WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The White House said on Monday that steps will be made to fight Russian disinformation campaign that targeted Pfizer and other Western-made COVID-19 vaccines.
- An expose by the Wall Street Journal found that four publications connected with Russian intelligence have published stories against the Western vaccines’ side effects and efficacy.
- Disinformation expert Bret Schafer said that both Russia and China played such roles in a bid to offer their own vaccines across the globe.
The White House announced on Monday that they would launch efforts to counter the Russian disinformation campaign aiming to discredit the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and other Western drugmakers.
“We will fight (the disinformation) with every tool we have,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that four publications, serving as media channels for Russian intelligence, have released stories against Western-made COVID-19 vaccines, highlighting their side effects and posing skepticism about their effectiveness.
The report was confirmed by the State Department on Monday, as US officials determined that the four Russian online platforms were publicizing misinformation against Western-produced vaccines.
“It is very clear that Russia is up to its old tricks, and in doing so is potentially putting people at risk by spreading disinformation about vaccines that we know to be saving lives every day,” State Department’s chief spokesman Ned Price said.
According to a report by the Alliance for Security Democracy, a nonpartisan group that monitors disinformation and other anti-democratic schemes by tyrannous ruling, Pfizer’s vaccine has become the main target of Russian misinformation. The group evaluated the media content from China, Iran, and Russia through various mediums such as social media and state-sponsored news sites.
“Russia was the most likely of the three studied countries to suggest linkages between the Pfizer vaccine and the subsequent deaths of vaccine recipients,” the Alliance’s report said which was released Monday.
Even without factual basis or empirical proof, Kremlin-owned media outlets and officials typically indicated that there was “a causal connection” between the vaccine and the fatalities among recipients.
“The emphasis on denigrating Pfizer is likely due in part to its status as the first vaccine besides Sputnik V to see mass use, resulting in a greater potential threat to Sputnik’s market dominance,” the report stated. Sputnik V is Russia’s developed COVID-19 vaccine.
One of the report’s authors, disinformation expert Bret Schafer said that both Moscow and Beijing were on a mission to sell their own vaccines to the western world.
“When you look at their effort to get the vaccine approved in Mexico and Latin America, that’s a big economic win for them … but it also gives them diplomatic leverage as well,” he said.
A representative from Pfizer has not yet given a response to a comment request.
Source: USA Today