Earlier this week a panel of medical experts in the UK banned Andrew Wakefield from practicing medicine in his native country after slamming him for professional misconduct while gathering information for his controversial and widely discredited study linking autism and vaccines.
The board concluded that Wakefield acted dishonestly, unethically and in "callous disregard" for the suffering of children. Wakefield's study in The Lancet has helped create a deep distrust regarding the safety of vaccines, an attitude that was clearly apparent over the winter as millions of parents steered clear of the clinics offered to provide swine flu vaccine--driven away at least in part by their safety concerns.
None of that, of course, has caused Wakefield to rethink his conclusions. He left the UK several years ago to work at an alternative health clinic in Texas, though he is not certified to practice medicine there. He left that job earlier this year. And he quickly took to the airwaves to denounce the board's actions as he repeated his assertion that "vaccines cause autism" on the Today Show.
"In the end, it's about choice," he told a "vaccination choice" rally in Chicago. "Medicine has to choose--does it serve the patients or the pharmaceutical industry?"
Now Wakefield says he plans to found a virtual university to help create new research collaborations that will study the causes of diseases like autism. And he claims the support of millions who still trust him.