The Autism Vaccine Fraud: Dr. Wakefield's Costly Lie to Society

The Autism Vaccine Fraud: How Much Did Wakefield's Lie Cost Society?It's hard to estimate the exact damage -- both financial and social -- caused by the 1998 study linking vaccines to autism and the ensuing decline in vaccination rates. But we can try to at least understand some of the impact.

Early last year, The Lancet retracted the study by the now disgraced former British doctor Andrew Wakefield. And last week, the British Medical Journal published an investigative report by journalist Brian Deer documenting how Wakefield altered facts about medical histories of patients to support his claim of a "new syndrome" -- autism and bowel inflammation -- that can be induced by the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine (the discrepancies are summarized in this table).

An accompanying editorial in the British Medical Journal explains how the damage to public health from Wakefield's fraudulent study continues.

Vaccinations Save Money Down the Road

Indeed, vaccine economics is simple enough. "Vaccines are one of the most successful and cost-effective public health tools for preventing disease and death" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta writes in its 2010 budget justification, citing a 2005 study. Every $1 spent on the childhood series of seven vaccines (DTaP, Td, Hib, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, and varicella) saves $16.50 of medical spending later.

"Routine childhood vaccination with these seven vaccines resulted in annual cost savings of $9.9 billion in direct medical costs and an additional $33.4 billion in indirect cost savings." The vaccinations prevent more than 14 million cases of disease and more than 33,000 deaths over the lifetime of children born in any given year.

With such benefits, it's clear why vaccination programs, which have been responsible for nearly eradicating several infectious diseases, are backed by the government. Nevertheless, says the CDC, "Despite this achievement, some vaccine-preventable diseases continue to place significant burden on the public's health."

Naturally, it doesn't help when studies like Wakefield's scare parents. In the U.K., for example, vaccination rates dropped to 80% in the years following the study -- much lower than the 95% the World Health Organization recommends to ensure herd (or community) immunity.

Cost of Outbreaks

By 2008, measles has become endemic for the first time in the U.K., and the U.S. reported the most cases since 1996. And it's not just measles. There have been several outbreaks of childhood diseases in recent years, many of them either in low-vaccinated communities or when one unvaccinated child was infected and exposed others.

For example, in 2008 a measles outbreak in San Diego -- the first since 1991 -- was caused by a 7-year-old boy who was intentionally unvaccinated and contracted the disease in Switzerland. In all, 839 people were exposed, and 11 other unvaccinated children were infected. The high vaccination rate in the rest of the community helped keep the outbreak from becoming an epidemic, according to research published in the journal Pediatrics.

The financial toll of that single outbreak amounted to about $177,000. The cost per case was $10,376.

Other documented cases further emphasize the economic burden of outbreaks caused by unvaccinated individuals:
  • The total cost of containing one case of measles after an unvaccinated student returned from India in 2004 to Iowa was $142,452.
  • A mumps outbreak in 2006 in a hospital in Chicago, caused by poorly immunized employees, cost the institution $262,788, or $29,199 per mumps case.
  • Another mumps outbreak in Nova Scotia in 2007 -- traced back to an inadequate immunization regimen among a certain age group of Canadians -- cost an estimated total of nearly CDN$2.5 million or $3,511 per case.
  • A 2002-2033 measles outbreak in Italy, which led to the hospitalizations of more than 5,000 people, had a combined estimated cost between 17.6 million euros and 22.0 million euros. That amount of money could have inoculated between 1.5 million and 1.9 million children with a dose of the MMR vaccine.
Depending on the severity of the outbreak and the disease, the economic toll can be high. But how can anyone really put a price tag on the 10 infant deaths in this year's outbreak of whooping cough in the U.S.?

Few of us really know what it was like before vaccines became common, or can imagine what would happen if we stopped vaccinations. And with the low visibility of the now-controlled diseases, it's easy to imagine that they're relatively harmless. That's one reason why the anti-vaccination movement was able to spread as fears about vaccines grew in the minds of some people to outweigh their fears about poorly recalled infectious diseases. The Wakefield study simply gave the anti-vaccine movement a shot in the arm (pun intended), and the pain is still being felt.

