The Anti Vax Conspiracy, Channel 4, Review: The Real Fight, Between Science And Ignorance, Has Only Just Begun

If the past 12 months have sometimes resembled one long, claustrophobic horror movie, then The Anti-Vax Conspiracy felt like the sickening twist at the end in which it was revealed the villain hadn’t been defeated after all.

Piers Corbyn sitting in front of a sign: Piers Corbyn, older brother of Jeremy, is a high-profile anti-vaxxer (Photo: Channel 4) © Provided by The i Piers Corbyn, older brother of Jeremy, is a high-profile anti-vaxxer (Photo: Channel 4)

This was a gripping, though sobering, documentary. And its unsettling message was that anti-vaxxers pose an existential threat to the work done by science in turning the tide against Covid-19. They are the monster hiding under all our beds.


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“Vaccines are our only way out of this pandemic,” said US infectious diseases expert Dr Paul Offit. “And if people are scared about vaccines, then we’re not going to be out of this pandemic.”

Covid presented a perfect opportunity for anti-vaxxers, it was explained in a film that set out the facts calmly and without sensation. Scaremongers had preyed on parents’ fears by claiming a false link between autism and MMR vaccines. Now with coronavirus, they had an opportunity to inflict their snake-oil on the world at large. 

Claims that the pandemic was a wheeze by “Big Pharma” or a government attempt to usher in a dystopian surveillance state represented the spewings of paranoid imaginations. Yet the poison has proved effective. Vaccine scepticism is on the rise globally (although not in the UK).

Behind these lies lurked often charismatic figures including Piers Corbyn, older brother of Jeremy, and Robert Kennedy Jnr, son of Bobby Kennedy. Most influential of all was Andrew Wakefield, the tireless self-promoter who left Britain in disgrace after claiming a connection between MMR vaccines and autism.

More than a year into the pandemic, the vaccine roll-out has raised hopes of normality returning. Channel 4’s unnerving documentary warned that the real fight – between science and ignorance – may have only just begun.

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