Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics

Bill Ackman is shocked that people think he’s antivax

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman wonders why people are calling him antivax. All he did was to defend RFK Jr. and amplify old antivax tropes on Twitter.

I must confess that, before I first encountered him lending tactical air support on Twitter to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Joe Rogan’s performative “challenge” to Dr. Peter Hotez to “debate” vaccines, I hadn’t heard of Bill Ackman, billionaire hedge fund manager and Twitter blue check. As you might recall, after Dr. Hotez had Tweeted out a link to an article by Anna Merlan critical of Spotify for letting Joe Rogan continue to host credulous puff interviews with antivaxxers like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that allow them to spew the worst antivax misinformation to a large audience, Rogan and RFK Jr. “challenged” Dr. Hotez to appear on Rogan’s podcast to “debate” him, complete with a promise to donate $100,000 to Dr. Hotez’s favorite charity. This “challenge” soon resulted in a social media (and, truth be told, legacy media) pile-on full of hate aimed at Dr. Hotez.

Ackman couldn’t resist adding his own pittance (compared to his overall net worth) to Joe Rogan’s pittance, in order to start putting the screws to Dr. Hotez to “debate”:

This is basically buying into the antivax frame that “debates” are necessary to arrive at the “truth” about vaccines.

As I said at the time, these were deeply unserious offers designed to entice Dr. Hotez into a “bread and circuses”-type “debate,” while shaming him if he did what any reputable scientist should do when faced with a “challenge” like this to debate: refuse. It wasn’t long before Ackman was Tweeting things like:

Here’s a hint, Mr. Ackman: I’ve written more posts than I can remember on the topic of what RFK Jr. gets wrong about vaccines, not to mention his various conspiracy theories about them. He is rabidly antivax, his risible claims to be “fiercely provaccine” notwithstanding.

I have no idea if Mr. Ackman had demonstrated any antivax proclivities before I encountered his foray onto Twitter to amplify Joe Rogan and RFK Jr.’s “challenge.” As I said, I’d never heard of him before. I do know that it wasn’t long after that that Mr. Ackman also started re-Tweeting antivax propaganda:

Bill Maher, of course, has been antivax at least since 2005—at least as long as RFK Jr.!—and I recently discussed the deceptiveness of Aaron Siri’s “no true placebo” (only saline) gambit. (I will be posting a revised and expanded version of that post on Monday.) Let’s just start out by saying that, if you don’t want to be perceived as antivax, then uncritically—nay, approvingly—re-Tweeting antivax propaganda, all while retreating behind a favorite tactic of antivaxxers, namely asking, “Why won’t they debate?” is not a good strategy for you to achieve this end.

Nor is saying that Steve Kirsch has good ideas about vaccines:

Mr. Ackman is “working on something similar” to what Steve Kirsch is working on? Dude, Mr. Kirsch is antivax af! Didn’t you know that?

Mr. Ackman seems to think that Mr. Kirsch’s recent offer to “collaborate” with scientists on “both sides” of the vaccine-autism “debate” is anything more than delusion in search of an unethical set of clinical trials that don’t need to be done, as I described in depth just the other day.

Then, this week, I saw this:

Mr. Ackman is Twitter Blue and can therefore use way more than 260 characters. Fear not. I know that Elon Musk now requires you to have a Twitter account to be able to read Tweets. I will therefore quote both Tweets very liberally, so that those of you without a Twitter account can see what I mean. It’s all about transparency.

Regular readers will recognize immediately that in the two long-form Tweets above Mr. Ackman regurgitates a number of “classic” (i.e., prepandemic and older) antivax tropes, and I’m happy to point them out. Let’s begin.

First, our poor, poor, pitiful billionaire Mr. Ackman whines about being so very, very misunderstood as a, well, let me just quote him:

I tweeted that

@RobertKennedyJr raised some important questions about vaccine safety and now I am being labeled a Qanon conspiracist by some and a member of the alt-right by others.

Yes, if you uncritically parrot RFK Jr.’s “questions” about “vaccine safety,” it is not unreasonable to wonder if you are an antivaxxer. Given how much RFK Jr. has been embraced by the alt-right and Qanon, it’s not unreasonable at least to wonder if Mr. Ackman has an affinity for these movements. Seriously, methinks he doth protest too much. Moreover, he can’t be that oblivious to how much the antivaccine movement has associated itself with the far right and Qanon conspiracist movements and that RFK Jr. himself has long been playing footsie with fascists, can he? He might be, but it’s probably disingenuousness. Still, it’s clear that Mr. Ackman views himself as “not ‘antivax'” as he parrots very old antivax talking points.

After using a very hypercapitalist view of vaccine development befitting a billionaire hedge fund manager that portrays a hypothetical situation—cough! cough! COVID-19 vaccines!—in which pharmaceutical companies develop and wins approval for a drug/vaccine in less than a year and…well, given that you can’t just click on his Tweet unless you have a Twitter account to see what he said, I’ll just quote extensively:

Even when a successful drug is brought to market, the drug company remains liable for any potential damages from those who are harmed by the drug.

The above reasons are why getting profitable drugs approved is challenging and risky.

