MMR-autism debate

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
January 14, 2011, 9:31 PM GMT+0

The revelation that disgraced medical doctor Andrew Wakefield, the first to suggest a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, stood to make a profit of more than £28 million a year from a medical test should his claims be upheld, has sparked debate among our British panellists, with some people expressing their approval for their vaccine, others reserving judgement and a few focussing on the unfairness of Wakefield’s defamation.

Wakefield was found to have ‘acted unethically’ by the General Medical Council in an investigation into his MMR-autism link claims, and was struck off the medical register in January of last year.

When questioned on the issue, many said the controversy, or the suggestion of a link with autism, hadn’t put them off the MMR vaccine.

Others thought that more research was still needed on the issue

Some of our panellists questioned if Mr. Wakefield should have been struck off the medical register for his claims, feeling that his research hadn’t been given a fair airing.

The suggested, and since discredited, connection between the vaccine and the development of autism led to one of the biggest public health outcries in recent times, leading to a drop in vaccination rates and, reportedly, a subsequent increase in measles cases among children. An inquiry concerning Mr. Wakefield’s professional conduct regarding the issue lasted almost three years and found that Wakefield had acted ‘irresponsibly’. Wakefield later hit back, calling the claims against him ‘unfounded and unjust’.