Controversy between vaccines and autism ends up in revoking a medical license PDF Print E-mail
Issues - Issue #0
Written by Paiva Junior   
Thursday, 16 September 2010 16:45

by Paiva Junior


It is a serious accusation: MMR vaccine: Measles, Mumps and Rubella would cause autism in small children. And a study has been published by a British well known Medical Magazine, The Lancet, in February 1998, by Andrew Wakefield, British Md. doctor, specialized in pediatric gastroenterology. The case ended up in revoking his medical license in United Kingdom, in May 2010.

It is a controversial case and there are, at least, two versions completely different. One of them considers Wakefield an imposter who has caused the drop in vaccination numbers and the reappearance of Measles in England and other countries. The other understands that the British doctor was a victim of the Pharmaceutical industry (which is only behind weapons industry regarding economic power) interested in selling vaccines.

It is common knowledge that deciding not to vaccinate a child is a serious responsibility and should never be considered, except by doctor’s order. A decision like that involves much thought and risk evaluation. However, parents who decide to choose something like that on their own, when their kids are autistic, it is a serious matter.

The study, according to Wakefield, points out that children would need a trigger in the environment to “wake up” autism and its symptoms, as they would be genetically predisposed. Nevertheless, even among individuals with “autism genetic disposition” that trigger would not affect all of them. This trigger would be a chemical agent, mercury, present in several vaccines. Specifically in MMR, there is Thimerosal, a preservative that has 49% of mercury in its composition.  There are some reports that state that several parents said they observed first symptoms only after first or second MMR shot.  For Wakefield, a proof; for many other doctors, a coincidence.

There hasn’t been a 100% conclusion that it is not controversial on the subject. There still are flaws either on the studies that proved that theory, or on the reports from those who not agree that resulted in suspicion from many parents on that issue.

The fact is that, after the study was published; many parents stopped vaccinating their children and that increased the number of Measles among children in the United Kingdom. Vaccination rate in the Country no longer increased and Measles outbreaks became common there.

The Lancelet Magazine published on February 2nd, 2010 an article stating they should never have published the article on the 1998 study and wiped it off from its records. This happened one day after a competitor, BMJ, had published an article requesting a formal retreat. And what had caused suspicion on the study conducted by Wakefield was the way he got children’s blood tests to conduct the study: on his son’s birthday he paid £5.00 (approximately R$15,00) to each invited child that accepted to “cooperate” with science. After that, other technical flaws had been discovered on Wakefield’s research that had 13 co-authors. Ten out of the 13 did not agree with the conclusions made on the study, during its last years.

The other version, that considers Wakefield a victim, states the pharmaceutical industry is the real guilty part, due to its strong political and economical influence, to keep on selling vaccines. In this assumption, large companies would be supporting, secretly, the accusations against him, bringing the study into disrepute.  However, nothing has been confirmed, considering it as rumors – as well as the suspicion some of the co-authors had been receiving money from large industries that produce vaccines, after they did not agree, publically, with Wakefield study.

Two decisions from a USA Federal Court determined that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Yet, official numbers of complaints that have been presented to the judicial authority in the United States, from parents who seek reparation to the children that allege to have been harmed by MMR vaccines, exceeded 5,500.

Some studies have been conducted in other countries, but none with due accuracy and credibility to put an end to this controversy, which seems to have a long way to go.


On May 24, 2010, United Kingdom’s General Medicine Council (most important medical association in UK) revoked the practice license of Wakefield, accusing him to have demonstrated a brutal disdain to the children who participated in the study, and to have acted unethically. The British Md. doctor is no longer able to practice medicine in UK, but can in other countries – for instance, in the United States, where he, presently, lives and keeps his researches.

He says USA’s government is paying indemnity sums for autism supposedly caused by vaccines as far as 1991 and the accusations based on unethical manner to conduct research have been “defined, from the beginning”. He promised to keep on researching the link between vaccination and autism. “These parents will not vanish, the children will not vanish, and I, certainly, will not vanish”, he said.

For some people he is a hero, almost a martyr from medicine. For others an opportunist imposter. Loved by some, hated by others. However, everybody seems to agree about/on one thing: this controversy has generated doubts about autism and led many parents to a taught decision, whether to vaccinate their children or not.

The whole truth about that? We will certainly never know.

Controversy between vaccines and autism ends up in revoking a medical license
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