May 11, 2019
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We wrap up our antivax mini-series by looking at another antivax claim: “All vaccines contain a number of toxic poisons and chemicals that are linked to serious neurological damage”. We talk about Robert Kennedy Jr, thimerosal, and the difference between methyl vs ethyl mercury.



Full shownotes below.

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  • Antivax Claim #5: All vaccines contain a number of toxic poisons and chemicals that are linked to serious neurological damage including aluminum, thimerosal (methyl mercury), antibiotics, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and formaldehyde. Other dangerous substances found in vaccines include antifreeze, lead, cadmium, glycerine, acetone, and yeast proteins.
  • Let’s start this one by going back to something I said in the previous point. 
  • Governments want people to be healthy, working, earning money, driving the economy. 
  • Does it therefore make sense for them to knowingly allow vaccines to make people sick? 
  • Where is the upside in that? 
  • Thimerosal is a big one that I’ve read in a lot of antivax literature.
  • Robert Kennedy Jr is an advocate against it. 
  • Son of Bobby Kennedy. 
  • Lawyer. Activist. 
  • Doesn’t believe Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone shooter.
  • Says his father was “fairly convinced” that others besides Oswald were involved in his brother’s assassination and privately believed the Warren Commission report was a “shoddy piece of craftsmanship.”
  • Critical of U.S. foreign policy
  • Sounds like a decent human being. 
  • Also a licensed master falconer
  • Currently married to actress Cheryl Hines, who played Larry David’s wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm. 
  • His second wife hung herself after their divorce in 2010. 
  • In 2005 he wrote an article about thimerosal which was published in Rolling Stone and Salon. 
  • It claimed that thimerosal-containing vaccines caused autism, as well as that government health agencies have “colluded with Big Pharma to hide the risks of thimerosal from the public.
  • It copped a lot of criticism from the scientific community and both Rolling Stone and Salon eventually amended the story with corrections. 
  • Salon ended up taking the article down in 2011. 
  • He’s also written a book about it. 
  • Thimerosal is a preservative that was removed from vaccines beginning in 1999.
  • Preservatives prevent microbial growth.
  • A preservative is required in multi-dose vials of vaccines.
  • Thimerosal was developed as an anti-microbial agent shortly after World War I.
  • It was soon discovered that it has great anti-microbial properties and was well tolerated when injected into rabbits or rats even at high doses.
  • This made it superior to anything else available at the time.
  • Bacterial contamination was a serious problem for vaccines in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Thimerosal in tiny doses, well below safety limits, proved to be an effective agent for preventing contamination.
  • It contains mercury. 
  • And mercury is very bad for you. 
  • But mercury isn’t mercury. 
  • methyl mercury is the one that’s bad for you. 
  • Thimerosal is ethyl mercury. 
  • Different form. 
  • In particular, the half-life of ethyl mercury is short (less than 1 week) compared with that of methyl mercury (1.5 months).
  • so exposure to ethyl mercury in blood is relatively brief.
  • Ethyl mercury is actively excreted via the gut, whereas methyl mercury accumulates in the body.
  • “A robust body of peer-reviewed scientific studies conducted in the U.S. and other countries support the safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines.”
  • Now the FDA also told us that fat was bad for us and sugar was good for us. 
  • I did read a study that said thimerosal was injected into mice and they showed signs of depression. 
  • Just didn’t want to get out of bed, watched reality TV, listened to Radiohead, voted for Trump. 
  • But these mice were getting 20 TIMES the amount recommended for humans:
  • Our results indicate that higher dose of neonatal thimerosal-mercury (20× higher than that used in human) is capable of inducing long-lasting substantial dysregulation of neurodevelopment, synaptic function, and endocrine system, which could be the causal involvements of autistic-like behavior in mice.
  • Another study concluded: Considered together the present results do not indicate pervasive developmental neurotoxicity following vaccine-level thimerosal injections in mice, and provide little if any support for the hypothesis that thimerosal exposure contributes to the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • So in other words, if you gave them normal doses, no problem. 
  • Anyway thimerosal was removed from most vaccines in 1999. 
  • Partly because of ‘theoretical risk’, in other words, science hadn’t found any risk but they just wanted to remove it anyway.
  • but also because they developed new single-dose vaccines that do not require preservatives.
  • All vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger in the U.S. are available in formulations that do not contain thimerosal.
  • Only some flu vaccines still contain it. 
  • It can now only be found in multi-dose flu vaccines (not single dose or live virus vaccines) which are voluntary.
  • In extremely small dosages. 
  • In Australia, thiomersal has been removed from all routine childhood vaccines since 2000.
  • The exception is one type of hepatitis B vaccine which contains a greatly reduced amount of thiomersal. 
  • Even before 2000, the level of thimerosal kids got was well below the World Health Organization (WHO) limit for methyl mercury, the bad kind. 
  • Safety concerns about thimerosal were first raised in the 1970s with increased awareness of the neurotoxicity of mercury.
  • However the dose of mercury in vaccines was orders of magnitude below the levels showing any clinical effect.
  • No safety concerns were raised with thimerosal and vaccines until the late 1990s.
  • At this time Wakefield was raising alarms over the MMR vaccine (which never contained thimerosal) and autism.
  • The core of the anti-vaccine claim against thimerosal was that as the cumulative dose of thimerosal increased so did the incidence of autism.
  • This claim was never scientifically validated.
  • Correlation by itself is weak evidence for causation, and the correlation itself really didn’t hold up.
  • Despite the lack of any convincing scientific evidence, the CDC decided “out of an abundance of caution” to remove thimerosal from the routine vaccine schedule by 2002.
  • This provided an opportunity for a mega-experiment.
  • If the increasing dose of thimerosal caused increasing autism diagnoses, then a decreasing overall dose of thimerosal should cause the incidence of autism diagnoses to fall to pre-1990s levels.
  • The other game that anti-vaxxers were playing was that thimerosal was not really removed by 2002.
  • There were still some vaccines with thimerosal.
  • As autism rates continued to rise, they kept pushing back the date of when thimerosal was removed.
  • Apparently doctors were holding onto their vaccines with thimerosal to the bitter end.
  • Vaccine manufacturers stopped making vaccines with thimerosal (except for some flu vaccines, more on that later) between 1999 and 2001.
  • Vaccines have a two-year shelf life.
  • Even if you take the latest estimates, the thimerosal-containing vaccines were gone by 2004.
  • Not surprisingly, after the thimerosal was removed from all of the vaccines, autism rates continued to rise.
  • I should note that the evidence shows that the increasing rate of autism diagnoses is largely an artifact of expanding diagnosis, diagnostic substitution, and increased surveillance.
  • There may not be any real increase in autism itself.
  • A small real increase is possible, but unproven.
  • evidence is growing that autism is dominantly the result of genetic predisposition.
  • A study found a consistent prevalence of autism of about 1% in all age groups.
  • If autism rates were truly increasing we would expect a lower prevalence in older age groups, but that is not what they found.
  • Studies are suggesting that autism may be detectable at two months – well before kids get any vaccines – and maybe even in the womb. 
  • So this claim gets another FIVE OUT OF FIVE on the bullshit meter and we give up. 
  • The first five claims we’ve examined are completely flawed, so there’s not much point continuing. 
  • Thanks for listening. 

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