Born In: Eton, Berkshire, England
Born In: Eton, Berkshire, England
Andrew Wakefield is an infamous British physician and academic who was found guilty of serious professional misconduct for his role in the Lancet MMR autism fraud and was struck off the UK Medical Register. He served as a surgeon on the liver transplant programme at the Royal Free Hospital, London and as senior lecturer and honorary consultant in experimental gastroenterology at the Royal Free and University College School of Medicine. He got involved in the Lancet MMR autism fraud that centred on a 1998 published study which falsely claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders. It was published in the reputed medical journal, The Lancet, and gained widespread publicity leading to a sharp decline in vaccination rate resulting in increase in incidence of measles and mumps. When other researchers failed to reproduce his findings and The Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer’s investigation suggested undisclosed financial conflicts of interest on Wakefield, most of his co-authors retracted this interpretation and an inquiry was conducted by the British General Medical Council. Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register and prohibited from practising medicine in the UK after he was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research and against the best interest of his patients apart from mistreating developmentally delayed children. He later became known for anti-vaccination activism.
Born In: Eton, Berkshire, England
Also Known As: Andrew Jeremy Wakefield
Spouse/Ex-: Carmel Wakefield
Born Country: England
Founder/Co-Founder: Johnson Center for Child Health and Development
education: University College London, University of Toronto, King Edward's School, Bath, St Mary's Hospital Medical School
Andrew Jeremy Wakefield was born in Eton, Berkshire, England, in 1957. His father was a neurologist father and his mother was a general practitioner.
Wakefield studied at the King Edward's School, Bath, and then attended St Mary's Hospital Medical School, presently ‘Imperial College School of Medicine’. He completed his medical course in 1981. In 1985, he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
From 1986 to 1989, he remained part of a group at the University of Toronto that used animal models in examining tissue rejection issues associated with small intestine transplantation. He was under a Wellcome Trust travelling fellowship at the university while continuing with his studies on the subject.
He was inducted at the Royal Free Hospital in London where he became a surgeon on the liver transplant programme. He served Royal Free and University College School of Medicine as senior lecturer and honorary consultant in experimental gastroenterology.
He gained professional attention in 1993 after publishing reports where he made conclusions that measles virus might cause Crohn's disease. In another paper published a couple of years later in The Lancet, Wakefield suggested a link between the measles vaccine and Crohn's disease. Subsequent research and studies later led the experts to conclude that neither the measles virus nor the MMR vaccine caused Crohn's disease.
Rosemary Kessick, mother of a child (now adult) with autism who served as CEO of the ‘Allergy Induced Autism’ charity contacted Wakefield in 1995 while he was conducting research into Crohn's disease. Kessick was looking for help for her child’s bowel problems and autism. The following year Wakefield commenced a research on possible links between measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
While serving at the Royal Free and University College School of Medicine, Wakefield led a group and published a research paper titled ‘Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children’ on February 28, 1998, in The Lancet. The paper reported on 12 children with autism. It suggested a new syndrome called autistic enterocolitis and claimed to link the MMR vaccine to colitis and autism spectrum disorders. Authors of the paper claimed that parents or doctors of 8 of these 12 children linked the children’s behavioural symptoms with MMR and reported that these symptoms started to show up within two weeks of MMR vaccination.
Widespread publicity of the paper led to a sharp decline in vaccination rates resulting in increase in the incidence of measles and mumps, causing deaths and serious permanent damages. Reportedly the scare for MMR vaccination aggravated following statements given by Wakefield at a press conference and in a video news release where he asked for suspension of the triple MMR vaccine till further research was made.
Wakefield suggested that instead of giving three-in-one jab for measles, mumps and rubella, parents should opt for single vaccinations against these three contagious diseases and these vaccines could be given separated by gaps of one year.
In December 2001, he resigned from the Royal Free Hospital. While Wakefield said that he was asked to leave as his research results were unpopular, the medical school maintained that he resigned "by mutual agreement". He then relocated to the US and joined hands with American doctor and alternative medicine practitioner, Jeff Bradstreet, at the International Child Development Resource Center to continue his studies on the likely connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Wakefield joined Thoughtful House research center in Austin, Texas, in 2004. He served there as Executive Director till February 2010, when he had to resign after the British General Medical Council found that he was dishonest and irresponsible while conducting his research in autism in England.
Meanwhile several epidemiological studies were carried out, however no link was found between MMR vaccine and autism and eventually Wakefield’s actions were described as fraudulent by physicians, medical journals, and editors. Sunday Times reporter, Brian Deer, conducted a 2004 investigation, findings of which suggested that Wakefield had undeclared financial conflicts of interest and broke ethical codes and manipulated evidence.
Following the allegations made by Deer, an inquiry was carried out by UK General Medical Council, while in March 2004 ten of Wakefield's twelve co-authors retracted the study’s interpretation. Reporting of Deer was aired on Channel 4 Dispatches TV documentary MMR: What They Didn't Tell You on November 18, 2004.
The documentary alleged that Wakefield applied for a patent on a vaccine that was a rival of the MMR vaccine and that he was aware that his own claims contradicted with test results of his own laboratory at the Royal Free Hospital.
In 2004, The Lancet retracted the paper partially and on February 2, 2010, they fully retracted the paper from their published record with editor-in-chief Richard Horton of the medical journal describing it as "utterly false" and mentioning that the journal had been deceived.
Wakefield sued Deer, Channel 4 and ‘Twenty Twenty’ in January 2005. However, he discontinued the case and paid all the defendants’ legal costs, after around two years of his libel actions and release of records by Deer, in December 2006, which revealed that Wakefield was paid £435,643 in undisclosed fees by the Legal Services Commission to build a case against the MMR vaccine. As reported by The Sunday Times, Wakefield started to receive such payments two years prior to his release of the controversial paper in The Lancet.
On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council found Wakefield guilty of serious misconduct and struck him off the Medical Register due to ethical violations in connection to his fraudulent research in the role of vaccines in autism. He is barred from practising as a doctor in the UK and is not licensed in the US.
In 2011, Deer provided the British Medical Journal with more information on improper research practices of Wakefield.
Andrew Wakefield presently resides with his wife, Carmel, and four children in the US. He has a following there. The foreword for his autobiography, Callous Disregard, was written by one such follower, Jenny McCarthy, mother of a son with autism-like symptoms and an anti-vaccinationist who believes that her son developed the symptoms after taking MMR vaccine.
Wakefield established the non-profit Strategic Autism Initiative’ and serves as director of ‘Autism Media Channel’ and ‘Medical Interventions for Autism’.
He directed the April 1, 2016, released American pseudoscience documentary anti-vaccination film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe.
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