Andrew Wakefield’s Terribly Stupid Ideas On Vaccines


That Andrew Wakefield himself is not terribly stupid is obvious. Few have the brains – or the gall – to turn some entirely dubious cod science into the opportunity to be bonking Elle McPherson. So, there is that.

However, certain of his idea are indeed terribly stupid. The specific link between vaccines and autism is simply wrong. It was worth investigating, certainly, but it turns out simply not to be true. So that’s the end of that. Another of his ideas, that vaccines are dangerous, sure they are. That’s why we have vaccine compensation funds. It’s just that vaccines are less dangerous than non-vaccines. As the historical littering of the countryside with dead children tells us.

But this becomes stupid:

He also claimed the pharmaceutical industry had financial motivations for promoting vaccines, saying the injections were “a remarkable commercial success in terms of volumes of sales precisely because it doesn’t work”.

The thing being that vaccines aren’t a particularly profitable area of drug production. Because they’re used in vast quantities governments are often enough the buyers. And it’s only the US government that refuses to negotiate on price. When it’s not governments it’s often enough charities etc for poorer countries. They don’t overpay.

Further, vaccines get used for long periods of time – well into out of patent life. Where there’s huge competition to produce those large quantities. Meaning they’re produced at low margins. True, it’s not as bad as antibiotics, where the patent business model just doesn’t work in producing the next generation, but the vaccine business isn’t some grand gold mine for producers.

There’s also that other stupidity. The extinction of smallpox, the absence of polio wards, this shows that vaccines don’t work?