1986 The Act – a review of the Andrew Wakefield anti-vaccine “movie”

1986 the act

This article about Andrew Wakefield’s “1986: The Act” was written by Sarah, aka 42Believer. Sarah is an “influencer” who uses her various social media platforms to advocate for science and against misinformation. She doesn’t let her lack of credentials stop her from speaking out, and her efforts resulted in the successful removal of anti-vax books from Amazon. You can find her breakdown of anti-vaccine influence in Ohio state politics here.

She hangs out on Twitter correcting disinformation from the anti-vaccine crowd while also publishing entertaining YouTube videos about the 42 things wrong with various movies, and it includes one about anti-vaxxers

No matter the genre, a good movie should have a first scene that draws you in instantly. The first scene of the film “1986: The Act” opens with a scene of a woman peeing into a cup. I wish I was joking.

As you might already be aware, “1986: The Act” is the newest anti-vaccine “documentary” directed by Andrew Wakefield. He is also listed as the director for Vaxxed, but Vaxxed is so much better than “1986: The Act” that I have a feeling Del Bigtree was almost as much, if not more, of a director than Wakefield (this makes sense given Del’s prior experience on The Doctors).

In fact, of all the anti-vax documentaries I’ve seen 1986: The Act is by far the worst of the bunch (and that’s saying something!). This article will focus on the technical aspects of the film, but if you would like a thorough breakdown of the scientific/legal claims Dorit Reiss did a wonderful job of that here. Continue reading “1986 The Act – a review of the Andrew Wakefield anti-vaccine “movie””

Latest “act” from Andrew Wakefield – recycling 1986 anti-vaccine tropes

Andrew Wakefield

This article about the Andrew Wakefield movie, 1986: The Act, was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

In 1986: The Act, Andrew Wakefield has created a very long parade of anti-vaccine claims from the past forty years or longer. The movie combines half-truths, facts taken out of context, and blatant misrepresentations to try and mislead people into refusing to vaccinate and protect their children.

In his post on the topic, my friend and colleague Dr. Vince Ilannelli addressed the potential motivations behind 1986: The Act from Andrew Wakefield, the problems with the credibility of the director and many of the main actors, the problematic nature of the sources in the movie, and some of the inaccuracies surrounding DTP.

In this post, I will cover some of the same ground, but my main focus will be to show why the film is unreliable. Obviously, I cannot cover every detail of the long film and keep this manageable, but I can cover many of the highlights, and I hope to make it clear why I think it’s unreliable.

Before starting on those, however, readers deserve a reminder that Andrew Wakefield, the creator of the film, has a well-earned reputation as a dishonest scientist. Wakefield misrepresented information about MMR and hid conflicts of interests, and as a result, outbreaks of measles in Europe and the United States harmed and killed children.

And Andrew Wakefield has continued to misrepresent information in ways that harm children. 

Andrew Wakefield is not a reliable source, and his previous movies show this, too. 

1986: The Act is no different.

The movie is framed as a discovery journey of a couple from the point where the woman discovers she’s pregnant to the point where she gives birth, during which they go through a lot of anti-vaccine sources and become thoroughly and extremely anti-vaccine, ending the movie as participants in an anti-vaccine event. It is, as I mentioned, a parade of greatest hits of the anti-vaccine movement – mostly claims that have been addressed again and again over the years, some twenty years old, some almost forty years old, some older still. There is little new in 1986: The Act. Continue reading “Latest “act” from Andrew Wakefield – recycling 1986 anti-vaccine tropes”

Autism and vaccines – over 150 peer-reviewed science articles say no link

autism and vaccines

Autism and vaccines are not linked or associated according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by real scientists and physicians. But this false claim that vaccines and autism are related is repeated by anti-vaxxers nearly every day.

Let’s be clear – the lack of a link between vaccines and autism is settled science. There is overwhelming evidence, as listed in this article, that there is no link. Outside of anecdotes, internet memes, misinformation, and VAERS dumpster-diving, there is no evidence that there is a link. 

Ever since MrAndrew Wakefield published his fraudulent, and subsequently retracted, study that seemed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the anti-vaccine crowd has embraced it as if it were a scientific fact. 

This Wakefield chicanery has spawned a cottage industry of other anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree and his fraudumentary Vaxxed, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Tetyana Obukhanych, and many others. 

This article presents over 150 scientific articles, published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. Almost all of them are either primary studies that include large clinical trials or case-control or cohort studies. They also include numerous systematic reviews, which represent the pinnacle of biomedical research.

