The Doctor Behind Autism MMR Vaccine Controversy Speaks Out


September 21st, 2016

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is largely known for the firestorm created by his 1998 Lancet paper, which found evidence of a possible association between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, inflammatory bowel disease and autism. Critics of Dr. Wakefield are quick to point out the paper was ultimately retracted by the journal and that he was stripped of his medical license by the General Medical Council (GMC). Some classify him as a fraud and unethical researcher, who has put countless children in danger because parents now question the safety of vaccines. And yet, others believe “he is a brilliant and courageous scientist, a compassionate physician beloved by his patients, and a champion for families with autism and vaccine injury.”

In a world where the media bows to corporate masters, and the pharmaceutical industry wields incredible power over both public and governmental opinion, the truth isn’t always easy to discern. And the controversy surrounding Dr. Wakefield is no exception…

Dr. Wakefield and the 1998 Lancet Study

An academic gastroenterologist, Andrew Wakefield MB.BS., completed his medical degree in 1981 from St. Mary’s Hospital, London. He is a trained gastrointestinal surgeon, who specializes in inflammatory bowel disease. In 1985, he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and, the following year, was awarded a Welcome Trust travel fellowship to study small intestine transplants in Toronto, Canada. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific publications and has spoken widely around the world about autism.

According to Mary Holland, J.D. in the book, Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children:

“In the early 1990s, Dr. Wakefield began to study a possible link between the measles virus and bowel disease. He published a 1993 study, “Evidence of persistent measles virus infection in Crohn’s disease” and coauthored a 1995 article published in The Lancet, “Is measles vaccine a risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease?” At roughly the same time, Dr. Wakefield wrote an unpublished 250-page manuscript reviewing available scientific literature on the safety of measles vaccines. He was rapidly emerging as one of the world’s experts on measles vaccination.”

But it wasn’t until Dr. Wakefield published his 1998 Lancet study that he caught the attention of the public — and created a tempest of controversy. “We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine,” the study concluded.

“Everything in that paper is entirely accurate and has turned out to be supported by the evidence. People say, “Well, no one’s ever been able to replicate the findings of the study.” The findings of the study were of a novel inflammatory bowel disease in children with autism, and that finding has been replicated around the world,” Dr. Wakefield told Wake Up World. “And, in fact, gastrointestinal disturbances in children with autism are the most common scientific findings, the most consistent scientific findings in the world literature of autism right now — particularly disturbances in gut lining, the bleakness of the gut, the enzymes of the gut, gastrointestinal symptoms in these children, and the microflora or the bacteria of the gut in particular, so this is becoming major focus for current research.

“So that study was the beginning of the process. And had it been allowed to run its natural course, then we would now have an answer to the significance of bowel disease in children with autism. We don’t, because deliberately and recklessly that research was cut off by special interests.”

Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, asked the research team “to issue a retraction of an interpretation, not a retraction of the findings in the paper which stand, but a retraction of an interpretation, and that interpretation is the MMR vaccine causes autism,” says Dr. Wakefield.

“How can you possibly retract an interpretation that was never made? In fact specifically the paper said — as I’ve said before — “The study does not prove an association between MMR vaccine and the syndrome described.” He [Horton] was very sober, but he thought, because of the politics, he wanted us to sign a letter, that said we retract the interpretation that MRR vaccine causes autism. You can’t retract a possibility. A possibility exists, but we didn’t claim any course of association, so I refused. And two of my colleagues refused as well. My other colleagues were very frightened. They didn’t want to be drawn into the spatter, and they decided that, for political reasons, it would be best just for them to comply and issue a retraction of an interpretation. So I, still to this day, don’t understand why they did that in intellectual terms … that’s not the way that we should conduct ourselves in medicine and science,” he says.

