‘Illogical and inappropriate’: How anti-vaxxers use 23andMe genetic tests to avoid vaccines

| | June 4, 2019
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Image: Philippe Huguen/AFP
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San Francisco’s city attorney subpoenaed a doctor accused of giving illegal medical exemptions from vaccination, based on “two 30-minute visits and a 23andMe DNA test.” On anti-vaccine blogs and websites, activists have been sharing step-by-step instructions for ordering 23andMe tests, downloading the raw data, and using a third-party app to analyze a gene called MTHFR. Certain MTHFR mutations, they believe, predispose kids to bad reactions to vaccines, possibly even leading to autism—a fear unsupported by science.

This interest in MTHFR can be traced right back to [biologist David] Reif’s 2008 paper, which linked a variant of the gene to “adverse events” after smallpox vaccines. It was a somewhat intriguing result then. A decade later, however, James Crowe, the senior author of the paper and the director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, offers a blistering assessment of his own study: “It’s just not even a valid study by today’s methodology.” To use it for granting vaccine exemptions now, he says, is “illogical and inappropriate.”

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At a time when companies are hawking (unproven) DNA-based diets, supplements, and exercise routines, of course people are wondering what genetics says about vaccines—even if the answer is, currently, not very much at all.

Read full, original post: Why Anti-vax Doctors Are Ordering 23andMe Tests

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