Imagine, however, if:

(1) you could create a drug in a much shorter period of time, a year or two, rather than 10-15 years, and the total cost to get it approved and marketed to patients was a fraction of the cost of a typical drug.

(2) the new drug is prescribed for everyone, regardless of their health, and therefore the market for the drug is every newborn or potentially everyone on the planet.

(3) the drug is prescribed for everyone regardless of their age or consent and they need to take it in order to attend school or keep their job, and the gov’t pays for it.

(4) the patients who are prescribed the drug are of an age where they are incapable of assessing the risk versus the reward for taking the drug.

(5) the drug needs to be taken every year regardless of the health of the individual who takes it.

(6) the drug companies who manufacture these new drugs are exempt from liability for these drugs even if they cause serious harm or death.


(7) drug companies are: (a) permitted to advertise on TV and on other media and are one of the largest sources of revenues for the news media who are responsible for educating the public about risks to public health and safety, and (b) the drug companies are also major lobbyists to the government and funders of the FDA.

If (1) – (7) were true:

and you were a drug company, you would seek to obtain approval for as many of the above drugs as possible, as the above drugs would have the lowest R&D costs, the fastest time to market, the lowest marketing costs, the largest addressable market, and no liability.

You would be crazy not to develop as many of the above drugs as possible and do everything possible to convince the government to make them standard of care, and motivate the public to take them.

Although (1)-(5) are not unreasonable questions/criticisms of pharmaceutical company, one quickly notices that (6) is an oft-repeated antivax distortion beloved by RFK Jr. that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 somehow provided “blanket legal immunity to all vaccine companies.” This is a common antivax version of events, which leaves out what the bill really did. In the wake of claims that the DPT vaccine had caused neurologic injury to children, there were so many lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers that pharmaceutical companies were strongly considering leaving the US market due to increasing difficulties obtaining liability insurance, with only one manufacturer still making pertussis vaccine in 1985. The solution agreed upon by Congress and President Ronald Reagan and codified in the NCVIA of 1986 was to set up a special “no fault” compensation program for those injured by vaccines, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

The law set up a special court with special expertise, commonly called the Vaccine Court, funded by a small excise tax on each vial of vaccine sold. Complainants denied compensation through the Vaccine Court still have access to federal courts. All the law does is to require complainants to use the Vaccine Court first. I also like to point out that, not only does the Vaccine Court bend over backwards to be fair to complainants by allowing them to posit “theories of injury” that don’t pass the Daubert test for expert testimony, but it is a civil court, in which the preponderance of evidence—sometimes referred to as “50% and a feather”—wins. But that’s not all! The Vaccine Court pays the complainants’ attorney fees and reasonable expenses, too, win or lose! That’s part of the reason that antivax attorneys hate the Vaccine Court. While they do get a guaranteed paycheck, it will never be more than their hourly charges plus reasonable expenses. It will never be the giant payout that they hope for from a huge judgment. They tend to the high risk/high reward tactic of contingency cases rather than the low risk/low (but reliable) reward tactic of taking Vaccine Court cases for a guaranteed hourly rate.

Mr. Ackman continues in the same vein:

If you were a citizen, however, you would want the above drugs to receive the highest scrutiny for safety and efficacy, and you would want longitudinal studies to understand the long-term effects and the potential cumulative effects of these drugs, in particular, on children.

Now, if the number of doses of these drugs taken by children increased from 3 to 72 in the last 30 or so years, and over the same period there was a massive unexplained increase in the percentage of kids that suffered from debilitating diseases like autism and other less debilitating, but concerning issues, like allergies and eczema, you would look deeper until you understood what was causing the massive increase in these issues.

Congratulations, Mr. Ackman! You’ve rediscovered an antivax trope that Jenny McCarthy used to use routinely 15 years ago! Very impressive.

I trust that readers will immediately recognize an old antivax trope too commonly employed by antivaxxers that we who have been combatting antivaccine disinformation for a long time have a name fore it: “too many too soon.” “Too many too soon” falsely claims that, thanks to the expansion of the childhood vaccination schedule since the 1990s, children are now receiving “too many” vaccines at too young an age (“too soon”) and then insinuating (or outright claiming) that this increase in the number of vaccines that children receive is fueling an increase in autism, allergies, eczema, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and many other problems falsely attributed to vaccines by antivaxxers. This trope ignores, as Dr. Mark Crislip once put it, the infection schedule versus the vaccination schedule. There is no evidence to support this idea; indeed, there is evidence very strongly refuting this idea, and it’s old evidence too.

As the American Academy of Pediatrics puts it:

The amount of antigens that children fight every day (2,000–6,000) is much more than the antigens in any combination of vaccines on the current schedule (150 for the whole schedule).

From this, by the end of his first blue check Tweet, Mr. Ackman concludes:

We need to think about vaccines the same way we think about other drugs, particularly when we are deciding whether or not to inject a one-day-old infant or three-year-old child.

We need to assess what is the benefit to the child in protecting them from a disease versus the potential risk from the side effects from each vaccine.

