would already fully justify his losing his medical license.
        – Wakefield has falsified data. When comparing his data with medical records from other sources, several of the children in his sample did NOT have inflammatory bowel disease, and three of those twelve children were not even autistic.
        These are PROVEN FACTS. Wakefield is a dishonest fraud, based on this alone (and he was found guilty of ten more charges).
        You just try to draw the attention away from these facts by muddying the water with your crap about the GMC.

        what would happen if doctors started listening to parents about vaccine injuries

        Doctors DO listen to parents whose child fell ill after vaccination, and then they can usually reassure those parents that vaccination played no part in their child’s illness. Apparently, you try bringing up the age-old fallacy that parents have some sort of ‘special knowledge’ that doctors don’t have, and that parents know BETTER than doctors what causes their children’s health problems. You are wrong. Parents can NOT tell if their child’s health problem was caused by vaccination, or if it was merely a coincidence. Just think about it: for thousands of years, the health of children lay in the hands of parents (or shamans), not in the hands of modern medicine. Were children healthier and better off in those days, when ‘parents know best’ was the prevailing (and in fact only) approach to infant medicine?

        what would happen to industry prospects if parents were allowed to go on choosing which products to give their children… As I pointed out the industry succeeded in raising the cost of vaccinating a single child by 68 times between 2001 and 2014

        Another attempt to poison the well with a very dumb ‘argument’. Are you really so stupid as to suggest that price hikes by manufacturers somehow prove that vaccines are detrimental to our children’s health? Well, yes, in fact you have a point – but not in the way you think: higher prices for vaccines can cause a drop in the vaccination rate, especially for vaccines that aren’t covered by national health programs. And yes, that IS detrimental to our children’s health.

        Summarized: parents do NOT by definition know what is best for their children, and parents most certainly are NOT capable of telling whether vaccination caused a particular ailment or not. Even their GP is not capable to establish or deny a causal relationship. This is the domain of scientific research, in particular epidemiology and statistics, as children sometimes DO come down with a serious health issue shortly after vaccination, without this vaccination having anything to do with it. And no matter how much it looks like ‘vaccine injury’ to those involved, it almost never is.
        This is why we should trust medical professionals and scientists, not our personal judgement (and most certainly not the likes of you).

    • the witch hunts against those who find harm of vaccines

      There is no witch hunt against those who find harm of vaccines. Vaccines do not cause harm in any significant way, so those who claim to ‘find harm’ are sometimes misguided people, but mostly idiots, liars and – the very worst of all – fraudsters, i.e. homeopaths and naturopaths spreading lies and scaremongering about vaccines, in order to sell frightened parents their useless ‘remedies’ for non-existing ‘vaccine injury’, and even homeopathic alternatives to vaccination.

      • RichardR,

        It is undeniable that there are witch hunts against those who find the harm of vaccines, it is getting worse than ever now. The experts have been complaining about it, as it scares many researchers off doing their job properly.

        Debate on vaccines and autoimmunity: Do not attack the author, yet discuss it methodologically

        “Recently, the authors of many vaccine safety investigations are being personally criticized rather than the actual science being methodologically assessed and critiqued. Unfortunately, this could result in making vaccine safety science a “hazardous occupation”. Critiques should focus on the science and not on the authors and on the scientists that publish reasonably high-quality science suggesting a problem with a given vaccine. These scientists require adequate professional protection so there are not disincentives to publish and to carry out researches in the field.”

        To prove vaccines are safe we need real high quality studies, at the moment the required studies do not exist, vaccines are simply a shot in the dark, and the industry is doing its best to scare anyone off from performing the studies independently, almost as if they know there is something to hide. The experts on injectable aluminum are being forced to crowdfund their own studies as pharma are refusing point blank to help in any way for such essential vaccine safety studies to be carried out.

        • It is undeniable that there are witch hunts against those who find the harm of vaccines,

          This is a lie. Let me stress this once again: vaccines DO NOT CAUSE HARM in any significant manner, and those who say differently are liars and scaremongerers, without any solid proof to back up their claims. These people (e.g. John Stone) are criticized, as they are detrimental to our public health.

          “Recently, the authors of many vaccine safety investigations are being personally criticized rather than the actual science being methodologically assessed and critiqued.

          This is a lie. The reason why papers from certain ‘scientists’ are considered trash is because they ARE trash. The fact that certain scientists are attacked quite often is because they produce trash quite often, and not for any personal reasons. E.g. Christopher Shaw has had no less than FOUR of his papers retracted because of hopelessly flawed science. But if and when he comes up with a proper piece of scientific work, it will be nevertheless be accepted, albeit after a more thorough scrutiny than usual, no doubt.
          And yes, there are a dozen or so researchers who have apparently made it their life mission to prove that vaccines are harmful. So far, they failed miserably.

          To prove vaccines are safe we need real high quality studies, at the moment the required studies do not exist,

          It is getting boring, but again, this is a lie, and a stupidly outrageous one, at that. You are in fact saying that ALL scientists who have done research into the field of vaccines so far are incompetent, and failed to do their work properly – EXCEPT those who come up with results that fit in with your antivaccine beliefs, no matter if their work is seriously flawed. This is hypocrisy at it That most of the antivaccine-leaning stuff is rejected on scientific grounds is s finest.
          In reality, vaccines are probably the best researched and monitored products on the planet, far more than normal medicines, and even more than our daily food. And no this research and monitoring is NOT just carried out by those who have an interest in selling vaccines (i.e. pharmaceutical companies), but by countless independent governmental institutes and research labs all over the world.
          Also, with a bit of rational thinking, even non-scientists can come up with simple ways to (dis)prove antivaccine tropes. Here’s one: go and look up the number of autism diagnoses in Japan between 1990 and 2000. Hint: if antivaccine cranks such as John Stone are right, this number should have decreased significantly from 1993 onwards. It didn’t (and I leave it to you to find the reasons for this as a nice little exercise in scientific thinking and research).

          The experts on injectable aluminum are being forced to crowdfund their own studies as pharma are refusing point blank to help in any way for such essential vaccine safety studies to be carried out.

          And yes, this too is a lie. And a very funny one too. Because I know EXACTLY what would happen and what you would say if pharmaceutical companies were to sponsors those studies as you suggest. There are two possibilities:
          1. The studies find to fail any problem. Antivaccine response: “You can’t trust these studies at all because they’re paid for by Big Pharma!”
          2. The studies do (unexpectedly) find a link. Antivaccine response: “See, we told you! And now it’s scientifically proven!”

          But the lie is that those studies are not carried out. They have been carried out, and they still are. And no, those researchers are not shunned or personally attacked by the scientific community. They are respected and their work is generally accepted, as long as it complies to proper scientific standards.
          The problem is that YOU refuse to accept the outcome, that is: until the outcome matches your beliefs.

          Hypocrisy once again, I’m afraid…

          • Well said.

          • RichardR you shout out that vaccines do no harm, you are vociferous in your views – apparently mothers, doctors know nothing, one should refer to science and science has the answers. You asked in response to my comment in a previous thread ‘what is the truth about vaccines?’ It is tedious to go around in circles; if it wasn’t such a serious and tragic subject, I would give up.

            If you need to ask the question, you are not the authority on vaccine injury you purport to be, disregarding YouTube and Wikepedia, Google vaccine injury compensation. Whilst the information is not mainstream media published, that doesn’t mean the information is inaccessible. It largely depends on the researchers’ seriousness in finding the truth; it no longer holds water to say that VACCINES DO NO HARM because they apparently do.

            A quick search will reveal that there are support groups who know their children have become ill after the HPV vaccine. Contrary to your strident views that mothers know nothing, they actually do – they have sadly seen their daughters’health decline at the point of vaccine. And when there are many families affected, scientific or not, one listens. A GP listens to his patient about their experience of a given drug to the point of changing it f necessary, 45 years ago I like so many followed the norm – vaccines are safe, health professionals know best, and then I met a mother whose son had become very ill from a vaccine. It was heartbreaking and she was convinced she was right. There was not the Information there is now – but that mother planted a seed – her instincts were right,

            The interminable accusations on this blog that CAM practitioners advise against vaccines is erroneous. Half a century of CAM use, and not one has raised the subject of vaccines to me . No, human beings can do their resesrch and make informed decisions. I don’t believe there are anti Vaxxers but those that think parents should be able to make informed choice. Why would you be against that RichardR?

