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Moderna’s preliminary vaccine results spark misinformation
Moderna’s announcement yesterday that its Covid-19 vaccine is nearly 95 per cent effective is fueling anti-vaccine narratives on social media. Early data from Moderna’s trial of 30,000 people, half of whom received the vaccine and half placebo injections, focused on the first 95 to develop Covid-19. One US Twitter user with more than 186,000 followers got more than 5,000 shares on a tweet saying they were not “excited” about a vaccine with a 95 per cent success rate, because the virus is “99% ineffective in killing anyone.” In the UK, an account that supports anti-lockdown campaign Keep Britain Free likened media coverage of Moderna’s vaccine to for-profit propaganda, baselessly claiming the vaccine is for a “pandemic that does not exist” in a post retweeted more than 100 times. The same account also falsely disputed the reported 95 per cent success rate by contrasting it with that of the flu vaccine, which was effective at preventing between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of flu cases in 2019. “Now they expect us to believe within months they have found a Covid vaccine with 95% hit rate,” the user wrote.
US-based anti-vaccine conspiracy theory website Natural News also published an article, shared more than 12,000 times, falsely claiming it is a “lie” that the vaccine is 95 per cent effective. It cites a request by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for a tool to process Covid-19 vaccine side effects as evidence that Moderna’s jab was being “falsely” portrayed as “nearly 100% safe” when it is expecting “injuries” from the vaccine. While the MHRA is indeed planning to use artificial intelligence to wade through a large number of adverse reaction reports relating to the Covid-19 vaccine, it said most side effects would be mild and brief, according to the Financial Times. — Lydia Morrish
Georgia secretary of state fights misinformation amid election audit
President Donald Trump and his supporters are advancing conspiracy theories about top Georgia officials in an effort to pressure them as the state carries out a hand recount. During an interview Monday with conservative radio host Mark Steyn, Trump-connected lawyer Sidney Powell accused Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of receiving “personal benefit” in exchange for using Dominion Voting Systems’ machines in that state’s election. Her unevidenced claim was shared in a post by unverified user Cari Kelemen that drew over 23,000 retweets. Powell’s insinuation of wrongdoing through manipulation of equipment or software provided by Dominion echoes a now-familiar refrain that has been debunked, including a joint statement from election officials and experts.
Raffensperger, who announced the audit last week amid GOP pressure, maintains that there has been no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularity in Georgia’s election. The Republican secretary of state’s assurances contradict leaders from his party, including Trump, who has tweeted several times about the ongoing audit, including claims a legal settlement signed in March “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc.” and therefore enabled fraud. As the Associated Press reported, that settlement, known as a consent decree, aimed instead to address “a lack of statewide standards” for verifying signatures on absentee ballots.
Despite a lack of evidence of widespread fraud, and vigorous efforts by Raffensperger to defend the ongoing audit process, claims that he and Kemp committed major electoral fraud continue. Yesterday, lawyer Lin Wood, who is representing the Trump campaign in Georgia, called in a tweet for Raffensperger and Kemp to be imprisoned. The post has received over 23,100 shares. — Chris Looft