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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Dr. Hotez v. the Antivaxxers

 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.

On MSNBC last night, Brian Williams spoke with Dr. Peter Hotez:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And doctor, just take for our audience who may not be familiar with you. Take a brief moment here at the top and tell the good people watching how and why it is in your life you have become so familiar, let`s say with the anti-vaxx crowd.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, VACCINE SCIENTIST: Yes, I wish it were for good reasons, Brian, thanks for asking. You know, I`m a vaccine scientist and pediatrician and devoted my life to developing vaccines mostly for poverty related diseases to gotten Coronavirus vaccines about 10 years ago, but I`m also the parent of four adult -- four adult kids including Rachel who has autism and intellectual disability.

And a few years ago I wrote a book called "Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel`s Autism" to debunk the fake assertions from the anti-vaccine lobby claiming that there`s a link that vaccines cause autism explaining the massive evidence showing there`s no link and the lack of plausibility what we know about the genetics of autism. And unfortunately, that may be public enemy number one with the anti-vaccine groups. And one prominent anti vaccine activist caused me the OG villain, which I had to look up, it means the original gangster villain. So you have the original gangster villain on tonight, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Well, we`re proud of it. And for you, this must be an incredible experience. Because I`m guessing there is a set anti-vaxx playbook, which you`ve lived long enough to see employed in the autism sphere. And now you`ve lived long enough to see it in your other life`s work, and that is suppressing active disease like this.

HOTEZ: Yes, that`s right. So what happened with the anti-vaccine movement is, you know, I like to think maybe in part because I was helped to fuse a little bit the links and between vaccines and autism, and I think to reenergize about six, seven years ago, they -- to reenergize they politicize. They linked themselves on to political extremism on the far right. Initially, the Republican Tea Party organizations, political action committee started forming in Texas and Oklahoma, where I am and now you see it play out nightly, I`m the conservative news outlets.

And you if you listen to the CPAC conference a couple of weeks ago, the horror show that that unfolded there from very conservative members of Congress, discrediting vaccines and claiming it`s nothing more than a political instrument of control. And this is why we`re in this terrible, terrible situation right now, where we have whole regions of the country, not just outbreak areas, but entire regions of the South Central U.S., in the southeastern United States, where people are not getting vaccinated out of defiance.

And we`re seeing this massive surge, all predicted and predictable when you have that combination of delta and low vaccination rates. So it`s totally heartbreaking because all of this could have been prevented.