Antivaccine nonsense Autism Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Vaccine scientist and advocate Dr. Paul Offit receives a much-deserved award

With the weekend so busy that the cracks were starting to show in Orac’s blogging activity, Orac nearly missed posting. Fortunately, he learned that Dr. Paul Offit received the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal for his vaccine science and advocacy. Orac is, of course, more than happy to congratulate him.

Things have been busy lately, and last weekend, between writing up something for my not-so-super-secret other blog and not having any material, either new or recyclable, for this blog, I feared that the beginning of another week would pass without new Insolence. Well, I don’t have any new Insolence for you, but fortunately something happened over the weekend that allows me to do something happier than the usual deconstruction of pseudoscience and quackery. A friend, vaccine scientist who’s actually contributed a new vaccine to the world, and staunch advocate of children’s health, in particular vaccination programs, which do more to keep children healthy than arguably any other medical intervention, received a much-deserved award:

The Sabin Vaccine Institute has awarded Paul Offit, MD, of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the 2018 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal. Sabin recognized Dr. Offit as co-inventor of an oral rotavirus vaccine and for his leadership as one of the United States’ most vocal and dedicated advocates for immunization.

“Paul’s contributions as a vaccinologist and advocate have improved the health of children in every corner of the world,” said Amy Finan, CEO of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “His scientific accomplishments are rivaled only by his impact as a dedicated advocate for immunization. Paul truly exemplifies Albert Sabin’s commitment to ensuring every child is protected from preventable disease.”

There’s no doubt that Dr. Offit richly deserves it. Not only was he co-inventor of RotaTeq®, an oral vaccine that prevents rotavirus-caused diarrhea, the most common cause of hospitalizations and deaths among children worldwide due to diahrreal diseases, but he’s been a tireless advocate for promoting the immunization of children to prevent deadly diseases. As a result, he has been a frequent target of antivaccine fanatics, some of whom, typical of frequently violent antivaccine rhetoric, have made death threats. Other examples that fall below the level of a death threat (but are disturbing nonetheless) abound, although one, I must admit, was rather funny for how it so utterly embarrassed J.B. Handley.. For instance, antivaccine macher as J.B. Handley once implied that Dr. Offit slipped a journalist a date rape drug to persuade her to write a pro-vaccine story. Another example occurred when the grande dame of the antivaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, sued Dr. Offit (and journalist Amy Wallace and her publisher Condé Nast) for libel. She was, not surprisingly, unsuccessful. Similarly, J.B. Handley also sued Dr. Offit. The harassment can even be as petty as being ambushed in the cafeteria of NYU Langone Medical Center while waiting to give a talk at a vaccine conference and videotaped becoming angry about it to having creepy antivaccine kooks like Jake Crosby stalking him at various talks. Not surprisingly, Jake is not pleased with Offit’s receiving this award, repeating the same misinformation about Dr. Offit that he’s done all along.

Jake was particularly displeased by this part of Dr. Offit’s acceptance speech:

“The Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal is not an award only to me, but to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, specifically to Drs. Stan Plotkin and Fred Clark, mentors and friends who taught me how to make a vaccine and how to use my expertise to advocate for children,” said Dr. Offit. He added, “Advocacy becomes all the more important as we live in a world where scientific illiteracy is being replaced by scientific denialism. Now, more than ever before, it’s time for scientists to stand up and explain what they do and why they do it to the public and the media. Science is a privilege, not a right. And it’s the taxpayer, the voter, who grants us that privilege.”

I can’t argue with a single word. Sadly, though, Jake remains upset that Dr. Offit once called him a “stalker.” Having myself met Jake, who showed up at a DC-area talk I gave around five years ago, I can only say that Dr. Offit’s assessment of Jake was, if anything, far too kind. The dude was seriously creepy in person. Of course, Dr. Offit has always been far less…Insolent…than I.

So, let me take this moment to offer my sincere congratulations to Dr. Offit, whom I consider a friend and someone I admire. This award is richly deserved. May you continue to drive antivaxers into paroxysms of rage and insanity through your unwavering science advocacy. for years to come. I, for my part, will look to your example to do the same in my own little way.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

29 replies on “Vaccine scientist and advocate Dr. Paul Offit receives a much-deserved award”

My congratulations to Dr. Offit!

I can remember a time when my local hospital was overwhelmed yearly with rotavirus admissions, to the point where the hospital would have to close to visitors under a certain age and enforce hand washing to visitors as much as staff.

Things are so much better with the advent of this vaccine.

In his post, Jake predicts the end of vaccination and a re-distribution of Pharma wealth. He’ll see to it that Dr Offit is held responsible for the “damages” vaccines cause.

He really is out there these days.

I imagine that he has little to do: no decorative degrees to pursue, no fantasy CVs to construct ( see his Linked In account)

so I suppose he has to rant and rave, insulting people who have real life accomplishments that improve life on the planet.

His parents have lots of money: too bad it’s not being used to get him meaningful help.

Yeah. Not having to work for a living has apparently given Jake too much time on his hands. That’s a bad thing.

The Gnat has really gone completely down the rabbit hole…..unfortunately, he is starting to look very much like the individual in Toronto from last week…..

