October 23, 2017, an online edition Tbilisi 24 released an article headlined “The Truth about Vaccines,” involving conspiracy theories about vaccination. The author of the article claims that vaccines cause increased child mortality and autism, noting that child mortality rates are lower in those countries, where vaccination is not mandatory. The author spreads conspiracies in the anti-western context, thus sowing fear that tightening the law on immunization aims at human experimentation.
article released by Tbilisi 24 is built on conspiracies and pseudo-science as one of the methods of propaganda. The scientific evidence shows no correlation between vaccination, autism and child mortality rates.
Conspiracy theory No.1: Vaccines cause autism
Reality: There is no correlation between vaccination and autism.
According to this conspiracy theory, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism in children that is not true.
- According to the report “Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism” released by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism.
- Scientists don’t know exactly what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A great deal of evidence supports the idea that genes are one of the main causes of or a major contributor to ASD, as many people with autism have slight changes, called mutations, in many of these genes.
- Unvaccinated children can also have autism.
Conspiracy theory No.2: Vaccines are associated with high child mortality rates.
Reality: There is no correlation between vaccination and child mortality rates.
Opponents of immunization argue that child mortality rates are low in those countries, where immunization is voluntary.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claims that there are five causes of infant mortality worldwide, which have nothing in common with vaccination:
- Neonatal encephalopathy, or problems with brain function after birth. Neonatal encephalopathy usually results from birth trauma or a lack of oxygen to the baby during birth.
- Infections, especially blood infections
- Complications of preterm birth
- Lower respiratory infections
- Diarrheal diseases
The author of the article released by Tbilisi 24 compares the child mortality rates in Germany, Italy and Czech Republic and notes that the child mortality rates in Germany, where immunization is not mandatory, are lower by 6% and 10% as compared to Italy and Czech Republic, respectively.
Even if any such correlation existed, the statistical data provided by the author are incorrect and do not correspond to the official data. According to the World Bank data for 2016, infant mortality rates in Italy (2.8), where immunization is mandatory, are lower by 0.4 points as compared to Germany (3.2), while the under-5 mortality rates are lower by 0.5 points (Italy – 3.3; Germany – 3.8).
Infant mortality rates in Italy and Germany
Under-5 mortality rates in Italy and Germany
Conspiracy Theories and Pseudo-Science as Propaganda Methods
platforms exert huge influence on target audience through using conspiracies and pseudo-science. Similar methods promote sowing fear and doubts among the population. Scientific and expert opinions, as well as authentic scientific papers are totally neglected. It is difficult to break through the circle of conspiracies, because the propagandists depict the facts debunking conspiracies as yet another “proof” of conspiracy.
About Tbilisi 24
The information agency "Tbilisi 24” was registered in the public register on March 26, 2015. Its owners are Gocha Nachkebia (50%) and Maia Shaishmelashvili (50%). Gocha Nachkebia, who is also the Director of Tbilisi 24, is connected to one of the leaders of the Centrist Party, Vladimer Bedukadze. Pre-election video of the Centrist Party was mentioning legalization of Russian military bases in Georgia, restoring a visa-free regime with Russia and issuing Russian pensions.
Prepared by Sopo Gelava