            For those people, the truth is out there. Whilst you are correct in stating in a previous post that pharma companies are never sued re vaccines, that is because, as you know, they were given government liability protection in 1986 – the vaccine injury comp act. The VICP has paid over $3 billion in compensation; there has recently been a single award of $101 million for vaccine injury. The HHS are n breech of laws on vaccine safety testing, ie no data, Those who care about safety are pursuing through the courts HPV clinical trial data, The truth will out, and thank God there are people like Andrew Wakefield who has been misrepresented and falsely accused of so many things, one wonders …. Prof Ernst on a different thread ?? Posted how interesting The Times Article on Wakefield was : it was a personal attack and shabby and assumptive about his personal life. Contemptible and meaningless. Thank you John Stone and Lucy for your measured and decent serious comments on a tragedy for so many families. The suffering they endure deserves respect and support.

          • “the truth is out there” – but it’s not with the data-falsifying, disgraced ex-doctor Wakefield.

          • @Angela

            Half a century of CAM use, and not one has raised the subject of vaccines to me .

            Thank you for this valuable evidence. Now I can safely disregard the hundreds of SCAM websites that advise against vaccination, because Angela has never had the subject. of vaccination raised with her.

          • Angela, you wrote:

            I don’t believe there are anti Vaxxers but those that think parents should be able to make informed choice.

            So why do you think it is that so many of those who pretend to want an “informed choice” actually mis-inform their marks with anti-scientific, illogical drivel?

            Drivel like pretending that the elements in a chemical compound maintain their elemental chemical properties when they are chemically combined with the other elements in that compound.

            Drivel like pretending that it is not the dose that makes the poison.

            Drivel like the pharmacological properties of chemically identical compounds being dependent on whether they are “natural” or “synthetic”.

            I could go on. And on….

          • @Angela
            You are expressing rather strong opinions on a subject without having actual knowledge about it. Also, your reasoning is rather messy and maybe even dishonest at certain points.

            First of all, and again: Where is the evidence that vaccines cause significant harm? And by this I mean reliable scientific evidence, generally accepted by scientists and researchers. Let me tell you once more: THERE IS NO SUCH EVIDENCE.

            … apparently mothers, doctors know nothing, …

            Indeed, mothers know next to nothing about their children’s ailments, in particular what causes them. If their child falls ill, they can only speculate about the cause, and most of the time, they’re wrong. Humans have a strong tendency to see causal connections, even where there aren’t any. Especially with vaccination (which boils down to deliberately hurting your own child – and no, that doesn’t feel right at all, as I can testify from personal experience), the urge is very strong indeed to attribute almost everything that happens afterwards to that vaccination. But that doesn’t mean that this is correct – in other words: this is the well-known post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.
            Doctors already know a lot more – and one of the most important things that they know, but most mothers don’t, is that personal observation can be very deceiving indeed, and that they should always be very careful when drawing conclusions based on said observations. But even though they know this, they regularly succumb to this pitfall of the human mind. And oh, naturopaths, homeopaths and other quacks spend their entire life in this trap – someone gets better after ingesting their sugar crumbs? Then they got better because of these sugar crumbs! These people are to be avoided, not trusted.
            So far, the only way we know to avoid this pitfall, is careful research through a formalized scientific method. At best, observations can provide a starting point, but never proof.

            If you need to ask the question, you are not the authority on vaccine injury you purport to be, disregarding YouTube and Wikipedia, Google vaccine injury compensation.

            This is one of your messy arguments that needs teasing apart. Yes, YouTube should be ignored, period. This is because the vast majority of ‘vaccine information’ on YouTube is composed of totally unscientific antivaccine propaganda, blatant lies and anecdotes, the truthfulness of can’t be established in any way. And what’s worse: these lies and propaganda are propagated with the use very powerful imagery of children having seizures or other problems, with the commentary simply claiming that vaccines caused it – WITHOUT PRESENTING ANY EVIDENCE FOR THIS WHATSOEVER. But since these images stick in people’s minds far better than the most elaborate scientific explanation, antivaccine sentiments tend to spread quickly through this medium. You fell for this too.
            About Wikipedia: contrary to YouTube, Wikipedia is already quite a trustworthy source, and as far as I can see, Wikipedia doesn’t say anywhere that vaccines cause serious trouble (or do you have an example?).
            Google is not a source, it’s a tool. Looking up ‘vaccine injury compensation’ does indeed give a lot of results, a lot of which are rabidly anti-vaccine once again – but if you would take care to look at the simple facts, things are (once again) not at all what they seem.
            First of all, the VICP is merely a practical solution to the problem that spurious lawsuits threatened to shut down vaccine supply to the US altogether. The VICP is a no-fault system, where compensation is granted through a simple look-up table, without the need to actually PROVE a causal connection with the injury.
            Second, just look at the numbers:
            “According to the CDC, from 2006 to 2016 over 3.1 billion doses of covered vaccines were distributed in the U.S. For petitions filed in this time period, 5,492 petitions were adjudicated by the Court, and of those 3,723 were compensated. This means for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, 1 individual was compensated.”
            Let me repeat that with emphasis: for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, 1 individual was compensated
            So even in this very generous system, without the need to deliver hard evidence that vaccination was the actual cause of injury, only one in a million vaccinations actually results in compensation. Is this proof that vaccines are far more harmful than manufacturers and scientists say? NO! It is EXACTLY the frequency of very rare but serious side effects as mentioned in the label, and deemed acceptable by all involved.

            A quick search will reveal that there are support groups who know their children have become ill after the HPV vaccine.

            Well, yes, that is correct. Children get ill sometimes. And sometimes, this happens shortly after vaccination. But the unspoken tenet here is that these children fell ill because of this vaccination. This is once again the Post Hoc fallacy, not proof that vaccines were the cause. If so desired, I can present a simple calculation to show that an X number of children will develop condition Y within, say, two weeks after HPV vaccination – yet without there being a causal relationship. It’s simple statistics, but individual parents are not aware of those statistics, and only see the case of N=1, leading to erroneous conclusions.

            then I met a mother whose son had become very ill from a vaccine. It was heartbreaking and she was convinced she was right. There was not the Information there is now – but that mother planted a seed – her instincts were right,

            Nope, even without knowing the case details, chances are still overwhelmingly that her instincts were wrong. Most of the ‘new information’ ‘out there’ is rubbish, antivaccine propaganda and lies, such as the trash that John Stone and you are spouting here — because you keep on blathering about vaccine injury WITHOUT PRESENTING ANY EVIDENCE FOR THIS WHATSOEVER.

            I don’t believe there are anti Vaxxers but those that think parents should be able to make informed choice.

            I am not against parents making an informed choice. But the information should be based on the truth and on scientific evidence, NOT on anecdotes, scare videos on YouTube and on what liars an scaremongerers such as John Stone pull out of their nether regions.
            People who claim that vaccines cause significant health problems are WRONG, not just because they believe the aforementioned crappy sources, and not even because they can’t even support one of their many myths with actual evidence, but most of all because they reject the overwhelming scientific consensus and medical body of knowledge. They spread lies and make people distrust the ONLY ones who actually know a thing or two about their children’s health.

            But I ‘ll leave it at this; you obviously put your trust in loudmouth nitwits and dumb YouTube videos instead of in actual experts on the subject matter – and (haha) scientific research has shown that confronting Believers like you with facts and reason never actually works, quite the contrary.

    • Hang on “Lucy”. Did you not just write that you want to see use of placebos in a vaccination efficacy trial? Do you think that a child can be immune to infection of measles through a placebo? Do you actually think there is a possibility of placebo “herd immunity” in human populations?

      • Also, there would be a ‘SLIGHT’ ethical problem with such a study!

        • Edzard

          But hold on, even it is unethical for the sake of argument to leave a child unvaccinated it would not give you any clue about safety which should be just as important, and it also supposes the original vaccines were tested against genuine placebo. So, there are major ethical problems the other way. And as we recall in successive reviews Cochrane found MMR safety studies to be “largely inadequate”. so, the evidence is poor.

          And what about the cases of vaccines for diseases not previously vaccinated against like HPV where virtually all the tests were against false placebo?

          • I fail to understand what you are on about; safety studies are not designed as RCTs. You need very large sample sizes to pick up rare adverse effects – far larger than possible with RCTs.

        • Agreed. And, moreover, given that we are writing here about proven human “herd immunity” through vaccination, it would be based on a ludicrous hypothesis that is based on no relevant data whatsoever for such an idea. Wouldn’t it?

