Sunday, February 16, 2020

The "Wakefield Generation"

Andrew Wakefield, disgraced anti-vaccine doctor turned documentarian is the gift that keeps giving (not really).  England has reported a decade-high number of mumps cases:
Last year there were nearly five times as many cases of mumps as the year before – 5,042 lab-confirmed cases as opposed to 1,066 in 2018, said PHE. The trend is continuing, with 546 new cases last month, compared to 191 in January last year.
Wales has also reported a significant rise in mumps cases:

Public Health Wales identified 2,695 potential cases of the viral infection last year - up from 519 in 2018.

The areas with the most suspected cases were Cardiff and Swansea, which have large numbers of students.
 And so has Scotland:
There were 281 laboratory-confirmed mumps cases in 2018, which is a decrease compared to 2017 during which 385 cases were reported. From 1 January to 30 September 2019, 534 laboratory-confirmed mumps cases were reported. A number of NHS Boards have experienced clusters of mumps thus far in 2019, mainly in adolescents and young adults.
The mumps portion of the MMR is the least effective so two doses are necessary.  The majority of cases are in unvaccinated young adults in higher education settings which is an ideal opportunity for mumps transmission.  However, some with one dose and fewer that received two doses have also been infected.

Why blame Wakefield?  Because his retracted "study" that was published in 1998 and his subsequent "media tour" playing up the alleged link between autism and the MMR jab drove down vaccination rates in several birth cohorts.
Most outbreaks have been in colleges and universities. “Many of the cases in 2019 were seen in the so-called “Wakefield cohorts” – young adults born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who missed out on the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine when they were children,” said PHE in a statement.

Many parents, especially in London, did not take their children for the two shots of MMR vaccine at the ages of 1 and nearly 4, because of the scare around a paper in the Lancet journal by gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in 1998. The research focused only on a small number of children who had bowel disease and autism, but Wakefield made a link with the MMR vaccination, wrongly claiming that it could “overload” the immune system.