Del Bigtree ended his closing speech at last week’s anti-vaccine mandate rally in Washington with a message, bellowed to a few thousand rallygoers and the news organizations assembled on a riser in front of him.
“We are no longer a fringe group,” he proclaimed.
The pandemic has been a boon for the anti-vaccine community, with Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), one of the country’s best-funded anti-vaccine organizations, among the biggest beneficiaries, according to newly filed tax records.
ICAN reported $5.5 million in revenue in 2020, a 60 percent increase over the previous year. The funding underscores how lucrative the pandemic has been for a handful of groups that spread health misinformation and undermine public faith in vaccines. Those donations primarily come from private donors, including through Facebook fundraisers.
Other large anti-vaccine organizations have similarly thrived during the pandemic. As an Associated Press investigation reported, the Children’s Health Defense, led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., more than doubled its revenue in 2020, to $6.8 million.
But those figures could be dwarfed from the massive earnings of “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” in which Kennedy slams the infectious disease expert for allegedly committing “a historic coup d’etat against western democracy.”
The diatribe is amassing millions in revenue, selling nearly 390,000 hardback copies at $32.50 each, according to NPD BookScan, plus 185,000 e-books and 142,000 audio books since its Nov. 17 release, said Tony Lyons, who heads Skyhorse Publishing Inc., the book’s publisher. Skyhorse just ordered another 150,000 print copies.
And that's only part of the story. Some antivaxxers are profiting by selling dietary supplements as treatments for COVID, autism, and other things. (They do not work.)