A recent article by the daily Swiss newspaper Neue ZΓΌrcher Zeitung (NZZ) revealed that an anonymous person has been trying to undermine trust in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the past few weeks by bribing influencers. Here’s how they proceeded: they asked bloggers and youtubers to write some posts about the vaccine being dangerous and unhealthy in exchange for money. The search for the people behind these messages leads to Russia. According to specialists, this fake news campaign is extremely dangerous.

To this date, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the one that has the best reputation in the Covid-19 market. Side effects are rare, and the level of efficiency is very high – 95 percent -, just like most of the vaccines approved in Switzerland. The risks of infection with Sars-CoV-2 outweigh the risks of vaccination with all approved vaccines. (…)

Researchers specialized in disinformation campaigns studied the matter and were not surprised to learn that the campaign was presumed to be Russian. After all, Russians have repeatedly tried to raise doubts about Western institutions in the past. This alarms Daniela Mahl, a communications researcher at the University of Zurich whose research is focuses mainly on conspiracy theories. When misinformation about vaccines stirs up fear and uncertainty, the public’s trust in science diminish, she explains. “That’s extremely dangerous,” Mahl says. (…)

If people don’t get vaccinated because they read on Facebook that they could die because of the vaccine, they are not only endangering themselves, but also others. The fact that influencers are being used to spread false information is a source of concern for Ali Tehrani, head of the British think tank Astroscreen, which operates a kind of early warning system for fake news. After all, influencer marketing is much more effective than traditional marketing, Tehrani writes.

Find more information about disinformation and how it is spread here.