Aussie anti-vaxxers cashing in on the pandemic
Anti-vaccine activists accuse "Big Pharma" of making money out of vaccination on one hand - while using the other to cash in on their controversial beliefs.
Many anti-vax campaigners are raking in the profits from multi-level marketing, online courses, "academies" and selling expensive supplements and franchises.
Instagram influencer Taylor Winterstein, wife of football player Frank Winterstein, runs two- hour online courses called "making informed choices" for $77 a head and recently boasted "almost one thousand freethinkers" have signed up.
Ms Winterstein also markets an eight-week online course called "Liberate Her" for $1499 and showcases anti-vaccine advocates like Judy Wilyman.
On top of that she gets a commission from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, which sells health coach courses for between $5000 and $9000 and if interested parties "jump onto my referral list", Ms Winterstein receives a cash bonus.
Ms Winterstein also marketed a purple rice product for $150 for a month's supply, which she claimed could "energise" your mitochondria.
Former celebrity chef Pete Evans has a host of products for sale on his website. Since his $25,000 fine issued by the Therapeutics Goods Administration for claiming his BioCharger could treat coronavirus, he no longer sells the $15,000 contraption.
He does market fluoride-removing water filters for $979 and sells a raft of supplements from collagen to beef liver capsules for between $44 and $54.
Mr Evans, who refers to the current coronavirus pandemic as a "scamdemic", is about to open a "biohacking and holistic health clinic" in Byron Bay that he will be franchising globally.
The original anti-vaccine outfit, Meryl Dorey's Australian Vaccination-risks Network offers membership for $25 a year, or monthly sponsorship for $5 a month and sells a raft of anti-vaccine books and videos as well as T-shirts for between $25 and $45.
The AVN has recently purchased a large bus to drive around and show the discredited conspiracy documentaries Vaxxed and Vaxxed 2.
The husband and wife team behind the current anti-vaccination spamming campaign, which has bombarded politicians with letters protesting vaccination, run a multi-level marketing business selling powdered juice in tablet form.
Anthony and Kate Golle, from the northern NSW coast town of Casuarina, are salespeople for Juice Plus + supplements, an American-owned multi-level marketing business.
Mr Golle, a former chiropractor, has built the Lifestyle Revolution Facebook with over 40,000 members and encouraged a letter-writing campaign to protest vaccination.
Their businesses Tribal Wellness Movement and Dream Lifestylers sells Juice Plus+ supplements.
The Juice Plus+ website charges $336 for a four month pack or $84 a month for the supplements.
In February, the Juice Plus Company Australia Pty Ltd was fined $37,800 after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued three infringement notices for alleged advertising breaches relating to vitamin products for "promoting the products for a condition that is not permitted for this medicine, and health professional endorsement of the products."
The TGA said "direct sellers of these products should be aware that they have the same legal obligations as the company when advertising therapeutic goods".
Ms Golle said in an online video promoting Juice Plus+, those who sign up to sell the supplements "have the potential of earning $100,000 and beyond with a start-up cost of $167.50 … Whether it is $400 a month or $40,000 a months, all of this is possible", describing commissions as "beach money".
Now the Golles are launching a new business venture called the Empowered Lifestyle Academy, charging $23 a month for membership to gain access to health and wellness content.
Professor of medicine and public health advocate John Dwyer said there were "inadequate regimens for protecting Australians from Health misinformation/fraud" and that Australia had low health literacy to sought fact from fiction.
"We are not teaching and promoting scepticism nor providing skills to help people check claims made by so many promoting useless and sometimes dangerous practices," he said.
Originally published as Aussie anti-vaxxers cashing in on the pandemic