Anti-Vaccine Movement Might Delay Coronavirus Vaccine Development

As the hunt for the coronavirus vaccine begins, a small but determined anti-vaccination movement has aligned to oppose its development. Several conspiracy stories have begun to make rounds under campaigners who make claims that hold little truth such as narratives that claim that these vaccines will slip microchips into bloodstreams.

A now-removed video amassed more than 8 million views for promoting far-fetched conspiracies about the virus and insisting (without data to back their claims) that any supposed cure would be responsible for “the deaths of millions”

Also read- Big Tobacco is Exploiting Coronavirus Pandemic to Advertise Harmful Products

The number of people in favor of vaccines remains high but there’s no telling the number of people may reject a vaccine when it is made. Researchers who have been studying movements that oppose vaccines express their concerns regarding the mass hysteria that would inevitably do away with the efforts being made to make mass immunity to the infection by a coronavirus vaccine.

Although the groups that are actively against vaccines are less in number their way of communicating online is dangerously efficient and influential. Long before the virus appeared researchers have mapped out the social-media reach on the topic of vaccination on apps like Facebook; their reports included the existence of more than thousands of pages that were being followed by at least millions of individuals.

Their comparative research suggests that though pro-vaccination pages are large, pages against vaccination are more in number but smaller in size. The findings also include that such pages against vaccines are often related to discussions on other pages such as parent clubs at schools who have yet to decide their collective stance on the matter.

In contrast, while pages against vaccines play on sentimentality and make a spot in the heart of the public, pages that talk about benefits of vaccination and their scientific point of view are far from the scene and not in the use of such persuasive tactics. Keeping in mind that during the measles breakout in 2019, pages campaigning against vaccines grew in number but pro-vaccination pages did not grow as much in comparison. It is a possibility that in the next ten years, views against vaccines might rise considerably.

The behavior of the community that supports vaccines is a lot different than its opposition. They stick to communicating with each other and remaining in their own community which supports their narrative. As studies show that means they are less likely to reach out and interfere with the narratives out there that have not yet sided with a particular stance.

Studies also report that groups against vaccines have growing links with other groups like extremist radical right groups

For solutions to develop for anti-vaccine sentiments in the population it is imperative to understand not only the online network but also what about the content and persuasion of these groups oblige people to not only listen to them but also spread the information to other people.

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How the anti-vaccine community operates in comparison to pro-vaccine communities can tell a lot about the hold they have on people. Pro-vaccine communities deliver a concise simple message to the population: Vaccines can save lives. But anti-vaccine accounts include emotional narratives that aim to evoke various feelings in their audience, their messages are also spread out across Facebook pages in bunches that appear larger in size than those of the pro-vaccine community.

Most people, however, do support vaccines and are expected to do just that in this pandemic. The language to communicate the development of a coronavirus vaccine will however need to be carefully considered and planned if people are expected to use it.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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