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University Of Toronto Report Concludes Anti-Vaccine Instruction Did Not Warrant Concern

07/06/2015 07:05 EDT | Updated 07/06/2016 05:59 EDT
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University of Toronto against a cloudy sky in Autumn.

TORONTO - A University of Toronto investigation into a course that taught anti-vaccination materials has concluded the instructor's approach did not warrant concern.

But the three-page report, by the former head of Public Health Ontario, acknowledges the course could have been stronger if it relied more on scientific studies.

Dr. Vivek Goel, who is now the university's vice-president for research and innovation, was asked to look into the course after a number of expert groups as well as professors at the university complained about it.

Alternative Health: Practice and Theory was a fourth year course in a health studies program offered at the university's Scarborough campus.

The course was taught by homeopath Beth Landau-Halpern, who is also the wife of the Scarborough campus dean Rick Halpern.

Landau-Halpern espouses the use of nosodes, controversial products sometimes called homeopathic vaccines.

Earlier this year the Canadian Pediatric Society called on Health Canada to tighten the rules on labelling of these products to make it clearer that there is no solid evidence they prevent disease.

Landau-Halpern's required reading and viewing list for her class on vaccination included an interview with Andrew Wakefield, the discredited British physician who claimed the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was linked to development of autism.

Wakefield's study — which fuelled anti-vaccination beliefs in Britain and North American — was eventually stricken from the scientific literature and he lost his licence to practise medicine.

Goel was not available for interview and Landau-Halpern did not respond to requests for an interview.

A spokesperson for the university said the course will not be taught in the coming academic year.

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