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Autism / vaccines and other matters

Dear Reader,

It has come to my attention that a court has “decided” that a vaccine causes autism, but when you look at the matter it is not what it might seem. The web site making the bold claim . But when you look into things it is not so simple.

It can be seen that the bold claim that the court ruled that the vaccine causes autism is not true. The US court in question (National Vaccine Injury Compensation program) operate in the following manner. They have a list of conditions, if a person is vaccinated and then within a given time span develops one of the listed conditions then they get paid compensation regardless or not it can be shown that the vaccine caused the medical problem.

Rather than the court making a ruling that the vaccine was at fault, all the court has done is to rule that a person had a disease from a special list which then makes them eligible for compensation.

In terms of “doing the best for the public” the US NVIC is doing a good and reasonable thing, it promotes the use of vaccines by providing a safety net for those rare cases where the vaccine causes harm. In a similar way some interesting things have come out of Japan in recent times.

It has been reported by some that a court has ruled that a Fukushima clean up worker got cancer as a result of his occupational exposure and thus is getting compensation. The man had a 20 mSv exposure (not that large) but the state has approved giving the man some payment. The problem is that we do not know the rules at this point of how the government in Japan decide if they should (or should not) pay compensation. How do we know if in Japan a system similar to the NVIC operates for people who have had occupational radiation exposure ?

In the UK a scheme exists named the Compensation Scheme for Radiation-Linked Diseases to make a claim you have to have had worked for a UK organisation which is part of the scheme (Sellafield, some naval dockyards and some others) and you have to have had a dose and been a member of a union which is part of the scheme. The dose you had must have been sufficiently high that you have at least a 20 % chance of having had a radiation induced cancer. If you are interested then a Q&A section on the scheme can be seen here.

Without a knowledge of how the compensation case was considered in Japan it is impossible for anyone to decide what the case means to us all. A second case exists in which a worker claims to have been exposed to more than 100 mSv, we will also have to watch that one with interest. We should also be careful of the fact that a civil court in Japan operates using a different standard of proof to the UK, the US and Sweden.


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