I will never forgive Andrew Wakefield.
If people understood the trajectory that his bullshit took, you would never believe a goddamned WORD of this vaccine/autism shit. He didn’t even care about autism or vaccines to start with. He cared about Crohn’s disease. Then he decided that bowel inflammation somehow (?) went to the brain and caused autism. But then that turned out to be bullshit, so he looked at vaccines.
Wakefield proposed a lot of different causal mechanisms for the vaccines. I think he and his ilk first started by declaring that the dead viruses in the vaccine traveled up to the brain and did something (?) to cause autism. Then he started with the inflammation/bowel thing again. He published a paper in that vein, but it was found that his samples were entirely contaminated and the methodology was TERRIBLE. So the Lancet withdrew the paper and apologized.
Somehow, though, Wakefield stirring up this pot of bullshit led to the Jenny McCarthy’s of the world deciding that the REAL problem with vaccines is the MERCURY (Thimerosal) in them. Based on someone somewhere saying “Hey, autism’s symptoms are a lot like mercury poisoning.” Spoiler: No they aren’t.
Common symptoms of mercury poisoning include peripheral neuropathy (presenting as paresthesia or itching, burning or pain), skin discoloration (pink cheeks, fingertips and toes), swelling, and desquamation (shedding of skin).
Mercury irreversibly inhibits selenium-dependent enzymes (see below) and may also inactivate S-adenosyl-methionine, which is necessary for catecholamine catabolism by catechol-o-methyl transferase. Due to the body’s inability to degrade catecholamines (e.g. Epinephrine) a person suffering from mercury poisoning may experience profuse sweating, tachycardia (persistently faster-than-normal heart beat), increased salivation, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Affected children may show red cheeks, nose and lips, loss of hair , teeth, and nails, transient rashes, hypotonia (muscle weakness), and increased sensitivity to light. Other symptoms may include kidney dysfunction (e.g. Fanconi syndrome) or neuropsychiatric symptoms such as emotional lability, memory impairment, and / or insomnia.
None of that sounds anything like autism to me.
This entire hullabaloo is based upon layers and layers and layers of complete BULLSHIT.