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For Brian Deer, the story started back in 1998.
A doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the British medical journal, 'The Lancet.' Wakefield suggested a link between the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine and the development of autism. It tapped into every parent's deepest fear: That by trying to protect their child, they were actually putting them at risk. The paper set off a worldwide panic. Millions of people decided not to vaccinate their kids, leading to outbreaks of measles across Europe and North America.
But Deer knew something wasn't right. He read the five-page paper, started asking questions, and first wrote about the study in 2004. Over the next seven years, he almost single-handedly discredited Wakefield's paper, exposing conflicts of interest and poor research.
Recently, Deer's work has been validated. Last year, 'The Lancet' retracted the paper,
and this past January, the British Medical Journal called Wakefield's research "fraudulent."
You'd think that would be the end of it, but many parents still avoid the MMR vaccine, and Wakefield has some high-profile supporters in Hollywood who've taken up his cause, including actress Jenny McCarthy.
For Deer, it's not just about vaccines; it's about the integrity of science, and how much we should trust medical research.