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Thanks Andrew Wakefield. Thanks for making measles great again.

It seems as though I have to write a post like this every year or two, as measles outbreaks keep raging and children keep getting sick and even dying. I feel obligated to “thank” the primary author of this misery, the man whose scientific fraud and other efforts have fueled antivaxers’ fear of the MMR vaccine. So thanks Andrew Wakefield. Thanks for the measles. Again. In 2018.

Yesterday was busy, and it actually didn’t leave me time for one of my 2,000+ word doses of Insolence, be it Respectful or not-so-Respectful. I thought about leaving today blank, but then I saw this story from the BBC and realized that, although it’s probably not worth expounding on for my usual length, I can’t miss mentioning it, because it allows me to sarcastically thank Andrew Wakefield again for all the illness and death his scientific fraud has resulted in. So thanks Andrew Wakefield. Thanks for the measles. Again:

Cases of measles in Europe have hit a record high, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

More than 41,000 people have been infected in the first six months of 2018, leading to 37 deaths.

Last year there were 23,927 cases and the year before 5,273. Experts blame this surge in infections on a drop in the number of people being vaccinated.

In England, there have been 807 cases so far this year. The WHO is calling on European countries to take action.

Public Health England say the outbreaks in England are largely due to people who have travelled to areas of mainland Europe that have had outbreaks.

Of course, I’ve said “Thanks Andrew Wakefield” before for his efforts to make measles great again, not just in the UK, but here in the US and world-wide. I began ten years ago. That same year, I thanked not just him, but Jenny McCarthy and her then-boyfriend Jim Carrey as well. Most recently, it was the Somali immigrants in Minnesota that led me to “thank” Wakefield, given the tireless efforts of his acolytes (and him as well, given that he made an appearance in Minneapolis at the height of the 2012 measles outbreak there). Of course, it’s not just Andrew Wakefield. It’s the hordes of antivaxers inspired by Andrew Wakefield who have promoted all this disease and death.

Sadly, it’s not just Europe, but the US as well, although admittedly (and fortunately), for now our situation is not nearly as bad as it is in Europe. According to the CDC:

So far in 2018, 107 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. Current as of July 14, 2018

In 2017, 118 people from 15 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles. In 2016, 86 people from 19 states were reported to have measles. In 2015, 188 people from 24 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles. In 2014, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD); this is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.

That includes my state:

More than 100 people in 21 states have become sick with measles since the beginning of 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michigan was included in the 21 states where measles has been confirmed in 2018, where four cases have been confirmed.

The most recent cases, identified at the end of July, were residents of Oakland and Washtenaw counties.

Neither of these cases are related to the two previous Michigan cases in 2018, however, all four cases were the result of exposure outside of the country, emphasizing the higher risk of measles during international travel and the importance of being protected by vaccination.

So Europe is a hotbed of measles, and our unvaccinated children bring it back after traveling to Europe. As the CDC notes:

  • The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
  • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

Given our homegrown antivaxers and their efforts to make measles great again in states like my home state of Michigan, in Texas, and several other states, I fear that the news will only get worse.

For that, we have Andrew Wakefield and his acolytes to thank for it all.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

63 replies on “Thanks Andrew Wakefield. Thanks for making measles great again.”

Note how close the death rate is to the 1:1000 experts name in developed countries. And this does not yet include SSPE.

In Italy in 2017 over 40% of cases were hospitalized.

Measles is not mild, and these tragedies are completely unnecessary, the result of baseless misinformation.

It’s truly stunning when a parent tells you these diseases aren’t severe and that’s why their child won’t be vaccinated. Stunning to the point of silently asking myself “Then why are you even bringing your child in for well checks with a pediatrician?”.

Anti-vaxxers have brought the rain, and it will get worse before it gets better. A lot of this was preventable if public health officials had been more aggressive against anti-vaxxers.

A quick scan of the sites I usually watch shows nothing about measles: I wonder why that is?

AoA asks for money, TMR discusses what to do when your child receives an ASD dx, PRN relegates Wikip– to the Dark Side, Mercola splashes about in red tide, Jake insults Dr Offit and Mike… well, it’s too early to look, I haven’t had enough caffeine yet to counteract the inevitable headache. Similarly, Bolen.

Actually, Jake went loony ( it doesn’t take much) when Chelsea Clinton “thanked” Andy for sickening children.**
Maybe he’ll drop by and argue with Orac and his minions. Even though he hasn’t editorial control here.
I’d love to see an exchange between Jake and Narad.
Or Jake and anyone who studied SBM, epi, law, science, social science etc.

** yes, I know she didn’t actually say “thank you” to him, I am speaking metaphorically which shouldn’t be difficult to decipher

AoA asks for money

I’m too tired yet again to check whether Kimmeh has remembered that Form 990 thing yet.

