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Warning About the Risks of ‘Anti-Science’: Stark Message from Esteemed Pediatrician | Breaking:


A pediatrician, author and co-inventor of a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine warns that the anti-vaccine movement has become a political force that threatens global progress against deadly childhood infections like measles.

Dr. Peter Hotez, author of the new book The deadly rise of anti-science: a scientist’s warning He says the movement is well organized, well funded, and includes powerful organizations in the United States, such as the Republican House Freedom Caucus, certain senators, and what he calls “contrarians” and “pseudo-intellectuals.”

Some are now trying to focus on routine vaccinations of children and adults, he said White coat, black art host Dr. Brian Goldman.

“We could… reverse all the successes we have had in the last two decades around measles immunization or whooping cough” he said. “I’m worried about that.”

Hotez says his previous book, from 2018 The vaccine did not cause Rachel’s autismdrawing on the genetic roots of his adult daughter’s neurodivergence, made him “public enemy number one or two” with a couple of anti-vaccine groups, which have long made discredited Claims that vaccines cause autism.

More recently, he and Maria Elena Bottazzi, both co-directors of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, were jointly nominated for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their work developing Corbevax, a cheap vaccine for protect people from serious effects. of COVID-19. It has already reached 100 million people in places like India, he said.

LISTEN | Bottazzi and Hotez talk about their vaccine:

23:03A patent-free vaccine for the world

He says he has been harassed at home and confronted outside of a public speech, in addition to receiving threats online.

Vaccine resistance, long simmering but mostly marginal, became further politicized amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as supporters coalesced around concepts of healthcare or medical freedom, fanned by extremists. extreme right like proud boys.

He is concerned about the growing hostility of what Hotez calls the “anti-science” movement.

“They don’t leave much information in their emails when they say ‘the army of patriots’ is coming to hunt me down,” he said of his most extreme critics. “But the nature of the attacks, in terms of their political references, leads me to believe that many of them are based on the extremism of the far right and their followers.”

In the dedication to his latest book, Hotez lists the law enforcement agencies that help protect him, such as the Houston Police Department and his hospital security.

A police officer stands in front of trucks blocking downtown streets, protesting COVID-19 restrictions, in Ottawa, February 2022. Hotez cites the protest as an example of the growing reach of the anti- vaccines. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Hotez writes that the movement is globalizing beyond the United States, including events like last year’s trucker convoy in Canada.

“There’s no question that the American anti-vaccine movement made an effort to aggravate and exacerbate what was happening in Canada,” he said in an interview.

But Maya Goldenberg, a philosophy professor at the University of Guelph, sees anti-vaccine sentiment differently.

“I don’t think it’s anti-science,” said Goldenberg, author of Vaccine Hesitancy: Public Trust, Experience, and the War on Science. “I think it’s a certain distrust of scientific institutions and the power that scientific institutions exercise.”

Build trust with patients

During the height of the COVID emergency, governments may have failed to demonstrate how they are working in the public interest, which may have fueled vaccine hesitancy, he says. Amid lockdowns and other restrictions, for example, some small business owners felt that governments considered their interests “disposable,” at least temporarily.

Dr. Cora Constantinescu smiles as she looks directly into the camera.  Behind her you can see colorful foliage.
Dr. Cora Constantinescu, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, says every doctor has the opportunity to create positive interactions every time they see a patient. (Submitted by Cora Constantinescu)

“We need more unity to face difficult circumstances,” he said. “We don’t understand when people think that the powerful make decisions and that ordinary people are harmed by those decisions.”

What helps change the behavior of vaccine-hesitant parents? Building your confidence.

Dr. Cora Constantinescu runs a vaccine hesitancy clinic for families at the University of Calgary. The pediatric infectious disease doctor has witnessed firsthand how public information campaigns don’t actually change behavior among those parents.

They needed to feel supported rather than judged or discriminated against, Constantinescu says.

“When we asked what can build trust in governments and health agencies, our vaccine-hesitant parents reported seeing frontline healthcare providers involved in policy decisions,” he said. “I don’t think that’s gotten any better.”

Every clinician, whether a doctor, nurse, or lab technologist drawing blood, has the opportunity to create positive interactions with their patient. Over time, such encounters build trust, she says.

But in Hotez’s view, it will take more than one-on-one personal interactions to counter the political reach of the anti-vaccine movement. He says he suggested to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, that the U.N. agency bring in other experts, such as those fighting global terrorism, nuclear proliferation or cyberattacks.

The movement is “really destroying the fabric of society,” Hotez said.

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