“Now, the paper was grossly misrepresented. But the reason that Richard Horton at The Lancet decided that it should be retracted — there were two reasons. One is the claim in the paper that the children were sequentially referred for investigation at the Royal Free. This is entirely true. The reason for putting the sequential referral in is that it means you didn’t select them. In other words, you didn’t see a hundred children with these symptoms and only select out of those hundred — the 12 out of those hundred that suited your purposes that had the bowel disease. That would have produced a selection bias. They were the first 12 children through the doors of the Royal Free [hospital] with these symptoms, and therefore, there was no bias.”

It should be noted that when the issue came before the English High Court in the appeal of Dr. John Walker-Smith — a senior coauthor of the study — the judge found that, “Absolutely, these children were sequentially referred,” which overruled the claim of The Lancet.

“The second reason that the paper was withdrawn by The Lancet was the statement in there that the investigations had been approved an ethics committee. In America, that’s called an investigational review board or an institutional review board, and that is necessary for the conduct of scientific research, medical research in these circumstances, on the children. Now, there was gross misrepresentation of the fact, but the one aspect of this did constitute research, because the great majority was clinical investigation — which didn’t need any kind of ethical approval — was the reanalysis of the biopsies by experts.

“And that was indeed covered by an ethical approval obtained by John Walker-Smith in 1994, fully a year before the first child ever came to the Royal Free,” explained Dr. Wakefield. “And that information was in the hands of Brian Deer [a freelance journalist], the person who made the allegation. At the time he filed his allegations and throughout the period of the GMC hearing, he had in his possession the documents confirming that there was ethical approval, and yet he claimed that there was no such approval. In other words, he was guilty of an obstruction of justice.

“He got these from the Royal Free, and he kept them for himself. And so when we raised this issue in the fact there was an ethical approval, the GMC simply decided to ignore it. The judge at the English High Court, when he became aware of this, he said, “Yes, absolutely, there was an appropriate ethical approval,” and he threw that out as well. So the two reasons for The Lancet paper to have been withdrawn were thrown out in the English High Court. At that time, multiple parties wrote to the editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, saying, “You must now reinstate this paper,” and he refused to do so.”

Also see: “Keeping Anderson Cooper Honest: Is Brian Deer The Fraud?

The controversy eventually lead to Dr. Wakefield’s medical license being revoked. Both Drs. Wakefield and John Walker-Smith filed an appeal. Dr. Walker-Smith’s professional insurance coverage paid for his appeal; Dr. Wakefield’s insurance carrier would not. He was told it would cost up to half a million pounds to pursue. “I was pretty much bankrupt by that state, so I couldn’t take the risk,” he says. In hindsight, Dr. Wakefield wishes he had, because the judge ruled on the John Walker-Smith case within a week, so his appeal would have cost far less than what had been projected.

“He [Dr. John Walker-Smith] was fully reinstated, and the charges against him were dismissed completely, and the General Medical Council’s lawyers in court apologized,” said Dr. Wakefield. “They put up no defense whatsoever, none, and they apologized to the judge when he said this must never happen again.”

Read more about the appeal here.

For further information, David L. Lewis, Ph.D, offers a full account of Dr. Wakefield’s story and exoneration in “Science for Sale: How the US Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits.” And stay tuned for my upcoming article, “An Interview With Dr. Andrew Wakefield: Why We Need Safe Vaccines Immediately — and How to Make it Happen.”

Dr. Andrew Wakefield Deals with Allegations

To view specific chapters/segments of this interview, please see the following links:

  1. Dr. Wakefield’s Medical Background
  2. The Link Between Autism and The MMR Vaccine 
  3. MMR Vaccine Safety
  4. The Lancet Study
  5. Conflict of Interest 
  6. The Discrediting of Dr. Wakefield
  7. Blood Samples
  8. Retraction of the Lancet Paper
  9. Medical License
  10. Consequences
  11. Outlook

About the author:

Carolanne WrightCarolanne Wright enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years.

Through her website, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. You can also follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Further reading from Carolanne Wright:


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