AUSTRALIAN Vaccination Network spokeswoman Meryl Dorey is standing by the barred British gastroenterologist, Dr Andrew Wakefield, despite the current edition of the British Medical Journal labelling his work as “an elaborate fraud”.
Dr Wakefield’s 1998 study ignited a worldwide scare over a possible link between vaccines and autism, and led millions of parents to delay or decline vaccination for their children.
The study has long since been debunked and dismissed by the scientific community, which points to 14 independent studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism.
Last year, The Lancet, publisher of the original study, issued a formal retraction. British medical authorities last year also found Dr Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct, stripping him of his ability to practice in England.
However, the Bangalow-based MrsDorey said there were dozens of peer reviewed studies that showed a possible link between autism and vaccination, and claimed the studies used to show the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) were “poorly designed”.
Prof Robert Booy, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said Mrs Dorey’s claim was “laughable”.
“There is not a single reputable study to support a link between MMR and vaccination,” Prof Booy said. He said thousands of hours of research time, which could have been spent researching the causes and prevention of autism, had been wasted on a wild goose chase.
The safety of MMR was well established, Prof Booy said.
The BMJ reports that Dr Wakefield, who was paid more than $A676, 658 by a lawyer hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers, was not just unethical, he falsified data in the study which suggested children developed autism after getting an MMR shot.
In fact, the children’s medical records show that some clearly had symptoms of developmental problems long before getting their shots, BMJ says. Several had no autism diagnosis at all.