Andrew Wakefield was never funny

On February 28th, 1998, The Lancet published the plausibly medical-sounding article “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children,” Looking back at what I wrote about it at the time for Private Eye magazine, I regret three things: the choice of pseudonym, the incorrect singular instead of plural for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and, above all, making light of the man whose fraud has become a global catastrophe. Back then, I assumed that his fakery sewing together the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and childhood autism was obvious – that he would be laughed out of London. Instead, it wasn’t until 2004 that ten of the twelve authors sought to retract the paper. It took twelve years for the premier British medical journal to retract Wakefield’s study and for Mr Wakefield to be stripped of his professional certification. Now reportedly a resident of Texas, Mr Wakefield has made the Lone Star State the home of the anti-vax movement, where, according to the Texas Tribune, more than 99% of the COVID-19 deaths are now among the unvaccinated. If you know someone there, consider sending him or her a copy of Brian Deer’s 2020 book “The Doctor Who Fooled the World.”