The presidential hopeful appeared in a June 28 meeting hosted by NewsNation and moderated by journalist Elizabeth Vargas of A&E Networks. Family physician Dr. Tariq Butt, who was in the audience, threw a question at RFK Jr. – zooming in on the candidate's opposition to vaccines.
Butt falsely claimed that "eradication of chicken pox and polio in the U.S. and in many parts of the world is a result of regular vaccination." Moreover, he also claimed that there is "little evidence" of the two diseases – alongside measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – in the vaccinated population.
"Your vaccine stance is dangerous to the health and well-being of millions. Medical experts are deeply concerned about your message. How can we help you come to the side of science?
RFK Jr. responded by saying there is evidence that vaccines have reduced the risk of mortality and morbidity from the diseases they seek to address. But he continued that without long-term prospective studies around all-cause mortality or morbidity in vaccinated populations, nobody can claim there is an overall benefit in inoculation programs.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Madhava Setty, the senior science editor of the Children's Health Defense (CHD) newsletter The Defender, put in his thoughts on the exchange between RFK Jr. and Butt in a June 29 piece.
"Kennedy's answer to the question dismantles the issue to the very core, catching Butt off guard. His methodical response should have proven to the audience that the family medicine doctor has very little grasp of all the available evidence," he wrote.
"Of all the preventable diseases out there? Why would Butt use chickenpox as an example of how [RFK Jr.'s] vaccine stance is dangerous to the health and well-being of millions? Could it be that a doctor with a microphone was unaware of the science?"
According to Setty, the dangers of the chickenpox vaccine have led the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) to avoid recommending its administration to both children and adults.
"There's a worry that introducing chickenpox vaccination for all children could increase the risk of chickenpox and shingles in adults," the NHS stated. "When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. This can then reactivate at a later date and cause shingles."
The anesthesiologist also noted that diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine caused an "enormous tragedy" in Africa. Setty noted that after 30 years of observation, children injected with the DTP shot were dying of other causes at 10 times the rate of those who weren't.
Returning to the town hall, RFK Jr. told the audience that the flurry of lawsuits against manufacturers of the DTP vaccine led to the passing of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA). The bill, which was signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan in 1986, has protected vaccine manufactures from any liability.
He also disclosed that the same law behind the NCVIA also created the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as a concession to the public. VAERS, which is meant to "protect" and warn the public of potential vaccine danger, has been shown to under-report vaccine injuries "as commonly as it gets ignored." (Related: Study reveals FEWER than 1% of vaccine injuries are reported to VAERS.)
"A person can take a medicine and then get involved in a motor vehicle accident," Butt replied to the Democratic presidential candidate. Setty dubbed this reply as an example of the "correlation does not prove causation" argument.
The Defender's senior science editor pointed out that while Butt "has good intentions," he is also "particularly skilled at picking the weakest examples to prove his point."
Setty continued: "Was Butt aware that the 'correlation does not equal causation' argument can be used to dismiss vaccine benefits as well? Though [RFK Jr.] did not discuss the MMR and polio vaccines, his point was clear. Unless proper long-term safety studies are done, we cannot determine if more harm than good is being done."
Watch this InfoWars segment about Dr. Peter Hotez, another vaccine proponent, refusing to debate RFK Jr. on the matter.
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