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Tuesday 25th October 2016

MMR jab 'was working'

23rd August 2007

The government's director of immunisation has told a hearing that the MMR vaccination drive had shown "results very quickly" before the debate over its link with autism.


Professor David Salisbury gave evidence to the General Medical Council hearing against Dr Andrew Wakefield. Dr Wakefield is facing charges in relation to his research, published in the Lancet in 1998, which linked the MMR jab with autism.

Professor Salisbury told the hearing that he had been in favour of the MMR jab in 1986, when the government made the decision to approve it.

He said Britain at the time was falling far behind other countries in terms of measles outbreaks. The country had around 20 deaths a year and "there were developing countries that were doing better," he said.

Professor Salisbury said: "We saw the results very quickly. We saw, gratifyingly, that coverage rose. The introduction of a common vaccine was getting very positive immunisation. Coverage rose by the order of 10% over a very short time."

Following the publication of the Lancet's research, many parents did not want their children to have the vaccine, and coverage fell dramatically.

Dr Wakefield was employed at the Royal Free Hospital's medical school in London, along with Professors Simon Murch and John Walker-Smith. All three doctors are facing charges of professional misconduct.

The council has been told that the research was not conducted correctly, follow ethical standards and Dr Wakefield had not been employed "to investigate" the subjects of his study.

It has also been put forward that he received £50,000 from the Legal Aid Board to "support" MMR research.

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