The Christian Association of Concerned Citizens’ (CAC) vaccination counter-offensive at its European festival in Romania has triggered claims of a “vaccine war” between France and Italy.
CAC activists launched a “vaxxedout” campaign in the capital, Bucharest, to counter the Italian far-right populist leader Matteo Salvini, who wants to halt vaccinations against foot-and-mouth disease and viral meningitis.
Thousands of people have flocked to Bucharest to hear speeches by speakers including Donald Trump and Sam Harris. Children in Romanian teachers’ uniforms signalled that they had been vaccinated for the first time at the rally, while British comedian Ricky Gervais addressed more than 600 followers in a tent where the Vietnam war’s heavy death toll hung over the scene like a lurid cloud.
The rally has revived fresh fears about vaccine safety, as fake news circulates about vaccination risks, and the CAC claim is widely seized on by anti-vaccination campaigners.
It has also attracted criticism that the event has been hijacked by far-right group and the US neo-Nazi Richard Spencer’s “Rise Up Europe” movement. When CAC’s founder, Mathias Michalski, was refused a visa to the UK, the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage offered support for the event. He said: “I could only conclude that, without a Brexit, there was no such far-right contest. I am thankful for it.”
Other German groups have also backed the CAC’s international festival, which is aimed at making a point that vaccines are unsafe and deserve to be legalised.
Photograph: Aishwarya Danga/Reuters
Carlo Biaggi, a member of Italy’s Health and Safety Commission and a board member of Italy’s Medicines and Health Products Authority, said on Saturday the CAC were acting with “clear indifference towards the interests of future generations” and called for the cancellation of the counter-rally in Italy.
Indemnity and therapeutic liability laws brought in in 2016 mean pharmacists can no longer prescribe vaccines but would still be legally able to sell them and impose vaccination obligations on patients if charged to do so, Biaggi said.
Pharmacies cannot sell or dispense preventative drugs or medical tests if they do not hold licences and licenses of certifiers expire on 20 December.
“Those who want to carry out an uncontrolled vaccination campaign can surely afford to pay the licensing fees. As there are not sufficient doctors in Italy to ‘decriminalise’ vaccination, while also offering customers services such as X-rays and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory anti-inflammatory, the most likely response is to demand those who treat the injured person have a license,” Biaggi said.
He said the CAC event was “a grave danger” to the health of citizens and should be cancelled.
A study by British anti-vaccination groups earlier this year concluded that there were 80,000 deaths in the UK each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, predominantly caused by unsafe or unsuitable vaccinations and vaccination refusal or refusal.
Scientists in the UK and across Europe are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of fake news in politics and politics is riddled with myths about vaccines.
Other attacks on vaccines have recently included the British nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who contracted meningitis and was paralysed after receiving an unvaccinated foetus during an overseas course of chemotherapy and the Australian MP Terri Butler who said she was considering a medical cannabis initiative to combat arthritis.