The British study that found an association between childhood vaccines and the onset of autism has turned out to be an “elaborate fraud,” according to a recent investigation that appeared in the British Medical Journal. The investigation found the head of the study, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, responsible for fudging important data and results in his paper. The results, no doubt, have been devastating and far-reaching.
After this study was published, vaccination rates plummeted in Britain, resulting in an increase in cases of measles, mumps, and rubella among children. However, now that this myth has finally been put to rest, mothers everywhere are relieved. Mothers are now free to allow pediatricians to give their children the shots they need without worrying about harmful side effects.
Astonishingly, the investigation suggests that the falsification of data was motivated by promises of monetary gain that would result from litigation against major vaccine manufacturers. It’s surprising that the red flags hadn’t been noticed earlier, since many of the coauthors withdrew from placing their names on the study when they realized that Dr. Wakefield had actually been taking money from a law firm that was hoping to launch lawsuits against the vaccine manufacturers. Perhaps this scandal illuminates the importance of the tedious review process that goes into ensuring that each paper in a journal is scientifically honest and accurate. We certainly can’t afford to have more scares like this. They divert precious resources from conducting much needed research to help us understand the true cause of autism.