When Will Wakefield Get the Justice He Deserves?
If you follow immunization news at all, than you probably know the name Andrew Wakefield pretty well. In fact, you’re probably tired of hearing it.
Personally, I try to avoid hearing it, reading it or even mentioning it, because when I do I get a big knot in the pit of my stomach.
I’m not trying to be dramatic. It’s just that I believe this one man has done more to interfere with immunization advancements all across the world than anyone else in recent history. And to be honest, that really upsets me…as a mother, as an American and as a global health advocate.
What surprises me most about Andrew Wakefield is how many people continue to idolize him as a direct result of one poorly executed study of just a handful of individuals conducted so many years ago. He has miraculously managed to garner so much support among people that they often act as if they are brain-washed cult followers. In their eyes, everything Wakefield says is truth and he can do no wrong. In fact, every time I hear someone credit Wakefield, or even defend him, I can’t help but wonder if they’re just desperate to root for the underdog and convince themselves that the “establishment” is working against them. How does he work his magic and convince people that he speaks “the truth” when the courts, and the science, continue to defy him?
It doesn’t seem to matter that the co-authors of Wakefield’s discredited study retracted their claims long ago. It doesn’t matter that The Lancet, which initially published the study, retracted it in its entirety back in February, 2010. It doesn’t even matter that the British General Medical Council determined that Wakefield was guilty of serious professional misconduct and as a result, stripped him of his medical license. Despite all this, he somehow continues to persuade countless parents to forego MMR vaccinations, leaving children vulnerable to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening diseases.
When will his followers recognize that critical research funds have been spent disproving the hypothesis that Wakefield was never able to adequately prove? And why won’t they accept the various allegations that Brian Deer so elaborately exposed in detail over a year ago?
It’s as if the gig is up, but none of his loyal followers are willing to admit it.
As far as I can tell, Andrew Wakefield still manages to make a living here in the United States. Until about a year ago, he was the director of The Thoughtful House, and according to his own representation, he is currently self-employed as the founder of the Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI), “a medical research organization dedicated to identifying the environmental causes for the current autism epidemic”. (Should I question how his research is conducted at his current address within a Texas Pak Mail establishment?)
While it may be difficult to verify just what he has been up to lately, there is one thing for certain. Andrew Wakefield is asking for your financial support (yes, that means your hard-earned money) to pursue a defamation lawsuit against The British Medical Journal (BMJ), Fiona Godlee, the journal’s editor, and Brian Deer, the writer who works for the BJM.
Now you may ask, “Is this for real?”
Oh, sadly it is.
Just check out this elaborate website designed to garner support for the Dr. Wakefield Justice Fund. (By the way, you’ll notice this slick photo of him admiring an American flag. While I’m uncertain if, or when, he may have become an American citizen, I imagine that he truly appreciates the liberty and support he enjoys here in America. Why, that alone would make anyone a patriot, right?)
My hope is that one day justice will truly be done. Perhaps that day will come when a parent, whose child has suffered from measles, mumps or rubella, takes it upon themselves to make a legal case against Andrew Wakefield. Since he has repeatedly advised parents not to administer the MMR vaccine to their children, I would imagine that there must be some individual who took this advice and later regretted it. Perhaps there is a child somewhere who, as a result, has suffered long-term health complications. Or even worse, there may be a parent grieving over the un-timely loss of their child. Wouldn’t these good citizens be entitled to some kind of compensation? Don’t you think they might want honor, truth and liberty to be upheld, just like Wakefield is calling for?
If there is ever a justice fund created to support that kind of litigation, please let me know. I would gladly contribute!
How about you?