How Do Autism Scares Begin? Latest Storm in a Teacup

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A piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer demonstrates how various vaccine scares begin.

Using powerful new DNA technology, Delwart’s San Francisco team detected fragments of a pig virus in GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix, which protects babies from a diarrhea-causing infection. The pig virus is common in pork products and is not known to cause disease in animals or humans.


We expected to reassure; we ended up not reassuring,” Delwart, a virologist with the Blood Systems Research Institute, said this week. “We ended up creating quite a bit of a storm.

Yet of course the usual suspects used this total non-entity of a story to further their own anti-vaccine agenda:

This “is an important wake-up call for industry and government,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center.

How exactly isn’t explained. This is after all a story where a vaccine carries a component that is not known to cause disease . Neither the FDA or the European Health Agency said the vaccines containing the component shouldn’t be used. As Paul Offit said:

“You could apply this new technology to things gummed by a 6-month-old – a Cheeto, a piece of apple – and find much worse” microbes than the pig virus, Offit said. “How does it help to find things that are not known to be harmful? It’s like taking thimerosal out of vaccines. Has that made vaccines safer? No.”

Or more dangerous.

We have to start getting over our collective heebie-jeebies every time something perfectly safe is found in a vaccine and start realising that the people who are advocating that we do have an attack of the heebie-jeebies are those who have a single item agenda – promoting anti-vaccineism.