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.
This new EDMO BELUX investigation analyzes Robert Kennedy Jr’s anti-vax movement Children’s Health Defense efforts to expand its activities in Europe. Read the study here.
- The Center for Countering Digital Hate identified Robert Kennedy Jr and his organisation as one of the 12 influencers playing a key role in spreading English-speaking anti-vaxdisinformation on Twitter and Facebook.
- In this piece, “anti-vax” will be used to qualify entities and people having a general hostility towards vaccination which goes beyond COVID-19 vaccination and is based on beliefs and claims which are not endorsed/approved by scientific public authorities. This can apply to online publications of unverified or distorted scientific results as well as false or distorted statements from public health institutions.
- Since August 2020, the US anti-vaccine group has significantly increased its presence inEurope, creating a legal structure in Belgium and organising events to spread its narratives all over the continent.
- These events also helped the Children’s Health Defense Europe build strong relationships with like-minded anti-vax activists, creating a de facto network of organisations and people collaborating, sometimes not transparently, to disseminate anti-vaccine ideas in Europe.
- Brussels has been central to the Children’s Health Defense Europe’s new activities. For example, the group has developed its lobbying efforts targeting the European Parliament, building up relationships with specific MEPs without being registered in the EU transparency register at the time of our study. It also organised two press conferences at the Brussels Press Club.
- Social media platforms’ efforts to limit the reach of Children’s Health Defense have been limited at best so far, especially in Europe, and the EU remains vulnerable to the influence activities of many questionable actors like US anti-vaxxers.
- It raises an important question: What can be done to limit the opportunities to manipulate public discussions around vaccines in the EU?
From the report:
The creation of a legal entity called “Children’s Health Defense Europe” (CHD Europe) constituted an important milestone for the expansion of the Children’s Health Defense’s activities in Europe. It was announced in August 2020 by Robert Kennedy Jr. during a press conference in Berlin, organized one day before one of the first major anti-COVID-19 restrictions demonstrations in the German capital. This entity was registered in Belgium as an ASBL (non-profit organisation) on August 27th , 2020, initially counting five administrators based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the USA, and presided by Belgian activist Senta Depuydt. Well connected with the international anti-vax movement, Senta Dupuydt participated in the promotion of the infamous anti-vax documentary “Vaxxed” in France in 2017, together with fellow British anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield. The Children’s Health Defense Europe’s board composition changed in April 2022. The new chair of the CHD Europe’s board is Catherine Austin Fitts, an American investment banker and a former member of the George H.W. Bush administration, who participated in many events involving the anti-vax organisation in Europe through her personal organisation called “Solari Inc”. Among the other main visible public figures of the organisation’s board, there is Orsolya Györffy, who was presented as the new acting Executive director of CHD Europe until December 2022. According to CHD Europe’s website, she is “intensely” involved in a second organisation called “Doctors for COVID ethics”.