President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head a new commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity is none other than vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Kennedy, a longtime critic of vaccines who believes in the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism, at one time comparing it to a "holocaust," told The Washington Post that he met with Trump on Tuesday and accepted the position. It’s not clear what role the commission would play, according to the article.
As expected, the medical community reacted with alarm that a proponent of the debunked conspiracy theory will be in charge of a commission on vaccine safety.
“That’s very frightening; it’s difficult to imagine anyone less qualified to serve on a commission for vaccine science,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a nonprofit that works to control, treat and eliminate vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases, told the publication.
Kennedy told reporters that Trump is "pro-vaccine" but has some doubts about current vaccine policies and wants to make sure they are as safe as possible. “His opinion doesn’t matter, but the science does matter, and we ought to be reading the science, and we ought to be debating the science,” he said.