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FAKE NEWS: Anti-COVID vaccines have adverse effects and are ineffective

FAKE NEWS: Anti-COVID vaccines have adverse effects and are ineffective
©EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement  |   Romanian anti-vaccine activists display a huge metaphoric human head with syringes tucked into the scalp while attending a protest against new measures ordered by the Romanian government during the fourth wave of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, in front of government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, 02 October 2021.

Anti-COVID vaccines have severe adverse effects and are merely experimental serums that offer no protection against the coronavirus, according to this false narrative based on data taken out of context.

NEWS: “[…] If you look carefully, you’ll notice there are 4 million cases overall, most of which (some 1.8 million) were reported in people who are socially and economically active: people aged 18-64!

While such adverse reactions are officially reported and the expected effects are close to zero compared to the 5th wave, which has comfortable gripped the rich and “ultraimmunized” Western Europe, the new strain/variant/pathogen being fully impervious to the main experimental serums, bureaucrats and politicians across Europe are imposing the injection of these useless and toxic serums as “the only solution” against the pandemic. And it’s not just that – more waves of restrictions are coming, and the sanitary apartheid becomes increasingly “normal” and restrictive, and normal people are thrown outside the city walls. What is cynical and reckless is that “immunizing” children under 12 years will become inevitable.”

NARRATIVES: Anti-COVID vaccines have many serious adverse effects. 2. Anti-COVID vaccines are “experimental serums”. 3. Anti-COVID vaccines are largely ineffective. 4. Anti-COVID vaccines have no effect against the Omicron strain. 5. The vaccination of children is cynical and reckless. 6. Anti-COVID restrictions have led to a sanitary “apartheid”.

BACKGROUND: The pandemic has prompted the emergence of a wave of false narratives concerning the nature of the virus, its virulence (a “simple cold”), the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the way it spreads, the effectiveness of anti-pandemic measures, the real reasons behind such measures, COVID-19 treatments and so on. The EuvsDisinfo alone, which is a specially created platform aimed at combating disinformation, has published nearly 1,000 articles in the last two years, debunking various narratives associated with the pandemic. Adding to these are numerous materials published in global media, interventions from experts and the authorities, etc. A separate kind of false narratives are those targeting anti-COVID vaccines. The main theses claim the vaccines are experimental, ineffective and actually detrimental, or that they contain various composites. In this respect, the narratives are adjusted to the audience they address: microchips in the case of people who are willing to believe in fanciful conspiracy theories, pork products in the case of Muslims, which their religion bans, or human fetus cells in the case of Christian fundamentalists. The false narratives revolving the vaccine are so widespread, that there is even a dedicated non-exhaustive article on Encyclopaedia Britannica.

False narratives regarding the pandemic and anti-COVID vaccines have a number of sources. Russia has adapted its disinformation campaign during the pandemic, although its aim remained the same: to destabilize Western societies (which is why, for instance, the Kremlin’s propaganda undermines confidence in vaccines abroad but promotes them at home). China is another source of disinformation, its main goal being to divert public attention from its original approach to the pandemic, and the fact that SARS-CoV-2 first emerged on its territory. Publications and so-called influencers from the West, usually associated with the far-right and conspiracy-mongers, are another source of disinformation. Their theories are shared and disseminated by other “influencers” working for publications across the world or operating on social media. There are many categories of people who are susceptible to such narratives and disinformation – coronasceptics, anti-vaxxers, people who don’t trust the authorities, etc. A large number of countries have seen the emergence of genuine anti-restrictions and anti-vaccine movements, which are strongly influenced by some of these narratives, which they in turn share, internalize and amplify.

In Romania as well, there are certain people known for their opposition to anti-COVID measures and vaccines, as well as for spreading certain false narratives regarding them.  One of these people is lawyer Gheorghe Piperea, who is a regular contributor for news portals where Veridica has over the years identified fake news and disinformation: Sputnik.md and ActiveNews.