That mention of a “one-day-old infant” is a clear allusion to the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine, something antivaxxers have demonized ever since it was first included in the childhood vaccine schedule. I’ll ge too that in a moment. As for the last paragraph, WTF? Does Mr. Ackman think that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the main committee that constructs the CDC recommended vaccine schedule, doesn’t think about this as they examine and debate the clinical trial and epidemiological evidence about each vaccine that they consider adding to the schedule? Does Mr Ackman think that he (or RFK Jr., whose talking points he’s regurgitating) is the first person to think of this concept? Does he think that only antivaxxers care about the children?

Won’t someone think of the children?

Seriously, though, this is some insulting bullshit that Mr. Ackman is laying down here, the same insulting bullshit that antivaxxers have long laid down. It assumes that pediatricians, infectious disease doctors, vaccinologists, and scientists don’t think of this issue, but instead just mindlessly add to the schedule, willy-nilly, every new vaccine that comes along, without thinking about risk-benefit ratios and potential adverse events. Basically, what Mr. Ackman is doing here is repackaging one of the most basic “Well, duh!” observations as though it were some sort of brilliant observation that literally everyone involved in constructing the recommended childhood vaccine had never thought of before.

Next up, in his second Tweet, Mr. Ackman invokes another old antivax false comparison:

For certain vaccines, the risk-reward calculation is clear. Polio is a extraordinarily debilitating disease and we have nearly 70 years of safety and efficacy data. As such, every child should be vaccinated for polio.

Alternatively, should it be standard of care for a one-day-old child to get a Hepatitis B vaccine or should we first assess what is the probability of this child being exposed to Hep B in the first few years of her life, and perhaps postpone her injection?

This is a very common trope, one that I can almost—almost!—forgive Mr. Ackman for falling for, for thinking that it might be valid given that a physician who should really know better, Dr. Vinay Prasad, recently echoed. Since I so recently discussed it, I’ll just paraphrase what I recently said about it. Antivaxxers like RFK Jr. love to demand why we are vaccinating newborn babies against a disease that is primarily transmitted sexually or through contact with bodily fluids (e.g., sharing needles). Antivax disgust over the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine is much more a moral disgust than anything resembling a scientific argument, much as objections to HPV vaccines given to preadolescent girls based on claims that such vaccination will encourage promiscuity are moral, not scientific, arguments. The idea is that my baby or child isn’t at risk because my child doesn’t have premarital sex, share needles, or engage in what I consider morally dubious high risk behavior. The subtext, of course, is that those “dirty vaccines” should be reserved for people who need them because they are dirty too.

As one response mentioned:

To amplify the Tweet above, there are sound scientific and epidemiological rationales for vaccination against hepatitis B shortly after birth, including maternal transmission to the newborn and the observation of hepatitis B transmission in school and daycare settings. Seriously, if Mr. Ackman had done the least bit of research or engaged in the slightest bit of intellectual curiosity instead of parroting old antivax disinformation by RFK Jr., he would have acknowledged the reasons why the CDC recommends a birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine. Not all countries have chosen this strategy, but the US has, and there are very defensible scientific reasons to adopt the hepatitis B birth dose as the first dose in the series.

Mr. Ackman concludes with a typical crank complaint in which he portrays himself as True Champion of Real Science, contrasting himself with the seeming attitude that you “can’t question” science:

It is time we stopped attacking those who question the conventional wisdom about vaccines, and dig deeper to understand and address these issues and concerns.

Attacking the messengers and the critics will not get us closer to the truth. It will only cause those who are concerned to become even more suspicious and fearful.

Science is an unending pursuit of the truth. It is not a dogma to impose authority on those who question the veracity of the current received wisdom.

That last paragraph, in which he portrays current science as “dogma” and “received wisdom” is a common framing of science used by not just antivaxxers, but science deniers of all stripes. For example, a fellow surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Singer, did it when he portrayed scientists as priests and peer review as “scientific gatekeeping” by the “priesthood” of science, as creationists denying evolution like to do, and as antivaxxers like to do when someone like Paul Thacker describes vaccines as “magic” or, as Paul Thacker did, compare masks, vaccines, and public health interventions to religious dogma.

Again, let me emphasize how old and common this trope is among deniers of science (like antivaxxers) and even among deniers of other academic, evidence-based disciplines like history.

This trope takes advantage of a common observation that it sometimes takes science too long to abandon disproven ideas and medicine too long to abandon disproven treatments and practices. Far be it from me to try to claim that there aren’t fads in science that take a long time for some scientists to abandon in the face of evidence or that treatments and operations that physicians and surgeons cling to after evidence no longer supports them. (Indeed, there’s an old joke that some operations and treatments aren’t abandoned until the surgeons and physicians who use them either retire or die.) Medicine and science are messier than the ideal, as are all human endeavors, because they are human endeavors and humans are not perfect! Disproven ideas and treatments, frustratingly, all too often take longer to fade into the oblivion that they deserve than we think that they should. That does not, however, imply that those promoting disproven science (as RFK Jr., whose ideas and talking points Mr. Ackman uncritically parrots, does) have a point.