      • RichardR it is tempting to ignore your response but I think your accusations that I have no actual knowledge, my reasoning is messy and dishonest on certain points need addressing. Please do elaborate because you have lost me, I get that you absolutely are resolute in your beliefs: there is no vaccine injury – ever, just the odd side effect. That is your perogative. Coincidentally, most people I know believe the same. The vaccination issue is a bit like religion and politics: if one wants to keep friends, don’t discuss period. It is true that most people are unaware of issues surrounding vaccination. A lot of people advocate the flu shot, children as young as 4 were administered it in the school environment – good herd Immunity. The concensus is that it was the ‘wrong’ strain so no protection. But the point is it does not become an issue or even a talking point. You are in good company,

        What new information is out there that is rubbish, anti vaccine propaganda and lies such as the trash that John Stone and I are sprouting here…? i don’t know John but I am happy to be considered a similar believer in the truth. You hurl insults at those who disagree with you – they are idiots, liars and scumbags. Fair enough, this is a blog after all.

        You deny the fact that mothers know a thing or two about their offspring. If you are ever presented with a large group of mothers who have seen their daughters’ health and wellbeing deteriorate in a serious way after receiving the HPV vaccine, and there is a common thread, ie similar effects, good luck with convincing them they are scaremongering.

        Your assumptions run away with you – in this case straight into a brick wall: I don’t follow YouTube (so thank you for heads up on the horrors on there about vaccination). Whilst you may rate Wikepedia which reports nothing about anti vaccine, in the UK many universities advise against it as a source for dissertations. When I said Google ( which may or may not be a source, which may or may not be a tool) it’s because it offers the best overview of the vaccine situation: of course there are reports by doctors and scientists, but it is a start.

        Whilst you may find it an easy exercise to be flippant about the vaccine injury court, I do not. It would be repetitive to talk about how it came into being. If it was easy to claim compensation, litigation would not be so time consuming; open dialogue with the lawyers involved in the latest MMR claim for an insight. Know that doctors and scientists, some of whom from their observations, question vaccines in particular cases, are frowned upon and worse for standing their ground in the interest of a family/child. The Department of Justice’ quarterly reports give a a ‘flavour’ of compensation claims. Even if it represents in your mind a tiny proportion? It nevertheless shows there is indeed vaccine injury.

        Just to be clear so you don’t repeat inaccuracies, I don’t put my trust in loudmouth nitwits whoever they are, and dumb YouTube videos (which is obviously your medium of choice, but I can’t comment because I Have never seen them) As you say confronting believers like you with scientific research never actually works (a little paraphrasing license ha ha)

        • @Angela

          “When I said Google…it’s because it offers the best overview of the vaccine situation: of course there are reports by doctors and scientists, but it is a start.”

          That’s highly debatable, Angela. Hits on Google Scholar are more likely to contain the truth of a situation because they are only hits from professional research publications (the doctors and scientists you refer to). In a web-based democracy, ignorance of something is no barrier to publishing about it, which means that (open) Google hits may easily provide a totally rubbish overview of any situation.

          “As you say confronting believers like you with scientific research never actually works…” but you already announced your standard for ‘scientific’ research is Google hits. I think you are mistaken in your concept of scientific research.

        • Angela,

          You deny the fact that mothers know a thing or two about their offspring.

          Mothers are NOT capable of determining what causes their children’s illness.

          If you are ever presented with a large group of mothers who have seen their daughters’ health and wellbeing deteriorate in a serious way after receiving the HPV vaccine,

          These mothers fool themselves and the rest of the world, because even as a group, their experiences say nothing whatsoever about causality.

          Why, do you ask? Simple: because this group (sample) demonstrates the very definition of selection bias. It exclusively contains girls who received the HPV vaccine AND subsequently developed health issues.

          This self-selection mechanism totally ignores the other groups:
          – Girls who received the HPV vaccine but did NOT develop any health issues (so even we assume causality, the sample says NOTHING whatsoever about the proportion of HPV vaccinations giving rise to health issues),
          – Girls who did NOT receive the HPV vaccine, yet developed health issues anyway (thereby ignoring that the health issues under scrutiny may be unrelated to HPV vaccination),
          – Girls who did NOT receive the HPV vaccine and did not develop health issus (so the sample does not take the baseline incidence of those health issues into account).

          (This selection bias was also the huge flaw in the research of Danish doctor Louise Brinth, who suspected a link between HPV vaccination and health issues – she only talked to vaccinated girls with health issues, and then even only those girls who suspected that vaccination was the cause.)

          But let me show you in yet another way how wrong these mothers (and you) are.

          Here in the Netherlands, the most persistent myth about HPV vaccination is that it causes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)(*). Let’s just see if we can say more about this by just looking at the numbers.
          – All 12-year-old Dutch girls are offered HPV vaccination (two shots), i.e. 90,000 girls per year. Approximately 55% (roughly 50,000 girls) accept, so annually, 100,000 HPV shots are administered.
          – National health information data shows that up to 1% of 12-year-olds develops CFS. So of those 50,000 girls that are vaccinated, 500 also get CFS complaints.
          – As a year has 365 days, and assuming that both the HPV vaccination and onset of CFS exhibit a random distribution over that year, you would expect that
          * 500*1/365=1 girl will get CFS on the same day that she is vaccinated,
          * 500*2/365=2 girls within one day after vaccination
          * 500*3/365=4 girls within two days after vaccination

          * 500*14/365=19 girls within a fortnight after vaccination.

          So EVEN IF THERE IS NO CAUSAL LINK, you will have quite a number of girls who develop chronic fatigue syndrome within a few weeks after vaccination. And most of those girls and their parents will suspect that there IS a link.
          But there really isn’t, and this particular example has been researched in several countries by now. The outcomes are very clear:
          – HPV vaccination is NOT associated with a higher incidence of CFS diagnoses (and since a lot of girls refuse this vaccination, there is a large unvaccinated group for comparison).
          – CFS diagnoses are made just as often BEFORE as AFTER vaccination. This means that this vaccination also does not ‘trigger’ or speed up the development of CFS in any way.
          – Last but not least: our local VAERS system (Lareb) shows that HPV vaccination is NOT associated with significantly more adverse advents compared to other childhood vaccines. The main difference is that HPV vaccination is associated more often with fainting and dizzy spells – which is completely normal, given the age group. In 2017, those ~100,000 HPV shots resulted in exactly 77 reported adverse events, only 2 of which could be categorized as ‘serious’. However, a link between vaccination and those serious adverse events was deemed ‘highly unlikely’.

          *: Also note that the ailments that are supposedly caused by HPV vaccination differ wildly, depending on the locale. In Northern America, the HPV vaccine is associated with autoimmune problems, in Latino circles it supposedly causes seizures, whereas in France it seems to cause infertility, and in Japan it is said to cause chronic somatic pain and cerebral palsy. These weird geographical differences are strong evidence that the HPV vaccine does NOT cause any of those ailments.

          And this of course is just one example about one purported type of ‘vaccine injury’ that is erroneously attributed to one vaccine.

          In other words: vaccine injury does not happen to any serious degree. Yes, it may occur in very rare cases, but simply crossing the road is already far, far more dangerous than vaccination.
          This also means that the information from vaccine manufacturers and doctors can be trusted, contrary to the things you and other antivaccine people say.

          • I wish we had a facility to ‘LIKE’ great comments. This one would certainly win a vote from me!

          • @RichardR

            Excellent work, sir. Not that any of the antivax brigade will take a blind bit of notice. Mothers’ intuition trumps science, mathematics and statistics every time, see?

          • @Frank Odds, Lenny:
            Why, thank you – but actually, I made one huge (and deliberate) omission in my example about chronic fatigue syndrome, one that I hoped would be spotted: the whole definition of “chronic fatigue syndrome” precludes ANY such diagnose before at least several months with this condition have passed.
            CVS has no aetiology, and the only diagnosis is a differential diagnosis, with an elapsed time of at least four (or even six) months with no change in state as one of the contributing symptoms.
            So it is virtually impossible to say that “chronic fatigue” set in within days or weeks of a vaccination, unless the memory of those involved is really, really good, and they can still tell after 4-6 months at which date exactly the first symptoms set in.

            So sorry to tear down my own argument in certain ways, but then again, it isn’t all that bad:
            – This problem with elapsed time also works the other way, i.e. it applies to the argument of those who say that HPV vaccination caused their symptoms: how can they be so certain that it was the actual vaccination that marked the start of the trouble? Just a few weeks’ time shift can make all the difference, especially if fatigue symptoms had already begun BEFORE the vaccination…
            – And the funnier argument: when dredging the VAERS database, I found several instances where “chronic fatigue” was reported mere days after the actual vaccination… Oops…

            @Angela, and especially John Stone:
            This is of course just one example. But it applies to ASD diagnoses in exactly the same manner: just looking at the absolute numbers or even the prevalence of autism says NOTHING AT ALL about causality.
            With many hundreds to thousands of children receiving an ASD diagnosis every year, it is a statistical certainty that quite a few of those diagnoses happen rather shortly after vaccination, and neither of you have delivered ANY proof whatsoever that vaccines actually cause autism (or any other condition, for that matter).
            I hope that you take this criticism to heart, as your scaremongering and disinformation campaigns really do nothing at all to help autistic people in particular, and public trust in vaccination efforts in general. Quite the contrary, what you do is quite harmful.

