you are here: HomeNewsWorld
Last Updated : Mar 09, 2019 08:10 PM IST | Source:

This week in pharma: MMR vaccine and autism link refuted; Facebook clamps down hard on misinformation

The anti-vaccine movement never fully abated, but subsided largely due to evidence of vaccines as effective tools in improving public health.

Viswanath Pilla @viswanath_pilla
Representative image
Representative image

The much hyped and hypothesized connection between the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism has become an all too common  dilemma for anxious parents over whether to get their child a shot or not.

The dilemma stems from the exposure to internet and social media, that has volumes of unverified and sometimes motivated information that allegedly links the MMR vaccine with autism.

The HPV vaccine that provides protection against Cervical cancer is another favorite punching bag for anti-vaccine campaigners.

The opposition for vaccination dates back to 18th century.

The central arguments against vaccines range from religious grounds to side-effects to commercial interests of pharmaceutical companies.

There are other arguments floated against vaccines including a weird but a popular conspiracy theory of US intelligence agency CIA alleged plot to sterilise muslim populations.

The anti-vaccine movement never fully abated, but subsided largely due to evidence of vaccines as effective tools in improving public health.

In India, vaccination has eliminated Small Pox, with India becoming polio free, in addition to dramatic improvement in reducing under child mortality rates for children under five years of age.

But what gave new ammunition to anti-vaccine messages are research papers published in various journals and social media, that were later found to be false or exaggerated.

The alleged link between  the MMR vaccine and autism, that gave boost to anti-vaccination movement was a result of works published by discredited British physician, Andrew Wakefield.

The Wakefield report has done enough damage, as vaccination rates against MMR have dropped and there were frequent outbreak of measles in West.

Big pushback

This week came a big pushback. The decade old study on over five million children in Denmark found out that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.

The study was funded by Novo Nordisk Foundation and Danish Ministry of Health. It's irony that millions of dollars have to be spent on disproving hoax. But nevertheless it puts the controversy to rest.

The second is the Facebook taking measures to combat the spread of anti-vaccine information across the social media platform, including Instagram, by reducing the distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic.

Facebook said  it will take action against publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes flagged by global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The actions include excluding the entire group or page from recommendations, reduce these groups and pages’ distribution on news feeds and search tabs, and reject ads with this misinformation.

Facebook also warned of disabling the ad accounts of people who spread mis-information.
First Published on Mar 9, 2019 07:09 pm
More From
Follow us on
Available On
PCI DSS Compliant