The GMC have today found that the man who began what became known to some as the media’s MMR hoax was “misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research later published in The Lancet.”
According to Sky News, Wakefield was also described as having “acted dishonestly.”
Dr Helen Bedford, lecturer at the Institute of Child Health, said: “Parents should be reassured that there is a large body of good scientific evidence which shows MMR is not linked to autism and bowel disease.”
The news will not surprise those who have followed the case. Back in February 2009, some of the more shocking problems with Wakefield’s research were detailed by Brian Deer in the Times story headlined MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism.
According to Deer, Wakefield “changed and misreported results in his research.” Particularly remarkable was the following revelation:
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.
Not only did the data fail to show that MMR had caused autism in these children – the medical records suggest that there wasn’t even the correlation between MMR and autism that has been claimed by Wakefield, JABS, and the mainstream media.
While Wakefield may well be vilified for his conduct, others involved in the MMR hoax might escape criticism (or at least get off lightly in comparison to Wakefield).
Those who decided against vaccinating their children have the excuse that their knowledge of the research into MMR and autism came from reading the newspaper reports of scientific research. Although that didn’t stop the Daily Mail from calling them “morons” and “middle class twits.”
Those who went further than refusing the MMR vaccine and actively campaigned against it might have more difficulty in avoiding criticism. I’m thinking here of people such as JABS forum members.
See Struthers, Stone and Fletcher’s rapid responses on the BMJ website here for an idea of their public engagement with scientists defending MMR.
Alternatively, you may wish to see examples of the comments made on the JABS forum. In which case, you can click here for more on JABS. This is a group that was used as a source of information by the mainstream media – including the BBC.
Those journalists who reported on MMR and autism in a misleading and inaccurate fashion will probably simply brazen it out and pretend it was nothing to do with them. As they have been doing for some time now: scapegoating Wakefield.
One other group that might now be hoping to escape criticism is that band of merry AltMed advocates who supported Wakefield, or at least allowed their audience to believe there was something in the claims being made by him.
AltMed support for Wakefield and his ideas came from Patrick Holford, Dr Joseph Mercola, Dr John Briffa, and others.
JABS members, the mainstream media, and those AltMed advocates who gave succour to either Wakefield or his ideas, kept the MMR hoax going long after it should have died a death. They may well be rather quiet over the days and weeks that follow the GMC’s verdict. Or they may try to defend their actions. The latter course of action could be very interesting indeed.