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13.01.2021 09:27 News >> Combat Infodemic Over COVID-19 Vaccines, Says Expert

Combat Infodemic Over COVID-19 Vaccines, Says Expert

Turkish social media expert Deniz Unay warns against infodemic, asks people not to lose trust in vaccine.

As vaccines against COVID-19 begin rolling out, countries worldwide are fighting not just the deadly virus, but a rising tide of disinformation – a virtual "infodemic."
The World Health Organization (WHO) has even urged people to report any misleading or false content that they find on social media platforms against the vaccine.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, a Turkish social media expert Deniz Unay, author and expert in social media asked people not to lose trust in vaccination.
"Infodemic on vaccine refusal is rapidly spreading. We should not lose our trust in the vaccine. Almost 25 million people have been vaccinated," he said, adding that misinformation on social media can threaten public health.
Unay said while people get easily lured to infodemic, they should bear in mind that important studies and trials have backed the vaccine.
"Nonsensical posts about vaccination are still being shared intensely on social media and receive interaction," he said.
He said all governments and scientists have constantly tried to ensure the flow of correct information through TV programs, articles, social media accounts, but the pace of the infodemic has not slowed down.
Giving an example of Donald Trump's suggestion to inject disinfectant as treatment, Unay said that 4% of Americans faced serious health problems because they misused bleach and disinfectants.
"As the example shows, powerful infodemic actions sometimes come from a politician or government administrator, sometimes from leaders of certain communities, or from names who have become famous in various fields, or conspiracy theorists. Sometimes an individual case can turn into a social infodemic when wrong information is conveyed quickly over a case," he said.
Unay said some so-called scientists have also opposed vaccines to earn a reputation, to sell books, or to find more patients.
He said some people share their personal experiences on social media by exaggerating and distorting facts to attract more people.
"The simple and non-dangerous side effects of vaccines raise people's concerns about vaccination when they are presented as the damages of vaccines. Then, they become part of this infodemic," he said.
Interest groups oppose vaccine
Popular influencers on social media share the results of their biased polls among their fans and lead to an increase in anti-vaccination misinformation.
The social media experts that the misinformation reaches a large audience. He said the recent accuracy analysis has revealed that infodemic posts are fueled by fake interaction.
He added that some well-known alternative medicine supporters are opposing vaccines and are putting forward dietary products and treatment methods, claiming that they can replace the vaccine.
He said some faith groups have been claiming that the vaccine can cause many problems, especially infertility.
"In this way, they massively increase the number of non-vaccinated and anti-vaccine groups," he said. The expert said that so far, no negative data has been found to prove their claim.
He added that conspiracy theorists have also expressed that the world population will be reduced by vaccination.
"These claims have been made with absolutely no reference to any scientific data or statistics, and have been denied by institutions and companies conducting vaccine studies," he said.
Unay said the vaccination is the most economical instrument of a country's health expenditures compared to treatment, medication, and intensive care costs. However, he added that since there is not enough vaccine for everyone so states will not make vaccination an obligation under the law.
He said there was fear of the further spread of the pandemic if enough people are not vaccinated. The expert believed that vaccination was beyond personal preference and described it as important for the general public health.
The global fight against the COVID-19 infodemic should be treated as a scientific discipline at par with understanding the spread of the disease itself, the WHO said.
Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 1.93 million lives in 191 countries and regions.
Over 90.38 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now over 50.08 million, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
The US, India, and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases. -



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