If You Care About Science, This Court Decision Should Horrify You

Vaccines are safe, no matter what the legal technicalities of one court case argue. funnyangel/Shutterstock

W passed away in 2011, but his family didn’t give up their fight. The case made its way through France’s highest court, who ruled that the Versailles decision should have judged the case based on W’s individual experience, not the general research and benefits of the vaccine. It then went to the Court of Appeal in Paris, who decisively concluded that W did not have a case at all, again because of the lack of scientific evidence.

This legal journey continued right up until this very year, when it made it to the highest court in the European Union, the ECJ. The legal argument given by W’s family was that, in an absence of definitive proof, circumstantial evidence be used instead if the science was shown to be inconclusive. The ECJ validated this argument, and W’s family won.

The official press release from the ECJ states that the proximity between the vaccine administration and the onset of MS, the lack of familiar history of the disease, and the existence of similar cases (coincidences and statistical anomalies, no doubt, but this was ignored) means that enough “proof” has been provided by the prosecution.

In this instance, the legal argument won over the scientific argument - their overlap was inelegant, to put it bluntly. HQuality/Shutterstock

This ruling ignored scientific evidence in favor of circumstantial evidence. Essentially, the legal argument won because the ECJ mistakenly acted on the premise that the science behind the vaccine and its link to hepatitis B was unclear, even though this is not the case. Legal experts are divided on the ruling, but the scientific world is, quite understandably, aghast.

“The European Court Ruling does not appear to be consistent with the normal rational scientific approach to analysis of evidence, and the decision risks undermining vaccine programs which save millions of lives around the world every year,” Professor Andrew Pollard, Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), said in a statement.

Let’s be clear: there’s no scientific evidence that this hepatitis B vaccine causes MS. In 2015, 887,000 people died from hepatitis B, and all of these deaths were preventable. Any efforts to undermine this vaccine aren’t just dangerous – they’re potentially deadly.

[H/T: Science]

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