Jun 19, 2019

Report: Million-dollar donations fund anti-vaccination movement

Anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree speaks with reporters before an event on June 4. Photo:Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bernard Selz and his wife have contributed more than $3 million to anti-vaccination movements since 2012, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The current measles outbreak has been the worst in a century. The extremely contagious measles virus has crept back into American society primarily through communities that refuse vaccinations, experts have told Axios.

The backdrop: Bernard and Lisa Selz began supporting the anti-vaccination movement in 2012 with a $200,000 donation to Andrew Wakefield's legal fund, the Post reports.

  • Wakefield's study, published in 1998, linked the measles vaccine (MMR) and autism and is credited with launching the modern anti-vaccination movement. His study, which was debunked and found to be fraudulent, was retracted by The Lancet after publication. Wakefield was subsequently stripped of his medical license.

The numbers that matter: The Selz Foundation currently funds about 75% of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) and donated $100,000 — 83% of the charity’s funding — the year it was established, per the Post.

  • Lisa Selz serves as the network's president, while its founder Del Bigtree "promotes the idea that government officials have colluded with the pharmaceutical industry to cover up grievous harms" from drugs found in vaccines, the Post reports.

The bottom line: ICAN is currently the best-funded organization that amplifies concerns about vaccines, largely thanks to the Selz's funding, the Post reports.

Go deeper: Measles outbreak this year has been worst of the century

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

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Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

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Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

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