            Or summarized: you are WRONG, period.

          • RichardR addresses me with I hope you take this criticism to heart and accuses me of scaremongering and campaigning disinformation. Really? are you not getting carried away with yourself? Do you actually read my posts?

            The truth RichardR is I am in difference of opinion discourse with you on a blog that I guess very few anti vaxxers as you call them read.

            I have said the majority of people in my life don’t question vaccines – it is a given. If I don’t raise the subject, how am I giving disinformation? I said no complementary practitioners over 50 years have raised the subject of vaccines. If Frank Odds chooses to continue to seek out websites offering a different stance, it is his choice, bu it has no effect or influence because that is not my experience, Just to be clear : if I was asked my opinion on vaccination, I would say make an informed choice : do your resesrch; look at the ingredients of that vaccine and ask if there are ways of administering in a safe way. Ask your medical professional for all the information and possible effects. Whilst you may disagree, this is not the norm and that is my experience, Informed choice is key. If a major illness like GBS occurs after a flu shot, my understanding is that it is listed on the leaflet. And I guess side effects are listed on MMR leaflets, but when a mother is hustled for her baby to be vaccinated without that information makes it uninformed choice, When a nurse is told she must have the flu jab to keep her job and then contracts GBS that is not informed choice, These two examples happened. Do you see my point? well No will be the answer, But there is a big difference between informed consent, anti vaxxers and pro vaxxers,

            Health is important: it is the ultimate deal breaker. Let’s all be open and honest about health; it is not my remit, despite your denigrative accusations, to scaremonger : once and for all : there is no way forward because you are so convinced you know everything about vaccines so we must agree to disagree, Back in the good old days in the 50’s there were weekly debates – I loved them, I learnt a lot and we all remained on good terms and respectful.

            You have the press on your side – I have just read in a broadsheet about the campaign to stop Facebook publishing anti-vaccine propaganda in the same way that Google filters it out. So no worries there : because I have an informed opinion, does not mean I stand on a box and shout it out. You say what I am doing is harmful. Mmmm… Let’s see because I am aware of the information, ie claims in the vaccine injury court, reading medical professionals’ reports on concerns around some vaccinations and suggesting informed choice. And what a strange comment – I am doing nothing to help autistic children – how can I do that as I am not a medical professional? I have indeed worked with autistic children, but the point of important interest here, is there has to be informed choice. I had measles, mumps etc in the 1950’s and I had chickenpox as an adult (which isn’t pleasant) We have moved on with better ideas of good health, hygiene etc – it is another piece in the puzzle of evolvement.

            Question : do you believe that the medical profession are continually learning, scratching their heads in some cases ( and before you berate me, I am a great admirer of our NHS and the wonderful personnel therein : I see first hand their excellent work) because sometimes there is no black and white, for instance the challenge of knowing how to diagnose and treat Dysautonomias?

            I have attempted, although there is very little to be gained in proffering my stance on immunisation, it is in essence about informed choice, But you will disagree, however, please refrain from assuming you know what I do.

          • @ Angela, you wrote:

            RichardR […] accuses me of scaremongering and campaigning disinformation. Really? are you not getting carried away with yourself? Do you actually read my posts?

            Judging by his replies, he does, yes. So do I. Where to begin with the blatant misrepresentation, etc. that infests your posts?

            apparently mothers, doctors know nothing


            You deny the fact that mothers know a thing or two about their offspring

            @RichardR stated neither of those things. He stated, correctly, that mothers do not know what makes their children ill.

            you are not the authority on vaccine injury you purport to

            @RichardR did not purport to be an authority on vaccine injury. Why did you find it necessary to pretend that he did?

            I met a mother whose son had become very ill from a vaccine

            Undue familiarity coupled with the pretence that unverifiable anecdotes are facts! You have no idea what made her son very ill. Or even if her son became very ill.

            accusations on this blog that CAM practitioners advise against vaccines is erroneous

            Nonsense. Many SCAM practitioners in the UK do advise against vaccination.

            the truth is out there

            Vile implication that the drivel on antivaxxer websites is the truth.

            mothers who have seen their daughters’ health and wellbeing deteriorate in a serious way after receiving the HPV vaccine

            Classic post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. Typical antivaxxer scaremongering.

            The evidence, @Angela, is that you are a scaremonger and a serial misrepresenter of the actualité. I also notice that you avoided answering my earlier question to you: “So why do you think it is that so many of those who pretend to want an “informed choice” actually mis-inform their marks with anti-scientific, illogical drivel?”, after which I gave you several examples of said drivel.

          • @ Angela

            RichardR is informed and informing. You are misinformed and misinforming.

          • @Angela

            Do you actually read my posts?

            I certainly try, even though I sometimes have a bit of trouble interpreting what exactly you are trying to say – as illustrated by your preceding words:

            RichardR addresses me with I hope you take this criticism to heart and accuses me of scaremongering and campaigning disinformation.

            Now I’m not a native English speaker, and perhaps that is why this grammatical construct eludes me somewhat, but it appears to me that you have messed up the conjugation of verbs, and also dropped in a secondary sentence without proper punctuation. Yes, the meaning gets across here, but that isn’t always the case in your other comments. And this is partly why I consider your argumentation ‘messy’.
            But let’s forego the linguistic squabble, as it has no real bearing on the subject at hand.

            I have said the majority of people in my life don’t question vaccines

            Fine, but my point is that you do, and, in my opinion, for the wrong reasons. I am addressing your talking points, not those of people around you. Your next comment once again demonstrates your weird, messy style of discussion:

            If I don’t raise the subject, how am I giving disinformation?

            Pardon me? In your very first comment here, you are emphatically trying to get the point across that there is plenty of evidence that vaccines cause widespread, serious health problems, far more than the official sources (manufacturers, scientists, health agencies, etcetera) tell us. That is untrue, and trying to convince people of your beliefs by exclusively pointing them to unreliable sources of information (e.g. Googling for ‘vaccine injury compensation’ and those groups of mothers whose daughters have fallen ill after HPV vaccination) is giving disinformation, at least in my book. Also please note that most of my replies are dedicated to showing exactly what is wrong with that information. And what’s more: I don’t even deny that information – yes, there are quite a number of girls who develop some health issue or other after HPV vaccination. I merely show that the information you contribute is woefully incomplete, and thus presents a completely wrong picture of reality. Now THAT is why your information is disinformation; you lie by omission (but probably not on purpose, I’ll grant you that).

            Informed choice is key.

            I absolutely agree. But that information must be correct, complete, unambiguous and non-suggestive.
            Let’s take your mentioning of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in relation to influenza vaccination to illustrate the information from ‘both sides’.

            Antivaccine people: “The flu shot can give you GBS! You really don’t want that, even if it’s a small chance, so don’t take the flu shot!”

            Is this good, honest information? It may well be that you think it is – only you can answer that question. But let’s see what the other (scientific) side has to say about it before coming to a verdict.

            Science: GBS is mentioned in the flu vaccine package insert because there may be a causal link to certain flu vaccines, even though it would only materialize in one of every 100,000 vaccinations. (As I said already: simply walking down the street already bears a far higher risk of injury and death.) But even this causal link has not been unequivocally established. Yes, the chances of developing GBS may be increased by 50% through the flu shot – but please also read that actually contracting influenza increases this chance 16-fold, and that influenza itself is not a walk in the park either. In fact, it has a FAR higher rate of mortality than this chance of 1 in 100,000 of the vaccine causing GBS. The mitigating factor here, of course, being that you only have an annual chance of 1 in 20 of contracting influenza.
            But still, influenza itself is FAR MORE dangerous than getting a flu shot, no matter which risk factor you look at.
            Summarized: the additional(!) risk of contracting GBS through vaccination is so small as to be in fact negligible in this whole flu shot discussion. Therefore dissuading people from the flu shot by just pointing out this tiny risk is in fact scaremongering and disinformation.

            Admittedly, the antivaccine ‘information’ is far more concise, potent and easy to understand. But it is also wrong, if only because once again, it lies by omitting almost all pertinent information. This is also why ‘information’ from antivaccine sources should be countered, not tolerated.

            do you believe that the medical profession are continually learning, scratching their heads in some cases…?

