Thanks to a ruling from the EU’s Court of Justice, the pseudoscience of anti-vaxxers now has an internationally recognized stamp of approval.
According to the courts ruling, if someone gets an illness around the same time they’ve been vaccinated, the vaccine may be considered proof of the illness’s cause — provided the patient meets the right criteria.
The ruling stemmed from the case of a French man known as J.W. who was vaccinated against hepatitis B in 1998 and developed multiple sclerosis a year later. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord. The disease scars nerve tissue and causes a range of symptoms, from vision problems to paralysis. J.W. died in 2011.
In 2006, J.W. sued pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, which produced the vaccine, blaming it for his decline in health.
After a French Court of Appeal rejected the case for its bad science, it was ultimately passed to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that “specific and consistent evidence” relating to when the vaccination and illness occurred, patient health history, and family health history could be enough to conclude the vaccine as the cause of the patient’s illness.
According to CNN, the ruling is being slammed experts and the scientific community.
“What they are saying is, the vaccine is responsible for the patient’s MS if it can’t be proved it isn’t, and that is virtually impossible given what is worded,” said Keith Neal, emeritus professor in the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham. “Potentially, this ruling affects all drugs and threatens the development of new drugs.”
“The scientific evidence does not support a link between the hepatitis B vaccine, or any other vaccine in current use, and multiple sclerosis,” Peter Openshaw, president of the British Society for Immunology and professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London said. “To say that there is a link between any vaccine and multiple sclerosis and at the same time to admit that there is no scientific evidence of such a link is illogical and confusing to the public.”
It’s hard to know what inspired such a ruling, but the victory this hands to the anti-science movement is undeniable. With a stamp of legitimacy from a EU court, the anti-vaccine movement can present it as proof of their debunked claim that vaccines have widespread safety issues. Additionally, the new possibilities for lawsuits may make researchers hesitant to develop new drugs.
Either way, it’s a terrifying reminder of how far the termites have spread.
Featured image via YouTube