Anti-vaccine hero Andrew Wakefield, publisher of the infamous 1998 Lancet paper supposedly linking MMR vaccines with autism, is not just incompetent but, apparently, a total fraud.
In brief, the laboratory used was set up such that cross contamination between the plasmids used to maintain the measles virus sequences and the area where the PCR was done. PCR is very sensitive; if there is contaminating plasmid sequence, it is very easy to amplify and detect it even when there is nothing in your samples. Indeed, I’ve experienced this very problem on occasion in my own lab. Unfortunately, in the case of Wakefield’s research, no controls were done to make sure that contamination was detected in the negative controls. Finally, Wakefield’s results were roundly refuted in an attempt to replicate his work that was published last year. As you can see, Wakefield’s work and ethics are about as bad as it gets.
Or so I thought, until readers started sending me this article published in The Times, again by Wakefield’s nemesis Brian Deer. Holy crap. If only a fraction of the allegations in this article are true, not only is Wakefield an unscrupulous and incompetent scientist but he’s a scientific fraud as well.
1998 is the year my daughter was born and, as a worried new parent, I was almost taken in by this cretin and the useful idiots in the press. So I take this decipt rather personally – and am doubly glad I’ve become a confirmed skeptic. As far as I’m concerned both Wakefield and The Lancet have blood on their hands.