Britain Revokes License of Doctor Who Linked Autism to Vaccines
Britain's General Medical Council stripped Doctor Andrew Wakefield of his license to practice medicine for linking autism to vaccines for measles and other diseases. Dr Andrew Wakefield did a study in 1998 suggesting a connection between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Millions of parents abandoned the vaccine, leading to a resurgence of measles in Western countries.
"That is Andrew Wakefield's legacy," said Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The hospitalizations and deaths of children from measles who could have easily avoided the disease."
Wakefield's discredited theories had a tremendous impact in the U.S., Offit said, adding: "He gave heft to the notion that vaccines in general cause autism."
In making the verdict on the sanctions, Dr Surendra Kumar, the panel's chairman, said Dr Wakefield had "brought the medical professional into disrepute" and his behavior constituted "multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct". In total, there were more than 30 charges this board found him guilty of.
Dr Wakefield said still believes in his research and says,” Efforts to discredit and silence me through the GMC process have provided a screen to shield the government from exposure on the MMR vaccine scandal."
In an interview last week, he said he had done nothing wrong and was convinced that his theory linking autism, vaccines and gastrointestinal illness was correct, despite numerous studies saying there is no evidence to support it. His only omission, he said, was failing to get approval from an ethics board before having blood drawn on young children at his son's birthday party in 1999, he said.
"I feel bad for Dr. Wakefield," said Eve Burton-Poteet, the mother of a child with autism. "I feel he's being put up as the sacrificial lamb, so to speak." She says nothing will change her mind about Wakefield or his research suggesting the link between the common vaccine and the disorder that affects a few out of every thousand people. She says she witnessed it first hand with her son. "He met every single milestone," she said.
Dr. Jennifer Best, a virologist at King's College University in London would disagree saying, "I hope this ruling will finally persuade the public and some misguided journalists that Dr. Wakefield behaved irresponsibly. The measles vaccine is a safe vaccine."
In New York on Monday, Dr. Wakefield rejected the medical council’s findings. In an interview with the “Today” show on NBC, he described the ban on his practicing as “a little bump in the road” and said the council’s decision had been predetermined “from the outset.” He also said he would continue his research into the link between vaccines and autism. “These parents are not going away,” he said. “The children are not going away. And I am most certainly not going away.”