Grant awarded to monitor anti-vax efforts sparks paranoia for vaccine questioner

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds a grant program called “Grand Challenges in Global Health”. The program seeks out and rewards “not only established researchers in science and technology, but also young investigators, entrepreneurs and innovators to help expand the pipeline of ideas to fight diseases that claim millions of lives each year.”

Grand Challenge 8 was “Design New Approaches to Optimize Immunization Systems”

This topic aims to generate novel approaches to optimizing the performance of immunization logistics and supply systems in low-resource settings. Applicants are encouraged to re-examine the systems trusted with delivering vaccines and design innovative solutions to optimize the performance of these systems, both today and in the future. We seek proposals that are responsive to the topic that are daring in premise and clearly different from the approaches currently under investigation or employed. The solutions submitted to this topic must be focused on the operational aspects of immunization systems in countries, and must have the potential to be scaled up or reproduced in multiple settings.

Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut won a grant for his proposal. It’s very interesting.

Establishing an Anti-Vaccine Surveillance and Alert System

Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut in the U.S. will establish an internet-based global monitoring and rapid alert system for finding, analyzing, and counteracting misinformation communication campaigns regarding vaccines to support global immunization efforts.

Note that Kalichman is looking at web sites and campaigns, not people. I imagine this is something like outreach events, advertising rollouts, etc. But, an Age of Autism blogger is convinced it’s more than that. He certainly sounds uncomfortable with the prospect of being “monitoring” just because he questions vaccine safety.

UConn’s Seth Kalichman Funded By Gates Foundation To Surveil So Called Anti-Vaccine Citizens

So Dr. Kalichman intends to monitor people like us and quickly report his findings back to some unidentified entity (Bill Gates?) and then do stuff (we don’t know what) in response. Dr. Kalichman does not have to run his activities by a judge, as professionals involved in real community corrections do. He doesn’t even have to really define who he is monitoring and who he will direct his counter measures on. Apply the label, conduct surveillance, report back (rapidly) to Bill (I guess) and then do something to or about those people.

That doesn’t really sit right with me. Last I heard, the Constitution protected speech, even speech that questions the government. And, please, questioning vaccine safety is not equivalent to yelling “fire” in a movie theatre. If it were, Congress wouldn’t have passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986.

Straw. Man. Where is the data that shows that vaccines cause autism? There ISN’T any credible evidence. Vaccines are a hugely successful and safe intervention that prevents millions of deaths worldwide. The complications from vaccines are known and disclosed (and covered in the Act if it causes harm). Autism is not one of them. Period. Just making stuff up because there is fear and paranoia does not constitute “information”.

Dr. Kalichman is well versed in the concept of “denialism”, having spent a year infiltrating HIV/AIDS denial groups.

Congratulations to Dr. Kalichman and we are eager to see the results of this project.

Tip: Tim Farley