A British study claiming that autism could be contracted from childhood vaccines, a cause championed most famously by actress Jenny McCarthy, has already been deemed a scientific mess full of errors, but a new report from a British medical journal contends that its intentions were more sinister, dubbing the study an “elaborate fraud.” The lies are reportedly responsible for “long-lasting damage to public health.”
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who headed the fraudulent study is said to have received $674,000 from lawyers set on suing vaccine companies, regardless of the results of the study. And so he tweaked the numbers, the BMJ claims, the effects of which have been felt worldwide after the study set off an anti-vaccination fit:
The now-discredited paper panicked many parents and led to a sharp drop in the number of children getting the vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after its publication, falling as low as 80% by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.
In the United States, more cases of measles were reported in 2008 than in any other year since 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, the CDC reported.
For his part, Wakefield calls the author of the new paper “a hit man who has been brought in to take me down.” Conspiracies are all around us.