Despite the best efforts of the UK's Department of Health to allay fears about the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine, uncomfortable new evidence keeps cropping up that continues to suggest a link with autism.
Now, in what it hopes is a definitive move, the DoH is funding a lb300,000 study to be carried out by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Controls. Its task is to endeavour to replicate the findings of Dr Andrew Wakefield and his team at the Royal Free Hospital that first found a link between the vaccine and autism.
The Institute may not be throwing itself into the work in quite the open-minded way that concerned parents might have hoped. Two researchers at the institute are advising the manufacturer of MMR in cases being mounted by parents whose children have been harmed by the vaccine. The same two are outspoken critics of the autism theory, and have pooh-poohed new findings from Utah University that found traces of the MMR vaccine in the vast majority of 125 autistic children they examined.
While the nation waits for the unbiased soundings from the institute, the DoH has been spreading rumours that the UK is on the brink of a massive measles epidemic. There is absolutely no evidence for this, just as there was none the last time it raised the spectre of an epidemic.
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