Lancet formally retracts paper linking vaccine to autism.

ABC World News (2/2, story 7, 0:30, Sawyer) reported that “one of the world’s most respected medical journals,” The Lancet, is “formally retracting an article that…sparked a fierce debate.” The “1998 study…linked the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella to autism,” which “led to a drop in vaccinations and a jump in measles cases,” the CBS Evening News (2/2, story 9, 0:30, Couric) reported. But, “25 studies in all have found no link between the vaccine and autism.”

The move “is part of a reassessment that has lasted for years of the scientific methods and financial conflicts of Dr. Andrew Wakefield,” whose “research showed that the…vaccine may be unsafe,” the New York Times (2/3, Harris) reports. Last week, “a British medical panel concluded…that Dr. Wakefield has been dishonest, violated basic research ethics rules, and showed a ‘callous disregard’ for the suffering of children involved in his research.”

The Washington Post (2/3, Kelland) reports, “The Lancet said that after the” panel’s “ruling, it was clear that parts of Wakefield’s paper were wrong.” The journal “highlighted, for example, assertions that investigations of children for the study were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee.” Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet, said the journal was especially concerned that Wakefield’s study specifically chose certain children to participate rather than testing those who arrived at the hospital as described in the study, the Wall Street Journal (2/3, Wang) reports.

The AP (2/3) reports, “The retraction…comes a day after a competing medical journal, BMJ, issued an embargoed commentary calling for The Lancet to formally retract the study.” The BMJ “said once the study” was published, “the arguments were considered by many to be proven and the ghastly social drama of the demon vaccine took on a life of its own.”

“Despite multiple subsequent studies that have refuted the link, vaccination rates have remained lower than they were before” Wakefield’s study, the Los Angeles Times (2/2, Maugh) reported. BMJ editor Dr. Fiona Goodless said the retraction “will help restore faith in” the vaccine “and in the integrity of the scientific literature.”

Bloomberg News (2/3, Cortez), Reuters (2/2), WebMD (2/2, DeNoon), HealthDay (2/2, Gardner), BBC News (2/2, Triggle), theFinancial Times (2/2, Jack), AFP (2/3, Ingham), and CNN (2/3, Park) also covered the story, as did the UK’s Guardian (2/2, Boseley), the Press Association (2/3), and the Telegraph (2/3).

WSJournal criticizes Lancet over vaccine-autism link article. In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal (2/3) criticizes British medical journal The Lancet for apologizing for a study published in 1998 that linked the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism. The Journal says the article gave credence to vaccine skeptic Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and resulted in a reduction of vaccinations despite evidence to the contrary

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