If you want to know where the current ridiculous anti-vaccination scare came from, there’s one well known source: Andrew Wakefield. He published a paper in 1998 that claimed there was a link between vaccination and autism that was a popular sensation, and had a dramatic effect.
Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.
Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.
Now for some shocking news — it looks like the data may have been faked.
The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.
However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.
Will this revelation matter? Not one bit. The anti-vaxers have ignored all the evidence that they are wrong so far, so one more demonstration that one of the primary promulgators of this nonsense was an outright fraud won’t change a thing, I’m afraid. This is still a clear-cut case where delusions can kill.