Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Antivaxxer Loses in Texas

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism.

Emma Platoff, Cassandra Pollock, and Edgar Walter report at The Texas Tribune on a statehouse race in which disgraced antivaccine doctor Andrew Wakefield backed a Republican candidate who also had the support of the state's governor.  They lost.
After Gov. Greg Abbott spent more than a quarter of a million dollars in a campaign to unseat three Republican incumbents in the Texas House, two of those incumbents nonetheless defeated their primary challengers Tuesday.
And state Rep. Sarah Davis, Abbott’s most explicit target, bested challenger Susanna Dokupil by more than 12 percentage points.
In a victory celebration, she thanked voters for re-electing her, telling them this primary race had significance far beyond her Harris County district.
“It was about whether the Republican party would be big enough to support diverse voices, and the right of a representative to vote her conscience and her district,” she said, framed by celebratory balloons.
Davis took several explicit shots at Abbott — who has called out her voting record in ways she has called disingenuous — as well as her opponent, who is backed by the anti-vaccine movement. Davis thanked her district for “supporting science and medicine — and vaccines,” to big applause.
"No amount of money in a campaign account can buy back your reputation when you squander it by making false accusations to exploit the suffering brought to us by the natural disaster that was Hurricane Harvey,” Davis said, in an apparent reference to Abbott’s claim that a Davis bill filed in 2017 might have undercut the state’s response to Harvey.
As Jonathan D. Quick and Heidi Larson write at Time, last week included a dubious milestone:
The vaccine-autism myth is one chilling example of fraudulent science. February 28, 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of an infamous article published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, in which Andrew Wakefield, a former British doctor, falsely linked the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine to autism. The paper eventually was retracted by the co-authors and the journal. Wakefield was de-licensed by medical authorities for his deceit and “callous disregard” for children in his care. It took nearly two decades for the UK immunization rates to recover. By the end, UK families had experienced more than 12,000 cases of measles, hundreds of hospitalizations — many with serious complications — and at least three deaths.