Finally, as for Mr. Ackman’s lament about “attacking the messenger,” I have some obvious retorts. First, if you promote the same misinformation/disinformation that RFK Jr. has promoted for 18 years, you deserve all the criticism you get. Second, if you parrot someone like RFK Jr., who has been spreading antivaccine misinformation for at least 18 years, you should not be surprised when people wonder if you are antivaccine yourself or if you are associated with belief systems that tend to be antivaccine, like Qanon. RFK Jr. does not stand for science. He does not stand for scientific evidence. He is a conspiracy theorist who has been doing his best to cherry pick and misrepresent studies to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about vaccines since at least 2005 and had found a national stage that has provided him with a bigger audience and more attention than every before.

My guess is that Mr. Ackman was probably unfamiliar with these old antivax tropes. Likely, as is the case for so many new antivaxxers, they were new to him and seemed to make sense, if only because he was utterly oblivious and ignorant about the science that had long debunked them. Unfortunately, instead of educating himself among real scientists, which as a billionaire he could easily have done, he just took RFK Jr.’s word for it and then amplified the antivaccine message. He might not have known that that’s what he’s doing, but it is. He can either face up to it and learn about vaccines from actual scientists instead of an antivaxxer like RFK Jr., or he can continue whining about how unfairly he’s been treated on social and legacy media.

I suspect that I know which one he will chose.

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]

81 replies on “Bill Ackman is shocked that people think he’s antivax”

Hypocrisy has never been so thoroughly applied, until now. The entire medical, pharmaceutical, and public health communities have been viciously and vehemently attacked, impugned, slandered, libeled, and smeared, yet, somehow, refuting the outrageous and clever lies, deceptions, false claims, and outright nonsense of the disinformation complex is no longer allowed.

I’m unaware of any legacy media hating on Dr. Hotez. Examples? If that’s just a Fox-ilk thing, using “legacy media” is misleading, as it applies a broader phenomenon. As far as the ol’ MSM goes I haven’t seen anything even harsh about Hotez personally, much less hateful. If you’re thinking of pundits like Ross Douthat backing the idea of debating RFKj generally, I didn’t see hate in that, just Douthat’s typical fuzzy thinking, nor did I see even that directed at Hotez ad hominem….

The name Bill ACKman makes me thing of Bill the Cat, who once ran for President, and would be a better candidate than RFKj. Did you see Rebecca Traister’s takedown of Junior (and the elites and media who go gaga over him) in New York magazine?

It’s too easy to get caught up in the premises of the pseudoscience vs. science BS, and lose sight of why this matters. I was correcting myself on this last night after Alex Wagner on MSNBC told the story of the measles outbreak in Samoa in a way that really brought home the stakes involved in RFKj’s crusade, just how sick it is that these billionaire bros are supporting a madman who is effectively a mass murderer.

The one point I’ll give Ackman is that pharma advertising is so ubiquitous on cable news there’s a COI problem, if only the suspicion of “don’t bite the hand,..” (And i really can’t stand the current Jardiance snd Voltaren spots. Hate, hate, hate…)

Fox is widely considered “legacy media,” whether you like it or not, if only because it’s less batshit crazy than the new kids on the block trying to dethrone it. It’s been around over a quarter century. However, maybe “hate” is too strong a strong for the real legacy media articles about the kerfuffle. For example, Ross Douthat, although not “hating” on Dr. Hotez, did take RFK Jr.’s side about his “debate” challenge. You call it fuzzy thinking, but in essence he lent tactical air support to Rogan and RFK Jr., adding pressure on Dr. Hotez. I seem to recall something in the WSJ Opinion section as well.

RFK Jr.’s behavior during the Samoan measles outbreak, which took place in the fall right before the damned pandemic, is a perfect example of what you are talking about. He wrote his misinformation-filled letter blaming the outbreak on defective MMR right before Thanksgiving…in 2019! Less than four months before the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020!

The damage that he and his minions did to public health efforts to contain the outbreak was unspeakable. Now imagine what he could do if he (or even Ron DeSantis) were to become President.

Understandably, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Junior as he seeks to be President and he mis/disinforms so much about vaccines. The Samoa measles outbreak in 2019 is where I start for the following reasons:

Junior’s written note the to Prime Minister of Samoa is an instructive example of his callous disregard for deaths due to a vaccine preventable disease. At the time of his letter ~50+ people had already died of measles.
Measles vaccination rates in Samoa had fallen from ~70% to ~30% in 2018 due to antivaxxers spreading FUD as regards two children that died b/c the measles vaccines they received were not diluted with water as required, rather diluted with atracurium, a curare-like paralytic drug commonly used in anesthesia. Two nurses went to prison over this, and by the time of Junior’s letter it was well known that the deaths were not due to the vaccine.
Junior proffers disinformation about the MMR vaccine ineffectiveness (it’s very effective) and magical thinking about variants (still has never been an issue) as alternative facts to consider, rather than the low vaccination rate. If the Prime Minister accepted the disinformation, more deaths would have occurred.
There are no deaths on islands proximal to Samoa due to measles, though obviously in an outbreak there are a comparatively small number of cases. Why no deaths and so few cases? Quelle surpris, those islands all had adequate vaccination rates prior to the outbreak in Samoa. Antivaxxers hate examples of herd immunity like this.
Although 83 people die of measles (most < 4 years-old) the outbreak ends with a mass MMR vaccination campaign. The deaths stop when the campaign ends because…wait for it…herd protection is achieved. Crickets from Junior, despite his alternative facts. No apology, no more alternative facts/magical thinking, just crickets. Oh, and Junior, what about those two iatrogenic deaths having nothing to do with the vaccine? Just crickets.