Orac sarcastically writes,

“Thanks Andrew Wakefield”

MJD writes sincerely,

Public health organizations in Europe and the United States are doing a wonderful job of measles awareness, isolation, and eradication. Blaming Andrew Wakefield et al. for a measles outbreak is overly simplistic and hate mongering, in my opinion.

Hate mongering?

“I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.”
Harry S Truman, US President

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. And we are entitled to think it’s nonsense.

If blaming Wakefield for the subsequent drop in MMR uptake after his fraudulent paper was published in the Lancet isn’t accurate, please explain why MJD.

Also, it might be appropriate to ask the Lancet to publish an article annually covering their horrendous error in publishing a fraud and their ridiculous delay in retracting it.As penance and to remind the world that MMR is safe and effective and necessary if we want to control preventable diseases.

So far nothing too bad here in Canada but I suppose it is only a matter of time. Still we probably should only have one or two cases for the year if our vaccination rates were at a proper level.

Measles & Rubella Weekly Monitoring Report – Week 31, 2018: July 29 to August 4 2018

Key Points

In Canada, no new cases of measles or rubella were reported in week 31, 2018.

Nineteen cases of measles and no cases of rubella have been reported in Canada in 2018.

Globally, there are large measles outbreaks reported in Europe which have affected a large number of countries. Canadians travelling to Europe and Venezuela are invited to consult the travel health notices for more information.

To be fair, Ukraine accounts for more than a half of measles cases in Europe in 2018. And with their current political situation, Russian invasion, refugees from Crimea and sometimes, I guess, lack of proper medical supplies, it’s no wonder.
Which makes MMR vaccine even more important here in Poland, as we have a lot of contact with Ukrainians.

I heard the part about Ukraine way down in the BBC podcast where I first heard this. I thought at the time that there should be more said about that aspect (the report did not elaborate at all beyone noting that the majority of cases were from Ukraine. I mean, there are some other reasons that can contribute to this problem than the anti-vax hysteria. Is anyone (or any other governments) getting together to offer some assistance to Ukraine?

It’s understandable that antivaxers who agree with J.B. Handley that Wakefield “is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one” are outraged when anyone calls out their hero.

Those of us who view Wakefield as Kevin Trudeau and Typhoid Mary rolled up into one have a different perspective.

Pity poor Italy where the anti-vaxx coalition government is legislating to increase the numbers already dying from the disease by allowing unvaccinated children into school. Complete madness. Making Italy tin-pot again.

Well, in France there is some problem with vaccinations as well.Today I read in a Dutch newspaper, vaccination in France is at 79%.

That study isn’t as alarming as it’s been made out to be. Stay tuned. My post on it is scheduled to go live soon.

“Experts blame this surge in infections on a drop in the number of people being vaccinated.” It would be interesting to document this drop. I am sure that the “experts” have this information.

Experts do, and it’s well documented. Which, of course, you know. The measles outbreak in California and in Minnesota are well connected to vaccine refusal.

This post may take awhile to show because of the links.

And that’s just a sampling, so quit being obtuse because this is not news to you, and Orac has discussed this issue on many occasions.

You may say that the US outbreak are related to vaccine refusal, but what is the evidence that there is a drop in vaccination in Serbia and in the other european countries? In France the outbreak occurred at a time where vaccination was increasing. Wakefield is almost unknown in most European countries, except UK, where the outbreak was minimal, and still, he is blamed here for a drop in other countries where there is no evidence for it.

The WHO points out to a link to vaccine refusal. Most cases are in the unvaccinated, many countries have sub-optimal coverage.

When vaccine rates start to increase, it’s usually a specific cohort that is getting more vaccines. That does not change the existence of previous cohorts with low vaccination rates, and an immunization gap.

And in Italy, for example, a problematic decision from 2013 that was later overturned – the Bocca case – drew heavily on Wakefield to claim the disproven link between vaccines and autism. His claims spread.

@ Panacea
Yes it’s an outbreak, but as compared to the other european countries it’s minimal. So please show me the evidence that there was a recent drop in vaccination before the outbreak.

I’ve already answered that question. You’re shifting the goal posts. It’s dishonest. Stop.

Acta Microbiol Immunol Hung. 2018 Jun 1;65(2):127-134. doi: 10.1556/030.65.2018.014. Epub 2018 Feb 28.
Epidemiological situation of measles in Romania, Italy, and Hungary: On what threats should we focus nowadays?

JAMA. 2016 Mar 15;315(11):1149-58. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.1353.
Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States: A Review of Measles and Pertussis.

Pediatrics. 2010 Apr;125(4):747-55. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1653. Epub 2010 Mar 22.
Measles outbreak in a highly vaccinated population, San Diego, 2008: role of the intentionally undervaccinated.

BMC Public Health. 2005 Jun 4;5:59.
Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan.

For someone who claims to do research, you are really bad at it.

