The re-emergence of the disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield has fueled a resurgence of vaccine scepticism among rightwing populists. After a surge in measles outbreaks across the EU in 2018, Sarah Boseley looks back at how confidence in the MMR vaccine was dented after Wakefield’s discredited campaign against it. Plus: Sonia Sodha on how to improve the British honours system
In 1998, the British doctor Andrew Wakefield announced that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) childhood vaccination programme was linked to autism and advised parents against it.
It was one of the most controversial health stories of a generation and caused a media sensation. In the years after his claim, the UK’s immunisation rate plunged and cases of measles soared. The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, was at that fateful press conference 20 years ago. Since then, the original research has been widely discredited, Wakefield has been struck off the medical register and the scandal subsided.