All of these articles, from some of the top vaccine scientists in the world, show that there are no links between autism and vaccines. None. 

Continue reading “Autism and vaccines – over 150 peer-reviewed science articles say no link”

MMR vaccine sytematic review – science finds no link to autism AGAIN

MMR vaccine systematic review

With so much sense and nonsense about coronavirus, I set to the side an important MMR vaccine systematic review that I’ve been wanting to review for a few weeks. Well, it’s time to focus on that.

Ever since MrAndrew Wakefield published his fraudulent, and subsequently retracted, study that seemed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the anti-vaccine crowd has embraced it as if it were a scientific fact. Of course, they ignore over 150 published scientific articles that show that there are, in fact, no links at all.

This Wakefield chicanery has spawned a cottage industry of other anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree and his fraudumentary Vaxxed, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Tetyana Obukhanych, and many others. 

And now we have a new, large, impressive MMR vaccine systematic review that once again provides affirmative evidence that there are no links between ASD and the MMR vaccine. None. Continue reading “MMR vaccine sytematic review – science finds no link to autism AGAIN”

Anti vaccine social mobilization is a virus in the coronavirus world

anti-vaccine-social-mobilization

This article about anti-vaccine social mobilization was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Viruses are the ultimate parasites. Viruses are little packages of genetic material whose whole existence is about finding a host cell they can enter, use the cell’s machinery to make copies of themselves, often killing the cell in the process, and move to another cell – often inflicting substantial damage on the whole host organism (when the host is not a single cell).

Obviously, no human is like that. Nor is a movement like anti-vaccine social mobilization. But the term “viral” has been used to describe things that are not actually viruses. In several ways, the anti-vaccine movement can be argued to have similar qualities to viruses.

First, viruses succeed by misrepresenting themselves. They get into cells by convincing the cell’s receptors that they should be pulled in, that they belong. In a similar way, anti-vaccine social mobilization simulates other social movement’s use of the law by misrepresenting legal claims – blatantly or less blatantly.

They present settlements as wins. They present a case that rejected an argument that the Childhood National Vaccine Injury Act embodied the idea that vaccines are “unavoidably safe” by saying “US supreme court ruled vaccines “unavoidably UNsafe” [sic] in 2011.”

Second, anti-vaccine activists are parasitic in the sense that they coopt previously successful legal claims used by other movements. For example, in attacking laws trying to tighten vaccine mandates anti-vaccine activists compared them to segregation, going as far as to refer to Jim Crow, Rosa Parks, and separate water fountains.

In more than one lawsuit they cited Brown v. Board of Education to support a claim of discrimination (Reiss, 2018). More recently, they invoked the language of “my body, my choice” used by supporters of reproductive rights, and to the Me Too movement.

Third, anti-vaccine activists’ content goes viral. Although the content does not often break outside their network, the coordinated nature of their network and their sophisticated efforts make it quickly go viral within the network.

In these different ways, the anti-vaccine social mobilization has a viral-like quality, with more than one meaning, that is unlike the social movement previously written about.

As the editor, I’d like to add a fourth point. Viruses have no intelligence or free will. They are organisms at the edge of life, barely living. Compare that to the anti-vaccine social mobilization. Just saying.  

COVID 19 conspiracies – debunking the top 6 for entertainment purposes

COVID 19 conspiracies

Since I can only write so much about coronavirus vaccines without going mad, let’s talk about COVID-19 conspiracies. There are so many, but I wanted to focus on the six that are most frequently circulating around the internet.

I wonder what conspiracists before the existence of the internet. It’s possible that they were limited to those awful trash papers you could buy at the grocery story line checkout. Back when we actually stood in grocery store lines.

Today, we can’t have any science without someone inventing some conspiracy to go around it. You know, like vaccines contain nanobots or something. Actually, medical research is studying the use of nanotechnology for treating diseases – can’t wait for the ridiculous myths to surround that when it appears.

I know that 99.9% of the readers of this blog probably reject all conspiracies as pure, unfettered nonsense. But we need to have a little snark and fun during these dystopian times.

One little housekeeping note – I’m not going to link to any conspiracy website or anything. Why give them the clicks?

Continue reading “COVID 19 conspiracies – debunking the top 6 for entertainment purposes”

Judge orders the Genesis II Church to stop marketing MMS for COVID-19

mms for COVID-19

This article about MMS for COVID-19 was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

On April 17, 2020, a Federal judge issued a temporary order prohibiting the Church of Genesis II from selling its Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) for COVID-19 – in reality, MMS is a dangerous industrial-strength bleach. The order is a response to an action by the FDA based on the Church’s promotion of MMS for COVID-19. The response of most reasonable people familiar with MMS is, probably, “about time.”

