Harvard vaccine study? Not really, more Tetyana Obukhanych nonsense

I’ve noticed something about the pseudoscience world – they love to “prove” their point by pointing to a Harvard (or some other prestigious university) research study that they believe supports their claims. It usually doesn’t. Now we have something floating around the anti-vaccine interwebs – there’s a Harvard vaccine study that says that unvaccinated kids are not dangerous to other children.

No, Harvard published no such a study. But our favorite false authority, Tetyana Obukhanych, did make these claims, which we have debunked previously. Basically, the new claims in the anti-vaccine blogosphere are related to a letter she wrote in opposition to SB277, California’s law that eliminates personal belief exemptions for vaccines prior to entering school.

Somehow, the anti-vaccine religion has attached itself to her claims and converted it into the Harvard vaccine study. So, I’m going to take a look at this amazing Harvard vaccine study and how Obukhanych is involved with it. 

Tetyana Obukhanych’s biography

Obukhanych does have a Ph.D. in immunology from Rockefeller University, according to her own biography, and once was on a research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Does that make her an expert on vaccines? The whole point why the appeal to authority is a logical fallacy is that anti-vaccine zealots look to her degree as proof she is an expert, rather than relying upon scientific evidence. If Obukhanych is an expert, she would not reject the scientific consensus on vaccines, she would present the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. She does not, so she ends up pushing pseudoscience.

As far as I can tell, Obukhanych is an unemployed Ph.D., other than shilling for anti-vaccine groups. So let me clarify – despite her academic credentials, she is not employed in scientific research. But let’s look at what we can confirm and not confirm about her academic background:

Did Obukhanych author a Harvard vaccine study?

As far as I can tell, Tetyana Obukhanych has never written any study about vaccines in association with Harvard. In fact, Obukhanych is a co-author of eight published studies. Let’s review the key points about these articles:

  1. Only one of her papers had anything to do with vaccines, although two of them (here and here), very small clinical trials, examined amino acid relationships to autism spectrum disorder. Neither of these articles even mention vaccines, so don’t invent some trope where Obukhanych published an article linking vaccines to autism – we know that there is no link. None.
  2. Other than one article, Obukhanych was never the first or last author. In most papers, the first author is generally the individual who did the bulk of the research work. In that one paper, she concluded that “As the generation and regulation of immunologic memory is central to vaccination, our findings help explain the mode of action of the few existing polysaccharide vaccines and provide a rationale for a wider application of polysaccharide-based strategies in vaccination.” Yes, that was a pro-vaccine paper.
  3. Did I mention that none of them had anything to do with Harvard?
  4. However, she was interviewed for an antivaccine article in the lunatic website, whale.to, an anti-semitic, hate-filled, conspiracy-laden website run by a pig farmer. Apparently, that’s what she thinks is peer-reviewed research about vaccines these days.
  5. Lastly, Obukhanych has written a book, Vaccine Illusion: How Vaccination Compromises Our Natural Immunity and What We Can Do To Regain Our Health, which is self-published (on Kindle). It is essentially a screed about vaccines. In other words, it’s a book that’s so unworthy of respect, that she couldn’t find a real science book publisher to take it on.

Summary

Do we have any evidence that Obukhanych wrote a Harvard vaccine study? No. Harvard researchers have published over 3000 articles regarding vaccines, nearly all of them positive about current and future vaccines. Obukhanych had nothing to do with any of them.

Let’s be clear – there is no evidence that there’s a Harvard vaccine study that states that unvaccinated kids are not dangerous to other children.

Citations



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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!