In 2014, Donald Trump was promoting one of the most dangerous medical myths

Louis Dor
Thursday 17 November 2016 10:30
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Picture:(Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, was tweeting anti-vaccination myths in 2014 with no medical evidence to support his views.

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, then a gastroenterologist and medical researcher, published a paper in the Lancet journal which implied a link between the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and a "new syndrome" of austim and bowel disease.

The paper was a small case series with no controls and relied heavily on parental recall and beliefs. Over the following decade, epidemiological studies consistently found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Wakefield's paper was later retracted and the British General Medical Council concluded that he had acted dishonestly and irresponsibly.

Immunization rates in Britain dropped from 92 per cent to 73 per cent in the following vaccine scare, and were as low as 50 per cent in some parts of London. Anti-vaccination views fuelled by Dr Wakefield's study and campaigning are often cited to explain measles outbreaks in the US and the UK.

A subsequent investigation by the journalist Brian Deer found that Wakefield had altered numerous facts about patients' medical histories to support his claims, suggesting he exploited the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain. He found that not one of the 12 cases in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration.

The British Medical Journal says Wakefield:

has been given ample opportunity either to replicate the paper’s findings, or to say he was mistaken. He has declined to do either. He refused to join 10 of his co-authors in retracting the paper’s interpretation in 2004,

Wakefield is now a prominent speaker on anti-vaccination views and directed an anti-vaccination film Vaxxed, which was withdrawn from the Tribeca film festival for misrepresenting the films leanings as scientifically accurate.

This is how president-elect Donald Trump tweeted about his anti-vaccination views in 2014, many years after the 1998 paper and suggested links between autism and the MMR were widely discredited:

Donald Trump has 15 million followers on Twitter and no qualifications to practise medicine.

HT Business Insider

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