So imagine Junior as a local Fire Chief approaching an apartment building fire packed with Samoan residents.
“We have water we could use to put out the fire, but I believe it’s contaminated; so do the best you can to avoid the smoke, heat, and fire.”
“I believe that is a safer way to go, and I know safety”.

RFK jr. is suffering from a misanthropic urge brought on by the childhood trauma of his father’s assassination.

The degree of homophobia, slut-shaming and contempt for people who use drugs in anti-vaxxers’ disdain for the hepatitis B vaccine is rarely expressed entirely upfront, but it’s impossible to miss, and it’s vile. It reminds me of the “who cares if fatties and old people die of COVID?” attitude we heard so frequently in 2020 and 2021. All of this seems based in the idea that if you avoid certain “vices,” you’ll remain healthy forever, you can control your children’s behavior to do so as well, and anyone who falters deserves to be punished with a deadly illness.

Ageism and ableism.

Reminds me of the movie Logan’s Run, set in a utopia in the future where everyone has everything they need … until they turn 30 and the State kills them.

I wonder if some of the ageism and ableism is rooted in recognition that we all have aging and decline in our future (if we are fortunate). A blind woman in my community once told me that we’re all “temporarily abled” people … the trick is how to stay as abled as possible as long as possible.

Junior isn’t likely to get the gay rights vote with articles like these:

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I think we have some gay people voting for rightwing extremist parties, who use gay rights to bash muslims, but if it is about voting in favor of gay or trans rights, they are mostly against it.

I think it’s important, every time someone quotes RFK Jr. Saying manufacturers have blanket immunity, to remind them that he is involved in lawsuits against Merck over Gardasil.

Not only is the claim of blanket immunity untrue, he knows it, because he’s part of lawsuits. It’s a blatant lie.

Further, lay people may not know how hard it is to win a product liability suit, but someone like Mr.Ackman should. How many successful lawsuits over drugs can he point to in past decades?

Torts liability is hardly a great accountability mechanism for drug safety. And in the pandemic context, there’s actually liability protection for all products. Drugs and vaccines.

What’s with these hedge fund bozos? First JB “I can’t recall exactly when my child regressed” Handley, then Bernard “I love Del” Selz and now this Bill “Kirsch is my tech bruh” Ackman dude.

And of course anti-vaxxers will happily whore themselves out to these folks for the lucre.

The story of the DTP vaccine (later changing to DTaP) is fascinating. It shows how complicated vaccines are in general. DTP is a vaccine with a whole inactivated pertussis bacteria. It is incredibly toxic and reactogenic and increases overall mortality – however it was relatively effective at preventing pertussis, which is not a fun illness to have, so the great toxicity had to be compared to the value of pertussis herd immunity. It is probably the second deadliest vaccine after the smallpox vaccine.

Due to obvious ill effects and lawsuits by parents of poisoned children, it was discontinued in most countries, except some African countries where Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has sway.

However bad the DTP vaccine was, it was relatively effective in creating herd immunity against pertussis.

(I had both DTP and smallpox vaccine when I was a baby, and my mom said they had terrible effects on me. My mom is a liberal who always votes for democrats)

The inactivated whole pertussis bacteria (bordetella) was replaced with “antigens”, this new version called DTaP. (“a” stands for acellular). It is less reactogenic. However DTaP is not really effective against infection and wanes in effectiveness to about zero. This affects herd immunity.

Many antivaxxers ignore or do not understand the value of herd immunity. It is like spending for common defense. I pay $1000 in taxes (an example) so that my country can have nuclear bombs. This tax expense has no benefit to me personally. However it prevents my country from being attacked and destroyed. Vaccines are also like that “common defense” in that they are not completely safe and carry a personal cost. The benefit is “herd immunity”, which is a collective benefit.

Just as vaccine refusers could say “there is no pertussis risk because pertussis is not around us, so I will not give DTP to my child”, a common defense refuser will say “my common defense tax does not benefit me so I won’t pay it”. If enough people do that, pertussis would come back, or the common defense becomes dilapidated.

That’s the theory.

The devil, of course, is in the details. Neither antivaxxers nor vaccine advocates like to go in these details, but they are actually very interesting.

I knew some of them prior to the Covid pandemic and realized how complicated vaccines are – and that made me realize that there is something wrong with “warp speed” Covid vaccination and I, luckily, refused Covid vaccines.

“knew some of them prior to the Covid pandemic and realized how complicated vaccines are – and that made me realize that there is something wrong with “warp speed” ”

So…you realized how complicated vaccines are but still thought you could understand the entire field?

Morpheus says ‘Huh’.

Not really, I knoly understood that there was no chance the Covid vaccine could be good

You didn’t understand anything except there was money to be made by lying about the COVID vaccine you didn’t understand.