“Wakefield is almost unknown in most European countries…”

Obviously, you don’t get around on teh internets much. On this blog and others there are die hard Wakefield defenders from Europe, including Spain, Germany and France. Wakefield and the damage he has done is often brought up on the European Skeptics Podcast:

“On this blog and others there are die hard Wakefield defenders from Europe, including Spain, Germany and France”
Not specially the countries struck by the disease.
And again, where is the drop in vaccination ? If lay persons make statements with no reference to support them, I can admit it, but experts….

Your own link discusses it, obliquely. We can’t help it if there’s a problem with your reading comprehension or memory, since the issue has been discussed multiple times here in the past, and you’ve participated in those discussions.

Le sigh. And you even live in France! Did you miss the year when over a dozen died in your country from measles? There is also a problem in Germany. Italy has had issues for years, which is why they were going to mandate vaccines… until the recent election. Also, the discussions on the European Skeptics Podcast include lots of references to Romania, Hungary, etc. Especially since one of the podcast hosts lives in Hungary. You seem to be reading things through your own specially filtered lenses.

News articles are not real references, I gave you references. But I will tell you the first one was written by idiots with no understanding of epidemiology. Kind of like you. You really should read what happened in Japan when measles vaccination was voluntary. At least 80 deaths. (it is free to read online, so you have no excuse)

Here is another one, chosen because all you have to do is read the title, since you are too lazy to actually read the studies I gave you:
West J Med. 1993 Oct;159(4):455-64.
Measles epidemic from failure to immunize.

Chris, Panacea
Come on, I asked a very simple question “Where is the drop in vaccination in Europe? “, you are unable to answer and you pretend you are on the side of science.

It’s not that hard to look those numbers up, Daniel.

For instance, in Serbia measles vaccine coverage needs to be at least 95% and was at that level about 10 years ago, but has dropped below 90%.

In France, 2 dose coverage is slowly creeping up to the 80% level which is still insufficient, although cases had been down after the 2011 epidemic gave many people immunity the hard way.

Definition of dop by Merriam-Webster
drop : a decline in quantity or quality. His income took a sudden drop. a drop in demand

Daniel’s just being his annoying self. Who knew he would start saying things indistinguishable from what I see antivaxers write? Certainly I didn’t.

Perhaps you should have added an ‘e’ as well.

The reduction wasn’t precipitous but the coverage did decline. And we are seeing the results which many people have feared and warned about.

Asking us to look up numbers you can easily find for yourself is disingenuous at best.

I’m not sure if you are just arguing by nitpicking or doing as Orac stated.

It I would have thought you would at least acknowledge the content of my statement.

David, I don’t care about what antivaxers write. Any imbecile can write what he wants on the internet. I care about what experts say, because they are supposed to take care of our health. I don’t care of you writing on vaccines, because you are a surgeon. But I am afraid because experts are using wrong arguments, which raises doubts on their advice.

Funny, for “not caring” you sure are writing enough to make one think that you do care—a lot. In other words, methinks thou doth protest too much. Also, my readers have answered your question multiple times. You just don’t listen to the answers. At this point you just come off as JAQing off.

If you care about what experts say, you would have actually read the several citations I posted. Instead you show your true colors and basic ignorance of simple epidemiology.

By the way, measles is so infectious that requires at least 95% vaccine compliance, so a small drop in vaccination will cause an outbreak.

Goes back, looks at that posts. Ah, the comments! That had a very entertaining exchange. 😉

A drop that isn’t steep is still a drop. You are at best engaging in the fallacy of redefinition, and at worst rejecting evidence that shows you are wrong.

Chris “a small drop in vaccination will cause an outbreak”. Maybe, but there was no drop.

JAQoff. I’m done with you. As a lawyer would say, “Asked and answered.”

Orac, if this were Wakefield’s trial and if it were accused of making measles great again by causing a drop in the vaccination, his lawyer might argue “Where is the drop?” and “Was Wakefield influential in Serbia and Ukraine?” and he would try to put the blame on the Russians (again).

Is the Ukraine part of this previous rise of a disease that is a textbook example what happens with decreased vaccination:

Diphtheria in the former Soviet Union: reemergence of a pandemic disease.
Successful Control of Epidemic Diphtheria in the States of the Former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: Lessons Learned

Do you think some of the same fractured thinking would still be in play?

What happened in Japan that caused the deaths of at least eighty children? I gave you that reference, have you even tried to read it?

Are you trying to suggest that vaccination against measles was performed in Ukraine before 1991 but not after, and that this is this putative drop which is responsible for the present epidemic?

No, but I am going to suggest that you do not know how download a study and read it.

Plus I am going to suggest that you never read the news, so have no idea what has happened Ukraine over the past five years. Ever heard of Crimea?

@ Chris
Well, I’m going to suggest that you are wrong in both instances.

Comments are closed.


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