April 19, 2012
Donald Trump just went on CNBC and argued that vaccines are causing autism. The claims went unchallenged. He said:
Autism is so prevalent today. I’ve been saying this for a long time, that the — I’m not against vaccination but I’m against massive vaccinations at one time in order to save doctor visits with the doctors. and frankly, a lot of people love that and some people didn’t look it. My attitude is if you spread the vaccinations over a period of time, what do we have to lose? Autism is so prevalent.
Editor’s Note: Gates’ refutation of Trump’s comments cited here come from his appearance on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta where he demonizes vaccine skeptics, including Dr. Andrew Wakefield by name. Here is that response:
Depopuation: Bill Gates And His Eugenics Lie
Just to emphasize that: “an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids.” Gates, through the work of his foundation, has seen the impact that these vaccines can have. Hundreds of thousands of kids still die of measles every year worldwide because they don’t get measles vaccine. In a few countries, there are still cases of polio. If we stopped vaccinating, it would come back here. Whooping cough is making a comeback, perhaps partly because of weaknesses in the vaccine, but also because some people are choosing not to get kids their shots. Trump’s statement that we have nothing to lose by trying out giving fewer vaccines, or even changing the vaccine schedule, which makes it more likely that kids will miss shots, is simply wrong. If there were a link between vaccines and autism, we would be faced with a terrible choice: choosing whether children would get autism, or whether children would die.
Thankfully, we don’t face that choice. At one point, the worry was that overdoses of thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative in vaccines, was causing autism; that preservative is no longer in routine childhood vaccines. But there are no data supporting this worry. Large studies have failed to show any signal that getting more vaccines makes it more likely that kids will be diagnosed as autistic. When I profiled Bill Gates last year, I remember him telling me that scientific proof just wasn’t enough to get rid of this connection in some people’s minds.
“Some scientific myths like the thimerosal thing are hard to get rid of entirely,” Gates said. ”You know, it’s just hard to have everybody look at the data, which couldn’t be clearer on the fact that that is not associated with the increase in autism.”