Actually I did not accept money until Nov 2022 – until then my fight against COVID vaccines was completely unrewarded. In Nov 22, I decided that I deserve some rewards for my tireless advocacy.

I am an agnostic. I am not sure if God exists.

In the unlikely case that God exists and I end up facing posthumous judgment, I am sure that my anti-Covid-vax substack will weigh heavily towards admitting me to the Paradise. (I hope that the Paradise is not as boring as it is usually described)

“I decided that I deserve some rewards for my tireless advocacy”

Lies Igor. You are lying. None of the stuff you wrote about “damaged by vaccines” is true. No w of your crap about COVID vaccines being worthless is true. The points where your comments are wrong have been explained to you numerous times. You ignore that and continue to lie.

We have no idea why you choose to be dishonest. We’re you brought up in a family where truth was irrelevant in everyday life? Did you begin it when you were in college? The time really doesn’t matter: failing to tell the truth seems to be your only core trait.

Again, try to learn something, as alien as that concept seems to be to you. Learn some science. Learn some statistics. You are clearly lacking in both areas. Just try to be an honest broker.

“In the unlikely case that God exists and I end up facing posthumous judgment, I am sure that my anti-Covid-vax substack will weigh heavily towards admitting me to the Paradise”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Can you get into heaven without genuine humility?

How ddi you understand that COVID vaccines cannot possible work without understanding vaccines ?

I guess that when Igor said that “The devil, of course, is in the details”, he didn’t expect you to actually check the details of his comment…

Between indirect taxes and chronic deficit spending, such calculations are iffy on a quite fundamental level to start with.

However DTaP is not really effective against infection and wanes in effectiveness to about zero. This affects herd immunity.

So does disease-based immunity.

Chudov displays over and over again that he is sorely lacking in basic relevant knowledge. Again I suggest that he would fit in very well with the flat Earth set. They too are profoundly arrogant and ignorant.

“DTP…is incredibly toxic and reactogenic and increases overall mortality”

In the pantheon of idiotic claims made by Igor, this one stands out. Serious reactions to DTP vaccination were rare (occurring in 0.11% in one study of 15,752 children); deaths attributed to DTP vaccination were extremely rare. On the other hand, pertussis (along with diphtheria and tetanus) has killed a lot of children.

“Before widespread pertussis vaccination, the United States annually recorded as many as 270 000 pertussis cases with up to 10 000 deaths [36]. However, these only represented the cases that were reported; it is believed that almost every child contracted pertussis. The introduction of pertussis vaccine led to a dramatic decline in reported pertussis.”

“I had both DTP and smallpox vaccine when I was a baby, and my mom said they had terrible effects on me.”

Possibly the diseases Igor contracted in childhood are responsible for what he has become. An inherited cause however cannot be overlooked.

Your nasty spewings about Dr. Hotez are incompatible with being “a nice guy”.

You are most assuredly not nice. You spread harmful disinformation. That makes you despicable.

When in Pharma it must be cool that you get to cite what amounts to yourself as authority.

When in Pharma it must be cool that you get to cite what amounts to yourself as authority.

That there’s some pungent irony.

That’s John rational for simply ignoring the data from every citation that doesn’t fit with the story he wants to tell.

Dr Hotez is indeed recognised for his expertise by Wikipedia and mainstream news
alties/ anti-vaxxers entirely dismiss these sources as corrupt, out of date or just plain wrong. In fact one of them ( articles) has over 70 entries carefully outlining the depths of Wikipedia’s ‘deceit’.
Why would someone go to all that trouble: writing elaborate long winded articles, reading them aloud on internet radio and hiring IT people to put them on the internet ?

I imagine it’s because Wikipedia precisely details his own sordid career/ bogus education which he has tried to have erased by paid woo friendly editors and legal antics for years. No such luck.

Other alties summarily dismiss mainstream media and governmental agencies as well. All of it is compromised, owned by pharma, ruled by BlackRock et al. According to them, don’t believe governmental agencies, the news media or experts but believe ME.. lately, they especially despise universities and university education.. I wonder why that is…

Dismissing everyone in order to hog the spotlight is a red flag. Orac’s scoffers fit right in.

“The. He shouldn’t be afraid to debate 😉”

Have you ever sought help for your memory problems?


Joe Rogan shouldn’t be afraid to invite Peter Hotez back on his show for a full interview like he did early in 2020. Hotez has offered to do that.
I had a vision of Dr Hotez spending 2 hours lecturing to a rock about viruses, immunology, and vaccines. It would be just about as productive as going on the show with Junior and ceding him half the air time and the perception of legitimacy when he brings up his list of P.R.A.T.T.’s . But it would be much less frustrating for Dr Hotez.
OTH, if he posted it as a YouTube video, it might actually reach and inform some people.
If Junior is serious about convincing Democratic voters that he would be a good president, he needs to spend MUCH more time laying out how he would tackle real problems like climate change, immigration reform, income inequality, gun violence and many more.
OTH, he could just be doing a Trump-style campaign-as-grift operation to milk more funds than he has been able to get for his CHD charity.
I’d like to see who his big contributors are so far.

