In an attempt to save what remains of his ramshackle reputation, Andrew Wakefield took to the airwaves tonight in Dateline’s A Dose of Controversy to pitch his long-disproven theory linking autism to the MMR vaccine.
For the unaware, Wakefield’s crafted study published in Lancet in the late 1990’s sparked a worldwide panic over the MMR and its relation to autism. The paper was ultimately retracted by Lancet when numerous irregularities were revealed. And since that time several independent studies involving thousands of children have failed to show any connection between vaccines and autism as suggested by Wakefield. But the world has been unable to let go of Andrew Wakefield and his concocted ideas.
Tonight NBC’s Dateline told the story.
With Matt Lauer on the record declaring the issue as a ‘controversy,’ the deck was stacked against Dr. Paul Offit and the rest of the thinking world who have witnessed the ever-growing mountain of evidence against the autism-vaccine link. Offit, a Professor of Pediatrics at UPenn/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has been a vocal champion of vaccination and archenemy of those looking to link immunizations with aberrant neurodevelopment.
Despite predictions that the piece would create more questions and in turn embolden the vocal antivax minority, Lauer orchestrated an evenhanded story. And when truth is on your side, evenhanded is good.
As far as the key players were concerned, Offit was disciplined and on cue refuting the claims of autism’s false prophets. Wakefield was … well, he was Wakefield: sanctimonious and self-obsessed. Brian Deer, the reporter who blew the whistle on Wakefield, represented the evening’s most compelling character.
I believe this revealing story represents Wakefield’s last stand. Based on his deteriorating base of supporters and his pending General Medical Council investigation for professional misconduct, I would be surprised if he ever sees the light of prime time again. The world is finally moving on.
Congratulations Mr. Lauer and NBC for responsibly presenting the facts in a way that lets the world see Andrew Wakefield for what he is: A charlatan who’s greed and reckless actions have undermined the work of a generation of pediatricians.