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Joined: 06 May 2005
|Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:16 am Post subject:
Can we ever trust MMR?
SUNDAY EXPRESS 18 June 2006
by Lucy Johnston
Can we ever trust MMR?
'The Government has not looked at the whole picture'
Four years ago, the Sunday Express revealed that at least 26 child
deaths have been linked with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. In
many cases, the Government - or leading medical officials - accepted
Parents were awarded vaccine damage payments of up to £100,000 and, in
other cases, experts drew up post-mortem reports blaming the MMR jab as
the most likely cause of death.
Now, as we report today, two more parents have come forward claiming
their babies died as a result of the jab. And, last month, Vietnamese
health authorities withdrew the MMR jab after the death of one child
and hospitalisation of five others. The World Health Organisation is
now investigating this scare.
Since its launch in 1988, thousands of parents have reported unwanted
reactions to the triple jab, from moderate - rash, headache,
temperature - to severe, including brain damage, autism and
convulsions. In 1992, the Department of Health conceded it got the
pre-licence trials wrong when the chief medical officer announced the
withdrawal of two of the three brands of MMR because they were found to
be causing meningitis.
All drugs, including vaccines can have side effects.The Government
accepts this - why else would it make vaccine damage pay-outs of up
to £100,000? But, publicly, it claims no deaths have been associated
with MMR. How can it do this when its own officials and post-mortem
reports state otherwise?
Vaccine manufacturers accept there can be serious side effects, and
have informed the Government of this. So why does the Government's
publicity machine continue to insist that the triple jab is entirely
Instead of being open and investigating potential dangers in what
appears to be a minority of children, the Government polarises the
debate by implying there are no risks.The Whitehall propaganda machine
really kicked in eight years ago when the press reported findings of Dr
Andrew Wakefield's explosive paper linking the MMR jab with autism.
At the time, his work was accepted as credible by experts in the field.
But, instead of making stocks of single vaccines available, as
Wakefield advised, policy chiefs made it difficult for parents to
MMR uptake continued to fall. With an outbreak of disease on the
horizon, public health officials panicked. The Department of Health
launched a campaign to rubbish Wakefield's research. He was
ostracised by his peers and forced to resign his post at the Royal
Free. The Government risked losing face if it changed its stance and
accepted MMR might cause problems in some children, but it also stood
to lose millions in compensation claims. Action had also been taken
against the drug companies, which is still ongoing.
Dr Wakefield has become the scapegoat for the frenzy over MMR but he is
not, as the Government likes to portray him, a lone maverick. Many
other doctors have concerns, and other scientists have found evidence
to support his findings. But the Department of Health insists that
research proves the jab is safe.
However, the Government has not looked at the whole picture. Instead of
looking at the affected children themselves, the studies it cites are
based on patterns of disease taken from medical records of large
populations, which are unable to detect adverse reactions in small
numbers of children.
When Dr Wakefield alerted the Government and vaccine chiefs to his
research before publication, it promised an independent forum into his
findings. This has never happened. Instead, it has called for an
investigation into Dr Wakefield. The General Medical Council is
considering whether to charge him with serious professional misconduct.
Figures released by the Health Protection Agency last week reveal the
number of potentially deadly measles cases seen by doctors since
January is five times higher than during all last year, prompting fears
of an epidemic.
As Richard Halvorsen, vaccine expert and central London GP said: "With
the threat of a measles epidemic, the only way many parents will
protect their children is with the single vaccine. By refusing to allow
this, the Government is contributing to the epidemic it seeks to
One has to ask the question: where does the Department of Health's
interests lie? Is it to protect the nation's health, or to protect
officials, and the pharmaceutical industries' lucrative patents for
new combination jabs?
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