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an Economist Intelligence Unit business healthcare

MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine



British Medical Association



In what is now a well known story, a controversial piece of research in 1998 claimed there was a link between the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in children. A certain press conference initiated a lot of media coverage, and a “social panic” spread across the UK. By 2002 vaccination rates had fallen past the point at which measles could re-establish itself in the population. 


The problem

Given the danger this represented, the British Medical Association (BMA) wanted to know whether there was any validity to the purported link between the vaccine and autism so it could advise the medical community appropriately. It needed the answer to be robust and rapid, so the BMA turned to Bazian.


Our solution

Bazian conducted a rapid systematic review looking at more than 2000 studies published over 50 years. We found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism whatsoever.


The outcome

Armed with a bulletproof systematic review, the BMA conducted a media and public education campaign which Dr Vivek Muthu and Dr Anna Donald from Bazian supported on radio and in print media. Vaccination rates are now above 90% in most areas of the UK, and many children who would have died or suffered severe complications from measles, mumps and rubella are fit and healthy.