When I heard about this candidate, without her name initially being mentioned, I made the assumption that it was the same person I had written about before1. But it wasn’t that nutter, it was another nutter! She is Nicole Tobin, fortunately on the unwinnable number 6 spot on the LNP senate ticket in Queensland, and is a conspiracy theorist. She is also a teacher (!) from Cairns2, which is disturbing in itself.
In a now deleted (surprise, surprise!) Twitter account, she has promoted the rubbish that the MMR vaccine causes autism2. The MMR vaccine is a vaccine against Measles, Mumps and Rubella. The first dose is generally given to children around 12 months of age, with a second dose at about 18 months through the National Immunisation Program. The MMR vaccine offers 99% protection against these diseases and helps reduce their spread3.
This ‘MMR causes autism’ drivel was started by Andrew Wakefield and 12 of his colleagues who published a case series in the Lancet, one of the top medical journals, which suggested that the MMR vaccine may predispose children to develop autism. The paper received wide publicity and caused MMR vaccination to decline4.
Almost immediately afterward, epidemiological studies were conducted and published, refuting the posited link between MMR vaccination and autism. The next episode in the saga was a short retraction of the interpretation of the original data by 10 of the 12 co-authors of the paper. According to the retraction, “no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient”. This was accompanied by an admission by the Lancet that Wakefield et al. had failed to disclose financial interests (e.g., Wakefield had been funded by lawyers who had been engaged by parents in lawsuits against vaccine-producing companies)4.
The Lancet completely retracted the Wakefield et al. paper in February 2010, admitting that several elements in the paper were incorrect. Wakefield et al. were found guilty of ethical violations (they had conducted invasive investigations on the children without obtaining the necessary ethical clearances) and scientific misrepresentation (they reported that their sampling was consecutive when, in fact, it was selective)4.
The final episode in the saga is the revelation that Wakefield and colleagues were guilty of deliberate fraud (they chose data that suited their case and falsified data). The British Medical Journal published a series of articles on the exposure of the fraud, which appears to have been undertaken for financial gain4.
Tobin has also suggested the public COVID-19 death figures were incorrect, saying most deaths were caused by old age or obesity. She said in a Twitter post on January 3rd: “People in NSW are being counted in the COVID stats when they’re being admitted for broken bones, heart attacks, births, etc., but test positive, have Qld Health also been fudging the stats?”2 She, of course, provides no evidence for this assertion. It is just a continuation of the drivel spouted by right wing nut jobs like Alan Jones who said that Covid-19 was just the “health version of global warming”5, or Neil Mitchell who seemed to believe that Victoria’s stopping of the Delta variant was not actually stopping the Delta variant6.
In another Twitter post, she claimed that up to 7000 Australians may have died as a result of the COVID-19 vaccines. The TGA and ATAGI are concealing vital information about the figures”2. These lies have been addressed here before. People like Tobin are either dishonest or too thick to understand the difference between deaths reported after receiving a vaccine and deaths caused by vaccines. By November 2012, 642 reports of deaths after receiving Covid-19 vaccines had been reported to Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration. However, only 9 of those had been attributed to the vaccines7.
For some reason, Tobin also believes that PCR tests do not work2. Why, she doesn’t say. I’d suggest that she would feel a sense of accomplishment if she could remember the abbreviation, let alone that it stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction*.
Where do they get these people? Do they seek them out, or do idiots like this simply gravitate to parties like the Liberal Party, Queensland’s LNP, One Nation or Palmer’s United Australia Party?
*Polymerase Chain Reaction: Sometimes called ‘molecular photocopying’, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a fast and inexpensive technique used to make multiple copies of small segments of DNA. Because significant amounts of a sample of DNA are necessary for molecular and genetic analyses, studies of isolated pieces of DNA are nearly impossible without PCR replication. The technique has been heralded as one of the most important scientific advances in molecular biology. It has revolutionized the study of DNA to such an extent that its creator, Kary B. Mullis, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1993.
To amplify a segment of DNA using PCR, the sample is first heated so double helix of DNA denatures, or separates into two single-strands DNA. Next, an enzyme called “Taq polymerase” synthesizes – builds – two new strands of DNA, using the original strands as templates. This process results in the duplication of the original DNA, with each of the new molecules containing one old and one new strand of DNA. Then each of these are separated and uses to build two new strands, and so on, and so on. The cycle of denaturing and synthesizing new DNA is repeated as many as 30 or 40 times, leading to more than one billion exact copies of the original DNA segment8.