A British tutorial who has promoted anti-vaccine misinformation has raised greater than £150,000 by way of a college donations portal to help his analysis in the course of the coronavirus disaster, the Guardian can reveal.
Prof Chris Exley, a chemist at Keele College, authored a 2017 research that claimed tiny quantities of aluminium in vaccines might trigger “the extra extreme and disabling type of autism”.
Well being consultants have strongly disputed the findings, together with Prof Andrew Pollard, chair of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who has beforehand referred to as the research’s conclusion “dangerous science”.
Exley, who calls himself Mr Aluminium on social media, encourages followers of his Instagram web page to donate to analysis at his laboratory at Keele College by way of the college’s on-line portal. His research have been shared tens of 1000’s of instances on social media, typically by folks questioning the protection of vaccines.
A Freedom of Data Act request by the Guardian has discovered that Exley acquired £173,612.42 in donations and present support from Might 2019 to the top of 2020, starting from £5 to £77,278.12. Donations to his analysis have surged in the course of the pandemic, with £158,621.27 of the overall despatched since Covid emerged on the finish of 2019.
A $15,000 donation from Robert Kennedy Jr, a distinguished anti-vaccine activist who has shared a social media put up concerning the Invoice Gates “microchip” conspiracy principle within the pandemic, was the one donation to Exley rejected by Keele College within the time interval. Youngsters’s Well being Protection, an anti-vaccine group Kennedy chairs, confirmed to the Guardian that it had tried to ship the cash.
In a put up on Youngsters’s Well being Protection’s web site, Kennedy voiced shock that his donation had been rejected. In an electronic mail to him, Prof David Amigoni, the professional vice-chancellor for analysis and enterprise at Keele College, stated accepting the donation may “generate doubtlessly destructive media protection” and jeopardise relationships with different funders of different analysis, together with the NHS and the Nationwide Institute for Well being Analysis.
In 2019, the Sunday Instances reported that Exley’s supporters had turned to the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to boost cash for his work after scientific analysis councils refused his grant purposes following protests by scientists. Exley has stated extra analysis is required into the protection of aluminium in vaccines.
Exley didn’t reply to the Guardian’s request for remark. In 2019, for a earlier article that reported his analysis group had raised greater than £22,000 from donations, Exley stated the cash was used to “help primary working prices of my lab and should not related to any particular undertaking. That is the character of a donation as in comparison with a grant.”
In a research printed in Might final yr, Exley thanked donors to his analysis group for “enabling the acquisition of mind tissues and their processing and measurement”.
On his Instagram web page, which has a hyperlink to fundraising for his analysis, Exley encourages his followers to not “settle for the lies of vaccine apologists” and hyperlinks aluminium in vaccines to autism.
Keele College stated: “The college emphatically helps public well being vaccination programmes and recognises the significance that present vaccines play in defending well being each within the UK and globally.
“The college workout routines excessive ranges of due diligence in rigorously contemplating all philanthropic sources of funding. This leads to us each accepting and rejecting funds. We don’t settle for philanthropic presents which place any particular situations upon the college past the final space that it’s meant to help. If presents are used to fund particular analysis actions, then that analysis is ruled by established procedures to make sure that it meets the very best stage of moral and analysis integrity.”