            Oh yes. Medical science (plus related subjects) is perhaps the single most complex area of human knowledge we have today. This is also evidenced by the fact that we only succeeded in making major progress in roughly the past hundred years, AFTER most other areas of science already took off.
            But in this field of science, vaccination is actually the oldest (over 200 years since the days of Jenner) intervention that has proven itself time and over again as both very effective and quite safe (and the latter even increasing with time). Vaccination is in fact the only intervention that is still practised in much the original way: present the body with an APB of a nasty microbe, so that the immune system can eliminate it as soon as it knocks on the door in person. This is totally different from how most other pharmaceuticals work (i.e. by bluntly forcing a change in body chemistry).

            please refrain from assuming you know what I do.

            I merely respond to what you are doing here, i.e. presenting information that purportedly shows that vaccines are fraught with far more risk than official sources say. I try showing you why that information is wrong.
            But you never actually address or even acknowledge my explanation on the matter; you just latch on to my personal criticism, i.e. that you try getting disinformation across. Which makes me ask the same question you asked in the beginning: Do you actually read my posts?

            No, no need to answer, as I don’t think that I can convince you of my views on the matter anyway – even though my views are the same as those of all the medical and scientific community. And if you aren’t actively spreading these views in other places, I’ll also retract my accusation of scaremongering.
            Yes, I know these posts of mine are lengthy. But I hope that you at least appreciate that I take the time and effort to explain and compare both the scientific and antivaccine views, and why the latter are wrong in almost every respect.

          • RichardR congratulations on your emerging fan club; Professor Ernst, I am sure, will install a ‘like’ button very soon.

            I am at a loss to understand why you have a bit of trouble interpreting what I am trying to say. You talk about grammatical constructs etc. it certainly is the mark of a sceptic that they like to demean a poster for their lack of grammatical skills…… when their’s is questionable too.

            You said ‘ I hope you take this criticism to heart as your scaremongering and disinformation campaign really do nothing at all to help autistic people in particular……..what you do is quite harmful or summarised you are WRONG period’ please note the use of quotation marks and elipse. I posted : you address me with I hope you take this criticism to heart and accuses me of scaremongering and campaigning disinformation. This is called paraphrasing : not great prose by any means but my excuse is I was in a hurry to type it as it was from memory, Prose is ordinary language; grammatical skills iin UK education vary, but currently and thankfully they are once again taught as an important skill. My baseline on this is the fact that I wrote reports from shorthand for a Scientist who helped develop the MRI scanner many years ago. His writing was ineligible and had poor grasp of grammar. I managed to produce accurate scientific reports but he was the person to be revered and praised for his expertise, which millions are grateful for.

            So the diversion/distraction out of the way – you post a lot of informatiin of why you consider there is no Vaccine injury. Meanwhile if one googles DOJ vaccine injury quarterly reports, it paints a different picture, as does $101 million payout for MMR injury, as does so much more on vaccines. This is not made up stuff, it happens. As does organisations supporting and attempting to glean clarity. It is disrespectful and erroneous to say mothers know nothing regarding their children’s health and causation of such.

            Your stance is not going to change. Just to be clear (sorry can’t remember who posted this accusation) I am not misinformed or misinforming. My hope is for informed choice for parents re pro’s and con’s of vaccination.

            I am now stepping away from this discourse: it is nothing personal – good luck for the future and especially this blog’s fan club.

          • RichardR – oops before the literary police step in, I meant ellipsis and not the mathematical term ellipse. Apologies.

          • @Angela,
            Well thank you for confirming that you do not read (or at least comprehend) what I write.
            I asked you for EVIDENCE that PROVES that vaccines cause significant health problems. You still haven’t delivered anything.

            Once again you come up with a very stupid answer, boiling down to ‘Just use Google’. Sorry, but that won’t do. And oh, you mention a $101m payout from the VICP program. Stupid again, but OK, I used Google to look that one up, and yes, it’s a payout, compliant with what’s called a VICP ‘table injury’.

            In other words: this payment was simply awarded because a certain class of injury happened within a few weeks of a vaccination, compliant with the rules of the VICP. It does NOT say “The vaccine caused the injury”.

            And even though I’m afraid that the following explanation will once again fly way over your head, here’s my attempt, analogous to my Dutch CFS example:

            Children sometimes get epileptic grand mal seizures out of the blue, leaving them severely damaged. I have no statistical data on this particular health problem (nor do I have the time to research it), but as soon as the annual number of cases for this age group exceeds a few hundred, you WILL get children who suffer from this shortly after vaccination EVEN IF THERE IS NO LINK. Yet inevitably, parents and other people WILL THINK THAT THERE IS A LINK.

            And what will happen if these cases are entered in the VICP program? THEY WILL GET A PAYOUT, EVEN IF THERE IS NO LINK.

            Yes, there still can be a causal link, but the chance of that is very small indeed(*). The main thing here though is that THESE VICP PAYOUTS ARE NO EVIDENCE AT ALL that vaccines cause health problems. My apologies for shouting all the time, but please at least try to get this into your head.

            The only thing this payout proves is that the VICP is a very lenient program, giving plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt on every occasion.

            *: I’ve checked our local VAERS database for this particular reaction to MMR vaccination, but even in one decade (equivalent to approximately 3.5 million MMR vaccinations), this NEVER happened even once. This means that if there is a causal link, it is exceedingly rare and CERTAINLY NO REASON NOT TO VACCINATE.
            Also, and again, the VICP awards approximately 300 compensation payouts per year, during which over 300 MILLION vaccinations have been administered. This means that only one in every million vaccinations leads to a payout – and even then without proof that the vaccine was the actual cause of injury.

            So no, vaccine injury does not happen in any significant manner. Yes, very, very rarely, someone gets hurt. but that is no reason for the garbage and scaremongering the antivaccine crowd and people like John Stone keep spouting.

    • Agreed Lucy. If vaccines are safe and effective why is there a vaccine court to pay for injuries paying out millions a year. Why do our kids need 60 vaccines by the time they are 18 and why is autism estimated at 1:40? 1:88 is a stat that is 4 yrs old in case anyone wants to debate that. Why do they use aluminum to preserve vaccines which doesn’t have a safe injectable amount?

    • Do you feel the same way about veterinary vaccine studies? I personally conducted many of these, immunizing groups of cats with various vaccine preparations, while leaving a control group unvaccinated. Weeks later, we came back and challenged all groups with the infectious agent, and observed as clinical signs developed, mainly in the unvaccinated group. I see your point though, we needed a placebo group of cats that thought they were being vaccinated.

      Well-designed scientific studies of veterinary vaccines prove virtually all the anti-vax conspiracy claims to be nonsense.

  • Prof Ernst,

    The problem is that the core charges were laid against all three doctors at the GMC were dismissed by the High Court in 2012 when the senior author and clinician in the paper, Prof John Walker-Smith was exonerated – this is of course left Wakefield and Murch technically guilty of thing which had never happened. I had predicted this two years before:

    The GMC mired is their sheer incompetence and vindictiveness were unable to appeal. But, of course, the mainstream media never reported. A more detailed account of the problems with the findings can be found here:

    It is really quite obscene to go on repeating these claims which are without foundation. Meanwhile, Cochrane have three times stated that MMR safety studies “are largely inadequate” (in 2003, 2005 and 2012), while none of the autism studies was rated of low risk of bias in 2005, even foreshadowing the revelations of William Thompson about 2004 DeStefano study in the film Vaxxed:

    “The conclusion, however, implied bias in the enrollment of cases
    which may not be representative of the rest of the autistic population of
    the city of Atlanta, USA where the study was set.”

    So, they evidently spotted that African-American group had been excluded.

    But now we have a monumental problem, which is the unexplained rise in autism at unsustainable human and financial cost. Perhaps, we would have been better off as a society if we had not hung Wakefield out to dry, and listened tolerantly, but we valued the development of the vaccine industry more (recently MEPs stated that the cost of vaccinating a single child had gone up by 68 times between 2001 and 2014), and this, I suspect is what it is really about.

    I leave you with my recent letter (21 May) to BMJ collating data about the steepling numbers and spiralling cost of policy:

    Re: Autism spectrum disorder: advances in diagnosis and evaluation
    I have read this review with interest but disquiet [1]. There is perhaps little point in talking about a global prevalence of autism, which Zwaigenbaum and Penner place according to literature at between 1 and 1.5% if autism is rising dynamically in many parts of the world including the United Kingdom – as I have been recently detailing in the columns of BMJ on-line [2]. For instance, recent data from Northern Ireland showed an overall prevalence in schools there of 2.9%, having risen from 1.2% nine years ago, but there are also big disparities between economic classes and town and country, while in Belfast the rate was 4.7% [3,4]. Unfortunately, as Zwaigenbaum and Penner point out diagnosis is characteristically delayed so the true rates are likely much higher.

