Let's not jump to false conclusions on vaccines

It is good to question the regulation of vaccine programmes. But one must not jump to false conclusions about the evidence on vaccine safety and mislead others when they do not have any facts at hand. The article contains numerous errors, and these need correcting.
A nurse at Kagugu Health Centre immunises pupils of APAPEC IREBERO Primary School. (File photo)
A nurse at Kagugu Health Centre immunises pupils of APAPEC IREBERO Primary School. (File photo)

Editor,

Allow me to answer to the issues raised by Mr James Munanura in a letter titled ‘There’s need for more research on vaccines (The New Times, October 27, 2016).

 

He wrote: “It’s also important for me to state that reporting on science subjects requires quite some good knowledge and where possible consulting the experts on the subject matter.”

 

This makes me wonder why the writer does not think he should also have good knowledge.

 

It is good to question the regulation of vaccine programmes. But one must not jump to false conclusions about the evidence on vaccine safety and mislead others when they do not have any facts at hand. The article contains numerous errors, and these need correcting.

1. Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council, and had his license to practice medicine stripped from him. There is no official body called the “British Medical Council”.

2. Wakefield did go to the United States, but he has never “presented his case to the Medical Union of the United States”. There is no such body as the “Medical Union”, nor has he ever presented his case to anyone in the US.
3. There is no validity in any link between Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine and autism. The possibility of a link has been investigated exhaustively, and never confirmed. Wakefield’s own theory was based on less than a dozen children, and his paper was found later to be entirely fraudulent as he had manufactured false test results and lied about the children’s’ case histories and the timing of their symptoms.

4. Mr Munanura confuses Methyl mercury (which is a potentially toxic compound) with Ethyl mercury, which is basically an inert compound which is sometimes used as a preservative in killed vaccine preparations. In the doses contained in vaccines, it is quite harmless.

5. MMR vaccine is a live virus vaccine, and does not contain preservatives such as any mercury compound (either ethyl mercury or any other mercury compound). It never has.

6. Brian Hooker is not the so called “whistleblower”, that would be William Thomson. Thomson was upset that an interim analysis of autism and MMR was modified to incorporate better data and more robust statistics. There had been an initial suspicion that there was a higher autism rate in one subgroup of vaccine recipients, but with more thorough data and analysis, this supposed link proved to be false. 

Thomson was upset about his suspicions being disproven, and complained by phone to Brian Hooker who illegally taped the conversation and later publicised what Thomson supposedly said. There is really no “whistleblower” because there is no whistle to blow.

7. There have not been “More than 1,000 articles on the relationship [between vaccines and autism] published” (unless you wish to count the hundreds of articles that have looked for a relationship and found none!).

Mike Stevens

You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News