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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Antivaxxers and COVID

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing disease to spread Trump has helped spread misinformation.

The antivaxxers are joining up with protests against the coronavirus shutdown.  Alas, Republicans are complicit.

According to a Morning Consult poll, 20 percent of Republicans say that they would not get a COVID vaccine if it were available, compared with just 7 percent of Democrats. 

Peter Jamison at WP reports that antivaxxers are exploiting COVID-19 to raise fears about government control
“One of the main tenets of the marketing of mandatory vaccination has been fear. And never have we seen fear exploited in the way that we do now with the coronavirus infection,” Andrew Wakefield, the former British doctor and founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement, said at a three-day teleconference last week. “I think what we have reached is a situation where — I hope we’ve reached a situation where — the public are now sufficiently skeptical. ”

As the pandemic kills nearly 2,000 people every day in the United States, Wakefield — whose medical license was revoked after he published a study, since identified as fraudulent, that linked autism with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — said the coronavirus is “no worse” than seasonal influenza.
The range of views within the movement on the current pandemic was on display last week at the “Health Freedom Summit,” where Wakefield and [Robert] Kennedy spoke. The virtual conference, portions of which were viewed by The Washington Post, featured dozens of speakers and devoted one full day to the coronavirus. Limited access to the seminars and materials was offered free, with full access for $69....

Louisiana state Rep. Danny McCormick (R), who also spoke at the conference and led a rally in Baton Rouge on Saturday demanding the lifting of quarantine restrictions, said people are newly receptive to warnings of government intrusion as they suffer through the battered economy.

“Government overreach has destroyed the greatest economy in the history of the world in a matter of weeks,” said McCormick, who is pushing a bill that would require schools to inform parents of their right to opt out of vaccines. “That’s of great concern to people. ”

While it is hard to determine the extent to which the broader public will welcome such messages, one measure can be found in the audience for the Health Freedom Summit at which McCormick spoke.

Newman, the conference organizer, said it had more than 30,000 registrants.