According to Discover Magazine’s blog, Andrew Wakefield, who is the British researcher who founded the anti-vaccination movement, alleging that vaccines cause autism, not only has been disproven factually, but has been found to have acted unethically in his research.
The [UK’s General Medical Council] the independent body of medical regulators in the UK … didn’t investigate whether his claims were correct or not — and let’s be very clear, his claims have been shown beyond any doubt to be totally wrong — only whether he acted ethically in his research. What they found is that his research involving spinal taps of children was against the children’s clinical interest, that Wakefield was unqualified to perform the test, and that he had no ethical approval to do them.
According to the blog, the GMC did not address all possible ethical issues:
Not to pile on here, but I was rather surprised that they didn’t mention the claims — supported by a lot of evidence — that on top of all that unethical behavior, he may have faked his results, too. There’s also no mention of his grave conflict of interest– at the time he published his paper slamming vaccines and which started the antivax craze, he was developing an alternative to vaccinations, so he had a very large monetary incentive to make the public distrust vaccines.
While I’m not qualified to evaluate the facts of this dispute, if Mr. Wakefield persuaded people not to have their children vaccinated by faking results and acting out of self-interest, that goes beyond professional ethics. It’s got to be a crime.
But it doesn’t sound as though some of his supporters are having any second thoughts,
Will this deter Wakefield and the antivax movement? Ha! Of course not. Note that supporters of Wakefield heckled the GMC members as they read their announcements.
Makes you wonder.