If you were on the iol website this past week, you probably saw this story about how some people were soliciting lollipops and other material infected with chicken pox to infect their children in a modern version of a “pox party” so as to avoid getting them the chicken pox vaccine. As pointed out on Orac’s blog (Orac was alerted to this by other bloggers), this is flat out illegal as postal workers could be infected by handling the package. It is also extremely dangerous as it puts the recipients at risk of a number of other diseases, including hepatitis. Lastly, as one of the commenters pointed out, no recipient would know whether or not the sender isn’t a sicko who has laced the lollipops with something more dangerous than just chicken pox. All in all, it is a totally stupid idea.
The British Medical Journal has a new series of articles out about ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield and his so-called “study”. The pathology slides made from biopsy samples taken from the 12 children in the “study” went missing. Now they have been found. David Lewis worked alongside Wakefield and may have been given the slides by him. Lewis, who hoped the data would clear Wakefield, forwarded the histology scoring sheets for 62 intestinal biopsy specimens to Deer. It backfired spectacularly. When the samples were examined by medical experts, they were classed as normal.
Let’s recap. Wakefield suggested that he had found a new disease: Autistic Enterocolitis. In a follow up, he expressed “concerns” that the MMR Vaccine might be causing it. As is now known, he cooked his data in the study. Offered the chance by the Royal Free Hospital to carry out a follow-up, he stalled for two years until the Royal Free got fed up and dismissed him. In the interim, he was setting up business plans to profit from the scare he’d manufactured. Thanks to Brian Deer, he was exposed as a liar who subjected vulnerable children to needless medical procedures. This new data proves that the children didn’t have colitis, much less enterocolitis. All they had was constipation. Deer’s article is here.
Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, also has an article. She wants a parliamentary inquiry into the actions of Wakefield’s co-authors on the Lancet “study” and into the behaviour of the University College of London, where Wakefield did his work. In brief, Godlee says that, given the new evidence, there is no way that Wakefield’s co-authors could not have seen that there was something amiss with Wakefield’s claims. Two consultant histopathologists said the biopsies were not abnormal. So why did they (and indeed, the other co-authors) not say anything until 2004, after Deer revealed Wakefield’s conflicts of interest?
Lastly, Age of Autism is having a bitch-and-moan festival about this. Somebody ought to dial either whine-one-one (in the US) or whine-whine-whine (in the UK) and send a waahmbulance over.
Childish, I know, but I couldn’t resist.