I really do wish I didn’t have to write this kind of stuff. And in this case I don’t since Ben Goldacre wrote about this over at Bad Science and I am simply linking to it. It’s about the new cervical cancer vaccine and the supposed words of a doctor criticising it on ahuge front page splash on a UK national newspaper.
Their headline: “Jab ‘as deadly as the cancer'”.
They say: The cervical cancer vaccine may be riskier and more deadly than the cancer it is designed to prevent, a leading expert who developed the drug has warned. She also claimed the jab would do nothing to reduce the rates of cervical cancer in the UK.
The same expert says: “I did not say that Cervarix was as deadly as cervical cancer. I did not say that Cervarix could be riskier or more deadly than cervical cancer”.
Good work there. Could this actually be any more inaccurate? Actually yes, I’ve not included all that Goldacre notes is wrong with the article or that the expert said (and she herself has complained to the UK Press Complaints Commission), there is even more wrong with it. Nice. As I have said plenty of times before, there is only so much you can do to make some things clear to some journalists if this is the kind of result you are going to get. I think it would be very hard to get something this simple this wrong, but apparently it’s quite easy. Oh, and as a bonus, this was written by the ‘health journalist’ on the paper.