Indeed, Jake seems to have distracted himself from the apparent involuntary celibacy that he alluded to in previous posts by proposing to exert the awesome power of the obscure little blog that, perhaps, his mother supports: he wrote that the “federal vaccine program will be dismantled, every vaccine approved by it will be pulled and the money wasted on them will go to the families of people hurt by them” and that “Autism Investigated [yes, that’s how Jake refers to himself, rather like the New York Times except with only one part-time and unpaid worker] will make damn sure that [Offit is] personally held responsible for those injuries.”

Serendipitously, TODAY** Orac ( and company at SBM) are eternally linked together with Dr Offit!

As THREATS to physical and mental health WORLDWIDE! Woo Hoo!

Null and Gale have finally started presenting their expose of Wikip– and the ((shudder)) Sceptics. SBM, Atheists, Drs Barrett, Offit, Randi et al. Those Scoundrels!

Null read the tome aloud ( printed at Wikip— McCarthyism Part 1)***

Interestingly, when the chief loon read Gale’s work ( which I assume because of his better language skills) to his audience, he left out 2 names listed in the article: Drs SN ( of Yale) and DG ( of Wake Forest!!!!!!****) to be specific. Not the first time, I’ll note.

They are afraid of you, Orac.

I am proud to be amongst your minions

** starting whilst RI was down: an omen!
*** 40 parts in toto
Moar tomorrow
**** how’s that for great research skills?

( as I mentioned previously, Wikip– recently added Null-friendly fluff and lies to his bio BUT now, some of the most egregious, like paraphrase – “helping people with aids”- are gone)


Null continues his on-air rant against SBM, sceptics, Wales, Randi ( the eugenicist), Gerbic, Drs DG& Novella, Folta et al.
I imagine that there will be a less ornamented version put up at OH JOY!
AND many more episodes, I fear.

He thinks Wales should invite people like himself who have been harmed by Wikip– bios so that they can tell their own stories.
Wales is responsible by accepting only sceptical views:
Null and company will strike back: revealing secret information that the audience, congress and the IRS will find interesting.

He doesn’t like being called a “lunatic and a charlatan” I suppose.

In addition, PRN.FM, the woo-fraught website/ internet radio outlet, features a letter his attorney sent to Wikip—disputing the aforesaid bio. It states that since the profile appeared, the woo-meister has not been invited to speak at conferences and its content affects sales of his products. No wonder he’s pissed.

** mentioning them by name this time.

Sigh. MJD is trying to post about latex-free packaging for RotaTeq®. He knows the rules. I’m not letting them through.

Thank you, Dr. Offit. Thank you, Orac. I am proud and honored for my very small part as Pharma Shill and Orac Minion. May you both have the long life and good health you both so richly deserve.
And thanks for sparing us the latest spewings of MJD, the Bear of Very Little Brain.

Congratulations, Dr. Offit, and thank you for rotavirus vaccine.

Wait, aren’t we supposed to condemn Paul Offit for making money by co-developing a lifesaving vaccine, when he could have been profiting by lecturing and writing in opposition to lifesaving vaccines, and promoting and ineffective, dangerous treatments for autistic children?

I was startled today to read that latching on to deep-seated lunacy can cost one the support of slightly less loony folks. It appears that poor Kent Heckenlively has been banned from writing for AoA due to his alliance with the millions-of-health-freedom-fighters fantasist (Kent coyly doesn’t name names, but that’s the clear implication of his report).

So sad.

It appears that poor Kent Heckenlively has been banned from writing for AoA due to his alliance with the millions-of-health-freedom-fighters fantasist

Jake has nothing on Pattimmy, as evidenced by the latter’s entry, but Bradley’s “dragon energy” remark is spectacular.

Congratulations, Dr. Offit. The award/recognition is well deserved.
I particularly like the way he shared the glory with Drs. Stanley Plotkin and Fred Clark.
Very classy.
IMO, Plotkin in particular, doesn’t get enough mainstream recognition for his contributions to the fight against infectious diseases.
Just looking at those names – Offit, Plotkin, Clark, and contrasting the Bozos and dregs the anti-vaccine death cult holds up as “experts” should be enough for any sane person to figure out who is zoomin’ who.

I had the good fortune last year to attend a small presentation and discussion given by Dr. Offit. It was a fairly informal event so I got to spend some time talking to him. He is, on top of all his other accomplishments, a very nice man.

I’d like to add my congratulations as well.

A well deserved and truly appropriate honor.

I read somewhere following story:
Two chinese peasants were yelling to each other, but they kept their fists in their pockets. A visitor asked about that, and an elder explained: Whoever first uses his fist, admits that he is more stupid.
Same thing applies to harassment.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Dr. Offit in person. He is a genuinely good person. So happy for this recognition of his achievements — including the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is a very important resource.

When he was younger (much younger) I used to feel sorry for The Gnat. He is one day older than my daughter; his mother was one of the more vicious of the “Vaccines Dunnit Autism Brigade”. I felt he had been brought up to hate his autism. But as he has grown older and failed to mature, my sympathy evaporated — especially as he embraced the MRA ideology.

Well earned and deserved award for Dr. Offit. Cheers to his colleagues as well. In an age of science denialism some science positive news is always welcome.

Respect to Dr. Offit, Orac and people like them for contribiuting to the war on medical misinformation. I owe you, we all owe you and the world owes you.

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