Andrew Wakefield: A horribly harmful fraudster and anti-vaxx hero

Wakefield’s fraud created a false link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His “study” in The Lancet was retracted and he was struck off the UK’s medical register for committing unethical and fraudulent research on children. But he is nonetheless considered a hero in anti-vaxx circles, including in Robert F Kennedy Jr’s organisation, Children’s Health Defense, where he shall speak at a three-day conference in November.

Wakefield has now sunk so deep that he wouldn’t recommend kids to get any vaccine. This anti-vaxx movement, headed by Wakefield, is likely highly lethal. The measles vaccine, for example, has saved millions of lives. I have therefore uploaded, freely available, the chapter on measles from my book, “Vaccines: truth, lies, and controversy,” where I give a detailed account of Wakefield’s horrendous fraud and related issues.

I have also written a short article about the latest developments.

“Disgraced ex-doctor and anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield claims he wouldn’t recommend kids get ANY jabs in new podcast, sparking fury among medics.”

This was the headline of a story in the Daily Mail, UK, on 21 July 2023. The subheading was also telling: “Wakefield was behind a now debunked 90s study linking jabs to autism in kids.”

Wakefield was struck off the UK’s medical register for committing unethical and fraudulent research on children. According to the Daily Mail, his paper in The Lancet that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism is “considered the most damaging medical hoax of the last century.” It was fabricated and later retracted, and Wakefield had a financial conflict of interest in constructing the fraud as he was paid by a group pursuing lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.

Tens of thousands of parents have refused to have their children vaccinated due to the bogus paper, and some still write on Twitter how Wakefield has inspired them to not have their child get the MMR jab. Vaccination rates in London are only 74%, far below the target needed for herd immunity of 95%.

Today, Wakefield makes anti-vaxx films for a living. He continues to spread misinformation about vaccines, even as nearly 800 children in Zimbabwe died from an outbreak of measles in 2022 alone.

Tim Nicholls, head of influencing and research at the charity the National Autistic Society, said: “It is utterly baffling that someone whose shoddy research has been completely debunked, and who has been banned from medical practice, is still being given airtime to peddle his dangerous and ill-founded opinions. Let’s be completely clear – there is no link between autism and the MMR vaccine.”

Some people turn the indisputable facts upside down and depict Wakefield as a hero. Unfortunately, US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr. is one of them. His organisation, Children’s Health Defense, has announced a three-day conference in November with “Cutting-edge topics presented by world-renowned speakers.” These speakers include Wakefield and the lecture “The REAL Story of Dr. Andy Wakefield.” One of the slogans on the website for Children’s Health Defense is “Truth over lies.” It appears to me that the slogan should be the opposite.

Among the other speakers are Brian Hooker, Vera Sharav, Polly Tommey, and Mary Holland, all of whom I have written about in my book, “Vaccines: truth, lies, and controversy.”

Several of the speakers are anti-vaxxers, including Suzanne Humphries who, despite working as a nephrologist, has embraced homeopathy and recommends that people limit their medical care to homeopaths, chiropractors, and osteopaths.

Polly Tommey is the editor of the Autism File Magazine, which peddles anti-vaccine pseudoscience and quack treatments for autism. She has worked closely with Wakefield on the Autism Media Channel and was producer of “Vaxxed”, the totally untrustworthy anti-vaxx propaganda film by Del Bigtree, which I discuss in my book.

Dr. Aseem Malhotra is also a speaker. On Twitter, he cherished the podcast that glorified Wakefield, which was the background for the Daily Mail article.

I hope you will help children survive infections by informing people about my little article and chapter on measles.