This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
Twelve years ago, a research paper published in the prominent British medical journal The Lancet set off a firestorm whose damaging effects are still being felt today.
The paper suggested a link between a greater risk of autism and the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine routinely given to young children. Finally, parents had an answer to the mystery of why their children were afflicted by the disorder.
Only it wasn’t the right answer.
The Lancet has now retracted the 1998 paper, saying the lead author had been dishonest, violated research rules, and had subjected the 12 children involved with his study to needless suffering and procedures such as lumbar punctures and colonoscopies.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield recommended that the combined vaccine be split into three separate shots. But he didn’t disclose that a year earlier he had patented a measles vaccine that could be used if the combined vaccine were discredited. Nor did he reveal that his research was partly funded by lawyers of parents seeking to sue vaccine makers. Read more »