Oh, this is wonderful to hear: The Lancet — a leading UK professional medical research journal — is retracting the paper published by Andrew Wakefield back in 1998 that linked vaccines with autism.
The paper has been found to be multiply and fatally flawed, with Wakefield and his work being thoroughly discredited. As the Lancet editorial itself states:
Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.
That’s great news, especially after Wakefield had his head handed to him last week by the GMC over his unethical and irresponsible behavior that led to this horrible paper being published in the first place.
The Lancet statement is a bit bloodless… but they are a professional research journal and not a blog, so it’s not appropriate for them to call out Wakefield in more emotional — and utterly deserved — terms. It’s up to the blogs to call out Wakefield for his tireless efforts in creating of the modern antivaccination movement, which is becoming so successful that measles, mumps, pertussis, and other preventable diseases are on the rise again. And to note that not only was his research wrong, but that he may have faked his data. And to say that he has a huge conflict of interest here, since at the time he was involved in creating an alternative to vaccination that would make him very, very rich if people became scared to vaccinate their kids. And to inform people that Wakefield was in the pocket of lawyers trying to sue the vaccine industry. And to basically call out the entire antivax movement for the incredible damage they have done and continue to do to public health.
All that’s left now is for the GMC to officially sanction Wakefield, disbar him, essentially, to finish this all up officially.
Of course, that won’t even slow Wakefield or the antivaxxers. They don’t care for the real world, based on evidence and fact. They are, for all intents and purposes, religious zealots now, believing in Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy, and the rest with such fervor that there is literally no amount of evidence that can ever sway them. And they will continue to spin, fold, and mutilate the truth, while we watch as diseases rise back from the dead, infecting hundreds of thousands of people, and killing many of them.
Never forget what’s at stake here. Never.
My thanks to the many, many BABloggees who sent me email or tweeted about this. Originally posted on The Bad Astronomy Blog.