The BBC and EurActiv reported Friday that concerns are growing in Europe over possible measles epidemics. There were more measles in Britain in 2008, even before high numbers for December were recorded, than in any year for the past 12. The medical journal Lancet said that in 2006-07 most measles cases in Europe were in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Romania and Italy. Lancet refers to “suboptimum” vaccination coverage but in a commentary linked to the article, the BBC notes, “experts said the UK was only recovering slowly from the unsubstantiated scare that the MMR [measles, mumps, rubella] vaccine was linked to autism.
“Vaccination levels remain at around 85% of British children, well below target.”
Meanwhile, in the US, says another Lancet article, there has been an increase in measles cases to 131 in the first half of 2008 compared to 63 cases a year nationwide for the previous seven years, mainly imported from other areas including Europe. The MMR and autism debate is far from over, however: the top federal autism panel, a committee of government medical specialists and public groups in the US, recently recommended “earmarking millions of dollars in research funds from the Combating Autism Act of 2006 to study the possible role of vaccines in the causation of autism,” writes Dave Kirby in the Huffington Post. Kirby is a journalist who frequently writes about issues linked to autism and research, as well as other medical topics. He is the author of Evidence of Harm.
Background, GenevaLunch interview with Claire-Anne Siegrist, head of the vaccinology centre and research at the HUG university hospitals in Geneva, Switzerland, 4 April 2008.