Dr Andrew Wakefield is guilty

It’s just been announced by the GMC that Dr Andrew Wakefield has been found guilty of unethical research practices. Along with some journalist’s bellows and the deafening silence of Leo Blair’s jab record, he fanned the flames of uncertainty about the safety of the MMR vaccine.

The GMC could not have found any other way: Dr Wakefield was in the pay of lawyers acting on behalf of families who were preparing a case against MMR, eventually receiving over £435,000 in fees. He undertook invasive testing on children that he said were in the interests of the children’s own clinical care, not for research. And he did not publish his researcher’s findings because they showed no evidence of any link between MMR and autism. Let me be clear – there never was any evidence of a link.

Although he did not jeopardise the health of our country’s children all by himself, he should now be struck off the GMC register. MMR vaccination rates plummeted, they are still very low in some areas of London, and as a result of the lack of scrutiny of his original publications by those reporting them which would have revealed the paucity of the data, thousands of children have contracted measles over the past few years because they didn’t receive their immunisation.

I still know parents who haven’t had their children immunised. The success of public health measures like vaccination mean that people don’t see the results of the illnesses they are protecting their children from. Measles can cause neurological and respiratory complications; mumps can cause sterility, deafness, meningitis and pancreatitis; congenital rubella syndrome can cause profound disabilities in the unborn.

What we need now is the same number of journalists and celebrities who jumped on the autism-MMR band-wagon to publicise that they have protected their children from these diseases, and perhaps we can put a stop to this contemporary, disastrous myth. And yes, both my children have had all their jabs.

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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