As horrible as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, it would be far, far worse if not for the unprecedentedly rapid development of safe and effective vaccines. The black fly in your horse paste, however, is that one legacy of the pandemic will be a much more powerful anti-vaxx faction in American politics:
For years, groups at the vanguard of the anti-vaccine movement had been operating with relatively small budgets and only a handful of staff.
Now, they’re awash in cash.
The Covid-19 pandemic has produced a remarkable financial windfall for anti-vaccine nonprofits. Revenue more than doubled for the Informed Consent Action Network and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense in 2021 compared to the year prior, according to a POLITICO analysis of tax filings. The nonprofits that survived on operating budgets of around a few million dollars just a few years prior are now raking in more than $10 million each.
“Covid vaccines have been the foot in the door for the more general anti-vaccine movement. And unfortunately, that door is open pretty wide now,” said Dr. Dave Gorski, a Michigan-based oncologist who has been tracking anti-vaccine efforts for two decades.
The funding spike reflects a sea change for once-fringe entities. The anti-vaccine movement has now emerged as a modern political force. In practical terms, greater funds enable anti-vaccine groups to expand their public reach, sue federal agencies and organize like-minded activists at the state level, as well as expand their reach abroad.
I suppose on one level the surprise is that it took this long for the party dedicated to the proposition that there are not nearly enough Americans without access to healthcare to embrace anti-vaxxism, but it’s certainly unpleasant.