Let’s address the question of the biggest scientific breakthrough in medical history. If you think about it, Vaccination can very well qualify as the answer. After all, prevention is better than cure!
Isn’t it better to destroy even the smallest possibility of developing a disease, than go through the entire tedious process of treating it?
Over the years, vaccination has saved millions of lives across the globe. Based on studies and researches made so far, vaccines can undoubtedly be called a boon. However, in the shortest month of the year 1998, a certain gentleman from the UK tried to label it a curse.
The said gentleman, Andrew Wakefield, recently appeared in one of the inaugural balls of the newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump. Somehow, it seems that President Trump has long supported this propagated myth. The whole drama began in February 1998, when Andrew Wakefield, along with several co-authors, published a so-called research paper suggesting that the MMR vaccine causes Autism. However, this research paper can hardly qualify as proper research, as Wakefield has tried to manipulate and hide several facts and pieces of evidence to advocate his hypothesis. Let’s take a closer look at the controversial history of the MMR vaccine.
How this Vaccination Debate started:
In February 1998, the British medical journal ‘The Lancet’, published a fraudulent paper co-authored by Wakefield.
The paper claimed that Colitis and Autism spectrum disorders are linked to the combined Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Before the publication of the paper, he conducted a press conference, advocating a ban over the combined MMR vaccine.
According to Wakefield , the combined vaccine given for measles, mumps, and rubella is harmful for children.
This garnered a huge media coverage and led to a near no consumption of the MMR vaccine. This, in turn, caused huge numbers of MMR diagnoses and possibly some deaths as well.
In retrospect, this press conference is now criticised as “science by press conference.” However, back then, the matter did not remain limited to the medical field.
What was in the paper:
Wakefield with his 12 colleagues, collected data from 12 children with developmental disorders. His paper used a handful of findings of bowel symptoms, endoscopy (looking inside the body by using endoscope), and biopsy (examination of test cells or tissues to determine presence or extent of disease) as evidence.
Although a paper with no sufficient research, Wakefield’s publication ended up becoming a national health issue. People became so mad that they began questioning the national health policies. However, the questions really were justified. It was, after all, the matter of every child’s health.
Confidence in MMR fell from 59% to 41% after publication of the Wakefield research.
Soon, a good number of research papers followed with meta-analysis. Brian Deer was one of the leading journalists to initiate investigations. These studies concluded no link between vaccines and disorders, thereby exposing the fraudulent paper.
Co-written & Edited by: Preetika Dubey