If you thought having a climate change denying misogynistic man child in charge of the most powerful nation on earth was bad enough, then brace yourself for the following news. The Washington Post reported today that, “President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a proponent of a widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism, to chair a new commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.”
The report continued: “The stunning move pushes up against established science, medicine and the government’s position on the issue. It comes after Trump — who has long been critical of vaccines — met at Trump Tower with Kennedy, who has spearheaded efforts to roll back child vaccination laws.”
Of course the Trump team did not respond to requests for comment on the commission.
This is astonishingly stupid, even for Donald Trump. Robert F. Kennedy has previously accused government scientists of being “involved in a massive fraud” to cover up any safety concerns associated with vaccines, citing zero evidence to support his case. The argument against vaccination has been widely and repeatedly debunked by the vast majority of the scientific community. Reported the Post:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine, no evidence supports a link between thimerosal and any brain disorders, including autism. But parental concerns of such an association in the 1990s spurred vaccine fears. This owed to a confluence of factors: highly publicized warnings of mercury-contaminated fish; rising awareness and diagnoses of autism; and vaccines added to the childhood schedule. The CDC urged vaccine makers to remove thimerosal as a precautionary measure.
Some parents took this as proof of thimerosal’s harm. The controversy, which Kennedy helped fuel in the 2000s with a notorious, widely publicized article, prompted additional vaccine fears that linger to this day.
A 2013 study in the journal Pediatrics found that recent cases of whooping cough occurred in pockets where vaccine resisters were located. Public health experts blame recent measles outbreaks on resisters. Both diseases were almost wiped out in the United States until the vaccine fear struck.
Having read none of this, Trump has used his expertise in flipping hotels to discern whether vaccines are a risk to public health. In a Republican presidential debate in 2015, he stated the following:
You take this little beautiful baby, and you pump . . …We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.
So Trump knew someone who had their child vaccinated (along with virtually every other child in the United States) and determined it was the cause of their autism because, well, fuck science and fuck mountains of published evidence that shows no correlation between vaccinations and autism whatsoever.
Now we have a former lawyer with no scientific background and no medical background heading a commission on vaccine safety — a sign that one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine and public health is now in serious danger. What could go wrong ?
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.