Andrew Jeremy Wakefield is a British former surgeon and medical researcher, receives our Out of Touch post for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of the now-discredited claim that there was a link between the administration of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease. This is currently significant because of the recent measles breakout due to a lower than hoped for rate of inoculation in children because many parents think the vaccine is unsafe based on Wakefield’s original claims.
According to Wikipedia, on 28 January 2010, a five-member statutory tribunal of the GMC found three dozen charges proved, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children. The panel ruled that Wakefield had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant”, acted both against the interests of his patients, and “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in his published research. The Lancet fully retracted the 1998 publication on the basis of the GMC’s findings, noting that elements of the manuscript had been falsified.
Wakefield’s study and his claim that the MMR vaccine might cause autism led to a decline in vaccination rates in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland and a corresponding rise in measles and mumps, resulting in serious illness and deaths, and his continued warnings against the vaccine have contributed to a climate of distrust of all vaccines and the reemergence of other previously controlled diseases.