Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Heroes, Villains, and Vaccinations

Andy Wakefield doesn’t act like a hero. He doesn’t talk like one either—in fact, except for his handsome visage, he seems more like a nerdy physician who is immersed in his research. His passion for a cause he need not champion, and which has brought him vilification and pain, because he wants to save children from getting, and cure children of, autism—this is the material of heroism.

Over the period of years I’ve known Andy, he’s never wavered, and never will. Yet he was so harassed by the medical powers-that-be in his home of England that he was forced to move to the US to keep up his research. Years ago, Wakefield found the link between the auto-immune breakdown that causes autism, and the MMR vaccine—a leaky gut syndrome. The lack of ability of the system to absorb proper nutrients for the growth of the brain and brain stem sets up the development of the strange symptoms of autism, basically a child who’s out of touch.

Dr. Wakefield published his results, and that’s when the fireworks started. Anyone familiar with the development of drugs and marketing by big pharma knows that there is big (read enormous!) money in patented vaccines, especially when a friendly government steps in a mandates that every child get that shot. Wakefield wasn’t even saying not to get vaccinated—his theory was that the Mumps, Measles and Rubella triple-whammy at one time was the culprit, and that giving the shots separately one at a time would help the system overcome the toxicity inherent in vaccines made out of the germs from which they are supposed us.

He put doubt into the minds of potential consumers, and for that sin, Dr. Wakefield was excommunicated and condemned to shame, ridicule, and down and out pummeling from the British medical establishment for years to come. And, from the rest of the “friends” of big pharma world-wide as well, came the wrath of vengeance.

Whether or not you believe in conspiracies, or that there’s more than meets the eye when more than two people are involved, the strange issue of pro- and anti-vaccine advocacy follows a certain line. When a parent believes his or her child has been physically injured by a vaccine, that parent’s passion is a given. If that parent wants to get on the bandwagon of issues involving the controversy over whether vaccines are good or bad for children, who can blame that parent of a child who has been hurt for devoting passion to a cause?

I’m less inclined to believe in the passion of a lay proponent for vaccination and drug company policies, which writings can be found in commentaries all over the internet, and responding to the pleas of concerned parents in periodicals and newspapers. That passion for a cause comes straight from greed, and the influence that drug companies can exert with all the power that huge amounts of money can buy. Don’t believe me? Check out my latest reference to the expose of the Los Angeles Times on government-employed physicians pushing (no pun intended) the marketing of a pill whose maker is paying that doctor to push.

Sometimes the heroes win—in this case, Dr. Wakefield is not so much vindicated, as he is left high and dry with no where to stick his sword. Barbara Loe Fisher, head of the National Vaccine Information Center in Washington, DC, relates the tale: [From and NVIC email]

Britain's General Medical Council (GMC), which is the equivalent of a self anointed Medical Supreme Court, has publicly been conducting an "investigation" for the past two years into whether Andrew Wakefield should be convicted of "professional misconduct" and have his medical license taken away. For the sin of trying to prevent healthy children from regressing physically, mentally, and emotionally after MMR vaccination into autism, the GMC has been determined to make sure he cannot find ways to help autistic children recover from MMR vaccine induced autism.

Not so fast—the GMC is having trouble getting parents to testify against Wakefield:

Nearly two years later the GMC has not drawn up any formal charges against Dr Wakefield and no date has been set for a public hearing, at which scientific arguments for a link between MMR and autism would have been aired. GMC spokeswoman Jo Wren said there is now "no guarantee", there will ever be a hearing.

Is this relief and success for Dr. Wakefield? I would have thought so—but Barbara explains the real sinister conspiratorial goings on—for those of us who understand causes, passion, and love of children: [NVIC email]

…the doctors in charge of the GMC have put their collective tails between their legs and run. Just like a common street bully, who blindsides an innocent with a sucker punch in the dark, doctors inside and outside of government and industry are too chicken to stand ground and fight in the light of day. The GMS has apparently figured out it won't stand a chance fighting Wakefield under the bright lights of the media it has duped and exploited…
I take my heroes as they come—wrapped in all sorts of packages and always trying to make our lot a little better, even at the risk of their own annihilation. The cause makes it all worthwhile.

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