Friday, January 07, 2011

the vaccine vs autism..

The Editorial in BMJ tells it all. Or rather, it will link to the investigation and the (first half of) report of the investigation of Wakefield and his MMR accusation of linkage...

As a microbiologist I am content (happy seems inappropriate somehow) that this investigation brings to light some of the concerns and problems done with the initial article about a "probable linkage" between a vaccination and a complex disease.

More of it is that as a microbiologist and a person of certain knowledge of viruses - one of the microbes I research have been part of the viral family - I'm happy that it is brought to light that (not to any surprise for scientists or other people who know about viruses) really the only protection we have against diseases caused by viruses  (apart from never getting infected in the first place) are vaccines (which protect against getting infected).

I state this, probably a bit convoluted since I'm tired, since people in general don't understand the difference between a viral infection and a bacterial infection. (No, antibiotics won't cure you if you have a virus infection, they might protect you against a secondary bacterial infection but that is another matter.) The latter can be treated (and most often) cured with antibiotics, whereas a viral infection sometimes can be curbed by the use of anti-virals. Most often not cured per se, but rather helping the immune system to get rid of the virus, if possible. More likely would be the term "keeping it under control".

As most of us know though, most viral infections will "run its course" and then get eradicated due to the immune cells in the body (meaning that anti-virals might not help against the infectious agent) or not at all. Not all the time without consequences though, which I tend to call morbidity or "effects of the disease". One of many reasons I tend to favour vaccinations against virus diseases, but also certain bacterial diseases since these may have consequences through toxins being produced before the antibiotics kick in (not to mention the immune system working over time and shifting the balance - much better not to get sick in the fist place).

If nothing else, HPV (herpes virus) and HIV being the most obvious examples or viral diseases not treatable to be "non infected" after the fact. Rabies would be one of the "odd ones" since you can protect for the outcome by vaccination after the fact you've been exposed to the virus - although, that's an (imho) anamoly of virus diseases.... and you need to be fast in your response.

Another link about the investigation about the "original" study is found here.


Richard Wintle said...

Oh, I was happy to hear about that BMJ article - and all the international press it's getting. That crappy study from the Lancet has done unmeasurable damage to autism research (funding, credibility, popular support), and more importantly to the health of children (going unvaccinated). And it's carped in some very gullible (trying hard not to say "stupid" here) celebrities to the anti-vaccination cause.

Grrrrr. Good riddance to it.

chall said...

I like that it's getting picked up and focusing on the fact that the author W isn't allowed to practice medicine in UK anymore... and now that it looks like he falisified the data. That's another level than "mis-interpreted" the data.... way different.

I try to avoid stupid too - but gullable works.

LabMom said...

Of course this is the hot topic of all my mom friends, fellow mommy bloggers and every parenting chat board I am on.

It irritates me to no end that he didn't get called out on his BS study long ago.

It also has made a lot of people I know question how easy it is to pass of bad data.. It really scares me actually, the public's perception about how scientific research is conducted.

I have a blog post in me about it, but I am just too fired up about it right now to be coherent! But I totally agree with everything you said.

microbiologist xx said...

I think it's great that this all of this information about the study including falsified information has made it into the main stream media. Unfortunately, I worry that it won't do much good since so much time has passed. Parents have been scared by this claim and it's really hard to undo that. People will take the, "just to be on the safe side" stance. Others will cling to vaccines being the problem because they can't face being wrong or let go of a cause they have championed for several years. I hope I am wrong about this.