Vaccine Misinformers Get A WND Platform
The fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons knows it can count on WorldNetDaily to let it peddle anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories unchallenged.
By Terry Krepel
Dr. Jane Orient
In an anonymously written Dec. 6 article, WND states:
Controversy over vaccines has been ongoing for years, with critics pointing to many injuries and deaths.
This is an actual case, but WND obfuscates about how low the actual danger is. It states only that "medical experts say one can get GBS by getting the flu" without mentioning the actual numbers -- which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is just one to two cases per one million doses of the vaccine.
WND then jumped straight into conspiracy mode, uncritically repeating a 2016 column by Barry Farber:
The giants of the medical industry and their government supporters insist that vaccines are necessary, and that only a tiny fraction of a percentage develop complications. But WND columnist Barry Farber is one of many voices citing evidence of a vaccine connection to autism.
First, the reason there were so few autism diagnoses in 1950 is because it wasn't recognized as its own disorder then. The word "autism" itself wasn't coined until 1943, and until the 1970s it was considered a form of schizophrenia. Further, increasing diagnosis rates in recent years likely have much to do with doctors learning how to properly diagnose autism spectrum disorders, not necessarily an increase in the disorder itself.
Second, Andrew Wakefield (who made the film Farber watched), is not a "distinguished research gastroenterologist," nor did not have "his license revoked for the high crime of suggesting the MMR vaccine needed more study." He conducted the study published in the medical journal The Lancet claiming that MMR vaccines cause autism -- a study that has never been replicated by other researchers and which the Lancet itself retracted and renounced as a fraud. He lost his medical license in Britain because he behaved unethically in conducting the experiments , testing a vaccine on a child without consulting the child's doctor and bribing children to provide blood samples.
Oh, and reviews have dismissed Wakefield's film as "a grab-bag of charts, theories and anecdotal evidence that would never pass muster by the editors of any major scientific journal" that "too often resembles the kind of one-sided, paranoia-stoking agitprop that political activists construct to sanctify true believers and assault infidels."
Third, Thompson's claims have been discredited. He claimed that the CDC hid and/or destroyed evidence that the MMR vaccine caused increased rates of autism in African-American children; in fact, the data were never destroyed, and reanalysis of the data did not draw the same conclusion Thompson did, undermining his conspiracy theory.
(Also in that column, Farber invoked a weird form of Godwinism by likening vaccine defenders to "the fanatical war-time Japanese defended their Emperor Hirohito." Actually, vaccine defenders are defending science.)
WND went on to continue to fearmonger about the HPV vaccine, bizarrely complaining that "The government also went out of its way to praise HPV vaccines for purportedly lowering the number of reported cases." Which, you know, is exactly what vaccines are supposed to do. Indeed, the introduction of HPV vaccines have lowered cervical cancer rates.
A Jan. 11 WND article tried to further its conspiracy theory by focusing on another random case of a bad side effect:
Vaccines have been controversial for years, and the sudden death of a prominent British doctor from apparent total organ failure shortly after getting a yellow fever vaccination won’t make the concerns go away.
WND also cited a BBC article in which an immunology expert is quoted as saying that "people aged over 60 have a three to four-fold increased risk of experiencing these serious effects compared with younger people." But WND omitted the part in which the BBC reported that adverse effects from the yellow fever vaccine are exceedingly rare and that catastrophic effects like the doctor suffered are even more so:
The NHS says there are some very rare side effects that can occur, including an allergic reaction and problems affecting the brain or organs.
From there, WND descended into its usual anti-vaxxer clapcrap, including misinformation-prone anti-vaxxer doctor Jane Orient's bogus claim that nobody's researching links between vaccines and autism (they are, and there isn't any).
Dubious docs and fringe medical groups
When the current measles outbreak began, WND didn't have much to say; it copy-and-pasted articles stolen from elsewhere about one apology from a religious group for its role in creating one outbreak and calls to reduce exemptions from vaccinations. But WND is a longtime anti-vaxxer, so it couldn't stop conspiracy-mongering for long.
First up was dubious doc Jane Orient, who wrote in a Feb. 28 column:
Every time there is a measles outbreak somewhere there is an outcry to restrict vaccine exemptions, to protect the public and, just coincidentally, vaccine manufacturers.
That link goes to an abstract of an article in a medical journal that doesn't quite say what she thinks it says. The full article states that the fact that diseases are more severe in the unvaccinated "might be a potent tool to motivate hesitant parents to vaccinate their children," but that clinicians "do not engage parents in extensive discussions about many clinical services, including vaccination."
Instead, Orient complained that outbreaks cause people to dismiss anti-vaxxers like her -- but she guarantees that reaction by invoking Andrew Wakefield's discredited film:
Worries are attributed to “antivax quacks,” and the omniscient Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is reportedly going to protect the public by suppressing information he judges to be “not credible.” Public health people prevented the screening of the 2016 movie “Vaxxed: from Coverup to Catastrophe” in Phoenix. The film shows children with devastating neurologic damage and parents telling how their once-normal child changed dramatically just after getting a vaccine. But these are mere anecdotes; there is “overwhelming evidence” of safety, the experts assure us.
Orient then dismissed the threat, assuring us that "measles probably can't be eradicated" and that "the last measles death in the U.S. occurred in 2015."
Meanwhile, WND did not report to its readers that an unvaccinated boy almost died of tetanus and racked up an $800,000 hospital bill trying to stay alive.
A March 22 article fretted about social media sites like Facebook and Instagram blocking anti-vaxxers -- or, in WND's view, "allowing only one side of the debate over vaccines." WND pretends to be reasonable by offering a skewed framing of the issue: "The debate focuses on the fact that while vaccines undoubtedly prevent many illnesses and deaths, they have triggered extreme reactions, including death."
Of course, WND doesn't concede that these "extreme reactions" are just an infinitesimal fraction of the damage and death caused by the diseases themselves.
WND then called on the fringe-right AAPS, laughably trying to give it credibility it doesn't deserve by calling a "prominent physicians' organization." It uncritically quotes an AAPS letter to lawmakers that tries to argue against making the measles vaccine mandatory:
“Are potential measles complications including death in persons who cannot be vaccinated due to immune deficiency a justification for revoking the rights of all Americans and establishing a precedent for still greater restrictions on our right to give or withhold consent to medical interventions?
You know what's another way to avoid a more severe form of measles? Getting the vaccine and booster shots. The AAPS seems not to have considered that possibility.
WND's reliance on the AAPS further in an April 10 article, headlined "Health pros: De Blasio's forced vaccinations abuse of power." But the only "health pro" WND quotes is the article is Orient. WND gave her unchallenged space to rant against New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio's order to vaccinate people in order to stop a measles epidemic in the city:
But Dr. Jane Orient, the executive director of the AAPS, argues the Supreme Court already has ruled against such an order.
Orient is misleading: Jacobson v. Massachusetts actually upheld the right of states to enforce compulsory vaccination. It also, however, created a medical exemption to compulsory vaccination, and it ruled that people could not be forcibly vaccinated but could be punished with fines or imprisonment for refusing to do so. Further, the party that made the argument that compulsory vaccination was "arbitrary and oppressive" was plaintiff Henning Jacobson, not the Supreme Court as Orient suggests.
The rest of the WND article rehashed Orient's and the AAPS' anti-vaxxer stance, including the scientifically unsound claim that "vaccines are inevitably unsafe." As opposed to catching a disease a person could die from?
That is the kind of unscientific claptrap to which WND is giving a platform. No wonder nobody believes WND.