Patrick Holford on Andrew Wakefield: He Needs to Issue an Update

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford has what he calls a blog.[a]

So far, it contains the usual inaccuracies and reproduces articles that he wrote some time ago and Holford seems to regard it as a way of recycling his usual work.

However, this has been such a remarkable week for exposing the shoddy edifice that supports some of Holford’s cash cows and entrepreneurial enterprises that we had wondered if he would crack and write about them.

We had assumed that Patrick Holford would have something to say after so publicly aligning himself with Andrew Wakefield despite the comprehensive and damning scrutiny that Wakefield’s research papers and practices endured in the Autism Omnibus hearings. See, Patrick Holford and Andrew Wakefield; Patrick Holford and Andrew Wakefield’s Discredited Findings: Part 1 and Part 2.

It seems we were mistaken, so far, we have had inanities, out of date stories and embarrassing recommendations to watch Zeitgeist Addendum, for those who don’t have enough paranoia or manufactroversies in their lives.

Wakefield’s research discredited assertions allows some entrepreneurs to sell unevidenced diagnostic tests, promote consultation for difficult-to-follow diets and sell supplements. Some entrepreneurs take full advantage of this market opportunity.

However, in the light of the recent Autism Omnibus findings that have described the reported findings in Wakefield’s research as the product of “fraud” and “manipulation”, it is time for authors and entrepreneurs who promote diets and supplements based on that work to issue an update.

The public acknowledgement that of Wakefield’s research was so flawed as to be meaningless must mandate an update from authors whose recommendations are grounded in the assertions from that work. Holford is a firm believer in autistic enterocolitis, a diagnosis that never gained any currency outsider the coterie of Wakefield, O’Leary and researchers who paddle in the same scientific shallows.

Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford even depends on Wakefield’s research to argue for a protracted vaccination schedule of selected, single jabs, omitting some, such as whooping cough, altogether. Holford is prepared to lend lip-service to the need for measles vaccination although strongly hinting that all any child needs is a strong immune system and vitamin A.

However, it is difficult to know how Holford can still justify his recommendations for single jabs, now that the concerns about MMR have been addressed so fully. There can be no justification for exposing children to the unnecessary risk of a prolonged schedule. A recent study of a measles outbreak in Germany (pdf) reports some sobering statistics. Measles has a high rate of complications: in this study, it also had a mortality rate of 1 in 307.[b]

Holford wants you to purchase his subscription health club membership because he reads all the research and gives you advice you can use to improve your own health and that of your family. Although we differ in our opinion as to the accuracy and likely benefit of Holford’s research. [c]

Patrick Holford owes the people who bought his books or who have purchased a subscription for his health advice an update on the issue of Andrew Wakefield’s research, vaccination and Holford’s recommendations for autism – and a timely one.


[a] Currently, Holford has no feedback as the comment facility is only open to his paying subscribers: at some point it might occur to Holford and his staff that some of his subscribers might not be comfortable about commenting on a blog that is hosted on a website where someone is happy to post remarkably odd material (the coverage of Dr Ben Goldacre and Catherine Collins, inter alia). When one considers that Holford has form for writing angry letters and is hypersensitive to criticism it is not that odd that people might be wary of being identified through their membership details. Under the circumstances, this might account for some of the reluctance to engage, who knows?
[b] The researchers interviewed patients/parents of cases in Duisberg district: 614 cases. The reported complications from these 614 cases were as follows:

Otitis media (middle ear infection) 19%
Pneumonia 7%
Encephalitis 0.6%, (3 patients, 2 of whom died)
Hospitalised 15%, median duration 6 days (range 2-97 days)

Looking at infants:

Otitis media 22%
Pneumonia 17%
The 2 children who developed encephalitis and died were aged 2 months and 2 years. The baby was too young for vaccination and would have relied upon herd immunity for protection.

Overall, 13% of the children were too young to receive the vaccination.

Of 464 patients for whom information was available, 373 (80%) were reported as unvaccinated, 62 (14%) as having received one MVCV dose and 29 (6%) as having received two doses. Seven patients or parents refused to answer this question, and 28 did not know the vaccination status.

[c] We have covered many errors in Holford’s work. Looking at the newsletters and special reports, it doesn’t even look like someone vaguely brings their maths skills to bear. It’s not even as if the claims in those special reports are up to date because they just seem to be cut and pasted from his books and nobody checks that they are still relevant.



Filed under Andrew Wakefield, patrick holford, vaccination, vaccines

4 responses to “Patrick Holford on Andrew Wakefield: He Needs to Issue an Update

  1. Kamayla

    If he had any integrity he would revise his advice -particularly if he charges people money to receive that advice.

    Why isn’t this sort of club arrangement covered by Trading Standards?

  2. Chuck C

    He won’t though. Too much money to lose.

    He’ll wait and see if the families keep on with the appeals and use that to pretend that there is still a controversy.

    The science is clear to anyone who reads with any degree of understanding. It is charlatans or the desperate whose judgment is clouded who still can’t see that.

  3. Pingback: Patrick Holford Promotes Error: Does This Explain His Continuing Support for Opposing MMR and Supporting Andrew Wakefield’s Research? « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  4. Pingback: Patrick Holford and Slimming Pills That Lack Evidence: Apparently, No Irony Intended « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

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