The Panic Virus: Fear, Myth and the Vaccination Debate

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In 1998 Andrew Wakefield published a paper containing a shocking allegation: the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine might cause autism. Wakefield based his findings on a study of just a dozen children, and his methods and conclusions immediately came under fire. But the media seized on the story, launching one of the most devastating health scares of modern times. Soon, vaccination rates had started to fall, eventually resulting in deaths from diseases previously thought to be disappearing.

Wakefield was eventually stripped of his medical licence, but the myth that vaccines cause developmental disorders lives on. Drawing on interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists, The Panic Virus is a riveting and heartbreaking medical detective story that explores the limits of rational thought – a cautionary tale of our time.