Bill Maher says vaccine-autism link is 'realistic' even though the theory has been debunked as he hosts controversial anti-vaxxer on show

Dr. Jay Gordon is a prominent figure in the anti-vaxxer community and advocates for a 'balanced, moderate view' regarding vaccines

                            Bill Maher says vaccine-autism link is 'realistic' even though the theory has been debunked as he hosts controversial anti-vaxxer on show
Bill Maher (Getty Images)

Bill Maher, the talk show host of 'Real Time' on HBO, brought vaccination-skeptic Dr. Jay Gordon as his first guest in the latest edition of the show on Friday, November 1.

Dr. Jay Gordon who is a pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics had gained prominence in the anti-vaxxer community and advocates for a "balanced, moderate view" regarding vaccines.

Maher also seemed to agree with many points asserted by Dr. Gordon, including that vaccines could cause autism. He added his own medical history as he listed the issues with modern medicine. Maher said, "I’m just saying we don’t know s***, we don’t know a lot about how the body works. So how do vaccines fit in with all the new chemicals? There’s thousands of new chemicals, pollutants, irritants. We didn’t use to have all this corn syrup in our bodies or antibiotics. It could be any combination, so I’m a little cautious."

The fact that vaccines do not cause autism has been agreed upon by nearly the entire medical community and has been proved by a number of studies.

In many states, parents have refused to get the children vaccinated which has led to a rise in preventable illnesses. In a county north of New York City, unvaccinated minors were barred from public spaces for weeks.

Though Maher acknowledged that vaccines work, he said that it could be "realistic" that there could be a link between vaccines and autism.

He told Gordon, "Like, it probably happens so rarely, but you can’t say it happens one in a million times because then somebody could think, ‘Well, I could be this millionth one.’ So, you scare people, so you can’t say what might be the more realistic opinion.”

Gordon did agree there was a lack of scientific study to back up his claims but advised parents to approach vaccinations with caution.

In 2015, during an interview with CBS News, Gordon claimed that he had signed hundreds of personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements.

According to Gordon, measles was almost always a "benign childhood illness", that parents don't need to worry about. He said, "This measles outbreak does not pose a great risk to a healthy child, and quite frankly I don't think it poses any risk to a healthy child."

A now-debunked study published by The Lancet in 1995 claimed that children given the MMR vaccine—which protects against mumps and rubella—were more likely to have bowel disease and autism. As a result, in the following years, MMR vaccination rates in the US and the UK plummeted, with the latter going below 80 percent. The World Health Organization, this year, included anti-vaxxers in the list of top 10 threats of global health, alongside pollution and climate change.

Dr. Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, publicly described the research as 'fundamentally flawed' in 2004. He alleged that Andrew Wakefield, the gastroenterologist behind the paper, was paid by a group pursuing lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.

Currently, there is no proof of what exactly causes autism and scientists around the world are trying to get to the bottom of it. The medical community largely agrees that the disorder could be caused by a mix of genes and environmental factors, such as being exposed to alcohol in the womb.

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