In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread. And among those diseases could be COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration should hold hearings and publish data before it approves a COVID-19 vaccine to boost public confidence, experts in infectious diseases and vaccination advise.
“It is incumbent on us as scientists to convey to the American public what we’re finding and seeing very, very clearly and loudly,” said Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford School of Medicine health economist and professor of medicine, at a House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy hearing Tuesday.
The fallout from disinformation falsely linking the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism, seeding the anti-vaccine movement, is a cautionary tale, he said.
“There, the early publication of essentially misleading information was incredibly damaging. So I think in the future and for the vaccine that comes out of this process . . . making the data transparent and available so everybody can see what the safety concerns are, if there are any, is absolutely critical,” Bhattacharya said.
Trust in an eventual COVID-19 vaccine will be fragile, public experts worry, because of these anti-vaccine conspiracy theories; the project’s unprecedented speed; FDA’s reversal on authorization for antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to be used against COVID-19; historical harms to Black Americans; and deep disapproval of President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic.
At about 1:08, antivax Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) cited the conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits and actually asked if the committee should hear from people like her.