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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Antivax Testimony

 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.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong

 Alexander Thompson at The Post and Courier:

A daylong hearing by a Republican panel of South Carolina state legislators about pandemic preparedness saw a parade of witnesses trumpet proven falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine while raising doubts about the long-refuted link between childhood vaccines and autism.


The most lengthy testimony given Sept. 12 came from New York attorney Aaron Siri, who spoke for nearly 90 minutes. Siri criticized federal liability shield laws covering vaccine makers and raised doubts about the refuted link between autism and the pre-natal TDAP vaccine.

In May, he testified before the Arizona Senate. Jerold MacDonald-Evoy at the Arizona Mirror:

The most spurious accusations about vaccines came from Aaron Siri, an attorney who is most well known for his work with an organization called the Informed Consent Action Network, or ICAN. In his testimony, Siri mischaracterized vaccine research by leaving out key information about vaccine efficacy and safety.

“Vaccines were not given by God at Sinai, they’re just products,” Siri said during his testimony.

Siri tried to connect vaccines to autism by claiming that there were no studies conducted by federal health authorities that had fully refuted the claim that vaccines given in the first 6 months of life were not causing autism. But that ignores the ample research done by others into the supposed links between vaccines and autism more broadly: Multiple studies have found no connection between vaccines and autism. And a 2013 study published in The Journal of Pediatrics concluded that there was no link between autism and the vaccines given to children in the first two years of life.

The initial report that started the controversy around vaccines and autism was retracted and has been widely debunked in the 25 years since it was published.

Siri also said that the inactivated polio vaccine “does not in any way stop the infection and transmission of the virus.” He did not mention that the vaccine prevents the paralysis that polio causes, or that widespread adoption of the vaccine worked so well that polio was eliminated in the Americas by 1994, in 36 Western Pacific countries in 2000 and in Europe by 2002. India was declared polio-free in 2014.

ICAN has been on the frontlines of anti-vaccine misinformation and is led by Del Bigtree, a television and film producer who has become an anti-vaccine activist. ICAN was listed as one of the “key organisations” tied to the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s “The Disinformation Dozen”,” the anti-vaxxers who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about COVID vaccines.