Anti-Vax Org Says Famous Vaccinologist Has Conflict of Interest with Pfizer

Children’s Health Defense, an American nonprofit anti-vaccination group, published an article last week about a vaccinologist who was formerly a paid Pfizer consultant. 

The article said that Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a well-known vaccinologist who served on the data monitoring committee charged with ensuring the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine, previously worked as a paid consultant and advisor to Pfizer.

Children’s Health Defense is an anti-vaccine group led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The organization and its online platform were responsible for spreading misinformation about vaccinations according to studies conducted by experts in the journal Vaccine. 

The report in the journal Vaccine was the first to study anti-vaccine advertisements in Facebook’s advertising archive.

It found that there were two anti-vax groups mainly responsible for the majority of Facebook advertisements spreading misinformation about vaccines. Children’s Health Defense was previously named the World Mercury Project and was one of the two organizations found to be funding misinformation online about vaccinations. 

Together with the Stop Mandatory Vaccination, the two organizations bought 54 percent of the anti-vaccine ads on Facebook, the study found.

The article published last week on Children’s Health Defense cited an episode of “The Highwire with Del Bigtree.” Bigtree is the CEO and founder of the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network. In the cited episode, Bigtree interviews his organization’s lead attorney, Aaron Siri.

Bigtree’s work as a public speaker and a recent influx of funding has made Bigtree, who has no medical training, one of the most prominent voices in the anti-vaccination movement.

Experts say that Bigtree’s reach and creation of an echo chamber among Highwire watchers are concerning. Bigtree weekly anti-vaccination broadcast grew to be popular. 

The court case referenced in the episode and later article in the Defender said Edwards served as an expert witness in a 2009 case “Hazlehurst v. Secretary, Department of Health & Human Services.” The defendant was a medical clinic in Tennessee that administered several childhood vaccines to Yates Hazlehurst in 2001. She testified that the vaccines Hazlehurst received “were not relevant or important” to Hazlehurst’s subsequent development of autism.

It is a common and controversial theory among anti-vaxxers that vaccines cause autism. 

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