From the MMR investigation

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MMR: countdown to a crisis

The Sunday Times, June 18 2006

Brian Deer

October 1988: MMR triple vaccine starts in UK after use in America since 1971

February 1996: A solicitor, Richard Barr, hires Andrew Wakefield to support a legal attack on MMR jab makers. Not publicly disclosed

June 1996: Wakefield and Barr submit proposals to Legal Aid Board to fund research project to show a link between MMR and autism. Not disclosed

July 1996: First autistic child admitted to Royal Free hospital for research project. Of the 12 in the study, 11 will turn out to be litigants

June 1997: Wakefield files for patent on own “safer” single measles jab and for products to treat autism. Not publicly disclosed

February 1998: The Lancet publishes paper proposing link between MMR and autism. Wakefield makes no disclosure of his interests

January 2001: Daily Mail and other newspapers launch campaigns backing Wakefield after he publishes a “review” of his evidence and [repeats] calls for single vaccines

January 2003: Vaccination among two-year-olds falls to 78.9%, below 92% needed to protect the population

February 2004: The Sunday Times reveals Wakefield’s legal funding and children’s litigant status

February 2004: Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, describes original paper as “fatally flawed” and apologises for publishing it

March 2004: Ten of the 1998 Lancet paper’s 13 authors, excluding Wakefield, retract claim of possible MMR-autism link

November 2004: Channel 4 probe reveals Wakefield’s patent claims and commercial interests

June 2005: Vaccine uptake rises to 83%

June 2006: GMC confirms Wakefield disciplinary hearing in early 2007

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