In 1998 a British medical journal published a paper linking vaccines to autism. People panicked. Vaccination rates dropped in the U.K., to as low as 80 percent, while the number of measles cases rose dramatically.
Since then the paper has been retracted and its author discredited for not disclosing serious conflicts of interest and falsifying patient medical histories. The paper has been deemed an elaborate fraud.
The alleged connection between vaccines to autism, however, is still believed by many people, including President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump has said supports vaccines in general but has also uttered remarks about autism that concur with the fraudulent science.
And there may be even more cause for concern. Today Trump’s transition team announced the appointment of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a leading critic of vaccines, to chair a commission on vaccine safety.
“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies,” Kennedy said, according to BuzzFeed. “Everybody ought to be able to be assured that the vaccines that we have — he’s very pro-vaccine, as am I — but they’re as safe as they possibly can be.”
Kennedy has accused government scientists and the pharmaceutical industry of being “involved in a massive fraud” to make a profit off the American people.
“All the data we have says vaccines prevent death,” said cardiologist and author Dr. Kevin Campbell told Salon. Campbell said he is worried that any doubts about vaccines conveyed by Trump and his team would pose a safety issue.
“As a president you have so much ability to influence public health policy and opinion,” Campbell said. “It’s a very slippery slope.”