In early February, with the rapid spread of the global epidemic, the World Health Organization issued a warning about “infodemic”, a wave of fake news and misinformation about the deadly new disease on social media.
Now with hopes hanging on Kovid-19 vaccines, the WHO and experts are warning that the same incidents could endanger the roll-out of immunization programs to end victims.
“Coronavirus disease is the first epidemic in history in which technology and social media are being used extensively to keep people safe, informed, productive and connected,” the WHO said.
“At the same time, the technology we rely on remains connected and states that it is enabling and amplifying a contagious that reduces global response and threatens measures to control the epidemic. “
The outbreak of the epidemic in China late last year has killed more than 1.4 million people, but three developers are already applying for approval to use their vaccines in early December.
However, beyond logistics, governments must also contend with skepticism over vaccines developed with record speed at a time when social media has been a tool of both information and lies about the virus.
The WHO defined an infodemic as “a deliberate attempt to disseminate misinformation”, both online and offline, as a redundancy of information.
Last month, a Cornell University study in the United States found that US President Donald Trump had been the world’s biggest driver of misinformation during the pandemic.
In April, Trump stressed the possibility of using disinfectants inside the body to cure the virus and also promoted unproven treatments.
Since January, AFP has published more than 2,000 fact-checking articles that refute false claims about the novel coronavirus.
“Without proper confidence and the right information, clinical trials go unused, vaccination campaigns (or campaigns to promote effective vaccines) will not meet their goals, and the virus will thrive,” the WHO said.
Three vaccine developers – Pfizer / BioNotech, Modern and AstraZeneca / Oxford University – are leading the pack – and some governments plan to roll out their weakest vaccinations this year.
But now disintegration has reached a large scale, ”said Sylvain Delloway, a researcher of social psychology at Resent-2 University, working on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or WhatsApp as vectors for questionable facts and fake news.
Rory Smith of First Draft, an anti-dissolution website, agreed.
“From an information standpoint, (the coronavirus crisis) has not only underscored the widespread scale of misinformation around the world, but also the negative impact misinformation can have on vaccines, institutions and scientific findings more broadly. ,” They said.
Rachel O’Brien, who heads the WHO’s immunization department, said the agency was concerned with false information promoted by the so-called “anti-vaxaxer” movement that could prevent people from immunizing themselves against coronaviruses.
He told AFP, “We are very concerned and concerned that people get their information from reliable sources, that they know that there is a lot of information that is wrong, either intentionally wrong or unknowingly wrong.” is.”
Hesitate to vaccinate
Brendis University professor and Steven Wilson, who co-authored a study called “Social Media and Vaccine Hesitancy” published in the British Medical Journal last month, noted a link between online disinfection campaigns and declining vaccination.
“My fear about the impact of disintegration on social media in the context of Kovid-19 is that it will increase the number of people who are hesitant to receive a vaccine, even though their fear has no scientific basis ,” They said.
“Any vaccine is only as effective as our ability to deploy it to the population.”
For example, amid more explicit claims by conspiracy theorists, the idea that the novel coronavirus virus is a part of the epidemic or the mastermind to control the population based on the likes of Bill Gates.
And the vaccination program, those groups say, is a shield to superimpose microscopic chips to monitor them.
Such assumptions may find fertile ground at a time when polls show that people in some countries, such as Sweden and France, are already skeptical about taking vaccines, especially when treatment has been developed in record time, including There are no long-term studies available. Their efficacy and potential side effects.
Last month, a survey by Ipsos suggested that only 54 percent of French people would immunize themselves against coronoviruses, 10 percentage points lower than the US, 22 points lower than Canada, and 33 points lower than India.
In 15 countries, 73 percent said they were willing to be vaccinated against Kovid-19, four percent less than the first election held in August.
But it’s not just vaccines – more and more people express growing mistrust of institutions, experts say.
“The common theme among conspiracy theorists is that our ‘nobles’ are lying to us,” said Deloway of Rennes-2 University.
Disinvestment is based on the growing mistrust of all institutional authorities, be it government or scientific.
The First Draft report noted that “when people do not easily access reliable information around the vaccine and when there is a high degree of mistrust among the vaccine-related actors and institutions, misinformation spreads.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)