Oh, I think RFK Jr.’s campaign is definitely grift, plus ego massage. He’s exulting in more attention than he’s ever experienced before. This is why I predict that, as soon as it becomes clear that he won’t be the Democratic nominee, he’ll pivot to run as an independent or third party candidate in order to keep the grift machine running.

Didn’t controversy- mostly unwarranted- about the safety of DPT provide fuel for anti-vaxxers like Wakefield in the UK and Loe Fisher in the US?
Leading to what we’ve got now?

Indeed it did. In fact, IIRC, concerns over lawsuits triggered by claims of harm from DTP led to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and Vaccine Court. Barbara Loe Fisher initially supported the legislation, until she realised that Vaccine Court would not be a free-for-all where anyone who claimed a vaccine injury would get compensated, and then she rejected it.

@ squirrelelite:

I’ve always had the impression that public concern about the safety of DPT spurred Andy’s imagination on about vaccines leading to his infamous study. Perhaps I read something in Brian Deer’s massive writings.

I found: section on anti-vaccination-
DPT: 1970s UK a report about neurological problems in 36 children from GOSH led to newspaper, TV stories / a documentary
as well as an advocacy group who questioned the vaccine.
In the US, there was a documentary 1982 and BLF.

You know Igor, a whole bunch of us here somehow survived the DTP.

But you know what I remember getting that sucked, since I never caught D, T or P? Varicella. 2 and 1/2 weeks of hell b/c there was no vaccine when I was a kid.

But pricks like you want kids to suffer this stuff because you have your head so far up your ass that you can lick you tonsils, so go stuff it.

I have a brother and sister who missed getting the DPT and became miserably ill with whooping cough. I had the vaccine with no significant reaction and didn’t have to cough my guts out attaining “natural immunity”.

But you know what I remember getting that sucked, since I never caught D, T or P? Varicella. 2 and 1/2 weeks of hell b/c there was no vaccine when I was a kid.

I contracted chickenpox in my third year of college, from someone who’d had it previously. Nearly cost me the second quarter of “Structure of Matter” and hence another year. It was winter break, and it had no redeeming qualities. I did wind up listening to side 4 of Traffic’s On the Road because I couldn’t get out of bed to turn off the damned turntable.

^ “For days,” that is. I’ll never need to listen to “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” again.

I had chickenpox also and was itching for 5 days. Good thing I had a supportive grandma who kept distracting me.

Most countries do not vaccinate against chickenpox, for a number of good reasons.

The chickenpox vaccine is not very effective long term, and it turns out that circulation of chickenpox keeps immunity naturally boosted.

And then good luck catching chickenpox as adults!

“Natural immunity” to chickenpox isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“A pediatric varicella active surveillance study revealed 9947 cases of VZV infection; in 4.5%–13.3% of these cases, a previous varicella infection was reported”.

And of course, “natural infection” sets you up for risk of contracting shingles later on (which should be of major concern for antivaxers who reject shingles vaccine).

The Igor Misinformation Machine keeps making loud screeching noises and breaking down.

“… keeps immunity naturally boosted.”

It seems that the ignorant fucks who keep pushing natural immunity opposed to vaccination are the ones that habitually lie about vaccines. Igor fits right in.

“Neither antivaxxers nor vaccine advocates like to go in these details”

unfortunately for your addled brain, those details have been provided, on paper, for decades.


@ Igor Chudov

You write: “DTP is a vaccine with a whole inactivated pertussis bacteria. It is incredibly toxic and reactogenic and increases overall mortality”

NOPE. It doesn’t increase overall mortality. Give your references; however, it did have more adverse events than the current vaccine, not deadly or long term, and created stronger protection against pertussis. Yep, found one article that claims excess mortality by Peter Aaby; but numerous others say NO and Aaby is known as antivaxxer. However, DTP was not given to certain categories of children; e.g., had previous encephalitis; but one can say that about any vaccine or drug that should NOT use with certain people.

You write: “I knew some of them prior to the Covid pandemic and realized how complicated vaccines are – and that made me realize that there is something wrong with “warp speed” Covid vaccination and I, luckily, refused Covid vaccines.”

NOPE. Nothing wrong with “warp speed” Mainly after each phase met sooner and thus decided. And you absolute MORON, world statistics show the mRNA vaccines have save multi-million lives. And we have known about mRNA since 1960s and search PubMed and you will find several hundred thousands papers since then, so we know a hell of a lot about mRNA. And I was volunteer in Moderna Phase 3 COViD vaccine trials and, nope, never worked for pharmaceutical company nor own stock; but have studied/learned immunology, microbiology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, etc over more than 40 years.

And all that vaccines do is create the same immune memory cells that are created during an active infection; but avoiding the active infection because immune cells don’t recognize intact functioning microbes; but specific parts, so those parts through a vaccine can be displayed to immune system. And it is immune memory cells that immediately recognize an invader and deal with it. Otherwise, without memory cells, experience invader and suffer week or more. YOU ARE SO STUPID as this has been explained to you by many and you ignore.

