On Monday there’s an excellent chance that Andrew Wakefield, the man most responsible for the modern incarnation of the anti-vaccine movement, will no longer have a medical license. I wish I could say it’s been a fun ride but it hasn’t. Wakefield abused his medical position by accepting money from lawyers trying to build a case against the MMR vaccine, performed serious medical procedures on twelve children at a birthday party instead of in a medical facility as part of a “study” (or a non-study–Wakefield can never seem to make up his mind about this) designed to implicate MMR in autism, and then used the very public hysteria he created without proper cause to try to patent his own rival vaccine.
The man has done great harm to public safety and now it’s time for him to go:
The inquiry has finally drawn to its conclusion, and Andrew Wakefield — known as “the MMR doctor” — is likely to be struck off the medical register for what the five-member tribunal has already labelled “dishonest”, “unethical” and “callous” research.
In withdrawing his licence to practise, the council will be laying to rest a huge scare that spread rapidly among parents, causing a massive slump in the number of children who were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella in Britain. Two children subsequently died of measles and many others became seriously ill.
Though constant showman that he is, Andy isn’t going without using up the last of his fifteen minutes of infamy. He’s going to be interviewed by Matt Lauer on Monday morning’s Today Show. His loyal followers over at Age of Autism are already trying to rally supporters to be outside the studio at 30 Rock as the interview is taking place at 8am.
My friend Tim Farley of whatstheharm.net let me know about their plans and suggested NYC-based skeptics mount a science-based response outside 30 Rock. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can make it there at that time but maybe others can.
Then again, it might not even be necessary. I don’t think AoA has the power to raise an army for a Monday morning protest that quickly and even if they can, I think there’s a good chance they’ll only end up hanging themselves (as well as Wakefield) by looking even more nuts.
While I expect a fairly softball interview from Lauer, that didn’t help Tom Cruise. The media seems to have grown tired of the anti-vaccine movement and now that Wakefield’s moments away from complete disgrace, Lauer’s going to want to use this opportunity to look like he’s a hard-hitting journalist. He’s not going to want to appear like he’s in any way supporting the guy who’s on his way to the firing squad. And if we’re lucky, this will be Wakefield’s “You don’t know the history of psyciatry; I do” moment. All Lauer needs is to get off two or three good questions and I expect this will not end well for the Wakefield.
The future of the anti-vaccine movement is in your hands, Matt. Don’t let us down.