Anti-vaccine sentiment runs high in the United States

At present, novel Coronavirus is not available and scientists around the world are redoubling their research and development efforts.

But the novel Coronavirus pandemic has been used by anti-vaccinators — a small group of people who don’t believe in vaccines — to spread misinformation on social media.
They say the vaccine will give you an electronic chip, poison you and make you sick.

A video called “Plandemic” has been streamed millions of times on YouTube and other streaming platforms claiming that the COVID-19 crisis is a government act.

Since the end of April, a list of substances, including some with scary names like phenoxyethanol and potassium chloride, has also been Shared thousands of times on Facebook, and it says that vaccines contain a lot of this toxic substance (which is not true, of course).

The anti-vaccine talk is not new, but it has gained widespread attention during the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, experts told AFP.

According to Sylvain Delouvee, a social psychology researcher at the University of Rennes, France, the anti-vaccine movement predates the Internet and the novel Coronavirus pandemics, but social media has created an effective “echo chamber” for anti-vaccinators.

He said anti-vaccine titles have proliferated despite the platforms’ claims that they will limit viral content.

He added that anti-vaccine rhetoric was “evolving without a clear definition”, meaning it could spread across political divides.

Some misleading claims – such as an article claiming that the substance used in vaccines and lethal injections contain the same toxic chemical – appear to have reappeared online without any direct mention of a novel Coronavirus.

According to David Broniatowski of George Washington University, Washington, D.C., it is unclear to what extent the novel Coronavirus pandemic has changed the range of misinformation.

“We are still investigating whether vaccine opponents have become more active because of the pandemic or whether they have become more visible because of the pandemic,” he said.

The attention from the novel Coronavirus has enabled anti-vaccinators to incorporate the message from the Novel Coronavirus into their existing anti-vaccine narrative, says Amelia Jamison of the University of Maryland.

“There is a small but vocal group of people online,” she said.
This outbreak has reinvigorated them.”

In the United States, she notes, anti-vaccines, anti-masks and anti-isolation movements have come together ostensibly to protect individual freedoms.

Anti-vaccinators “are taking up more and more space online,” Delouvee said, comparing the current wave of anti-vaccine activity to an “Internet tsunami.”

But Mr Jamison cautions that things are not always what they seem.

“If you look at the polarisation of vaccines, it’s often 50-50 [online].
But we know that in real life, it’s not even 50-50.”

According to the Annual Scientific and health survey, The Wellcome Global Monitor 2018, the vast majority of the world’s population (about 80 per cent) strongly or more or less agree that vaccines are safe.
Only 7 percent said they “somewhat or strongly disagree,” while 11 percent had no opinion.

Still, according to a study published in the scientific journal Nature, the anti-vaccine movement “may amplify” the novel Coronavirus epidemic just as it did the measles epidemic of 2019.

For its part, the World Health Organization has listed “indecision on vaccines” as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019.

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