Still paying the price for fraudulent report

Twenty-five years ago, a report written by a now-discredited academic and former physician was published, and we are still paying the price for his fraudulent claims.

Sadly, even though Andrew Wakefield later admitted his claim that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to autism was not actually proven, his  claims were embraced by the anti-science movement and the world became infected with anti-vaxxers.

Wakefield’s study was published in the medical journal The Lancet in 1998. Other researchers were unable to reproduce his findings and Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer found “undisclosed financial conflicts of interest on Wakefield’s part”. In fact Wakefield reportedly stood to earn up to $43 million per year selling test kits.

Most of Wakefield’s co-authors then withdrew their support for the study’s interpretations.

The General Medical Council looked into allegations of misconduct against Wakefield and two former colleagues and he was later struck off the medical register for his involvement in what was actually a fraudulent study. In 2010, the council found that Wakefield had been dishonest in his research, had acted against his patients’ best interests and mistreated developmentally delayed children, and had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant”.

In 2010, The Lancet fully retracted Wakefield’s 1998 publication on the basis of those findings, saying elements of the manuscript had been falsified and that the journal had been “deceived” by Wakefield.

Three months later, Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register, in part for his deliberate falsification of that research.

Sadly, the cultists who still believe his claims have found new fodder in the form of the covid vaccine. 

Here’s a hint: don’t take medical advice from someone on Facebook who posts anti-science memes. Talk to your doctor, get the facts, and then make your decision. I fully understand that there are people out there who can’t be vaccinated or choose not to be vaccinated against Covid or any number of virii for various reasons. But the decision not to vaccinate should be based on what’s right for you after weighing up the facts, not what some basement-dwelling, meme-posting, mouth-breather thinks you should do.


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