    The rate that be can be established for England from education figures may be at the top end of official estimates at 1.5% but is rising steeply year on year – the rate of Pervasive Development Disorder (the widest possible category of Autistic Spectrum Disorders) for those born between 1984 and 1988 in the United Kingdom was recorded in official data as being 0.2% in 1999. The present figure from Scottish schools data is around 2.2%. However, dramatic reports appear from around the country [2], notably a report from S.W. London where five London boroughs geared to already diagnosing 750 cases a year were confronting almost double that number a year ago . Extrapolated across the capital that might be 10,000 cases a year, which would possibly be in the 10% region [5]. I have argued that still without any officially accepted explanation for this phenomenon – and certainly Zwaigenbaum and Penner provide none – we are on the brink of population catastrophe. They state:

    “Lifetime societal costs related to services and lost productivity by patients and their parents average $1.4m (£1.0m; €1.1m) to $2.4m in the United States and £0.9-£1.5m per child in the United Kingdom, depending on comorbid intellectual disability. When the prevalence of ASD is factored in, the annual estimated societal costs of ASD are $236bn in the US and $47.5bn in the UK.”

    However, most autism parents know from experience that these are very modest or even delusorily low estimates. Even in 2001 Järbrink and Knapp estimated an average lifetime cost per case in the UK as £2.4m (perhaps £3.8m in today’s money) though they thought the overall prevalence was 5 in 10,000, which it perhaps still was in the adult population [6].

    We come back in the end to the reality that when it comes to what could be driving these changes to our society the authors neither acknowledge the problem, or have any explanation of it. I fear they may be fiddling as Rome burns.

    [1] Zwaigenbaum L, Penner M, ‘Autism spectrum disorder: advances in diagnosis and evaluation’, BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 21 May 2018)
    [2] Responses to Viner RM, ‘NHS must prioritise health of children and young people’,
    [3] John Stone, ‘Re: NHS must prioritise health of children and young people – 1 in 21 children in Belfast now have an autism diagnosis’ 13 May 2018,
    [4] Information Analysis Directorate ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Asperger Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2018’, published 10 May 2018,
    [5] John Stone, ‘Re: NHS must prioritise health of children and young people – what about autism?’ , 19 March 2018,
    [6] Järbrink K, Knapp M, ‘The economic impact of autism in Britain’, Autism. 2001 Mar;5(1):7-22.

    • There a very strong hereditary element in autistic spectrum disorders. Any study looking at some kind of link between vaccines and autism would need to control for this hereditary element. Wakefield never did that. Moreover, the huge increase of screening for autism in the western industrialized world (now screening children as young as two years of age) is one likely explanation for the rise in diagnoses of cases of autism (over no detection and over other developmental diagnosis applied in the past) – not necessarily that there has been an actual rise in the incidence of autism in the population.

      • Mike

        Every time a diagnosis is made a huge cost is involved to the state so there is always actually an attempt to keep a lid on it all, but if you look at the Northern Ireland figures that nearly 2% of all children are in the most sever category and Belfast nearly 3%. In the late 1990s autism diagnosis was well advanced yet on the broadest definition (PDD) for older children the rate was still only 1 in 500. Despite heavy focus on the alleged hereditary component for three decades relatively little advance has been made except on the epigenetic front ie association with environmental damage to specific genes.

    • John – it looks like you come under considerable fire for being an anti vaxxer . E.g. heer:

      Are you an anti-vaxxer?

    • MEPs say: “…vaccination prevents an estimated 2.5 million deaths each year worldwide and… there were 215,000 cases of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs), excluding influenza, in Europe.” (between 2008-2015 – your link)

      The WHO:

      Estimated number of all deaths in children 1-59 months of age: 5.2 million. About 29% of deaths in children 1-59 months of age are vaccine preventable. (2008)

      Total number of children who died from diseases preventable by vaccines currently recommended by WHO: 1.5 million. (2013)
      Hib: 199,000
      Pertussis: 195,000
      Measles: 118,000
      Neonatal tetanus: 59,000
      Tetanus (non-neonatal): 2,000
      Pneumococcal disease: 476,000
      Rotavirus: 453,000

      Mr Justice Mitting said in his judgment between Professor John Walker-Smith and GMC: “Dr. Wakefield’s statement and subsequent publicity had a predictable adverse effect upon the take up of MMR vaccine of great concern to those responsible for public health. There is now no respectable body of opinion which supports his hypothesis, that MMR vaccine and autism/enterocolitis are causally linked.”

      That was March 2012. Nothing has changed. Some parents suspected or believed that vaccines caused autism in children in 2012 and some still do so. They had then and they have now no good grounds for such suspicions and beliefs other than the fact that their children were vaccinated and subsequently developed autism. Post hoc ergo propter hoc provides no grounds for abandoning the enormous proven public health benefits of vaccination. Young children will have a vast array of experiences before they ever receive a diagnosis of autism. Justice Mitting understood the consequences of the grossly irresponsible statement made by Wakefield.

  • Mike

    You may like to look at my comment to Lucy above, which Edzard has posted. What is actually happening is that anyone who criticises the vaccine programme, individual vaccine products, or the vaccine lobby now comes under the general label “anti-vaxxer”. So, it has very little meaning except that you are not prepared to swallow the whole programme without criticism. I think this also represents the ethics of the vaccine lobby.

    • anyone who criticises the vaccine programme, individual vaccine products, or the vaccine lobby now comes under the general label “anti-vaxxer”

      Yes, and rightly so. Because this ‘criticism’ is usually not valid, and boils down to the usual antivaccine myths, all of which have been disproven a long time ago.
      There simply is nothing wrong with vaccines, and there is no good reason at all not to vaccinate our children. Those who say differently are liars and antivaxxers.

      • RichardR

        What body of evidence are you citing?

        • What body of evidence are you citing?

          Ah, yes, that old debate trick: spread lies and bullshit by the wagon load, then demand that your opponent proves you wrong.

          Sorry, but you should deliver proof that vaccines cause significantly more harm than what is generally thought. You can’t, and that’s why you resort to bullshit, suggestive claptrap (e.g. your litany about autism causing so much problems – with of course the underlying suggestion that vaccines are to blame for this, yet without offering any proof whatsoever), the usual insinuations about government agencies keeping things secret(*), etcetera etcetera.

          And even if Wakefield would have refrained from his highly unethical behaviour and his money-driven fraud, his study would still not have proved anything. At best, it would have been a starting point for far more rigorous and better research. Which in fact it was, yet all that research could not find a causal link between vaccination and autism. Also remember that quite a few of those studies took place before Wakefield was exposed as a fraud and his paper was retracted. Scientists could not replicate Wakefield’s results, nor could they find any other evidence that vaccines in general and the MMR vaccine in particular cause autism. Up until this day, twenty years later, such a link has still not been found, and yes, a LOT of research has been done to find it. So end of story, and only idiots keep going on about it.

          *: Which would require ALL governments and research institutes all over the world to keep all those serious vaccine side effects hushed up – hundreds of thousands of people would have to be part of the conspiracy in your paranoid world view. Because contrary to other pharmaceutical products, vaccines are constantly monitored by countless independent research institutes in hundreds of countries. And apart from this, studies and trials are being carried out to investigate possible links between vaccination and all sorts of ailments, as mentioned already. They all came up empty, apart perhaps from a handful of ‘studies’ with very dubious scientific quality.

          And oh, by the way: I am one of those persons with ASD (previously known as Asperger’s syndrome), and no, the MMR vaccine most definitely didn’t cause it, as I never received that vaccine. I did get measles though, and it made me very sick. I was an experience that I would not recommend to anyone, least of all small children.

          I would also like to take the opportunity here to express my utter contempt for Age of Autism and its contributors. And yes, that includes you. You are NOT helping autistic people AT ALL. You are spreading lies, fear, myths and misinformation about both vaccines and autism, and you are undermining public trust in the very people whose job it is to keep us healthy. You also make it look like autism is some sort of horrible plague, and that children are better off dead than autistic. You de facto tell parents of autistic children that THEY are responsible for their children’s condition by having them vaccinated. And worst of all: you seemingly have no idea how wrong it is what you’re doing. You are a kind of religious zealot, who is willing to sacrifice numerous children’s lives for your false beliefs.

