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The Guardian view on the US and vaccine disinformation: a stupid, shocking and deadly game | Editorial

Donald Trump’s military ran a covert campaign to discredit China’s Sinovac vaccine at the height of the pandemic

In July 2021, Joe Biden rightly inveighed against social media companies failing to tackle vaccine disinformation: “They’re killing people,” the US president said. Despite their pledges to take action, lies and sensationalised accounts were still spreading on platforms. Most of those dying in the US were unvaccinated. An additional source of frustration for the US was the fact that Russia and China were encouraging mistrust of western vaccines, questioning their efficacy, exaggerating side-effects and sensationalising the deaths of people who had been inoculated.

How, then, would the US describe the effects of its own disinformation at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic? A shocking new report has revealed that its military ran a secret campaign to discredit China’s Sinovac vaccine with Filipinos – when nothing else was available to the Philippines. The Reuters investigation found that this spread to audiences in central Asia and the Middle East, with fake social media accounts not only questioning Sinovac’s efficacy and safety but also claiming it used pork gelatine, to discourage Muslims from receiving it. In the case of the Philippines, the poor take-up of vaccines contributed to one of the highest death rates in the region. Undermining confidence in a specific vaccine can also contribute to broader vaccine hesitancy.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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