Tech bro turned COVID-19 misinformation superspreader and antivaxxer Steve Kirsch has now fully embraced “old school” vaccine-autism conspiracy theories, demonstrating how anti-COVID-19 vaccine antivaxxers frequently become just antivaxxers.
Antivaccine activists and quacks often weaponize legitimate concerns about industry conflicts of interest in medicine into the “shill gambit,” in which they accuse critics and defenders of science-based medicine of being in the pay of big pharma. However, the rise of physician-influencers and, in particular, Subscription Substack show that not all conflicts of interest are from industry or even financial.
In 2014, Andrew Wakefield unveiled Brian Hooker’s “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory featuring William Thompson, a CDC scientist who claimed that a vaccine-autism link was being covered up. Now, Steve Kirsch and other COVID-19 antivaxxers are resurrecting it.
Last month, a study showed that papers about COVID-19 that are retracted tend to be cited far more than average and continue to be heavily cited after retraction. Clearly, scientific publishing and the scientific community need to do better.
Tucker Carlson was fired on Monday. Antivaxxers are blaming big pharma because he had aired a segment attacking Pfizer and its COVID-19 vaccine.