Miracle Mineral Solution is an industrial-strength bleach. As far as I know, it has no proven benefits, and obviously, ingesting concentrated, industrial-strength bleach – or worse, taking it as an enema – can cause harm.

It has been sold by the Genesis II Church both as a sacrament and as a miracle cure for all ills. Among other uses, it has been used by parents of children with autism against their autistic children, either by providing it orally or as an enema, with harmful results

The FDA has warned about MMS in the past and conducted several investigations and actions addressing it.

On April 8, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the Genesis II Church stating that:

[b]ased on [FDA’s] review, MMS is an unapproved new drug sold in violation of section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), 21 U.S.C. § 355(a)…

They also demanded that the Church,

cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of COVID-19. Further, FDA has previously warned consumers about the dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects of MMS…

In other words, the FDA concluded that MMS, to be sold, needs to be licensed as a drug – which would require the sellers to provide evidence that it’s safe and effective (which they’re unlikely to be able to do, but they have as much chance of trying as any other sellers). Since MMS has not gone through the approval process, it’s in violation of the act.

On the FDA’s site, the FDA Commissioner, Stephen M. Hahn, MD, added more:

Despite previous warnings, the FDA is concerned that we are still seeing chlorine dioxide products being sold with misleading claims that they are safe and effective for the treatment of diseases, now including COVID-19. The sale of these products can jeopardize a person’s health and delay proper medical treatment. We continue to take action and keep up our efforts to monitor for fraudulent treatments during this public health emergency and remind the public to seek medical help from their health care providers. 

After the Church, apparently, did not stop selling and promoting MMS, the FDA went to court. Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act,  the FDA can request an immediate temporary restraining order in situations like this, for the public health, and does not have to meet the high bar regular civil plaintiffs would have to meet to get such an order.

The Court granted the order, ordering the church, among other things, not to:

directly or indirectly, label, hold, and/or distribute any drug, including but not limited to MMS, that does not have an approved new drug application pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(b) or abbreviated new drug application pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(j), or an investigational new drug application in effect for its use pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(i), or any drug that is misbranded within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 352.

This means that the Church is not supposed to sell MMS for any use, not just as a (fake) treatment for COVID-19 for the moment. The next step is a preliminary injunction hearing, and it may end with the prohibition extending until the end of the case (though it can be lifted). 

As I said, about time. Here is hoping the prohibition becomes permanent, and that appropriate sanctions be imposed on those promoting MMS for COVID-19, a dangerous substance, as a cure.

Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo

coronavirus homeopathic

The quacks are out in force with this potential COVID-19 pandemic. Predictably, people are pushing coronavirus homeopathic potions to treat or prevent this dangerous disease.

In case you don’t feel like reading this article, let me give you a spoiler alert – homeopathy is 100% water, and it will do nothing to treat or prevent anything. It’s useless. Continue reading “Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo”

Vaccine skeptics – it doesn’t mean what they think it means

vaccine skeptics

The term “vaccine skeptics” is not only used by anti-vaxxers to describe themselves but also it is employed by some of the popular press to describe them. From a scientific perspective, it would be inaccurate to label them as a skeptic – more accurately, anti-vaxxers are vaccine deniers.

In this case, the word skeptic is being misused, much like the creationists calling evolution “just a theory.” Well, in the case of evolution, “just a theory” doesn’t mean what they think it means since a scientific theory is near the pinnacle of scientific principles. 

Let’s take a look at what real vaccine skeptics would be since it doesn’t mean what the anti-vaxxers think it means. Continue reading “Vaccine skeptics – it doesn’t mean what they think it means”

Vaccines and autism – robust, powerful science says they are unrelated

vaccines and autism

Vaccines and autism are not linked or associated according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by real scientists and physicians. But this false claim that vaccines and autism are related is repeated by anti-vaxxers nearly every day.

Let’s be clear – the lack of a link between vaccines and autism is settled science. There is overwhelming evidence, as listed in this article, that there is no link. Outside of anecdotes, internet memes, misinformation, and VAERS dumpster-diving, there is no evidence that there is a link. 

Probably as a result of reports that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism, people seem to be creating a false correlation (let alone causation) between vaccines and autism. So let’s take a look at the science.

Continue reading “Vaccines and autism – robust, powerful science says they are unrelated”