Those concerned about MMR research cheat Andrew Wakefield's lack of integrity - exposed in the award-winning investigation by Brian Deer for The Sunday Times of London, the UK’s Channel 4 TV network and BMJ, the British Medical Journal - will find little comfort in this video over Wakefield's attitude towards children's suffering.
The clip shows what the former doctor said at a parents' meeting called by the Mind Institute in Sacramento, California, and held on May 20 1999. As in another notorious incident, when Wakefield was caught on video threatening and abusing a British government vaccine safety whistleblower - who he later betrays - the charlatan's foul conduct delights his audience.
The video above, screened on US and UK television following its disclosure by Deer, samples the following remarks about how Wakefield bought blood from children, some as young as four years old, at his son's birthday party. We see the doctor entertaining parents with how he says the kids cried, fainted and vomited. Hilarious.
Andrew Wakefield: "So we take sera from the blood and we look for measles antibodies, rubella is controlled, mumps and cytomegalovirus, again, common viral averages -- 22 affected children, children with autistic enterocolitis; 32 healthy controls.
"Again for those who’ve heard the story, you can put your hands over and you can take time out here, but this is again my son’s birthday party, 32 healthy controls. And you line them up - with parental informed consent, of course. They all get paid £5, which doesn’t translate into many dollars I’m afraid.
"But, and, they put their arms out and they have the blood taken. All entirely voluntary. [laughter]. "And when we did this at that party, two children fainted, one threw up over his mother [laughter].
"One child, who’s my son’s best friend, Ollie, he put his arm out, very bold, had the tourniquet put on, and then went very pale and sort of … wait till next year. He was nine at the time, and his four-year-old sister came up, stuck her arm out, had the blood taken, took her five pounds and went off.
"And (NAME) burst into tears. Ruined his birthday party. But people said to me, Andrew, look, you know, you can’t do this, people, children won’t come back to you. [laughter]. I said you’re wrong, I said: 'Listen, we live in a market economy. Next year they’ll want ten pounds!'"
The conduct Wakefield describes here, and his manner of recounting it, was denounced in May 2010 by a fitness to practise panel of the UK General Medical Council as showing "callous disregard for any distress or pain" to the children. Erasing Wakefield from the UK medical register, ending his career in medicine, the panel said with regard to this extraordinary incident:
"Dr Wakefield caused blood to be taken from a group of children for research purposes at a birthday party, which the Panel found to be an inappropriate social setting. He behaved unethically in failing to seek Ethics Committee approval; he showed callous disregard for any distress or pain the children might suffer, and he paid the children £5 reward for giving their blood. He then described the episode in humorous terms at a public presentation and expressed an intention to repeat his conduct. When giving evidence to the Panel, Dr Wakefield expressed some regret regarding his remarks. The Panel was concerned at Dr Wakefield’s apparent lack of serious consideration to the relevant ethical issues and the abuse of his position of trust as a medical practitioner with regard to his conduct in causing the blood to be taken. The Panel concluded that his conduct brought the medical profession into disrepute.
"Dr Wakefield defended the ethical basis for the taking of blood at a birthday party contrary to the experts who gave evidence to the Panel and who strongly condemned this action. The Panel determined that his conduct fell seriously short of the standards expected of a doctor and was a breach of the trust which the public is entitled to have in members of the medical profession. It concluded that this behaviour amounted to serious professional misconduct."