          In my opinion, you fully deserve all the scorn that comes your way.

          • RichardR,

            There is a large amount of evidence showing the harm that vaccines cause, but the mainstream media won’t spoonfeed it to you unfortunately. I don’t want to overwhelm you with studies and evidence all in one go, but if you are interested and open to learning more I will start you with a short video from a professor describing his findings on the safety of injectable aluminum (in many vaccines)


          • you are not seriously proposing youtube as evidence, are you?

          • @Lucy
            As Prof. Dr. Ernst already remarked, YouTube videos are not a good source of information.
            This is the actual paper:

            There are quite few issues with the video and the paper.
            – The video title is plain stupid: “The Effect of Aluminum in Vaccines on Humans” – content: “We injected aluminum in MICE”
            – This man is Christopher Shaw, an ophthalmologist (NOT a vaccine expert or neurologist) who is notorious for producing papers that try to link vaccines to all sorts of ailments. All of those papers were examples of bad science, and no less than four of his papers have been retracted, one even with suspected manipulation of data. Shaw’s work is quite suitable for the cat’s litter box, but it is rubbish from a scientific point of view.
            – Shaw claims that the aluminium in vaccines causes damage to motor neurons, and is thus linked to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This idiot doesn’t appear to know that the latter two diseases have nothing to do with motor neurons (which are found in the spinal cord, not in the brain). And oh, autism also has nothing to do with motor neurons, of course.
            – There were only 10 or 11 mice in each group. This is a ludicrously small sample.
            – There was no blinding, i.e. the researchers KNEW which mice were given the adjuvant and which received the placebo. This is a fatal flaw and makes the results totally meningless, especially given the small sample size.
            – Shaw did NOT look for aluminum in the neural tissues of the mice. Why not? It would be the first thing I’d do if I wanted to prove a link between aluminum and neurological damage,
            – Huge numbers of mice have been routinely injected with vaccines, both with and without adjuvants, in the course of early-stage vaccine safety testing. Nothing like Shaw’s results was ever observed.
            – Shaw totally ignores all major scientific data and research on the actual pharmacodynamics of aluminum in the body, e.g. this study by Flarend et al. This study clearly shows that Shaw cannot be right: aluminum from adjuvants does NOT end up in the central nervous system in any significant amounts, and it does NOT result in any measurable increase of the brain’s aluminum content.
            – Nobody has replicated Shaw’s results.

            So no, this ‘research’ does NOT prove that aluminum in vaccines cause any neurological condition. It only proves the incompetence of the researchers.

          • Lucy, you wrote:

            I don’t want to overwhelm you with studies and evidence all in one go,

            But you haven’t actually cited any actual evidence, have you? (Clue: unverifiable anecdotes, opinion pieces, stuff that is self-published on blogs, webshites, YouTube, etc. do not count as actual evidence.)

            But I’m willing to be shown to be wrong: please cite what you consider to be the single best piece of actual evidence for harm caused by vaccines.

    • You mean the comment that apparently implies she believes proven “human herd immunity” through vaccination may have a placebo element working causally behind it? That comment?

  • Would that be John Stone, UK editor of Age Of Autism, the “wretched hive of scum and villany” as Gorski refers to it, an organ renowned for recycling lies, quackery and scaremongering?

    Yes I think it probably is. Know with whom you are communicating, people.

    • Lenny,

      There is no ambiguity, since if you click on my name it will link to the Age of Autism website. But I would suggest that if you or Dr Gorski have to resort to personal abuse then there is something wrong. I have four previous comments up here packed with intellectual and factual challenge, and all you can offer is ad hominem and an appeal to authority (Gorski’s rant). You could not make my point better: that is entirely what is wrong with this discussion.

      • John

        Ignoring your slightly wobbly grasp of what constitutes a logical fallacy, your stuff up the page deals with matters both legal and medical. On what basis do you feel you have the expertise to comment on these subjects? I’m not being snarky. You can obviously string words together with some elegance but what’s your background in science, medicine and the law? I’m just a gobby dentist and I tend to defer to those with greater knowledge in these fields. Of whom there are plenty who post here.

        • Lenny,

          If that is the way you like to work, may I recommend the presentations given by the independent experts at the Vaccine Safety Conference. If you watch them all you will be unlikely to vaccinate again. I understand that it requires a big slice of your time and focus, but given that you are interested in this topic they will help to provide a balanced understanding of both sides of the debate and the science.

          I regularly see John Stone contributing to the BMJ, almost every week, he wins every debate he is in, even against the editor of the BMJ. It is great to have him posting here with us today.

          • yes, perhaps great – but he certainly does not win arguments.

          • may I recommend the presentations given by the independent experts at the Vaccine Safety Conference

            This ‘Vaccine Safety Conference’ is a get-together of antivaccine loonies, none of whom are experts on the subject matter (i.e. renowned vaccine researchers or experts on immunology), and several of whom get paid by Claire Dwoskin to crank out antivaccine propaganda – which means that they’re not independent either (e.g. Christopher Exley).
            There are no ‘both sides’. Antivaccine people are WRONG, period. And they are very stupid too, as they stubbornly refuse to accept that they’re wrong, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. There is no reputable scientific research supporting the nonsense spouted by antivaccine people. There IS an overwhelming (as in: 99.9% majority) scientific consensus that vaccines are quite safe and reliable, and have no more side effects than mentioned in the label.

            John Stone may have a way with words, but he clearly is not a scientist and doesn’t know anything about vaccines. He simply keeps regurgitating the known antivaccine myths, serving them up with the usual (in antivaccine circles) seasoning of conspiracy talk, political insinuations and other scientifically irrelevant rubbish. His grasp of science seems to boil down to cherry-picking the things that he thinks support his views and let all the rest (i.e. almost all of medical science) take a running jump. He is one of those people who is WRONG, period.

  • Lenny

    So, where is my “wobbly grasp of what constitutes a logical fallacy”? The arguments are the same irrespective of whether I am any of those things but I do hold the advantage that I am not professionally conflicted by being any of those things. The appeal to authority is an utter failure – of science, of history, of ethics. Someone has to show me where I am in error.

    BTW What happens if you are “a gobby dentist” and you speak up professionally against amalgam fillings?

    • please tell us what your professional qualifications and background are – not a difficult question, is it?

      • Edzard,

        Much of pharmaceutical science is biased, they generally only publish the positive results while remaining silent about the negative. So anyone taking the bulk of studies at facevalue is being misled, and that includes many ‘experts’ with wonderful certificates. When medical science is being built on bias and lies, the best people to decipher it are the critical thinkers like John, maybe he has a medical/academic background too I have no idea, but he clearly has critical thinking skills up there with the very best.

        • how do you know all that?
          is it opinion or evidence?

        • Lucy,
          Your comments here are quite interesting: on the one hand, you appeal to authority when presenting what you think is scientific evidence from experts that vaccines cause harm.
          Yet on the other hand, you literally say that we can’t trust scientists and experts at all.

          But how can you tell whether an expert can be trusted or not?

          Let me give you the answer right away: you only trust those experts who confirm what YOU think, NOT the ones who have verifiable facts and good evidence on their side. You are in fact a near-perfect illustration of Morton’s Demon.

          You tell us that there is a lot of evidence out there that vaccines cause harm. Contrary to what you suggest, scientists KNOW that ‘evidence’, and far better than you do, at that. This is also illustrated by the fact that you refer to a very stupid minute-and-a-half YouTube video, instead of the actual paper that it was derived from. And yes, scientists critically assessed that ‘evidence’, and found that it is severely lacking in many respects.
          Unfortunately, most people find antivaccine propaganda by laymen such as John Stone easier to understand than real science – and this is one reason why antivaccine sentiments are still rife. (There are more reasons, but it would take an essay-length piece to go into those in detail.)

          The whole process by which people like John Stone build up ‘authority’ is actually quite simple:
          1. Spread lies, doubt and misinformation about vaccines, among other things by cherry-picking real science (“aluminum causes neurological damage”) and exclusively citing scientists with antivaccine sentiments.
          2. When this misinformation is rejected and countered by (real) scientists and (real) experts, start spreading lies, doubt and misinformation about those experts as well, undermining their authority.
          3. When you have established a big enough following, simply present your antivaccine bullshit as the new authoritative source of information, calling it ‘scientific evidence’. Real science can now be rejected without further ado, unless of course it can be cherry-picked to support your own beliefs.
          4. And hey, presto: you have reached a position where you are believed and respected by quite a few people, a position that you’re not likely to give up any day soon, no matter what.

