DIRECTOR Andrew Wakefield MB.BS., is an academic gastroenterologist. He received his medical degree from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London in 1981. He qualified as Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1985 and trained as a gastrointestinal surgeon with a particular interest in inflammatory bowel disease. He was awarded a Wellcome Trust Traveling Fellowship to study small-intestinal transplantation in Toronto. He was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in the U.K. in 2001. Wakefield has published over 140 original scientific papers, reviews, and book chapters.
In 1995, as an academic physician working in a London teaching hospital, he was contacted by the parent of an autistic child with stomach issues. He soon learned from several other parents with autistic behaviors, that their children’s regressive behavior immediately followed an MMR vaccine. He started investigating a possible role between gastrointestinal issues, the MMR vaccine, and neurological injury in children. In pursuit of this possible link, Dr. Wakefield participated in a study of twelve children with both stomach and developmental issues. The ensuing report, written with twelve other authors would catapult Wakefield into becoming one of the most controversial figures in the history of Medicine.
The results of the study were submitted to The Lancet, a British medical journal, for publication in February 1998. The paper, which has become one of the most misrepresented in medical history, specifically stated:
“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve the issues. If there is a causal link between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there is a change…”
However, with the paper’s publication, the Dean of the medical school held a press briefing with some of the co-authors in attendance. Wakefield was called upon to answer a question as to what parents should do in light of concerns about MMR vaccine safety. He responded that in his mind there was enough doubt about MMR vaccine safety that parents should opt for the single measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines given at yearly intervals. His response: “It’s a moral issue for me. I can’t support the continued use of these three vaccines, given in combination, until this issue has been resolved.” Wakefield advocated for the use of single vaccines. He did not say to stop vaccinations altogether as many have been led to believe. Nonetheless, this minted Wakefield as the “Father of the Anti-Vaccine Movement.”
These statements were echoed around the U.K. and the U.S., and parents chose the single vaccines in preference to MMR. The official response was to withdraw the option of single vaccines making the return of measles inevitable. Growing anti-MMR sentiment and lower vaccination rates threatened the bottom lines of manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline and Merck. In the U.S. Merck holds the sole patent for the MMR vaccine.
In 2004, the same year the CDC published its MMR/Autism study, freelance journalist, Brian Deer, published an investigation into Wakefield et al. findings in the Lancet paper for The Sunday Paper, a News Corp/Rupert Murdoch asset, and subsequent reports for the UK’s Channel 4 and the British Medical Journal (BMJ), claiming that Wakefield et al. had falsified data and committed fraud.
Deer attacked Dr. Wakefield’s ethics, as having unreported conflicts of financial interests, and of falsifying research data in a report co-authored by 12 others. The Lancet paper was retracted for reasons that were subsequently shown to be false in the English High Court. Nonetheless, the Lancet editor refused to reinstate the paper. Deer’s allegations led the General Medical Council to revoke Dr. Wakefield’s license to practice medicine.
Wakefield has defended the paper, his medical and personal ethics and his findings in his national bestselling book, “Callous Disregard,” as well as in several video interviews:
- Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s rebuttal to Brian Deer’s article in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) – published by Fair Autism Media
- Wakefield on Fox & Friends: (addresses the allegation of financial interests)
- Autism Media Channel presents a series of short videos, of Wakefield responding to allegations against him.
More recently, on appeal, the English High Court overturned the allegations made against the senior authors of the Lancet paper and Wakefield’s colleague Professor John Walker-Smith was reinstated and exonerated.
Wakefield is the only one of the 13 co-authors barred from practicing medicine. He lost his country, his career, and his medical license. He considers these losses a small price to pay for the privilege of working with affected families.
Since moving to Austin, Texas, he co-founded the Autism Media Channel with Polly Tommey with the goal of countering the pharmaceutical marketing and advertising juggernaut and the biased corporate-owned media with their own media. Together they produced the award-winning documentary, “Who Killed Alex Spourdalkis?,” which was Wakefield’s directorial debut.
Wakefield filed a defamation lawsuit against Brian Deer, the BMJ, and its editor, Fiona Godlee, in Travis County Court, Texas. The details of that case can be found here.
The case was denied on jurisdictional grounds in the Court of Appeal.
Wakefield continues to fight back on behalf of affected children, winning numerous awards and has released a second non-fiction book, Waging War on The Autistic Child. This is due to come out in paperback form Skyhorse Publishing with a brand new chapter on the CDC whistleblower story. Wakefield has interviewed with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes, Matt Lauer at NBC, and on CNN, ABC’s Good Morning America, the BBC, and multiple other networks and radio stations worldwide. He has also published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific publications and spoken internationally on autism and vaccines. His story and his exoneration have been featured in Dr. David Lewis’ book Science for Sale and are the subjects of a feature documentary to be released by Miranda Bailey’s Ambush Entertainment