Feb 17, 2017 by


BY J.B. HANDLEY February 2, 2017

Paul Offit’s heir apparent is a vaccine developer, sort of like if Philip Morris himself were the primary defender of tobacco safety. His grasp of the vaccine-autism science is shockingly inadequate.

HOUSTON, Texas — With no actual measles outbreak to scare the public with, CBS Austin took the extraordinary step last week of reporting on a doctor who is sounding the alarm about a “potential measles outbreak.” Seriously. There is no outbreak. But, you never know.

Dr. Peter Hotez

“What we’ve seen in Texas in the last few years is a very alarming trend,” Dr. Peter Hotez said. Dr. Hotez is a vaccine scientist and the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He says he’s worried about more and more Texas families opting out of vaccines.

“It could allow a measles epidemic to take hold,” Dr. Hotez said. “Measles, I can’t emphasis enough, is a deadly and serious disease.”

The magic number is 90 percent. Dr. Hotez says if the immunity numbers drop below that it could trigger an outbreak and babies under one year of age would be most at risk. “Then if you’re a mother or a parent with a young baby you have to be terrified about going into shopping malls or going into public libraries or any public space because you’re worried your baby is going to get measles,” Dr. Hotez said.

Texas doctor sounding alarm about potential measles outbreak

Dr. Hotez has many reasons to support vaccines — I’m not sure I have ever seen a biography that was so vaccine-dependent. Amongst his many titles and affiliations, Dr. Hotez is the President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, and his research at the Baylor College of Medicine focuses on “developing vaccines for neglected tropical diseases.”

Lying about Measles and Herd Immunity

Call me old-fashioned, I think doctors who specialize in developing vaccines should tell the truth when they speak to the press, and Dr. Hotez clearly does not. Before I get to the point of this article — Dr. Hotez’s incredibly weak grasp of vaccine-autism science — I want to talk about the fear-mongering article he likely helped plant at CBS Austin that I posted above. Dr. Hotez makes two claims that are very easy to refute, which I feel compelled to point out to convince you that people in positions of authority with a partisan agenda (he develops vaccines for a living) shouldn’t necessarily be trusted:

  1. Measles is not a “deadly and serious disease.” Sorry, Dr. Hotez, it simply isn’t. Ebola, yes. Black Plague, absolutely. Small pox, very dangerous. Measles is so NOT deadly and serious that the “cure” in case your child gets it sounds a lot like the common cold: “Since measles is caused by a virus, there is no specific medical treatment for it and the virus has to run its course. But a child who is sick should drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest, and be kept from spreading the infection to others.” I must have missed the part about rushing your child to the hospital to save them from this deadly disease! In the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, when several years had spikes of measles outbreaks, the CDC reported the death rate of measles at 0.2%, and this is largely attributed to children who were already medically fragile. Healthy kids don’t die of measles, and there hasn’t been a death reported from measles in more than 10 years in the United States. Which makes Dr. Hotez either an exaggerator or a liar, depending on how you want to look at it.
Herd immunity? Hardly.

2. The U.S. population is nowhere near herd immunity. Dr. Hotez thinks the scientific number for “herd immunity” is 90% vaccinated. What happens if we fall below that threshold? All hell breaks loose according to him, and “if you’re a mother or a parent with a young baby you have to be terrified about going into shopping malls or going into public libraries or any public space because you’re worried your baby is going to get measles.” The only problem with this ridiculous fear-mongering is that Dr. Hotez failed to mention that American adults are vastly under-vaccinated, as the CDC readily admits in this report from 2014:

“Despite longstanding recommendations for use of many vaccines, vaccination coverage among U.S. adults is low.”

How low you ask? 50% or less is the quick answer, which means any notion that the U.S. population has achieved herd immunity is a farcical myth, as this article from The Hill very clearly explains:

“the concept of herd immunity is largely myth — and completely misunderstood…if we look back over the decades and note the lack of rampant epidemics in our nation, while remembering that vaccine protection is in perpetual decline, the myth of herd immunity quickly unravels. Our society has never achieved this level of herd immunity, yet not a single major outbreak of disease has occurred.”

If only half of America is properly vaccinated, where are the epidemics?

Doctors are always right. Except when they aren’t.

Is Dr. Hotez being groomed as the new Paul Offit?

The vaccine industry, working through their well-compensated P.R. firms, has generally used doctors as spokespeople to defend the vaccine industry, which makes sense, as people generally trust doctors — product marketers have known this for decades.

The most infamous spokesperson for the vaccine industry is Dr. Paul Offit, the inventor of the Rotavirus vaccine and a multi-millionaire due to his vaccine creation. And while at least CBS News ran one extensive story about the conflicts Dr. Offit had in endorsing vaccines, those conflicts have rarely been mentioned in press reports I have seen interviewing Dr. Offit, and I have yet to see Dr. Hotez’s conflicts mentioned in any articles where he is quoted.

Dr. Hotez and his daughter Rachel

In certain ways, Dr. Hotez may be an even better pitchman than Dr. Offit. As I just showed you, he’s more than willing to stretch the truth to incite fear about measles and “herd immunity,” but there’s actually one more thing about Dr. Hotez that puts him a unique position to defend vaccines: he has a daughter with autism, a relationship that he wrote about in this article for World Autism Awareness Day.

“Indeed, the fact that I lead a multidisciplinary team that develops neglected disease vaccines while also serving as President of the non-profit Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development often places me front and center in the dialogue about purported links between autism and vaccines.”

And, here’s the doozy, the statement where I realize that Dr. Hotez and I are unlikely to attend the same autism conferences:

“For me, the issue is completely straightforward. From a scientific perspective, there is no scenario where it is even remotely possible that vaccines could cause autism. Instead everything I know both as a parent and as a scientist points to autism as a genetic or epigenetic condition.”

Wow. Not even remotely possible? We’ll see.

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