Wakefield’s Study Linking Vaccines to Autism was ‘Deliberate Fraud’

The 1998 study in which Dr. Andrew Wakefield first claimed that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism was ‘manufactured at a London medical school’ and its data based not on science, but on ‘deliberate fraud.’

In the first of a series of articles in BMJ (British Medical Journal), journalist Brian Deer, who has long reported on Wakefield, describes how the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed.  Below are the main points in Deer’s article; I quote from his text in full, due to the amount of detail. Emphases in italics are mine.

The Lancet paper [which was retracted last year] was a case series of 12 child patients; it reported a proposed “new syndrome” of enterocolitis and regressive autism and associated this with MMR as an “apparent precipitating event.” But in fact:

  • Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism

  • Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were “previously normal,” five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns

  • Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioural symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination

  • In nine cases, unremarkable colonic histopathology results—noting no or minimal fluctuations in inflammatory cell populations—were changed after a medical school “research review” to “non-specific colitis”

  • The parents of eight children were reported as blaming MMR, but 11 families made this allegation at the hospital. The exclusion of three allegations—all giving times to onset of problems in months—helped to create the appearance of a 14 day temporal link

  • Patients were recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study was commissioned and funded for planned litigation


In an editorial accompanying Deer’s article, Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of BMJ writes:

  • ‘Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare.’

I sincerely hope so. But I am very sure that, even with all the facts, data, and evidence laid before them, those who believe that vaccines or something in vaccines caused or somehow ‘contributed’ to their child becoming autistic will stand by their claims, and by Wakefield.  Some of these persons are my friends. They are parents, as am I, of autistic children. In some cases, our children were diagnosed at around the same time and we cried together, worried together, searched and searched for treatments and therapies together, learned together, hoped together.

It is a hard thing to know, that no one knows why one’s child is autistic.

CNN quotes Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, who states that the report “represents Wakefield as a person where the ends justified the means.”  However, he also notes that: 

the latest news may have little effect on those families who still blame vaccines for their children’s conditions.

“Unfortunately, his core group of supporters is not going to let the facts dissuade their beliefs that MMR causes autism……..They need to be open-minded and examine the information as everybody else.”

Godlee in her BMJ editorial describes the damage wrought by Wakefield’s 1998 article:

[T]he damage to public health continues, fuelled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals, and the medical profession. Although vaccination rates in the United Kingdom have recovered slightly from their 80% low in 2003-4, they are still below the 95% level recommended by the World Health Organization to ensure herd immunity. In 2008, for the first time in 14 years, measles was declared endemic in England and Wales. Hundreds of thousands of children in the UK are currently unprotected as a result of the scare, and the battle to restore parents’ trust in the vaccine is ongoing.

Wakefield’s article caused a worldwide public health scare about vaccines whose effects will be with us for years and has led untold numbers of parents down a trail of false hopes, as parents have sought out all sorts of biomedical treatments to ‘recover’ their child from autism. 

I hope that we can all read the articles in BMJ and understand that what is presented in them is facts, data, and evidence, clear and simple.

And true.


Previous posts on Care2:

Update: Lancet Study Retracted: Vaccines, Autism, Bad Research and the Damage Wrought by Andrew Wakefield

Andrew Wakefield Resigns from Thoughtful House: Is Vaccinegate Over?

Autism and Vaccines: The Public Debate Rages On


Photo by joeflintham.


Christina W.
Christina W.4 years ago

Dr. Wakefield is suing journalist Brian Deer, the British Medical Journal, and editor Dr. Fiona Godlee for slander and defamation in articles the BMJ published about Dr. Wakefield and his work on or about January 6, 2011 which called his work a fraud. I note the date on this article is Jan. 5, 2011. A simple objective look at the facts would tell you the 1998 Lancet paper was not fraudulent. The GMC never charged any of the doctors involved with fraud, and they looked hard for five years to find something to charge them with. Read Andrew J. Wakefield, "Callous Disregard, Autism and Vaccines - The Truth Behind a Tragedy (Skyhorse Publishing: NY 2010). See Dr. Wakefield's recent youtube presentations at AgeofAutism.com, ChildHealthSafety.com, or The AutismChannel.com, or on youtube. The truth will come out. The fraud is in calling Dr. Wakefield and his work a fraud.

