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Stats on how Andrew Wakefield, lawyers and clients drove down vaccine uptake

This page is material from the award-winning investigation by Brian Deer for The Sunday Times of London, the UK’s Channel 4 TV network and BMJ, the British Medical Journal, which exposed vaccine research fraudster Andrew Wakefield | Investigation summary

Public confidence in the MMR triple vaccine went into decline following a series of moves by Andrew Wakefield, for much of the time working in concert with a law firm and a number of its clients, who were trying to sue vaccine makers. Wakefield's personal crusade was launched at a press conference in April 1995, at which vaccination was linked to the inflammatory bowel disorder Crohn's disease. The chart below tracks the campaign's impact on the vaccine's UK uptake and on perceptions of its safety. View as pdf




THREE KEY CONTRIBUTIONS BY ANDREW WAKEFIELD TO THE DECLINE IN ACCEPTANCE OF MMR

April 1995: The Lancet publishes a paper by Andrew Wakefield and others, based on statistical data misleadingly culled from two unrelated studies, claiming to find a possible link between bowel diseases and measles vaccination. The Royal Free hospital and medical school hold a televised press conference, at which MMR is criticised. [Crohn's paper] The authors, including Wakefield, later quietly abandon their claim that Crohn's is related to vaccination.

February 1998: The Lancet publishes a paper by Andrew Wakefield and others claiming to have found a possible link between bowel diseases, autism and MMR. The Royal Free hospital and medical school hold a televised press conference, at which Wakefield advises parents to boycott MMR in favour of single vaccines. [Autism paper] Analysis of the raw data - the children's medical records - shows that the paper is false or misleading in all critical respects.

January 2001: Adverse Drug Reactions and Toxicological Reviews publishes a review article by Andrew Wakefield and Scott Montgomery making a generalized attack on MMR. The journal has a circulation of 350, and negligible professional impact, but Wakefield's organisation Visceral ensures that the article gets bigtime support from some journalists. [Media reportage] Comparison of the paper with the source material shows that it is false or misleading on all consequential points.

Graph: UK Department of Health. View graph as pdf



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