In 1998, Dr Andrew Wakefield wrote a paper that was published in The Lancet (1), where he said he had found a correlation between the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine and autism. The study consisted only in 12 children, and after it got published it generated great anti-vaccination theories.
Over the following decade, many epidemiological studies (2,3,4,5) show NO correlation between MMR and autism, and it was finally retracted 12 years later (6) ( it was retracted by all of its authors except for wakefield). The general medical council started and investigation, but it was a journalist investigating on his own that found a chilling truth: not only the study was flawed, but Wakefield had altered the data to make up the results to find a link between the vaccine and autism.
The Journalist, Brian Deer tracked down the parents of the children on the study, and he revealed in a series of articles published on the British Medical Journal (7,8), that Mr Wakefield had altered the data.
Why would anybody do such a thing?, Deer found out that Wakefield had received funds from a law firm that wanted to sue the pharmacological company that made the vaccine...let me repeat that again: Mr Wakefield was working with a law firm that wanted to sue the pharmacological company that made the vaccine, so he wrote a paper altering the data and generated a snowball effect that has not only lowered the rate of vaccinations, but also diverted funds and energy trying to prove that link, instead of looking for real answers in autism.
Let me say that again: because of that paper vaccination rates dropped, and we diverted funds and energy to try and prove the "link" between MMR and vaccines, instead of researching for real answers in autism. And all from a study made from somebody to receive money from a law firm that wanted to sue a company!.
I know many people say, "well, this vaccine really prevent illnesses that are not very serious, I have had the measles and nothing happened to me!". the problem with that is: 1) all of those diseases are usually mild, but they can have complications,from testicular atrophy in men from mumps to death in measles (1%). 2) Immunosuppressed children that cannot be vaccinated can DIE because of this diseases.
There is a very interested webpage called jennymccarthybodycount that show the number of preventable diseases and deaths from skipping vaccinations. From 2003 to april 2013 there have been 1147 deaths attributable to preventable diseases (I think this is only in the US).
Mr wakefield was stripped of his medical license following the investigation by the GMC (9). He continues to deny wrongdoing even though the journalist spoke to the family of the 12 children and found out that their story was different from the one told in the paper. He sued the BMJ and the Journalist for libel, in Texas, and he lost. Also Wakefield held the patent for an over the counter supplement that "boosts the immune system"...........coincidence?
Now, couldn't we sue him for manslaughter?. Since his paper the vaccination rates in the UK went from 92% to 70% and even lower in some parts!!
1. Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell, Casson DM, Malik M, et al. Ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children [retracted]. Lancet1998;351:637-41
2. Black C, Kaye JA, Jick H. Relation of childhood gastrointestinal disorders to autism: nested case control study using data from the UK General Practice Research Database. BMJ2002;325:419-21
3.Taylor B, Miller E, Lingam R, Andrews N, Simmons A, Stowe J. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and bowel problems or developmental regression in children with autism: population study. BMJ2002;324:393-6
4.Madsen KM, Hviid A, Vestergaard M, Schendel D, Wohlfahrt J, Thorsen P, et al. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. N Engl J Med2002;347:1477-82
5.Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M. No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry2005;46:572-9
6. The editors of the Lancet. Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet2010;375:445
7.Deer B. Secrets of the MMR scare: how the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. BMJ2011;342:c5347.
9.GMC. Andrew Wakefield: determination of serious professional misconduct 24 May 2010. www.gmc-uk.org/Wakefield_SPM_and_SANCTION.pdf_32595267.pdf.