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The creator of the MMR vaccine “saddened” by the controversy stirred up by Andrew Wakefield

Via Black Triangle, I’ve come across an article about a real medical hero, a man responsible for the development of many of the vaccines we have today. Indeed, it can be argued that this man, Dr. Maurice Hillman, may have saved more lives than any other physician in history. Those who remember him describe his reaction to the controversy stirred up by Andrew Wakefield:

The MMR was introduced into the UK in 1988, but became increasingly controversial following Andrew Wakefield’s study published in the Lancet in the late 1990s, which linked the vaccine with autism.

That study has now been discredited, and Dr Wakefield faces the prospect of serious professional misconduct charges.

However, the fall-out from the paper resulted in MMR uptake rates dropping to levels which experts warned could lead to a measles epidemic.

Dr Adel Mahmoud, President of Merck Vaccines, recalled how this affected Dr Hilleman.

“It saddened him to see that knowledge was twisted in such a way to play in the hands of the anti-vaccine movement and not really appreciate what vaccines are all about.

“They are about protection of individual, but also protection of the society so you achieve ‘herd immunity’.

“Maurice believed in that and it really pained him a lot to see what was happening in the UK.”

Dr Paul Offit, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital Philadelphia said: “I think it’s sad that this tremendous achievement got taken up as a controversial one when it was frankly never controversial in the medical community.”

Sadder still is the return of measles in the U.K. with a vengeance, thanks to the decreased vaccination rate due to the science for hire that Andrew Wakefield did.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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