Earlier this week, we and dozens of other news organizations around the world reported that the esteemed British medical journal Lancet had retracted in its entirety the foundational article of the anti-vax movement, which purported to show a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. Not only has Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the British physician who wrote the paper and spearheaded the movement been roundly condemned for his theory and the barbaric research that produced it, no other scientist in a decade of well-funded research has been able to reproduce his results. Not one. Ever. Not even close.
Yet, thanks to his fear-mongering, hundreds of thousands of children in developed countries once thought free of diseases like measles and mumps have been sickened after their parents (or their playmates parents, or their neighbors' parents) refused the vaccine. This week alone, there were 99 cases of the mumps reported in New York. That's nearly a quarter of all the mumps cases reported in the entire country in 2008. And because both diseases are highly contagious (in the case of mumps, even vaccinated children are at risk if disease prevalence is high enough) and both flourish in the spring, those numbers are only going to skyrocket.
After all of this, who comes to Dr. Wakefield's side? Who defends his research to the American public? Celebrity parents Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey of course, who, bless their hearts, have the combined medical expertise of naught. Who, despite its eminent availability at their beloved University of Google, have never apparently heard of the hundreds of thousands of children under five who die of the measles every year or the innumerable studies showing no evidence of a link between vaccination and autism.