PURPOSE: To undermine confidence in vaccines and the effectiveness of anti-COVID restrictions.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The narratives concerning the alleged large-scale adverse effects of vaccines are not new. On the contrary, they have been circulated for a while, in different parts of the world. Overall, they draw on out-of-context data and the misinterpretation of statistics (either with ill-intent or the work of amateurs). Data published by the American system for reporting adverse effects was used in a number of fake news (Science reported one in May, 2021, while Reuters debunked another one in October), just as those published by the World Health Organization, as Politifact has demonstrated. This time around, Gheorghe Piperea referred to data published by the European Medicines Agency, although the webpage in question clearly specifies, among other things, that “the information on suspected side effects should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicine or the active substance causes the observed effect or is unsafe to use”. Similarly, the terms of use disclaimer clearly stipulates that “the information on this website does not reflect any confirmation of a possible link between the medicine and the observed effects”. Therefore, the data is represented and interpreted without any sound scientific basis, but also without providing the adequate context – for instance, the percentage of people who have displayed adverse effects and, by contrast, the percentage of people who reported adverse effects to other types of vaccine or medicine.

The vaccines are not some “experimental serums”. Rather, they underwent a thorough process of clinical testing prior to certification, performed by international (WHO, EMA) or national organizations.

As regards the effectiveness of vaccines, they do offer a high degree of protection against the new coronavirus, although it is not 100%, just like in the case of other types of vaccine or medication. An additional benefit is the fact that, should a person get infected, the probability he/she develops a milder form of the disease is much higher, something which has been confirmed by a number of studies, including one performed in France on 22 million test subjects, which revealed that the probability of developing a severe form of the disease or dying is 90% lower in the case of vaccinated people. As regards the new Omicron strain, the statement that “it is fully impervious to the vaccine” lacks any scientific justification - too little time has passed since the new strain was identified to allow for proper investigations. One study, however, shows that taking the booster shot offers the same degree of protection against Omicron as the first two doses, in comparison to other strains.

Moreover, right now the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron is of secondary importance, considering that Delta remains the dominant strain in the 5th wave, just as in the previous one. Both strains (Delta and Omicron), as well as any possible future strains of the virus, highlight once again the importance of vaccination and restrictions, all the more so as the virus continues to spread fast (a phenomenon that can be stopped only by means of vaccination), while the probability of new virus strains developing in the future remains high.

The decision to immunize children was in turn taken at the end of a thorough process that involved clinical testing. There is no data indicating the vaccine poses any threat to the categories of people it has been green-lit for administration.

The “sanitary apartheid” theory is part of the rhetoric of radical anti-vaxxers, who, in an attempt to demonize vaccines, apply political concepts to sanitary policies, which inadvertently plays down the importance of major crimes and political doctrines. Apart from “apartheid” itself, a type of racial segregation meant to ensure white supremacy, coronasceptics and anti-vaxxers also invoke Nazi policies, mentioned by Piperea himself, who in an article quoted by Sputnik labeled the Green certificate a Nazipass”.  

Propaganda de Razboi - Razboi in UCRAINA
  • Publication / Media:
    activenews
  • Date of publication:
    06/12/2021
  • Target audience:
    Anti-vaxxers, coronasceptics, people who are reluctant about taking the vaccine.
  • Key narrative:
    Anti-COVID vaccines have adverse effects and are ineffective
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  • Anti-COVID vaccines have severe adverse effects and are merely experimental serums that offer no protection against the coronavirus, according to this false narrative based on data taken out of context.
  • NARRATIVES: Anti-COVID vaccines have many serious adverse effects. 2. Anti-COVID vaccines are “experimental serums”. 3. Anti-COVID vaccines are largely ineffective. 4. Anti-COVID vaccines have no effect against the Omicron strain. 5. The vaccination of children is cynical and reckless. 6. Anti-COVID restrictions have led to a sanitary “apartheid”.
  • PURPOSE: To undermine confidence in vaccines and the effectiveness of anti-COVID restrictions.
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