Betsy M.
Betsy M5 years ago

Courts are increasingly recognizing the growing evidence of vaccine dangers.

Betsy M.
Betsy M5 years ago

Many studies continue to vindicate the original Wakefield results.Some are listed here:

Philip S.
Philip S5 years ago

Wakefield has been vindicated, it wasn't a fraud, where's the follow up article?

Marilyn J L.
Marilyn J. L6 years ago

What saddens me is the unnecessary deaths and illnesses children have suffered because of this fraud.

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

Google,' The Complete Deconstruction of The British Medical Journal/Brian Deer false allegations against Dr Andrew Wakefield aired Jan27,2011 on Dr GaryNull'sShow.British Medical Journal & The Lancet wedded to Merck CME partnership. ProgressiveRadioNetwork*cm.www*knowshots*com. Healingourchildren*net. Google,'Do Vaccines Disable The Immune System? by Dr Randell Neusaedter. Google,'CDC Concedes Secretly That Vaccines Have a Link To Autism.' YouTube Dr Maurice Hillerman Censored Interview. YouTubeVideo,'The TruthAboutVaccines.' See the movie, 'In Lies We Trust.' on YouTube or Netflix. See The Movie,'Vaccine Nation.' on YT or NF. See the movie, 'All Fall Down-CCHR' on YT. also, see 'Guinea Pig Kids' on YT also the movie,'Vaccination-The Hidden Truth.' Google, 'US Government Wants To Test Anthrax Vaccines On Children.' wwwdtldsfreedomforum*cm www*newslettertree*cm. Truthfrequencynews*cm. www*vaclib*org. www*healthfreedomportal*org Google,'US Goverment Infected Guatamalans With Syphillis.' lookup measle vaccine ingredients. Rense*cm Get off The 'LameStreamMediaTrain & realise all they care about are PROFITS! NOT HUMAN HEALTH. Thanks for the propaganda piece Care2 but I'm not buyin it! Peace & Love to all Truth Seekers out there & *Don't Drink the Koolaid!

Linda Chambre
Linda Chambre6 years ago

Mitt T. Mercury is not all out of flu shots. As a matter of fact you now get a double dose of Mercury because they have included the H1N1 shot in the flu shot which has another dose of mercury in it. Let's tell the truth here. Stop trying to brainwash people into thinking vaccines are safe. They are not.

Rod W.
Mary W6 years ago

Wakefield is a fraud. Nothing has emerged to show otherwise. If you're getting your "news" from naturalnews.com, well there's your problem. They're the "natural" version of Fox News, propaganda and misinformation for the gullible.

Traci G.
Leaticia M6 years ago

Documents emerge proving Dr Andrew Wakefield innocent; BMJ and Brian Deer caught misrepresenting the facts.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/031116_Dr_Andrew_Wakefield_British_Medical_Journal.html#ixzz1HcCP4cvz


Rick K.
Rick K.6 years ago

Dawn, nobody said Wakefield completely fabricated all the cases. That's what is known as a strawman argument - you claim people said something they didn't, and then you refute it.

I consider that a dishonest tactic.

What is clearly documented is that what Wakefield claimed in the paper about several of the children did not in fact match their medical records.

What is clearly documented is that Andrew Wakefield filed a patent that would make him a LOT of money if the MMR was discredited.

What is clearly documented is that Andrew Wakefield wrote a business plan talking about the opportunity he was about to create by discrediting the MMR.

Let me repeat this part so everyone gets it - Andrew Wakefield held a press conference to create a panic about the MMR so he personally could get rich. The evidence is written and signed by his own hand.

And what is clearly documented is that the website you quote - naturalnews - makes its money selling large numbers of products that have no medical value other than as placebos for gullible buyers.

I'm quoting documents written by Andrew Wakefield and merely reported by British press. You're quoting a known conspiracy-theorist crank.