          This is nothing short of egregious hypocrisy: attacking science and authority with lies, misinformation and insinuations, then turning around and calling your lies and misinformation ‘scientific evidence’, with yourself as the final authority. This has nothing to do with science, and everything with a cult-like belief system. And it would seem that you have become a Believer too:

          When medical science is being built on bias and lies….

          At some point in your life, you have become a believer in antivaccine rubbish, and after that point, any evidence that you may be wrong is dismissed out of hand, simply by claiming that medical science is built on bias and lies.
          This also means that a thousand good papers finding no evidence for vaccines causing harm can be trumped(*) by just one shoddy piece of work from someone who also harbours antivaccine sentiments.

          *: Yes, this verb has indeed acquired extra meaning and depth in the past year…

          the best people to decipher it are the critical thinkers like John

          Let me fix that for you:
          “The best people to spread lies and damage our children are hypocritical thinkers like John”

          There, that’s much better, now isn’t it? No, no need to thank me.

  • Edzard

    You have lost the argument by default. I am a parent.

    • I am not having an argument with you. I asked a question and you seem to refuse to answer it.

      • Really – lost the argument? How do you win an argument John Stone by refusing to answer a question asked by someone who is not even having an argument? In your own imagination and the imagination of your Lucy?

      • Edzard

        I challenged “the facts” in your article from documentary sources. Instead of responding you want to know what my qualifications are when I have never claimed to have any except following the issues and writing about them in detail over many years: it is a red-herring. Many professional journalists put their oar in without having qualifications and not having studied the matter in any detail, and people here whether they have any qualifications or not seem to parrot things (everything they think must be true). In this case we may be getting back to the conditions of the mediaeval church where ordinary people have to take everything on trust from the priesthood (many of whom if I remember correctly were just trying to make lots of money), and increasingly it seems to be the case that there is a view that ordinary citizens ought not to be allowed to comment, quote data, documented history or even talk about their experiences in a public medium, a tendency which I regard as sinister (and not actually a basis on which medicine can practice sensibly since the public at large are the subject of that practice, and if it is not going well we need to know).

        Of course, there is another possibility that having considered what I have said, and not contradicted it, you actually agree with me now.

        • I agree with you when you finally answer my question by stating that you have no relevant expertise. thanks.

          • Edzard

            Actually, I have been quite straightforward. If you could cite anywhere where I claimed to have such qualifications you might have had a point. Meanwhile, there are the documents and the data which you will not address, and it seems to me that you are using rank (the appeal to authority) to avoid doing so.

          • I am not doing anything of the sort. I merely wanted to know who is posting so much BS on my blog, that’s all.

  • Edzard

    BTW Where have you displayed expertise in your article?

  • Actually, I thought it was rather a “scraping the barrel” sort of article: it was saying damaging things without producing evidence.

    I think I have made my point and I don’t propose to comment again unless anyone has something non ad hominem to say.

  • The antivaxxers have more blood on their vile hands, for their part in compromising herd immunity:
    “17-year-old immunocompromised girl is the latest to die”

  • It does seem to me that vaccines are much more accepted by people who have seen first-hand the effects of the diseases that they prevent. In the 21st Century Western world we lead a cosy existance where we do not expect to come across children dying of infectious diseases, or indeed anybody very much (except the elderly). In countries where this sort of tragedy is a regular occurrence, parents are very keen to do anything to improve the situation, and vaccination is one of the cheapest, easiest, most effective and safest measures available.

    I remember having measles at the age of 7 – it is one of the very few things that I still remember from that period of my life, because it was so unpleasant. Back in the late 1960’s it was a normal part of growing up, though I was fortunate not to know anybody personally who had been struck down by subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, or killed outright by measles itself or by a secondary infection. I also remember other children from my school who had hearing aids from maternal rubella infection. My uncle was crippled by polio; he was lucky – he never ended up in the iron lung unit in Clapham, which I never visited myself, though a colleague was quite moved when he saw it in the 1980’s. My mother had lifelong lung damage from TB; again she was one of the lucky ones – everybody else in her ward died. When my wife was a child, she was ill for nearly three months with whooping cough, and had to spend the time away from school and from the rest of her family as her mother was afraid that the other children might get it; happily she was old enough not to be at serious risk of dying from it. Going back a bit further, I don’t suppose there are many people still alive in the UK who remember children regularly dying from diphtheria. My uncle had a friend who died of tetanus following an accident with a tractor.

    In my own career as an oncologist I have seen too many deaths from cervical cancer, some of them of women in their 20’s. Regular smears have been effective at halving the death rate in the UK, but the HPV vaccine offers the possibility of almost eradicating this disease. When I read about the debate as to whether vaccinating young girls (and boys, who spread the infection and are also at risk of HPV-related cancers) might encourage under-age sexual activity (as if!) my heart sinks at the folly of people trying to do the right thing with no heed of the consequences.

    What about something a bit less serious, such as chicken-pox? I remember having that as a child, too, and my brother still has scars on his face where he picked at the spots. I also remember the considerable unpleasantness of having shingles, a repeat infection from the chicken-pox virus (or varicella-zoster as it is properly known) and the chaos that resulted from the fact that I had done a ward round the day before, and we had to test all of our immunosuppressed cancer patients to see who needed to be given prophylactic zoster immune globulin in case I had infected any of them. That was the day that I found out that we had two adults with chicken pox in our Intensive Care Unit, which I was told was not an uncommon situation.

    Then there was the time last year when I was admitted to the same Intensive Care Unit myself with acute epiglottitis after a respiratory arrest when my airway obstructed (the last thing I remember is the crash call going out). I had to be ventilated for almost a week until the swelling in my throat subsided. Epiglottitis was quite common when I was a junior doctor, but it is extremely rare now as infants are routinely vaccinated against Haemophilus influenzae, the most common bacterial cause.

    The ramifications of the MMR hoax seem to spread further and further. Even within my family, the parents of my own step-granddaughter had differing opinions over whether she should be vaccinated. Her mother is a nurse, but is somehow able to leave all her professional training behind when she comes home from work. Her father is more practical, and happily won the day.

    It baffles me why anybody would want to return to the era of vaccine-preventable infections, or indeed why they would not want to extend that protection to those people in less affluent parts of the world who are still at risk.

    It also frightens me personally. I had to retire early when I developed an aggressive form of multiple myeloma, a bone marrow malignancy that has (among other things) resulted in my immune system being unable to produce anitibodies. This is probably the reason I contracted epiglottitis, and I have had a number of other hospital admissions for what would be trivial infections for most people. Despite numerous of vaccinations in the past two years, I do not seem to be responding to them, and I have probably also lost my immunity against many of the infections I have previously suffered, including measles. I am therefore reliant on the immunity of the herd to protect me, and I am well aware that if I encounter measles again myself it may well prove fatal. Against that possibility I might consider leaving some money in my Will to bring a private prosecution against Andrew Wakefield for manslaughter.

    I am deeply saddened by how effective a minority of ill-informed crusaders, who don’t understand evidence or even basic mathematics, have been in spreading misery, confusion, disease and death. I am getting too cynical now to be shocked at how professional journalists have made the situation worse, propagating lies to sell newspapers and calling it “public interest” or “balance”. Though in my experience journalists (even science journalists sometimes) make a complete pig’s ear of reporting any scientific issue accurately even when they are honestly trying to do their best.

    I am listing my qualifications for the purposes of this thread. I have voluntarily removed myself from the Medical Register now that I have taken early retirement.

    • Excellent as ever, Julian. The notion of vengeance on Wakefield from beyond the grave is an amusing one. When I was younger, the measles vaccine certainly wasn’t that safe with unpleasant side-effects a common occurrence. Many parents decided not to vaccinate. My wife wasn’t vaccinated, caught measles aged six, developed encephalitis and ended up with epilepsy, later cured by some clever neurosurgery.

      “But we’re not anti-vax” the halfwits and paranoiacs will wheedle “We’re pro- safe vaccines!” but never seeming to qualify what this means.

      The continued blinkered ignorance is depressing. What particularly annoys are the people at the lower levels of the rabbit hole, Wakefield acolytes one and all, who claim vaccines are ineffective and that the diseases they prevent still exist and have just been renamed. Because They Know. They’ve been out there and Done Their Research.

    • Another post deserving of a “Like” button. Thank you, Julian.

  • On the nuances of Anti Vaxxers and the Vax Anxious

    I wonder, can someone please advise me, apart from the discredited and struck of the general medical register for science fraud Andrew Wakefield, what actual practising medical doctor in the UK advises patients against vaccination on the grounds they are more harmful than the individual and herd immunity risk of not being vaccinated?

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