Timeline: How the Andrew Wakefield MMR vaccine scare story spread

 

October 1988

The three-in-one measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is introduced to the UK after successful use in the US. Previously, single measles and rubella vaccines were used, and there was no mumps vaccine.

September 1992

The Department of Health withdraws two brands of MMR vaccine after research suggests they are associated with a raised incidence of transient mumps meningitis, although much lower than with natural disease.

February 1998

The Lancet publishes a  12-patient case series by Andrew Wakefield and 12 others, proposing a link between MMR and a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease. At a press conference, he urges the use of single vaccines instead of MMR.

January 2001

The Daily Mail and other newspapers launch campaigns backing Dr Wakefield after he publishes a purported review of his evidence and repeats his calls for single vaccines.

December 2001

The Prime Minister Tony Blair is ambushed by Dr Wakefield’s supporters, who claim Mr Blair’s son Leo did not have the MMR jab. The Blairs initially decline to comment but later deny the claim.

February 2004

An investigation by Brian Deer of The Sunday Times reveals that the Legal Aid Board funded the Lancet research and that many of the children were litigants.

March 2004

Ten of the 1998 paper’s 13 authors, excluding Dr Wakefield, retract its “interpretation” section, which claimed an association in time between MMR, enterocolitis, and regressive developmental disorders.

April 2006

As measles outbreaks occur across Britain, the first death in the UK from the disease in 14 years is reported.

July 2007

The General Medical Council opens its case alleging serious professional misconduct by Dr Wakefield and two co-authors of the Lancet paper.

February 2010

The Lancet retracts the 1998 paper. The editor Richard Horton describes aspects of it as “utterly false” and says he “felt deceived”.

May 2010

After a 217-day inquiry, the GMC panel finds Dr Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct and orders that his name be struck off the medical register.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss