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Whose Fault is Fraud?

For years, anti-vaccination activists have used Andrew Wakefield's research to contend that vaccines cause autism. Now, Wakefield has been discredited and his original study, which was published in the Lancet in 1998, has been retracted and called a fraud by the British Medical Journal, which conducted its own investigation into Wakefield's work. The whole mess, says Robert Langreth on the Forbes Treatments blog, shows how flawed the system for publishing medical journals really is. Not only have the study's 12 cases been found to be "dubious," Langreth says, but he also wonders why it took 12 years to find the truth. Strict British libel laws may have had something to do with it, but the bigger problem is the limitations inherent in the medical journal system, he adds. "The Food and Drug Administration often examines much of the raw data when it analyzes whether to approve or restrict a drug. But medical journals rely more on the good faith of researchers and ... peer review," Langreth says. Peer review works when it comes to detecting flawed analysis and data that doesn't match up with a researcher's conclusions, but when the data itself is made up or the researcher is being deliberately deceptive, peer review doesn't make a difference, he adds.

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.