A single study published in 1998 in the prestigious medical journal Lancet led to a large reduction in the rate of vaccinations in UK with MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and consequent increases in diseases and number of deaths preventable by this outstanding vaccine. The reduced rate of vaccination stimulated by this publication spilled over to many other developed countries and to vaccines besides MMR.
In the years following publication, this work could not be duplicated by any other research group. It also became apparent that there was a conflict of interest in that the senior author of the paper had accepted funding from a lawyer who files lawsuits for damages on behalf of families of vaccinated children, including the published study.
As a result, most of the co-authors of that paper withdrew their designation as co-authors.
Now, Lancet has finally withdrawn the paper (with a short and hard-to-understand statement that seems to avoid mentioning the real controversy). Better late than never. However, it might be that no other publication has been as damaging to the field of vaccines and to public health as this one – now officially discredited.
Please pass this note along to anyone you know who is afraid of vaccinating themselves or their children, with any vaccine and especially with MMR vaccine. As quoted in this article “”It’s very easy to scare people; it’s very hard to unscare them.”
(The above was sent to me by my father, who has worked in the Vaccine industry for the last thirty years. Not the normal fare for this blog, but I thought that it is worth sharing, especially considering how Mumps outbreaks are back in the news. And since billg did just pledge $10 billion to vaccines through his foundation, the topic is almost tech-related).