The journal acted after a British medical panel had found the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, guilty of dishonesty and flouting medical ethics.
The original paper, published in 1998, was based on only 12 children. It nevertheless drew an inferential link between an autismlike disorder and the triple-vaccine used to prevent measles, mumps and rubella. Although that paper stopped short of claiming the combination vaccine caused the disorder, Dr. Wakefield suggested at a press conference that parents would be wise to use single vaccines for each of the diseases.
What was not known at the time was that Dr. Wakefield had filed for a patent on a single measles vaccine that would benefit if the triple vaccine failed and that he was receiving payments from a lawyer planning to sue manufacturers of the triple vaccine.
Die-hard believers in the theory that vaccines cause autism are already denouncing the British medical establishment for smearing one of their heroes. Many parents have moved on to other theories as to how vaccines might cause autism only to be met with overwhelming evidence that there is no causal link.
What is indisputable is that vaccines protect
children from dangerous diseases. We hope that The
Lancetís belated retraction will finally lay this
damaging myth about autism and vaccines to rest.