Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 report in the journal Lancet purporting to show a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella “was based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud,” says Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal, in an editorial published Tuesday. The editorial accompanies the first of three reports by British investigative journalist Brian Deer that document how Wakefield manipulated data in his attempts to prove something that he “knew” before he started his research. Most of the information in the reports has been published previously, but the recent publication of the General Medical Council’s 6-million-word transcript of the hearing in which Wakefield’s license to practice medicine in Britain was revoked allowed the editors of BMJ to peer-review Deer’s reports and confirm the extensive falsifications in the original Lancet paper.
The original paper authored by Wakefield and 12 others involved 12 children with autism, nine of them with a regressive form in which the children begin to develop normally, then lose speech or other faculties. The average delay between vaccination and onset of autism in eight of the children was 6.3 days, the authors reported, and the parents were said to blame the vaccine.
But, Deer finds:
–Only one of the nine children who supposedly had regressive autism actually did. Three did not have autism at all.
–Five of the children had preexisting developmental problems, despite the paper’s claims that all were normal prior to vaccination.
–Although the paper claimed an average of 6.3 days between vaccination and the onset of symptoms, some children did not show symptoms until months later.