Finally. British doctor Andrew Wakefield, whose questionable research into a link between autism and vaccination began a tidal wave of anti-vaccine sentiment in the U.S and Britain, has lost his medical license.
Wakefield’s research on autistic children and the MMR vaccine was the first published work to draw a connection between the vaccine and the disorder. Later researchers have been unable to replicate his results. Earlier this year, the Lancet retracted his papers. Shortly thereafter, he was censured by Britain’s leading medical body.
Today, he’s lost is license to practice medicine in Britain.
Wakefield described the ruling against him as “a little bump in the road”. That’s probably because it’s been a long time since he made his living practicing medicine in Britain.
He lives in Texas now, where he’s a prominent activist in the anti-vaccine movement. The medical establishment may have kicked him to curb, but he’ll always have Jenny McCarthy.
Wakefield’s controversial research claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and suggested that giving the vaccines to children separately instead of as a mixed dose. He’s losing his license because his research violated ethics rules about the treatment of children as research subjects. He’s also been cited for hiding his financial conflicts of interest; Wakefield was being paid huge sums by lawyers hoping to file a class action lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers.
For a quick pictorial history of the Wakefield case, check out this 15-page cartoon story.
To parents who believe his theories, Wakefield is a saint. To those who believe in science, he’s an obstacle to research of real value for children with autistic spectrum disorders. Personally, I’m celebrating this move by the British General Medical Council. Hopefully being stripped of credentials will make Wakefield seem less authoritative to those who’ve been listening to him, and we can move the resources on autism research back to real avenues of inquiry.
Photo: AP file photo