Even if we had a vaccine, we wouldn’t be able to save America…

An article titled “preparing for a vaccine information war” in the New York times on Tuesday pointed to a nonsensical but real problem: even if a novel coronavirus vaccine is developed, what if more than half of americans refuse to be vaccinated?

A screenshot of the New York times article

In the face of the surging epidemic, the phrase “having a vaccine but refusing to get it” is really hard for most Chinese people to understand.However, us media writers cite evidence that their fears are not imaginary.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in Europe and the us, we have seen many local people burning down the so-called “virus-spreading” 5G signal towers because of rumors.Others mistakenly believe that they want to get a disinfectant injection.In addition to these sporadic individual behavior, the public opinion field also exists such some organized rumors.

Around May 9, a conspiracy theory video called “the great plan of the plague” went viral, in which a group of self-described “experts” narrators said the epidemic was a plot concocted by the American billionaire Bill Gates and the scientist fauci to take over the world.

Cover of the great plague plan

Contrary to popular speculation that conspiracy theorists are stupid, the video is quite professional in its narration, shooting and score, which is obviously not for ordinary people.

It is also because of “excellent production” that the video went viral among netizens in Europe and the United States as soon as it was posted.So much so that the major social platforms will go out of their way to delete posts, but will still be video supporters do everything possible to exploit the loophole to re-issued.

“They [conspiracy theorists] are much more organized and strategic than many critics think,” the author of the New York times article was banned on video.They are savvy media manipulators, effective communicators, and adept at exploiting the weaknesses of social media platforms.”

In addition to the “efficiency” the author mentions, I also find that the conspiracy theories that have spread widely in this outbreak tend to have strong political leanings.For example, in the cartoon below, “leading the public opinion to accuse trump” is called the fourth step of Bill Gates “running the world”.

In many comments, the fear of being “manipulated by a conspiratorial force” is one reason why many netizens have rallied behind Mr Trump, dismissing criticism of some of his missteps as “aspirant conspiracies”.

One social media post, for example, said: “Bill Gates will put a tracker in the vaccine to monitor everyone, and we trump supporters will not be fooled.”

What is more worrying is that even before this outbreak, “anti-vaccine” rhetoric had developed into “conventional wisdom” in western societies, especially in the United States.

A long-running anti-vaccine cartoon depicts vaccines as manipulated venomous snakes

According to a study published in the prestigious academic journal nature, there were about three times as many anti-vaccine groups on social media during the 2019 measles outbreak as there were pro-vaccine groups.In addition, the interest of the anti-vaccine community is rising much faster than that of the scientific community.

A study of the anti-vaccine network on the website of the journal nature

And a study released this month found that trump supporters were more likely than other americans to agree with the idea of “anti-vaccination.”

An article on the academic journal website Elsevier

Trump’s previous tweet thumb up on “anti-vaccine” made anti-vaccine supporters feel like “the President is on my side,” which made them more convinced of their misconceptions.

Trump has made anti-vaccine comments

As a result, many in the media, including the author of the New York times, fear a “battle” against conspiracy theories to push a vaccine to protect people from novel coronavirus infection after a huge human and financial effort has been spent to develop one.

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