In times of fake news and, mainly, in this moment of pandemic, it is always good to remember that vaccines do not cause autism. This theory is proven to be false. Taking advantage of the fact that this Friday (2), World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated, the Olhar Digital clarifies how this story came about and why it is just a legend.
In 1998, a study published by the scientific journal The Lancet, pointed out a correlation between the triple viral vaccine and autism. Only 22 years later, in 2020, the magazine retracted the investigation and removed the article from the air, after the British Medical Journal (BMJ) classify the finding as “elaborate forgery”.
Andrew Wakefield, the British physician responsible for the controversial article, was forced to retract his methodological errors. But, the damage was already done and gained great proportions.
There was a significant drop in vaccination in the United Kingdom, which almost led to a serious health crisis in the country. Many American parents refused to vaccinate their children, which contributed to a direct increase in cases of measles In the USA. Brazil, which came to eradicate the disease thanks to immunization campaigns, returned to record cases in 2019.
Now, with Covid-19 spreading across the world for over a year, the movement anti-vaccine inspired by the idea of Wakefield, and which gained momentum thanks to social networks, it threatens global health again. In Brazil, 17% of the people interviewed by Datafolha, in January, stated that they did not intend to be immunized against the disease.
The most recent survey, carried out in March, has already pointed to a drop in the index: now, 9% are against the vaccine. In Europe, a survey by Our World in Data points out that 37% of the French said that they should definitely or very probably not get vaccinated. The percentage is 23% in the Germany, 17% in the Netherlands, 14% in the United Kingdom and 12% in Italy. In the USA, 26% of respondents are against the vaccine.
Inaccuracy and lack of ethics
In 2010, the United Kingdom's General Medical Council (CMC) stated that Andrew Wakefield acted in a dishonest, deceptive and irresponsible manner. The doctor lost his record, being prevented from practicing the profession, which would not have happened if the conclusion of the study was true.
According to the CMC, some elements of the article were inaccurate, and their research methods were unethical. Wakefield used a sample of only 12 Crianças, randomly, at a children's birthday party: a very low number and an inadequate circumstance for any serious statement like the one he made.
A study carried out in Denmark is considered to be the most complete on the subject. Research has shown that there is no relationship between the triple viral and autism. Researchers at Instituto Serum Statens followed, until 2013, the evolution of about 660 thousand children born between 1999 and 2010.
The conclusion was that there was no increase in the incidence of autism among those vaccinated. During the period, only 6.517 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder. That is, for every 100 thousand inhabitants, less than 130 received this diagnosis. And, of those, there was no difference between those who were and those who were not immunized. In addition, in the case of those who received the vaccine, an increase in risk was not identified.
The US Institute of Medicine's Immunization Safety Review Committee has cataloged all published and unpublished scientific articles on the topic. The 200-page report completely refuted Wakefield's theory, demonstrating that there was no link between vaccination and autism.