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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trump, Science, Autism

Jon Reid reports at Morning Consult:
On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump met with prominent vaccine skeptics and ranted about the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism. But as the administration approaches its 100-day mark, the White House has given few indications about the direction of its vaccine policy.
Despite Trump’s inaction, anti-vaccine activists feel emboldened. Vaccine skeptics held a rally in Washington last month, when they also lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Andrew Wakefield, the author of a since-discredited study linking vaccines to autism who met with Trump during the 2016 campaign, remains optimistic that the White House will act on his cause, though he said he hasn’t had contact with Trump since their meeting last summer.
“I truly hope that President Trump will follow through on this,” Wakefield said in a phone interview.
The Huffington Post:
President Donald Trump has long perpetuated the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism. In January, while still president-elect, he went as far as to request that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a fellow vaccine skeptic, lead a commission to investigate vaccine safety.

This disregard for science is among the reasons Sabrina Solouki, a second-year Ph.D. student in immunology and infectious disease at Cornell University, made a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., on Saturday for the March for Science, a mass protest to rally scientists against what they see as Trump’s backward policies.

“The administration, by forming this safety commission, isn’t really doing a good job of listening to science — of science-informed policy,” she told The Huffington Post.

Solouki also wants to unite the scientific community, to push for it to do a better job of engaging with the public at large, and to send a clear message that scientists are against Trump’s proposed cuts to science.