A jab against superstition

On Immunity – an Inoculation, Eula Biss, Fitzcarraldo Editions, £12.99

The World Today Published 12 June 2015 Updated 4 January 2021 2 minute READ

Claire Muñoz Parry

Former Assistant Director, Global Health Programme

In 1998 The Lancet published a research paper by Andrew Wakefield that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. As Eula Biss points out, Wakefield’s paper was hardly conclusive: it said that the association between the MMR vaccine and the behavioural syndrome that included symptoms of autism could not be proved and more research was needed, yet it still caused a dramatic drop in vaccination rates. Since then, study after study has failed to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and the General Medical Council has ruled that Wakefield acted ‘dishonestly and irresponsibly’ in his research.

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