A few weeks ago, a court in Italy ruled that vaccines cause autism and used Andrew Wakefield’s retracted and fraudulent study in its verdict.
When I first heard about this story, I dismissed it as antivaccination propaganda or wishful thinking. After all, Wakefield had withheld his conflicts of interest, misrepresented the manner in which the 12 subjects in his “case study” were referred to him and cooked the data when it pointed away from the vaccines cause autism hypothesis. I’ve blogged about it before (just put “MMR and autism” into the search box). Brian Deer, the journalist who exposed Wakefield’s dishonesty, has a whole section about it on his website. Which court would use such a blatantly fraudulent and fatally flawed item of evidence except as something that undermines the hypothesis?
This court did.
There has been widespread anger in the european scientific community over this. The Italian Vaccination Board has responded and pointed out that Wakefield’s study, which was the basis of the court’s decision, was retracted. The verdict is to be appealed, but the court should never have ruled in this way.