Former CDC director arrested – hey anti-vaxxers, not relevant to vaccines

Last week, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden was arrested and charged with groping a woman at his home. The former CDC Director was charged with third-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching, and harassment, the last of which carries a fine but no jail time.

Of course, within a few nanoseconds of the arrest, anti-vaccine quack websites did their best to tie his arrest to some imaginary and nonsensical malfeasance at the CDC. I don’t think any of us were surprised by this kind of attack by the anti-vaccine religion, but just in case someone thinks that what the former CDC Director did AFTER he was in charge of the CDC has something to do with vaccines, I’m here to disabuse anyone of that thought.

First of all, let us remember that Dr. Frieden has been charged but not found guilty of his actions. I know that the world has changed with the MeToo movement, and many of us have a sinking feeling that since he was caught here, there may be many more cases of it that will be uncovered from his past. Despite the current world where we no longer believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” it’s probably important to remember he has not been “proven guilty.”

Secondly, what has this got to do with vaccines? Well, nothing, but the anti-vaxxers love their silly strawman arguments and pseudo-conspiracies, so they will use it as a proxy to “prove” that the CDC is so corrupt that we can’t trust them on vaccines.

In case you weren’t watching, this has happened before when the anti-vaxxers invented a conspiracy when a Danish CDC researcher, Poul Thorsen, who stole about US$1 million from research funds. And that had nothing to do with vaccines.

The anti-vaccine conspiracies about former CDC Director Frieden have nothing to do with vaccines. 

The whole of the CDC examines vaccines

Let me remind everyone again of the facts about the CDC, irrespective of the actions of one former CDC director. The CDC has over 15,000 employees. They are mostly scientists, public health officers, physicians, and nurses, all of whom are dedicated to combatting and preventing diseases in the USA and the rest of the world.

These individuals do not get rich from their work. They risk their lives to be one of the first responders to infectious disease outbreaks across the world. And they spend their lives unlocking the mysteries of that disease.

It is not one person who controls the recommendations of the CDC with respect to vaccines – it is literally hundreds of CDC employees who are involved. And they, like all of us should, rely on scientific evidence.

Former CDC director did not block “vaccines cause autism”

I don’t know how many ways I can say this, but there is no scientific or clinical evidence that vaccines are linked in any way to an increased risk of autism. In fact, there is robust, affirmative evidence that has established, beyond almost any doubt, that vaccines are not linked to autism.

In addition, there simply is no biologically plausible mechanism that would get us from vaccines to autism spectrum disorder. The best scientific research into autism has shown us that it has a mostly genetic component.

There is no secret conspiracy, run by the aforementioned former CDC director, to hide evidence about a link between vaccines and autism. Unless, of course,  you believe in the conspiracy quacks in the Vaxxed fraudumentary, led by the cunning fraud Andrew Wakefield, pushing the thoroughly debunked myth about the “CDC whistleblower.”

Dumb tropes are dumb

This whole situation is like the anti-argument from false authority – not only are credentials of the arguer irrelevant, negative credentials, like an arrest, are also irrelevant. Unless, of course, there is actual malfeasance, like doctoring results or getting a paper retracted. Oh, wait, that only happens to the anti-vaccine “researchers.

Whatever Dr. Frieden has done, short of inventing evidence, is only relevant to Dr. Frieden and his career. If he has done what he is accused of doing, he will pay a personal and professional price – he deserves that for his behavior.

But that has nothing to do with vaccines. The overwhelming evidence, from inside and outside of the CDC, tells us that vaccines are very safe and very effective. That has not changed despite the allegations against former CDC Director Frieden.



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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!