Why do you keep making a FOOL OF YOURSELF

Well, not dying of vaccine preventable diseases increases your likelihood of dying of other things. Maybe that’s what he’s getting at – if pertussis doesn’t kill you as a kid you’re bound to die of something else, which never would have happened if you’d just died young.

There was that Seinfeild episode where Kramer had that “ACKMAN” license plate….

Re “debates” — In real life I’m an astronomer, and for some reason I’ve been enjoying challenging flat-earthers on a gigatntic social mediia platform. It’s a sickness on my part, I’m sure.

And I just want to say, the general consensus here — one should never formally “debate” cranks — is VERY WISE. They will never argue in good faith, or listen to evidence that contradicts their world-view.

“Flerfers” are an extreme case, of course, but the principle is the same with anti-vaxxers.

“You’re not really a scientist if you cling to your Establishment consensus and don’t treat my ludicrous ideas seriously!” . Yeah, sure.

Pardon the typos. On my preferred browser, the entry box uses a tee-nee-wee-nee font, and they’re easy to miss.

Sweet baby intelligent designer! (to use a phrase from Mike the Mad Biologist)
That you can emerge from a debate with a flerf with intact brain cells is testament to the integrity of those cells.

And I just want to say, the general consensus here — one should never formally “debate” cranks — is VERY WISE. They will never argue in good faith, or listen to evidence that contradicts their world-view.

A great big and very loud Amen! to that.

I ran across the modern flat Earth “thing” a few months ago, entirely by chance. I’ve watched a number of “debates” with flerfs. By and large they are despicable people who are profoundly arrogant and ignorant. A few are kind of sad examples of damaged people. They have a lot in common with antivaxxers, especially with regard to dismissing good quality science in favor of their nonsensical beliefs.

If you watch debates with flefs on YouTube you may have run across PhD Tony. He is a practicing PhD geophysicist who can shred most flat Earth arguments to tiny pieces. He is also known for going “KrackaTony” occasionally, ripping some idiot a new cloaca for in effect if not explicitly calling real scientists incompetent and/or liars. I’m pleased to see more real scientists and physicians around here treating Chudov et al and their bullshit to similar sorts of treatment, which they very richly deserves.

“It assumes that pediatricians, infectious disease doctors, vaccinologists, and scientists don’t think of this issue, but instead just mindlessly add to the schedule, willy-nilly, every new vaccine that comes along, without thinking about risk-benefit ratios and potential adverse events.”

Yeah, and that’s exactly why we have yellow fever and cholera vaccines on childhood vaccine schedule. /sarcasm

Believing Pharma companies act to maximize profit is ‘QAnon (still a thing even?)’. Got it.

Help! Help!

We’ve got a huge shortage of straw on our hands and we need to make some more men from it!

If someone wants to discuss the pros and cons of any capitalist enterprise within a capitalist system that would be a whole other thing…

In this context, who exactly has complained about the profit principle?

@ johnlabarge

You write: “Believing Pharma companies act to maximize profit is”

Yep, as other companies want to maximize profits; but doesn’t say anything about quality of goods. Cost of insulin in US way higher than elsewhere in world; but still a quality product. With vaccines, clinical trial requirements much much higher than other pharmaceuticals. We also know how immune system works and, thus, how vaccines work. And governments around the world negotiate with drug companies so, while they still make profits, lower than in US, and those governments also do their own testing of vaccines. Profits say absolutely nothing about quality of any product. And our government does negotiate and keeps price down for mandated childhood vaccines;

You just continue to post meaningless stupid comments.

Calling you an ASSHOLE is appropriate given you ignore what Orac, I, and others write, that you demonstrate you have NO understanding of immunology, microbiology, etc. And yet you continue to write utterly meaningless STUPID comments.

Flu vaccines will do that to you. /s

Actually, I think he sounds better of late.
My SO listens to a sports show ( unnamed, which I assiduously avoid) that has an announcer/ star who sounded awful but probably got training and improved a little.
Maybe RFKjr spent a small fortune hoping for improvement. Hollywood connections and all, dialect coaches, MDs etc.

Odd voices are an asset in sports talk radio: Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo, Scott Ferrall, etc. Mike Francessa’s Brooklyn accent is such that he can’t even pronounce his own name correctly.

Too bad RFKj hasn’t followed that path to notoriety…

I also find it unsurprising that he blames the flu vaccine for the spasmodic dysphonia that makes his voice like that.

Unfortunately his spasmodic dysphonia disorder inspired the voice in the evil character in Jordan Peele’s Us:

We have a family member who is a speech language pathologist with a voice specialty, and they were not happy on how a voice disorder was used in that movie.

Please criticize Bobby Jr’s anti-public heath actions, but leave his actual medical voice disorder out of it.

RFKjr’s voice is not a laughing matter but his mis-attribution of its cause to vaccines, as well as his widely disseminated views about the causes of allergies, autism, ADHD, cancer, obesity and many other illnesses/ conditions being vaccine-based makes him worthy of ridicule.
He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

[…] Eric Adams Called Me a Plantation Owner for Defending Tenants Justice Samuel Alito IS the Salmon Bill Ackman is shocked that people think he’s antivax: Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman … (what makes this so delightful is Orac repeats that he had no idea who Ackman was until Ackman […]

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