Bruce Beutler has informed Science that
experiments performed in his laboratory
have failed to reproduce clearly the foundational observations of the 2014 article
“MAVS, cGAS, and endogenous retroviruses
in T-independent B cell responses” (1). In
contrast to data presented (Figs. 1 and 3),
he now finds that deficiency of MAVS and/
or cGAS does not cause a robust decrease
in type II T-independent B cell responses.
At most, a decreased antibody response
is observed in Stinggt/gt mice. Although
some of the data shown in the paper may
be correct, the core observations and conclusions are not. Beutler and a majority of
coauthors have therefore requested retraction of the paper.
The editors nonetheless note that authors
Ming Zeng and Xiaolei Shi stand by the
findings of the paper. These authors do not
agree to this retraction due to disagreement with the design of the reproduction
The editors have worked with the authors
to determine the appropriate outcome and
have decided retraction is appropriate in
light of the lack of robustness of the main
1. M. Zeng et al., Science 346, 1486 (2014).
In the past decade, insufficient vaccination coverage and vaccine hesitancy
have become pressing problems in many
countries. In France, vaccine-related contro-versies in the media have multiplied, and
the proportion of the population doubting
the safety of vaccines has risen to approximately 40% (1). Recently, several countries
and U.S. states have opted for an aggressive strategy in their fight against vaccine
hesitancy: legal mandates for childhood
vaccines (2). France plans to follow suit by
making eight new vaccines mandatory in
addition to the three currently required (3).
This approach risks amplifying the problem
rather than solving it.
Proponents justify France’s policy by cit-
ing a citizens’ consultation held in 2016 that
Edited by Jennifer Sills
recommended making all childhood vaccines temporarily mandatory (4). Detractors
argue that the 2016 consultation was widely
criticized for the way it was framed and
organized and that it is unclear whether
mandates are warranted on epidemiological
grounds (5). Furthermore, making a vaccine
mandatory opens administrative courts to
purported victims and critics. Such cases
increase the chances that more diseases
will be attributed to vaccines and that more
vaccines will be criticized in the news (6,
7). Because negative media coverage fuels
French vaccine hesitancy (8), these man-
dates could increase rather than alleviate
frustration with vaccines.
Mandates do not solve the underlying
issues. Doctors lack the time and resources
to address vaccine hesitancy. Worse yet, a
substantial proportion of doctors are vaccine-hesitant themselves (9). With mandates
in place, there is a risk that pro-vaccine
doctors will rely too heavily on the requirements rather than persuading their hesitant
patients that vaccines are valuable. The
mandates could also make vaccine-hesitant
doctors even more reluctant.
Studies show that tougher stances on the
part of doctors and public health experts
tend to polarize attitudes in the public (10).
There is a considerable risk that making
more vaccines mandatory will convert
vaccine hesitancy into a more extreme
anti-vaccination stance. To mitigate this
risk, members of the parliament who are
about to decide on the precise contents of
this bill should allow philosophical exemp-
tions and make these mandates only a part
of a comprehensive vaccination policy.
Jeremy K. Ward,1,2 James Colgrove,3
1INSERM, IRD, SESSTIM, Economics and
Social Sciences Applied to Health & Analysis of
Medical Information, Aix Marseille University,
Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 13385,
France. 2Université Paris-Diderot, CNRS, LIED,
Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Tomorrow’s Energies,
Paris, France. 3Department of Sociomedical
Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia
University, New York, N Y 10032, USA. 4ORS PACA,
Southeastern Health Regional Observatory, Marseille,
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 13385, France.
1. H.J.Larson et al., EBioMedicine.12,295(2016).
2. “Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school children
in an attempt to combat ‘anti-scientific theories,’” The
3. BFM-TV, “Agnès Buzyn face à Jean-Jacques Bourdin
en direct” (2017); www.bfmtv.com/mediaplayer/
direct-984833.html [in French].
4. Conférence de presse d’Agnès Buzyn sur la vaccination
en France (Direct du 5.07) (2017); www.youtube.com/
watch?v=RHlC42nnFg0 [in French].
5 S. Guillot, “Lettre ouverte des partisans de la liberté
de vaccination à Marisol Touraine,” Mediapart (2017) ;
lettre-ouverte-des-partisans-de-la-liberte-de-vaccination-marisol-touraine [in French].
6. A. Bertrand, D. Torny, “Libertés individuelle et santé collective. Une étude socio-historique de l’obligation vaccinale”
(Cermes, Paris, 2004) [in French].
7. J. Colgrove, State of Immunity: The Politics of Vaccination
in Twentieth-Century America (University of California
Press, Berkeley, ed. 1, 2006).
8. P. Peretti-Watel et al. , Euro Surveill. 18, 20623 (2013).
A substantial percentage of France’s population doubts vaccine safety, but vaccine mandates could backfire.