As a result of the growing misinformation being disseminated about the risks of vaccines, other preventable diseases such as measles have seen a climb in rates recently.
But what’s easily forgotten is that this current wave of anti-vaccine hysteria can be traced back to a single study that appeared in the Lancet medical journal — a study that was outright debunked in the science world.
In a 2011 issue of BMJ (the British Medical Journal), investigative reporter Brian Deer slammed the infamous Lancet study linking vaccines to autism as fraudulent, pointing out that key facts were distorted to support the autism link.
The 15 year-old study claimed that 8 children developed “regressive autism” after getting a combination of vaccines to prevent mumps and rubella. The study was led by Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor who had his license revoked in May of 2011 as a result of “serious professional misconduct.”
After reviewing the health records of the subjects involved in the study and interviewing their families and doctors, Deer found numerous inconsistencies, some of which were recounted in a 2011 piece by NPR:
- Only 1 of 9 kids said to have regressive autism clearly had it. Three had no form of autism.
- Contrary to the paper’s assertion that all the kids were normal before vaccination, five had some sort of preexisting developmental problems.
- According to the paper, Behavioral problems popped up days after vaccination didn’t actually appear for months in some kids, a fact that undercuts the causality of vaccination.
It was well known that Wakefield’s conclusions were questionable from the beginning. But the Lancet study is now widely believed to be the source of what eventually sparked widespread anti-vaccination paranoia — now being blamed for the recurrence of diseases that were once brought under control by the proper vaccinations.
An editorial accompanying the BMJ piece provided additional clear evidence that the data was falsified, which should have closed the door on this damaging vaccine scare for good.
Since then, the anti-vaxxer movement has persisted and even grown in its influence despite lot of important information debunking its pseudoscience. That being said, this brilliant comic strip by Maki Naro is one of the most concise debunking efforts we’ve ever seen.