Parents' champion or loose cannon?

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 16 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:386

As the government launches a campaign to revive confidence in the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, Roger Dobson speaks to Andrew Wakefield, the doctor at the centre of the storm

“He's a doctor of gastroenterology, the head of cutting edge research groups, writer of more than a hundred papers on the subject, honoured and recognised by his peers. Not only that, he's got a good sense of humour, cultured British accent, good looks, and the body of a rugby player.”

Spectrum, an online news and radio service, was clearly impressed with the man it had interviewed at the Autism 2000 conference in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Also impressed were delegates to a second autism conference in Orlando, Florida, one of whom said: “His argument is so powerful here that it moved many of us to tears. What an incredible tragedy this would be if it is proven to be true.”

For some, Andrew Wakefield is the MMR warrior, a cutting edge researcher campaigning on behalf of parents and patients for the truth about the MMR vaccine and its links with autism. For others, he is public health enemy number one, a loose cannon who is undermining the vaccination programmes against measles, mumps, and rubella not just in the United Kingdom, but worldwide.

Few researchers have attracted as much personal attention, or as many internet website references, or have generated such …

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