Vaccination rates have never fully recovered from the decline caused by the Wakefield study, despite at least 25 published, peer-reviewed studies that found no link between MMR and autism, and despite autism cases multiplying in Japan even after the MMR vaccine was withdrawn there in 1993 due to fears that one component might be causing meningitis. Judging from the reactions within the anti-vaccine community, the BMJ report is unlikely to sway the true believers. Unfortunately, the costs -- in money and in lives -- are likely keep mounting for all of us.

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21 Comments

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kimc4444

Dr. Wakefield is correct and the money hungry could not care a fig for our kids, especially the 1.9 BILLION paid out to parents of kids injured due to their horrifically made vaccines. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that no longer can parents file claims as it will injure the money hungry big pharma. My money is on Dr. Wakefield and they will keep trying to destroy him. But over my dead body will my kids will ever be vaccinated and the ways things look, it just might come to that. Get educated folks. There are tell all books out there telling why our kids have childhood cancers, autism, ADD, asthma and host of other no cure, drug maintained "conditions" that are due to vaccines. Do it for your kids.

March 25 2011 at 4:14 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
lee-houghton@hotmail.com

Excuse me anhedonicjester, I can hardly make out anything you have said, but from what I can make out I can see that you are very uneducated about this topic. If you, or anybody else, would like to hear my arguement about vaccines in general, or vaccines in relation to autism, please email me at lee-houghton@homtail.com.
Regardless of that, I believe that Melly Alazraki (the author of this article), also could use a little refreshing on this whole topic. From what I have read, all I can see is that she is just writing hearsay, and has little research or FACTS to prove her OPINIONS on the subject.
Don't get me wrong I will take her word for the statistics about the cost of vaccines and such, since she is a stock market analyst. But she is just that, I believe she has no background in medicine, and therefore this whole article should have just been about finance, not the belief that vaccinations don't have a connection with autism.
Even if I did agree with her on this topic, I would still advise her to stick with the stock market.
The point is, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH

February 22 2011 at 9:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
anhedonicjester

part of the increase in diagnosis has to do with an increase in understanding and recognition of the disorders. and a broader included spectrum.

what about the majority of vaccinated individuals who do not have autism?

or teh reoccurance of ailoments long put to rest thanks to these vaccinations? the people coming down with polio the like have the unvaccinated to thank for it.
or the unvaccinated who have autism anyway?
someone mentioned the increase in diagnosises, if the the number of people refusing vaccinations is increasing, shouldnt the number of autistic children be decreasing?

the reporting of the austism-vaccination scare was simply fear mongering which has only managed to bring back old ailments.

while there may be more to autism than genetics, i dont think vaccinations are it.

February 15 2011 at 1:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
freetorun39

I am going to make the prediction that Dr. Wakefield is on the verge of publishing research papers that be damning to the current vaccination programs. What other reason would the media have to be constantly persecuting Dr. Wakefield? They are discrediting him in advance of any research, so that 'we the sheeple' will disbelieve his research.

I urge anyone that is considering vaccinations to do your own research, and choose for yourself, and not just willingly do what your told. You alone and your families will be the ones that have to deal with it either way, whether it is with the side affects from the vaccines, or the disease itself....DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!

For instance, most people don't know that the govt has been supressing the information that the polio vaccine has been contaminated with SV40, a proven cancer causing virus. (SV40 is a virus that is found in the kidneys of rhesus monkeys, kidney tissue is used to culture the polio virus for the vaccine)
I challenge anyone to google it. The vaccine has been contaminated with SV40 since the vaccine was introduced in the 1950s up until possibly the 1990s. SV40 has been found in a host of cancers, including, but not limited to, medulloblastoma, and mesothelioma. SV40 has also been implicated in kidney disease.

It is not in the best interest of the govt to disclose these facts, just think of the consequences! They are huge!

Pleasee do your own research!

January 19 2011 at 11:00 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
sfamilyent

Back up just a little. Why do we have increased cases of autism? And are the vaccinations really safe?

January 18 2011 at 6:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
morr5

You should have been in the US nuclear power business if you wanted to have half truths, ovestatements, lies and a lot of medioa attention.. The problem of giving broad media attention to sensational claims without any real evaluation has become a massive problem in the West. The search for truth seems to have been lost along the way.

January 17 2011 at 7:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
meveloso

“ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorders] rose 142% from 2000 to 2004," according to a 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics.”
Parents should be demanding answers to the high rates of autism together with help to care for the victimized children. The Amish in Pennsylvania do not have Autism in their community. Why? Keep in mind the Amish do not vaccinate their children and do not feed then processed foods, they eat all natural, chemical free. So, what causes the increase rates of Autism? Why are the Amish not being considered as an example? Because there are no profit$ for the big powerful corporations. Parents with Autistic or non Autistic children , open your eyes to reality!!! Have mercy on innocent children!!!

January 17 2011 at 3:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
billcac

I find it very sad that individuals for whatever reason take positions that in their mind is positive. My Granson who is 7 years old now is Autistic. When he was about 2 I got on the Thimerosal Band Wagon and who better to hook up with then Dr. Wakefield. Now time and supposidly the elimination of thimerosal from Vaccine has not decreased the cases of Autism. I'm not a doctor but I do think I have some common sense. In reading these comments( Am I glad there isn't that many) there are so many good points. We talk about we had to get Vaccinated before school, Right! My Grandson didn't leave the Hospital before he had what I call the Vaccine Cocktail. Can you imagine this little baby being injected with such a shot. People talk about Generics, Right! Some High functioning parents have the Autism Gene. I wonder what type of child they'll have after the child gets hammered with as I call it the Cocktail practically right out of the Womb? As you probly have guessed by now I'm not against vaccines I would just like to see them spaced out with the first being years from birth and the last before entering school. I'll leave with two thoughts. I have and many others have over the years brought up thoughts on the Amish knowing they do not get shots. I have not seen any concrete servey showing the percentige of Amish with Autism. I would also like to get most people rattled up (Pro/Con)by what I understand to be quite interesting. Is it true that Pediatricians as a group are parents that do not get their children vaccinated as quickly as other parents?

January 17 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hello

Yes,it's hard to estimate the exact damage that vacinations have on people's lives since doctors don't report ill effects to people after having been given a vacination-good lord look what their doing to Wakefield,I'm sure thats keeping them more in line.

"If penecillin shots and peanut butter sandwiches were mandated,many children would be harmed,some would even die. If you cannot give penecillin or peanut butter to everybody safetly, the logical progression that injecting live,biologically active immuogetic particles cannot be safe for everyone either."

Dr. Andrew Mouldain
in the forward of 'Saying no to vaccines'Nuff said

January 16 2011 at 8:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jerald3739

The medical industry has worked hard to create conditions that generate sources of revenue adequate to provide high incomes. Everyday new pills come on the market. Only after killing a noticeable number of people are they restricted in use. Ignoring effect treatments which create more deaths is another way to make the medical professionals more valuable. More pills, more prescriptions. The public had no alternative but to trust his Doctor but trust has dissappeared. The Doc has increaed his overhead so that he can "specialize"-charge more. The insurance industry and the ambulance chasing lawyers join in. The patient is sucked dry of his monetary resources. The word goes out. Scare the people with a new medical crisis. Hold them by prescribing more pills. There is no solution to this situation. The true concern for the well being of mankind is gone. Concern now is based solely on "whats in it for me". The final paycheck for those who put their exhorbitant lifestyles above the well being of God's creation will be paid to them on judgement day.

January 15 2011 at 12:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jerald3739's comment
hello

can you say government cartel? Get the government out of health care,look at the mess they've already created. As the late George Carlin said,the only good thing governments are good at is war and that says alot.

January 17 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply