Sunday, October 25, 2020

#2399: Dave Weldon

As you may be aware, Bill Posey is currently the main antivaxx enabler (and antivaxxer) in the House of Representatives. But he inherited the issue from his predecessor Dave Weldon, who represented Florida’s 15th congressional district from 1995–2009. Weldon, despite being an MD, did his best to raise doubts about the safety of vaccines, citing the (non-existent) autism epidemic and claiming, in spite of the evidence, that thimerosal could not be ruled out as a causative agent (it can). He dismissed the evidence of no link on the ground that many of the largest studies were not done on US populations and, really, any straw he could grasp at to keep the vaccine–autism hypothesis in play (he also toyed with the “too many too soon” gambit). Together with Carolyn Maloney, he sponsored The Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act of 2007 to remove most of the vaccine safety research from the CDC because they didn’t conclude the way Weldon wanted of conflicts of interest, and to continue to study the issue until he could get the result he wanted. Of course, Weldon vehemently denied being anti-vaccine; he was just pro-safe vaccines.

Weldon was also what we could perhaps term a “Terry-Schiavo-denialist”, introducing legislation to force review of the case by the federal government (i.e. people with political axes to grind rather than medical expertise). Weldon claimed, falsely and without evidence, that Schiavo was not in a vegetative state but “responds to verbal stimuli, she attempts to vocalize, she tracks with her eyes, she emotes, she attempts to kiss her father.”


Diagnosis: Long gone from the echelons of power, Weldon still deserves a bit of negative exposure; we wouldn’t be surprised to see him resurface on the antivaccine scene, especially given that he is an MD (which is, of course, not the same as being a medical researcher, but that distinction is lost on many).

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