Scandal and self experimentation
- By: Oliver Ellis
The MMR scandal has been rumbling on for ages now. Andrew Wakefield and colleagues’ Lancet paper, which (incorrectly) suggested a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease, was published in 1998. Although the paper had obvious flaws, it triggered a scare among parents who worried that their children might be harmed by the jab.
In an editorial (doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7452),BMJ editor in chief Fiona Godlee and colleagues describe the Wakefield paper as “an elaborate fraud” rather than the result of incompetence. They also warn that the public health consequences are being felt to this day, “fuelled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals, and the medical profession.”
Because the long running MMR saga has been so complicated, cartoonist Darryl Cunningham has produced a comic strip version to bring you up to speed (doi: 10.1136/sbmj.d355).